Reading Workshop: "Visionary Encounters with Luminous and Empty Forms in Indian and Tibetan Buddhist Tantric Traditions"
This event is by invitation only.
Visionary experiences with contemplated forms, ranging from simple shapes, lights, and colors, to buddhas and their entire celestial paradises, have been highly sought after by Buddhist contemplative practitioners since the early years of Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism and before. With the advent of esoteric Buddhist traditions, Buddhists expanded upon this theme to develop a broader range of such experiences and practices to elicit them, along with a similarly broad range of theories to account for their roles in Buddhist contemplation and realization. This diversity of practices and theories has given rise a number of doctrinal questions, such as what these visionary forms in fact are—actual external forms, the conditioned effects of meditation training, or unconditioned reflections of intrinsic buddhanature; and how such experiences ought to ideally figure on the path toward awakening—as sources of new Buddhist teachings, signs of progress along the path, or the very nature of awakened cognition itself.
This workshop will explore the diversity of practices and perspectives concerning visionary experience throughout Indian and Tibetan Buddhist tantric traditions by bringing together an international team of scholars specializing in different facets of this phenomenon. The format will be to read and discuss together as a group pre-circulated primary source passages in Tibetan and/or Sanskrit along with draft English translations. This workshop aims to advance scholarly knowledge about this important aspect of Buddhist thought and practice toward the production of a collaborative edited volume and an associated conference. The workshop will also be open to interested graduate students at Stanford, UC Berkeley, and the broader UC network.
Organized by James Gentry.
Klause-Dieter Mathes, University of Vienna (Via Zoom)
Giacomella Orofino, University of Naples (Via Zoom)