Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Search Term: Buddhism

Is Buddhism paradoxical?

Buddhist literature is full of statements that sound paradoxical. This has led to the widespread idea that Buddhism, like some other religions, wants to point us in the direction of a reality transcending all intellectual understanding.

Read More

Top ten facts about Buddhism

Damien Keown, author of Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction, tells us ten things we need to know about buddhism. From the Sangha to reincarnation, discover fascinating facts about Buddhism below.

Read More

Engaged Buddhism and community ecology

For the most part, Buddhists have historically been less concerned with explaining the world than with generating personal peace and enlightenment. However, the emergence of “engaged Buddhism” – especially in the West, has emphasized a powerful commitment to environmental protection based in no small part on a fundamental ecological awareness that lies at the heart of Buddhist thought and practice.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Buddhism and biology: a not-so-odd couple

By David P. Barash
Science and religion don’t generally get along very well, from the Catholic Church’s denunciation of the heliocentric solar system to vigorous denials — mostly from fundamentalist Protestantism this time — of evolution by natural selection.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Buddhism or buddhisms: mirrored reflections

By Richard Payne Of late, scholars have increasingly called into question the utility of the nation-state as the default category for the study of Buddhism. In terms of the way Buddhism is academically apprehended, the implication of Johan Elverskog’s argument in “The Buddhist Exchange: Irrigation, Crops and the Spread of the Dharma” — that Buddhism […]

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Buddhism beyond the nation state

By Richard Payne
Concern with the limitations imposed by presuming contemporary geo-political divisions as the organizing principle for scholarship is not new, nor is it limited to Buddhist studies. Jonathan Skaff opens his recent Sui-Tang China and Its Turko-Mongol Neighbors: Culture, Power, and Connections, 580–800 by quoting Marc Bloch’s 1928 address to the International Congress of Historical Sciences (1928).

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Meditation experiences in Buddhism and Catholicism

By Susan Stabile
Becoming a Tibetan Buddhist nun is not a typical life choice for a child of an Italian Catholic police officer from Brooklyn, New York. Nevertheless, in February of 1988 I knelt in front of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, as he cut a few locks of my hair (the rest had already been shaved), symbolizing my renunciation of lay life. I lived in the vows of a Buddhist nun for a year, in the course of spending two years living in Buddhist monasteries in Nepal and India

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Buddhism or Buddhisms? Lexical consequences of geo-political categories

By Richard Payne
In a previous post, we argued that the geo-political categories commonly employed in both popular and academic representations of Buddhism are problematic. The problems were grouped into rhetorical and lexical; the rhetorical consequences having been considered there, we now turn to the lexical. Specifically, the lexical distinction between mass nouns and count nouns clarifies how thinking about the subject of study logically (and implicitly) follow from ways of talking about that subject.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Four myths about Zen Buddhism’s “Mu Koan”

By Steven Heine
The Mu Koan (or Wu Gongan in Chinese pronunciation), in which master Joshu says “Mu” (literally “No,” but implying Nothingness) to an anonymous monk’s question of whether a dog has the Buddha-nature, is surely the single most famous expression in Zen Buddhist literature and practice. By virtue of its simplicity and indirection, this expression becomes emblematic of East Asian spirituality and culture more generally. Entire books have been published on the topic on both sides of the Pacific.

Read More

How Buddhist monasteries were brought back from destruction

In Beijing in 1900, as the chaos of the Boxer Uprising raged on, a Buddhist monk arrived at Dafo Monastery, seeking master Datong to make him an offer. The visitor was abbot of Cihui Monastery and wanted to offer Cihui Monastery to Datong. Datong agreed, and he arrived at his new monastery to find it […]

Read More

Why an Irish Buddhist resisted empire in Burma

On 2 March 1901, during the full moon festival at Rangoon’s Shwedagon pagoda, the Buddhist monk U Dhammaloka confronted an off-duty colonial policeman and ordered him to take off his shoes. Burmese pagodas are stupas, containing relics of the Buddha, so wearing shoes on them (as white colonials did) was a serious mark of disrespect. […]

Read More

The problem with Buddhist law in Sri Lanka

Several weeks after the Sri Lanka’s Easter tragedy, in which suicide attackers with links to ISIS killed more than 250 people in a series of coordinated bombings, the country’s president announced that he was releasing a Buddhist monk from prison. The monk, Ven. Galagoda Atte Gnanasara, was the country’s most controversial cleric, having risen to prominence […]

Read More

Place of the Year 2018 nominee spotlight: Myanmar

Extreme violence and discrimination has led to a humanitarian crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Throughout 2017 and 2018, Rohingya refugees have been crossing the border into Bangladesh in fear of their lives. United Nations officials have described the crisis as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” In 2018, mid-October reports revealed that the number of […]

Read More

Place of the Year 2018 Shortlist: vote for your pick

Oxford’s Place of the Year campaign pulls together the most significant places and events of the year. The 2018 shortlist of nominees brings to light impactful moments in global history, influencing the environment, international relations, humanitarian crises, and space exploration. Explore each of our locations and vote for who think should be recognized as Oxford’s […]

Read More

Why are there so many different scripts in East Asia?

You don’t have to learn a new script when you learn Norwegian, Czech, or Portuguese, let alone French, so why does every East Asian language require you to learn a new script as well? In Europe the Roman script of Latin became standard, and it was never seriously challenged by runes or by the Greek, Cyrillic, or Glagolitic (an early Slavic script) alphabets.

Read More