Past event

Buddhist Constructive Reflection Past and Present EuARe 2023 Keynote Lecture: Dr John Makransky. Open to the public. No registration required.

Within academic the study of religion, Buddhist critical-constructive reflection (also sometimes called ‘Buddhist theology') has had two goals: to draw on academic disciplines, together with Buddhist resources, to newly inform Buddhism in normative ways; and to draw on Buddhism to address personal and social needs and inform modern academic disciplines, such as philosophy, ecology, psychology, cognitive science, theories of justice, and economics.

While academic work in Religious Studies is etic and descriptive, Buddhist critical-constructive reflection (BCCR) draws on those etic findings, together with emic Buddhist understandings, to suggest new normative directions for Buddhism, society and academia. BCCR, then, treats Buddhism not just as a source of data for theorization in the Western academy, but as a partner in rethinking issues, questions, and disciplines.

This talk will discuss the rise of BCCR in the modern academy, the needs it addresses, and how analogues of its two goals have been operative throughout Buddhist history in Asia and the West – Buddhism newly informing and affecting each culture as it is informed and affected by it. Some current applications of BCCR in light of that history will be discussed, e.g., how the doctrine of skillful means has been used both to enable and to hide such Buddhist cultural syntheses; how that suggests the need for greater intra-Buddhist and inter-religious dialogue today; how modern Buddhists are drawing on Buddhist resources together with social and natural sciences to respond to personal, social, political and environmental problems, and how that also sheds new light on Buddhism and on those disciplines. As modern Buddhism makes contributions in these ways, it also risks succumbing too much to modern assumptions and values, which may reduce its ability to offer important alternatives to them. Possible examples of this will also be noted.

John Makransky PhD will be presenting this talk. He has been Associate Professor of Buddhism and Comparative Theology at Boston College, Senior Academic Advisor for Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche's Centre of Buddhist Studies at Rangjung Yeshe Institute in Nepal, President of the Society of Buddhist-Christian studies, and Fellow of the Mind and Life Institute.

John's academic writings focus on connections between devotion, compassion, and wisdom in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, on adapting Buddhist practices to meet contemporary minds, and on theoretical issues in interfaith learning.

No registration required.

More information on this event