The Cult and Yogic Practices of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara within Chinese and Tibetan Buddhism

A Comparative Study

The Cult and Yogic Practices of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara within Chinese and Tibetan Buddhism

Prof. Shen Weirong of Tsinghua University will compare the cult and yogic practices of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara within Chinese and Tibetan Buddhism.

Thursday, November 17, 2022
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

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Indo-Tibetan Buddhism and Chinese Buddhism/Eastern Asian Buddhism are often considered as two different traditions that bear no close relation to each other whether from a historical or doctrinal perspective. However, a comparative survey of the cult and yogic practices of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara within Chinese and Tibetan Buddhism alike tells us a very different story. Although both traditions have naturally amassed their own unique characteristics based on their respective regions, their fundamental beliefs and practices remain identical. Therefore, we ought to pull down these artificially constructed boundaries and barriers between Indo-Tibetan and Eastern Asian Buddhist traditions, and instead view Indian, Chinese, and Tibetan Buddhism as a holistic, continuous developmental tradition, and furthermore attempt to conduct comparative studies between Indo-Tibetan and Chinese Buddhism from a unifying historical perspective. In other words, we ought to explore the most basic teachings and practices of the cult of Avalokitesvara within the Chinese, Tibetan, Exoteric, and Esoteric Buddhist traditions alike, observe their commonalities and differences, and map out the historical trajectory through which these teachings and practices of Sutric and Tantric Buddhism, despite holding identical origins, underwent separate developmental paths across time, and eventually took the form of seemingly highly distinct traditions.

Professor SHEN Weirong is currently the full professor of School of Humanities, both serving as professor at TIAS and the Head of Department of Chinese Language and Literature, Tsinghua University. As a leading scholar in Central Asian and Buddhist philology, he is specialized in studying the languages and history of China’s western regions, especially the history of Tibet, Tibetan Buddhism, as well as comparative study of Sino-Tibetan Buddhism.