Thursday, 9 May 2013

Interest in Buddhism surges at Top Universities Worldwide

Wisdom and Virtue

Global Boom in University Buddhist Studies
From an article by Professor Lee Chack-fan in the South China Morning Post.

"...It is not difficult to find people with ample knowledge, professional or otherwise, who are often unhappy. This feeling of unhappiness may come from pressure in life, or from the mismatch between expectations and results. Most of us feel happy some of the time, but this is not always sustainable.

Universities are beefing up their humanities programmes, under the name of general or liberal education, in order to broaden the horizons and enhance the emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) of our students. It is hoped that a higher EQ would help them deal with life's pressures, and hence to lead a happier life.

Some people turn to courses on Buddhism to help them to fulfil the same goal. They are generally more interested in the philosophical, rather than the religious, aspects of Buddhism. In other words, they are trying to seek wisdom, rather than just knowledge.

A little over a decade ago, the University of Hong Kong established a Centre of Buddhist Studies and launched a Master of Buddhist Studies programme.

The programme proved popular and has always been oversubscribed. Its alumni include many of the city's high achievers, including senior civil servants, barristers, doctors and business leaders. It also attracted numerous overseas applicants.

The surge in interest in Buddhist studies is, of course, not confined to Hong Kong.

I attended an inaugural reception at Stanford University in the United States last month for the establishment of an endowed chair professorship in Chinese Buddhism.

Paul Harrison, head of the university's Centre of Buddhist Studies, said student interest in Buddhist studies had never been keener. Not that they all want to become monks or nuns, but they are really interested in enhancing their EQ in a highly competitive world.

The same is true at other top international universities such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Oxford and Cambridge..."

Read it all here

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