RYI is delighted to present talks from this distinguished group of scholars, who represent a wide range of interests within the field of Buddhist Studies. Each offers a unique perspective on transnational Buddhism and the lectures given over the course of this two-day symposium will help to illuminate and clarify issues related to the global interconnectedness of the modern Buddhist tradition.

John Dunne

Keynote Speaker

 “Science and Buddhism: Why Bother?


John Dunne (PhD 1999, Harvard University) is now at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where holds the Distinguished Chair in Contemplative Humanities, a newly endowed position created through the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds. He also holds a co-appointment in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature and is participating in the creation of a new program in Asian Languages & Cultures. Previously he was an Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at Emory University, where he co-founded the Collaborative for Contemplative Studies.

John Dunne’s work focuses on Buddhist philosophy and contemplative practice, especially in dialog with Cognitive Science and Psychology. His publications appear in venues ranging across both the Humanities and the Sciences and they include works on Buddhist philosophy, contemplative practice and their interpretation within scientific contexts. His current research focuses especially on the varieties of mindfulness and the contemplative theories that inquire into its nature.   

Douglas Duckworth

– Philosophy Panel –

 “Buddhism and Beyond: The Question of Pluralism


Douglas Duckworth (PhD, University of Virginia, 2005) is Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at Temple University. He was the first teacher of classical Tibetan language in the inaugural year of the Rangjung Yeshe Institute (1997-1998) and also the first Sanskrit teacher at RYI (2003-2004). Professor Duckworth is the author of Mipam on Buddha-Nature: The Ground of the Nyingma Tradition (SUNY, 2008) and Jamgön Mipam: His Life and Teachings (Shambhala, 2011). He also introduced and translated Distinguishing the Views and Philosophies: Illuminating Emptiness in a Twentieth-Century Tibetan Buddhist Classic by Bötrül (SUNY, 2011). He is the co-editor of the Journal of Buddhist Philosophy (SUNY) and has collaborated with the Dharmachakra Translation Committee on translations of Luminous Essence (Snow Lion 2009) and the Ornament of the Great Vehicle Sūtras (Snow Lion 2014). Most recently, Professor Duckworth is co-author of Dignāga’s Investigation of the Percept: A Philosophical Legacy in India and Tibet (Oxford 2016).

Jonardon Ganeri

– Philosophy Panel –

“Illusions of Immortality: A transnational conversation between Bhadantācariya Buddhaghosa and Fernando Pessoa”


Works on the philosophy of self, consciousness, and self-knowledge, on conceptions of rationality, on epistemology, metaphysics, and the philosophy of language and logic, with a particular focus on bringing the Sanskrit philosophical tradition into dialogue with contemporary international philosophy. The author of seven books and editor or co-editor of seven more, he has published in “Mind, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research,” the “Australasian Journal of Philosophy,” “Synthese,” “New Literary History,” the “Journal of Indian Philosophy,” and other leading peer-reviewed philosophy journals. He is a subject-editor for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and a member of the editorial boards of “History and Philosophy of Logic,” “Philosophy East & West,” and other journals. He edited the four-volume Routledge Critical Concepts series in Indian Philosophy (published in 2016) and is currently editing the Oxford Handbook of Indian Philosophy (due 2016). His monograph on Buddhist philosophy of mind, titled Attention, Not Self: Explorations in Buddhist Philosophy of Mind is in production with OUP. He is preparing a series of new essays in Buddhist philosophy of mind. 

