CONFERENCE> Śāntideva and the Dynamics of Tradition, 25 – 27 May, 2023

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Conference: Śāntideva and the Dynamics of Tradition

25 – 27 May, 2023
Lecture Hall JO 101, JO 1, 48143 Münster, Johannisstrasse 4

The Buddhist tradition is not only one of the oldest among the major religious traditions, but also exerted significant influence over a broad range of Asian cultures. Since the end of the 19th century its presence in the West continues to increase. Today, Buddhism is clearly one of the main forces in the cultural and religious dynamics of global exchange and interpenetration.

“Śāntideva” is the name given by the Buddhist tradition to the author of two highly revered texts: the Bodhicaryāvatāra (an introduction to the way and ideal of a Bodhisattva) and the Śikṣāsamuccaya (an anthology of traditional Buddhist texts closely related to the Bodhicaryāvatāra). Śāntideva’s (c. 8th or 7th ct.) texts reflect a particularly vibrant period of Indian Buddhism. Firmly rooted in the tradition, they simultaneously display a form of Mahāyāna Buddhism that is at the threshold of undergoing significant transformations such as the growth of its Tantric and Pure Land variants.

In subsequent centuries Śāntideva’s writings became rather influential in large parts of the Buddhist world, especially in the Tibetan cultural realm. The 14th Dalai Lama has repeatedly referred to the Bodhicaryāvatāra as one of main sources of inspiration for his personal life. Today, Śāntideva attracts an extraordinary measure of global interest, both in the areas of philosophical ethics and of lived Buddhist spirituality. By now, the Bodhicaryāvatāra is one of the most often and most widely translated Buddhist text ever. In terms of religious dynamics, it represents a prime example of a long-living and particularly powerful manifestation.

The conference brings together a group of renowned researchers within the international field of Buddhist and Interreligious Studies with a particular focus on Śāntideva. They will look at three crucial aspects of religious dynamics discernible in Śāntideva’s work. How is his presentation of Buddhism to be seen within the larger context of inner-Buddhist developments, including its relevance for pressing contemporary issues? Which social dynamics are visible in his writings and what do they reveal about Śāntideva’s understanding of human beings? And finally, what kind of dynamics may his writings trigger within the contemporary global process of interreligious encounter?




Thursday, 25 May 2023

15.00                 Welcome / Coffee

Section I:

Inner-Buddhist Dynamics

15.30 – 16.30    Śāntideva’s Idea of the Yogic and Non-Yogic Worlds: Its Possible Antecedents and Descendants
Dorji Wangchuk

16.30 – 17.30    A Mādhyamika in Mind Only: The Rebirth of Śāntideva in Contemporary Yogācāra
Barbra Clayton

Public Lecture (JO 1, Johannisstrasse 4)

18.15 – 19.45    The Continuing Relevance of Buddhist Tradition: Śāntideva in the Twenty-First Century
Stephen Harris


Friday, 26 May 2023

09.00 – 10.00    Revising Mādhyamika Wisdom: Śāntideva in Conversation with Candrakīrti
Amber Carpenter

10.00 – 10.30    Coffee break


Section II: Social Dynamics

10.30 – 11.30    Hierarchy versus charisma: Śāntideva’s hagiography as an exemplar of the tension in Buddhism between ecclesiastical status and spiritual attainment.
Andrew Skilton

11.30 – 12.30    The Invisible Hands of Non-Violence and Altruism in Śāntideva’s Bodhicaryāvatāra
Douglas Duckworth

12.30 – 15.00    Lunch break

15:00 – 16.00    Sarcastic Humour in the Bodhicaryāvatāra
Perry Schmidt-Leukel

16.00 – 16.30    Coffee break

16.30 – 17.30    The Bodhicaryāvatāra from a Feminist Buddhist Perspective
Carola Roloff


Section III: Interreligious Dynamics

17.30 – 18.30    Śāntideva and Śaṅkara on Consciousness and Ultimate Reality
Fabian Völker


Saturday, 27 May

09.00 – 10.00    A Comparative Analysis of Zayn al-'Ābidīn's Treatise Makārim al-akhlāq ('noble character-traits') and Śāntideva's Bodhicaryāvatāra
Reza Shah-Kazemi

10.00 – 10.30    Coffee break

10.30 – 11.30    Learning to Be Empty: Śāntideva’s Wisdom on Creaturely No-Self
Mark Heim

11.30 - 12.30     Concluding Discussion



Lecture Hall JO 101. Public lecture: JO 1

Johannisstr. 1-4

48143 Münster, Germany



Until 30 April 2023

Register with Mrs. Martina Forstmann

Please email Perry Schmidt-Leukel: or Stephen Harris with additional inquiries.  

Categories: Conference