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Can Lotuses Bloom in a Sea of Flames? Buddhism and Conflict in the Modern Period


February 23, 2016
7:30 pm - 8:50 pm
Event Category:


Building 260, Room 113

Lecture by Paul Harrison (Stanford University). Sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies.

Part of a lecture series on “Religion, Violence, Nonviolence,” offered in conjunction with RELIGST 29 and RELIGST 119. Free and open to the public. Stanford students may register for credit; see Explore Courses for information.

For full list of lectures in the series, click here.

Paul Harrison is the George Edwin Burnell Professor of Religious Studies, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, and Co-Director of the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies. Educated in his native New Zealand and in Australia, he specializes in Buddhist literature and history, especially that of the Mahāyāna, and in the study of Buddhist manuscripts in Sanskrit, Chinese and Tibetan. He is the author of The Samādhi of Direct Encounter with the Buddhas of the Present, and of numerous journal articles on Buddhist sacred texts and their interpretation.

Despite its serene public image, Buddhism, like other religious traditions, can be both a force for peace and a source of conflict in the world. Two case studies from Asia explore this dual capacity. The first looks at the role of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, in the protracted and bitter ethnic violence which has torn that country apart. The second considers the role of religion in the long struggle for self-determination and freedom in Tibet. The lecture will also touch briefly on the role of Buddhism in Vietnam, Japan, and Burma.