Anne MacDonald

– Philosophy Panel –

“Transplanting Madhyamaka: Donors, Recipients, and Some Vexing Complications” 


Anne MacDonald is a researcher at the Institute for the Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, Austria. She also lectures at the University of Vienna in the Department of South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies. Her primary focus is the development of Madhyamaka thought in India and Tibet. She is engaged in research on Candrakīrti’s Prasannapadā and Madhyamakāvatārabhāṣya based on newly available manuscripts of these works.  Her publications include the monograph In Clear WordsThe Prasannapadā, Chapter One (Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences, 2015), and the articles “Pragmatic Translating: The Case of Pa tshab Nyi ma grags” (Cultural Flows across the Western Himalaya. Patrick Mc Allister, Cristina Scherrer-Schaub, Helmut Krasser, eds, Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences, 2015), “Who is that Masked Man? Candrakīrti’s Opponent in Prasannapadā I 55.11-58.7” (Journal of Indian Philosophy 39 [2011]) and “Knowing Nothing: Candrakīrti and Yogic Perception” (Yogic Perception, Meditation and Altered States of Consciousness. Eli Franco & Dagmar Eigner, eds., Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences 2009).

Klaus-Dieter Mathes

– Philosophy Panel –

Madhyamaka in the Light of Quantum Physics: A Modern Interpretative Comparison of Dependent Origination with Quantum Interconnectedness

Klaus-Dieter Mathes is the head of the Department of South Asian, Tibetan, and Buddhist Studies at the University of Vienna. His current research deals with Tibetan Madhyamaka, Yogācāra, and the interpretations of Buddha nature in the 15th and 16th centuries. Before joining Vienna University in 2010, he worked at the University of Hamburg in a project supported by the German Research Council (DFG) on the Indian origins of Mahāmudrā and the history of its reception in Tibet. The results of his research were recently published by the Austrian Academy of Sciences Press in the monograph A Fine Blend of Mahāmudrā and Madhyamaka. Maitrīpa’s Collection of Texts on Non-conceptual Realization (Amanasikāra) (Vienna 2015). Before returning to Germany in 2001, Klaus-Dieter Mathes worked for seven years as the director of the Nepal Research Centre and the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project in Kathmandu, Nepal. In 1994, he obtained a doctorate in Indology from the University of Marburg under the supervision of Prof. Michael Hahn.

Karin Meyers

– Philosophy Panel –

Cross-Cultural Philosophy, Modern Science, and Traditional Buddhist Worldviews


Karin Meyers received her PhD from the University of Chicago Divinity School in 2010. She has been a faculty member at the Centre for Buddhist Studies since 2011 and is currently the director of CBS’s MA program in Buddhist Studies. Her dissertation (“Freedom and Self-Control”), which she is revising for publication as a book, examined the problem of free will in light of Abhidharma theories of karma and causation. Her other areas of research include the relation between meditative praxis and the Abhidharma, Yogācāra in India and Tibet, and critical reflection on cross-cultural study of Buddhist thought. Her current research and writing focuses on how traditional Buddhist worldviews pose credible challenges to the philosophical assumptions undergirding modernity.  

Jin Park

– Philosophy Panel –

Women and Buddhist Philosophy


Jin Y. Park is professor of Philosophy and Religion and Founding Director of the Asian Studies Program at American University. Park specializes in East Asian Buddhism, postmodernism, deconstruction, Buddhist ethics, Buddhist philosophy of religion, Buddhist-postmodern comparative philosophy, and modern East Asian philosophy. Park is president of the North American Korean Philosophy Association, Vice-President of Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy, and the founding co-director of International Society for Buddhist Philosophy.

Her publications include Buddhism and Postmodernity: Zen, Huayan, and the Possibility of Buddhist-Postmodern Ethics (2008)and Reflections of a Zen Buddhist Nun (2014). In her forthcoming book, Women and Buddhist Philosophy: Engaging Zen Master Kim Iryŏp (2017), Park proposes a new mode of philosophizing. Park is the editor of volumes: Buddhisms and Deconstructions (2006), Merleau-Ponty and Buddhism (co-edited, 2009), Comparative Political Theory and Cross-Cultural Philosophy (2009), and Makers of Modern Korean Buddhism (2010).

