Report by Roland Walter, KF Board Member

Organized and hosted by Prof. Dorji Wangchuck, head of the Khyentse Center for Tibetan Buddhist Textual Scholarship at the University of Hamburg, the Symposium on Cross-Cultural Transmission of Buddhist Texts was probably the most important event in the Center’s still young history. Founded in January 2011,  the Center is supported by a grant from Khyentse Foundation.

Twenty-five participants and speakers from the world´s important places of research and studies of Buddhist texts assembled in July to exchange and discuss their contributions. Among them were Prof. Emeritus Dr. David Seyfort Ruegg (University of London),  Prof. Dr. Leonard Van der Kujp (Harvard University), Prof. Dr. Akira Saito (University of Tokyo), and participants from the Universities of Lausanne/Sorbonne Paris, Leyden, Oxford, Naples, Michigan, Cornell,  Hong Kong, Beijing, Vienna, Marburg, Munich, and Hamburg.  Read more about the symposium and download abstracts of the papers presented.

Prof. Wangchuck expressed the goal of the symposium as follows:

“… to allow scholars dealing with various Buddhist traditions to make a concerted effort in reflecting on the problems and prospects of translation, transmission, and reception of Buddhist texts across various cultures in the past and present and thereby make valuable and lasting contributions to the study of Buddhist intellectual history and culture.”

During the three days (July 23-25) a wide range of presentations covered the topics and questions of textual culture, formal methods and actual practice of textual criticism, scholarly editing, and of course translation across the fields of Buddhology, Tibetology, Sinology, Classical Indology, and Translation Studies. Participants did not lose sight of the fact that research is not only the exposing of a past intellectual culture; it also supports the mediation between past and present and between Eastern and Western cultures, and enables modern translations into Western languages.

From a Khyentse Foundation point of view, it was very impressive to attend the lively discussions and the good academic practice and culture of handling divergent opinions and to get a glimpse of  the overwhelming treasures of textual experience and knowledge that were  assembled in these meetings.

To summarize, we express our deep gratitude to Prof. Dorji Wangchuck and the Khyentse Center for having initiated this symposium; the great and outstanding quality of the participants; and the success and outcome of the whole meeting. We also express our best wishes to continue this important work.

For Khyentse Foundation, the symposium marks an important milestone in our efforts to support the Dharma in the academic field, especially the topics covered in this event, and also the activities of 84000 and the Tibetan-Chinese Translation projects.