Monday, February 27, 2017

15th Sakyadhita International Conference Panel: Monastic Life in the Modern World with Nirmala S. Salgado

Based on research recently conducted in Sri Lanka, I will discuss how different types of institutions of Buddhist nuns promote specific communal rules and why they might address those rules in different ways. The paper will focus on communities of nuns that include both fully ordained bhikkhunis as well as sil matas, who dwell in teaching institutions and meditation centers throughout the country, and belong to a Theravada/Southern Buddhist tradition. I will demonstrate that while nuns living at the various centers focus on the cultivation of contemplative practices that are conducive to the eradication of obstacles on the path to nirvana, and aim at maintaining a disciplined and harmonious life in community, there are important differences in how and why nuns at different institutions engage monastic regulations.

Monday, February 13, 2017

15th Sakyadhita International Conference Panel: Translation as Contemplative Practice with Annie Bien

The Mahāyāna sūtra titled, The Prophecy of the Daughter Candrottarā, tells the story of the merchant Vimalakīrti’s daughter, Candrottarā, a young woman striving on the path to enlightenment. Instead of crying when she takes birth, she sings verses about the nature of birth. Pure in body and deed, beautiful to behold and without desires, she is drawn to the Buddha’s voice. The men of the city of Vaiśalī want to marry her, threaten Vimalakīrti, and terrify him. She remains unafraid, calming her father through her understanding of karma. She comforts both parents by agreeing to choose a husband, but asks to meet the Buddha first. On her way, the Buddha’s disciples appear, questioning her. Candrottarā debates with them that sexual identity ultimately has no relevance for attaining enlightenment. The Buddha, listens and is delighted. He prophesies her future enlightenment. Elated, she transforms into a young man to continue her enlightened activities in the world.