Sunday, 8 September 2013

A Charity Aims to Bring Buddhist Studies Into the Modern World

From the New York Times

"HONG KONG — Robert Y.C. Ho, a scion of a historic Hong Kong family, is the chairman of the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation, which supports study in the fields of Buddhism, Chinese art and culture. The charity is named after Mr. Ho’s father, who founded it in 2005.

It has given endowments for Buddhist programs at Harvard University, Stanford University and the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. In May, it gave a $1.9 million grant to the American Council of Learned Societies for the research and teaching of Buddhist studies."

"...Buddhist studies are usually associated with history. How do you make them relevant to today?

Generally speaking, Buddhist studies in higher institutions have been archaic and old-fashioned, in the sense that it’s mostly text-based, where we have scholars who are experts in Pali, Sanskrit, classical Chinese, Japanese, old languages. They read these texts and they talk about them. A lot of time, it’s not really related to what happens in the real world.

But a lot of younger scholars are pushing into new areas, like studying about Buddhism and politics, Buddhism and the environment, conflict resolution, Buddhism and psychology, things like that, and how they manifest in the world. Most of our grants are geared toward the area, which is Buddhism in the contemporary world. This is the area we want to push, to advance the field, to make it relevant to the contemporary audiences... Full article

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