Top 5 Reasons to Study Buddhism

SOAS Library Buddhism Books

As college classes start up this time of year, many people will find themselves debating the merits of this course versus that one, this major versus that. As I'm now going on 15 years as a student of religion and philosophy I might be a bit biased, but for what it's worth, I still think these two topics (and in particular Buddhism) are the best thing you can study in college. In fact, in this age of adult education programs and online courses, it's something that you should study even if your c … [Read more...]

Understanding Buddhist-Muslim relations in Burma (Myanmar)


This post is part of the Interfaith Ramadan: Shared Vision of Inclusion & Co-Existence series, cross-posted there at Interfaith Ramadan here. As our series host Sara Ager writes: Ramadan is a time when Muslim communities traditionally come together – to fast, to pray, to reflect, and to encourage one another. In that spirit, the Interfaith Ramadan blog series aims to extend that sense of community to people of all faiths and none. The series provides an inclusive platform where people from a … [Read more...]

Proposals sought in Buddhist Studies and other fields for Bristol Postgraduate Conference

bristol conference 2015 religion and nature

Paper proposals are being accepted for the Twentieth Annual Postgraduate Conference for Religion and Theology (13-14 March, 2015). Located in beautiful Bristol, England, the University of Bristol Theology and Religious Studies department provides the perfect venue for postgraduates along with some undergraduates and early career academics to present their work before a diverse, thoughtful, and supportive audience. In past years, presenters have come from around the world to take part in this, t … [Read more...]

Contentious Tibetan Buddhist deity worship discussed in London panel


In what may have been a first-of-its-kind event, representatives of the International Shugden Community joined academics, a Geluk Buddhist monk, and a former member of the New Kadampa Tradition to discuss the history and current status of Dorje Shugden. Shugden, in short, is a 'protector deity' historically associated with the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism. His supposed power has led to great devotion by a number of esteemed Buddhist teachers, foremost among them Pabongkha Rinpoche, whose … [Read more...]

That all-too-human urge to understand the heart of things

the jains

As I discussed in a recent post at the Indian Philosophy Blog, there is quite often a divide in approaches taken to the study of religion between what we might broadly call the 'philosophers' and the 'historians'. Philosophers, and I count myself as one of these most days, seek out the meaning of texts, seeing them as doorways into distant lands and into the minds of great thinkers, past and present. We often have to construct meanings through fragmentary and at times conflicting evidence: at o … [Read more...]

Ethnocentric Buddhism continued…

Rohingya and supporters protest in front of the White House in May, 2013. photo via

Coming just off the heals of the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the Rwandan genocide, we are called ever more clearly to understand conflicts in the world that might lead to such horrors. What is happening in Burma today eerily reflects the ethnic divides and hateful rhetoric that precipitated the murder of over 800,000 Rwandans (primarily ethnic Tutsis) in 1994.In addition to attacks in recent years, this January, mobs of (ethnic Rakhine) Buddhists massacred Rohingya Muslims in the … [Read more...]

Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche speaks on Universal Responsibility at Harvard Divinity School


Earlier this month, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche gave a one-day seminar on the topic of Universal Responsibility to students at Harvard Divinity School. From the video page: In this one night seminar given to students at Harvard University's School of Divinity, Kongtrul Rinpoche explains that not all learning is academic. In fact, the best kind of education shapes our hearts just as much as our minds. Self-reflecting upon experience and coming to see that all beings share the same internal life -- … [Read more...]

Mary Midgely, a Philosopher you should know

Moral philosopher Mary Midgley at home in Newcastle. Photographed for the Observer by Gary Calton

She studied philosophy at Oxford and rubbed shoulders with greats like Philippa Foot, Iris Murdoch, Elizabeth Anscombe and Mary Warnock, writes books on a wide variety of contemporary moral issues, has as good a wit and charm as any, a penchant for gratitude, and at least at one time, a Buddhist practice. But you probably have never heard of Mary Midgely.That should change.Thanks to the Guardian, you can learn a great deal from a recent interview covering her life and recent work, … [Read more...]