Khenpo Tsondru Sangpo

– Philosophy Panel –

“Mipham’s Synthesis of Philosophical Foes” 


Khenpo Tsondru Sangpo was born in Northwestern Nepal in Mugum Bazaar. When he was eleven years old he was ordained by Kyabje Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche at Ka Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery, in Boudhanath, Nepal. He completed his basic studies in the monastery’s elementary school, memorizing many texts and receiving the visual transmission of the monastery’s tradition of chanting. He received novice and fully ordained monastic vows from Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche. In 1998 he began his studies in the monastic college, the Sangye Yeshe Higher Shedra. He studied in the Shedra for ten years, training in the traditional way, via learning and reflection, on texts related to sutra- and mantra-level Buddhism as well as general fields of study. After a number of years of study he became a teaching assistant in the Shedra. He completed his Shedra studies in 2007 and became a Lopon, teaching in both the Sangye Yeshe Shedra and the Rangjung Yeshe Institute and handling management responsibilities in the monastic Shedra. In 2013 he was awarded the title of Khenpo. Currently, he is teaching to people who are interested in Buddhist teachings, both ordained and lay, from both East and West.

Khenpo Urgyen Tenpel

– Philosophy Panel –

“Compassion Unleashed: The Buddha, His Dharma and How It Came to Tibet”

Khenpo Urgyen Tenpel was born in 1982 in Northwestern Nepal in Mugum Bazaar. In 1995, when he was thirteen, he was ordained at Ka Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery in Boudanath, Nepal—a monastery under the care of Kyabje Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche and Chokling Rinpoche. He undertook basic studies in the monastery’s elementary school, memorizing many texts and receiving the visual transmission of the monastery’s tradition of chanting. Eventually, he received novice and later full monastic vows from Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche. In 1998 he began his studies in the monastic college at the Sangye Yeshe Higher Shedra. During his ten years of study there he trained via learning and reflection, focusing on texts related to sutra- and mantra-level Buddhism as well as general fields of study. He was a teacher in the monastery’s middle school as well as a teaching assistant in the monastic Shedra. After completing his Shedra studies in 2007 he became a Lopon, and during the next five years had the opportunity to serve the Sangye Yeshe Shedra through teaching and management positions as well as teaching in the Rangjung Yeshe Institute. In 2013 he was awarded the title of Khenpo. Currently he teaches people who are interested in the Buddhist teachings, both ordained and lay, from both East and West.

William Waldron

– Philosophy Panel –

What Scientists Might Learn from Their Buddhist Subjects 


William Waldron is professor of Religion at Middlebury College. Professor Waldron teaches courses on the South Asian religious traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism, Tibetan religion and history, comparative psychologies and philosophies of mind, and theory and method in the study of religion.

His publications focus on the Yogācāra school of Indian Buddhism and its dialogue with modern thought. He has done extensive research in the area of Buddhist consciousness theory, publishing the book, The Buddhist Unconscious: The ālaya-vijñāna in the Context of Indian Buddhist Thought, with RoutledgeCurzon in 2003. In connection with his interests in cognitive theory, Waldron has also conducted research in the area of comparative cognitive theory (Buddhism and Western Psychology), as well as comparative examinations of the Buddhist notions of karma with the views of evolutionary biology.

Ana Cristina O. Lopes

– Anthropology and History Panel –

Buddhism in the Lab: Mind & Life Dialogues as Cultural Translation


Ana Cristina O. Lopes is a lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. Specializing in the study of Buddhism, anthropology of expressive forms, visual anthropology, and globalization, she has conducted years of fieldwork throughout Asia, Europe, and the Americas and recently held appointments as visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of World Religions (Harvard University) and at the Department of Performance Studies (Tisch School – New York University). Lopes is the author of the book Tibetan Buddhism in Diaspora: Cultural Re-signification in Practice and Institutions (Routledge 2015), a pioneering work concerning the contemporary global spread of Tibetan Buddhism. She has recently finalized her first ethnographic movie, Tempo Circulante, an 80-minute visual essay about the Kalachakra Initiation presided over by the Dalai Lama in Bodhgaya in the beginning of 2012.

