Robert E. Buswell Jr.: "Transplanting Buddhism on the Korean Peninsula"
The Korean peninsula was one of the last stops on the eastward dissemination of Buddhism from India, to central Asia, to China. But the Buddhism of Korea was no mere derivative of these antecedent traditions. Because Koreans used literary Chinese as the lingua franca of learned communication (much as Latin was used in medieval Europe), Buddhists on the Korean peninsula were in close contact with their educated colleagues across East Asia (and beyond) throughout much of the premodern era and they made seminal contributions themselves to Buddhist thought, practice, and ritual. This lecture will explore how a region in the far hinterlands of northeast Asia was able to forge these connections with their brethren across the continent, bring that dharma home to the peninsula, and ultimately make Buddhism its own.
Robert E. Buswell Jr., Distinguished Professor of Buddhist Studies in the UCLA Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, is the Irving and Jean Stone Endowed Chair in Humanities at UCLA and founding director of the university’s Center for Buddhist Studies and Center for Korean Studies.
Buswell is widely recognized as one of the premier Western specialists on Korean Buddhism and the broader East Asian Zen tradition. He has published sixteen books and some forty articles on various aspects of the Korean, Chinese, and Indian traditions of Buddhism, as well as on Korean religions more broadly. His books include The Zen Monastic Experience (Princeton, 1992), Tracing Back the Radiance: Chinul’s Korean Way of Zen (Honolulu, 1991), The Formation of Chan Ideology in China and Korea (Princeton, 1989), Cultivating Original Enlightenment (Honolulu, 2007), and Religions of Korea in Practice (Princeton, 2007). Most recently, he is coauthor (with Donald S. Lopez, Jr.) of the 1.2-million-wordPrinceton Dictionary of Buddhism (Princeton, 2014).
Buswell completed his B.A. in Chinese, his M.A. in Sanskrit, and his Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies, all from the University of California, Berkeley; before returning to academe, he spent seven years as an ordained Buddhist monk in Thailand, Hong Kong, and Korea. Buswell was elected president of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) in 2008, the first specialist in either Korean or Buddhist studies to hold that position. In 2009, he was awarded the prestigious Manhae Grand Prize in Korea in recognition of his pioneering contributions to establishing Korean Buddhist Studies in the West.