NSW: Buddhist Studies August Seminars

Australian Association of Buddhist StudiesThe Australasian Association of Buddhist Studies notifies that Prof. Michael Zimmerman from the University of Hamburg is the holder of the 2019 University Buddhist Education Foundation (UBEF) Visiting Professorship in Buddhist Studies. As part of this Professorship, he will deliver a series of lectures at the University of Sydney.

‘All living beings have Buddha-nature’: The early history of the concept of universal Buddhahood

This series of lectures will focus on one particular strand of thought in the history of Indian Buddhism. Often neglected by scholars and even deemed to be non-Buddhist, the idea of universal Buddhahood unfolded enormous influence throughout the history of Buddhism. The concept that all living beings have buddha-nature has its beginning in the early centuries of the common era in India and can be considered to be one of the essential pillars leading to the spread of the Buddhism of the Great Vehicle (Mahāyāna) in Asia.

Direct forerunners of the idea that all living beings have buddha-nature are the Lotus Sutra and parts of the Avataṁsaka (華嚴經). We will discuss how the idea of buddha-nature came into existence and what kind of factors were crucial for this development. The lecture will guide through the most important representatives of that line of thought such as the Tathāgatagarbha-sūtra (如來藏經), the Mahāparinirvāṇa-mahāsūtra (大般涅槃經), the śrīmālādevīsiṁhanāda-sūtra (勝鬘経), the Anūnatvāpūrṇatvanirdeśa (不増不減經), and, as the major Indian commentarial work on buddha-nature: the Ratnagotravibhāga(vyākhyā). Recent years have seen a fresh and unexpected re-arrangement of parts of the early history of buddha-nature thought. In the lecture series we will evaluate also these new developments.

Lecture 1. 
Thursday, 15 August 2019 at 6pm – 7pm 
John Woolley Lecture Theatre S325 
John Woolley Building (A20) 

Lecture 2. 
Thursday, 22 August 2019 at 6pm – 7pm 
Norman Gregg Lecture Theatre 221
Edward Ford Building (A27) 

Lecture 3. 
Thursday, 29 August 2019 at 6pm – 7pm 
John Woolley Lecture Theatre S325
John Woolley Building (A20) 

Lecture 4. 
Thursday, 5 September 2019 at 6pm – 7pm 
John Woolley Lecture Theatre S325 
John Woolley Building (A20) 

Lecture 5. 
Thursday, 12 September 2019 at 6pm – 7pm 
John Woolley Lecture Theatre S325 
John Woolley Building (A20) 

For a pdf brochure of the lecture series, please click here.

Michael Zimmermann studied Classical Indology, Tibetology and Japanology at the University of Hamburg and earned his doctorate with a thesis on the origin of the teaching of buddha-nature in India. He spent several years at universities in Kyoto and Tokyo and later worked for the German Research Foundation in Hamburg and Kathmandu. After four years in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Stanford, in 2007 he became professor for Indian Buddhism at the Asien-Afrika-Institut of the University of Hamburg, one of Europe’s largest research institutions dealing with Asian languages and cultures. His research focus is Indian Mahayana Buddhism in all its forms of expression, but in particular its textual history based on the canonical traditions in India, Tibet and China. Another of his interests are the developments regarding contemporary Buddhism in East and West. Zimmermann co-directs the Numata Center for Buddhist Studies at Hamburg University, an institutional hub promoting teaching, research, dialogue, academic exchange and public outreach. 

UBEF Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies 

Prof. Michael Zimmerman is the 8th holder of the University Buddhist Education Foundation (UBEF) Visiting Professorship in Buddhist Studies. This Professorship was established at the University of Sydney in 2009 through the generosity of the UBEF for the purpose of sponsoring an extended visit to Sydney of a distinguished international scholar in any field of Buddhist Studies, in order to expose students and academics to current trends in research and to raise the profile of Buddhist Studies in Australia. It is administered by the Department of Indian Subcontinental Studies in the School of Languages and Cultures.


Gold leaf covered schist reliquary

Gold leaf covered schist reliquary in the form of a stupa. Kusana period, North Western India. National Museum, Karachi, Pakistan. Copyright: Huntington, John C. and Susan L.Huntington Archive