Ong See Yew

– Anthropology and History Panel –

The Rise of Humanistic and Engaged Buddhism in Malaysia – A Response to Social Needs in a Multicultural Society


Dr. Ong See Yew (DBA, University of South Australia 2005; MSc, University of Manchester 1995) has been active in Dharma propagation since his school days in the late 1980s. He contributed actively in the Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM) since 1997 and was elected the national President between 2008-2012. During the same period, he also served as the Vice President for the World Fellowship of Buddhist Youth (WFBY) and the director of the Malaysian Buddhist Youth Foundation (YBBM). Upon his retirement from the Buddhist youth organizations, he currently serves as the President for the Melaka Buddhist Lodge (Chee Sze Lin), Secretary General for the Malaysian Buddhist Kulapati Association (MBKA) and Chairman of the editorial board for Eastern Horizon Buddhist magazine. He is also the founding President of Udumbara Mission, a charitable organization that provides education and welfare support to children and youth in under-developed Buddhist countries. While working as a Director with an international IT company and serving in various positions related to Dharma works, he often delivers Dharma talks and leadership programs both locally and overseas. He has a special research interest in Engaged and Humanistic Buddhism, besides studying the relevance of Buddha Dharma in Modern Age.

Alexander von Rospatt 

– Anthropology and History Panel –

The Ādikarma Literature: The Vows and Daily Practices of Lay Bodhisattvas in Late Indic Buddhism and their Perpetuation in the Nepalese Tradition

Alexander von Rospatt is professor for Buddhist and South Asian Studies and director of the Group in Buddhist Studies at University of California, Berkeley. He specializes in the doctrinal history of Indian Buddhism, and in Newar Buddhism, the only Indic Mahayana tradition that persist in its original South Asian setting–the Kathmandu valley. His first book sets forth the development and early history of the Buddhist doctrine of momentariness. His forthcoming book, The Svayambhu Caitya and its Renovations, deals with the historical renovations of the Svayambhū Stupa of Kathmandu. This book complements numerous essays von Rospatt has authored on various aspects of this tradition, including its narrative literature, and its rituals and their origins and evolution.

Before joining UC Berkeley in 2003, von Rospatt served as assistant professor at the University of Leipzig and taught as visiting professor at the Universities of Oxford and Vienna. More recently, he has also taught on visiting appointments at the University of Munich and at the International College for Postgraduate Buddhist Studies in Tokyo.

Gregory Sharkey, SJ

– Anthropology and History Panel –

Buddhism in a New Key: The Roots & Growth of Engaged Buddhism


Gregory Sharkey, SJ, teaches courses in Nepalese Religions at the KU Centre for Buddhist Studies at Rangjung Yeshe Institute, and oversees RYI’s international affiliations and visiting students program.

A graduate of Dartmouth College, he earned a Master’s degree in Philosophy at Boston College and graduate degrees in Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Berkeley, California. His professional studies were at Oxford University where he earned an M.Phil in Sanskrit and a doctorate in Oriental Studies.  From 2002 to 2009 he was director of the Jesuit Research Centre in Kathmandu.

His research interests include the ethnography of Newar and Tamang Buddhism, Himalayan linguistics, and comparative theology. Greg is director of Desideri House, an interreligious dialogue centre in Boudha, Kathmandu, and director of the Boston College Nepal Program. He serves as counselor to the superior general of the Jesuits for interreligious dialogue and relations with the Buddhist community.

Mukta S. Tamang

– Anthropology and History Panel –

Reform Trends in Buddhism Among Tamangs in Nepal


Mukta S. Tamang, is an anthropologist teaching at Central Department of Anthropology at Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu.  His major areas of work include indigenous people’s issues, history and identity, human rights and social inclusion and development. He received his doctoral degree at Cornell University.  He was a Visiting Fellow at the India China Institute at New School for Social Research and currently a member of the research team for the Sacred Himalaya Initiative.  He has also served as Visiting Fellow at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and Goldsmiths’ College of the University of London.


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