Latest Issue: Vol 31, No 1 (2014) RSS2 logo

Buddhist Studies Review

Peter Harvey, University of Sunderland
Alice Collett, York St John University

Book Review Editor
Sarah Shaw, Oxford University

Please send books for review in Buddhist Studies Review to:
Sarah Shaw
Manor Barn,
Elsfield Manor,
Oxford, OX3 9SP
United Kingdom

Buddhist Studies Review is published by Equinox on behalf of the UK Association for Buddhist Studies. The Association was founded in 1996 and two years later took over publication of Buddhist Studies Review, which had been run since 1983 by Russell Webb and Sara Boin-Webb. Membership in the Association includes a subscription to the journal among other benefits.You can join the Association through the membership pages on their website.

The journal seeks to publish quality articles on any aspect of Buddhism, with submitted papers being blind peer-reviewed by two experts prior to acceptance. Relevant fields for the journal are: the different cultural areas where Buddhism exists or has existed (in South, Southeast, Central and East Asia); historical and contemporary aspects (including developments in 'Western' Buddhism); theoretical, practical and methodological issues; textual, linguistic, archaeological and art-historical studies; and different disciplinary approaches to the subject (e.g. Archaeology, Art History, Anthropology, Asian Studies, Comparative Religion, Law, Oriental Studies, Philosophy, Philology, Psychology, Religious Studies, Theology). It will consider articles from both established scholars and research students, from the UK or elsewhere.

Articles of Note from Recent Issues

Richard Gombrich, University of Oxford
Fifty years of Buddhist Studies in Britain, 2005, Vol. 22
Martin T. Adam, University of Victoria
Two Concepts of Meditation and Three Kinds of Wisdom in Bhāvanākramas: A Problem of Translation, 2006. Vol. 23
Jane Angell, University of Sunderland
Women in Brown: a Short History of the Order of Sīladharā, nuns of the English Forest Sangha, 2006, Vol. 23
Marcus Bingenheimer, Dharma Drum Buddhist College (Taiwan)
in the Chinese Saṃyuktāgamas, with a translation of the Māra Saṃyukta of the Bieyi za ahan jing (T.100), 2007, Vol. 24
Ulrich Pagel, School of Oriental and African Studies
Dhāraṇīs of the Mahāvyutpatti: Their Origin and Formation, 2007, Vol. 24
Horiko Kawanami, Lancaster University
The Bhikkhunī Ordination Debate: Global Aspirations, Local Concerns, with special emphasis on the views of the monastic community in Burma, 2007, Vol. 24
Anālayo, University of Hamburg
The Conversion of Aṅgulimāla in the Saṃyukta-āgama, 2008, Vol. 25
Ann Heirman, University of Ghent
Becoming a nun in the Dharmaguptaka tradition, 2008, Vol. 25
Martin Seeger, Leeds University
Phra Payutto and Debates "On the Very idea of the Pali Canon" in Thai Buddhism, 2009, Vol. 26
T.H. Barrett, School of Oriental and African Studies
Rebirth From China to Japan in Nara Hagiography: A Reconsideration, 2009, Vol. 26
Jeff Kuan, Yuan Ze University (Taiwan)
Rethinking Non-Self: A New Perspective from the Ekottarika-āgama, 2009, Vol.26
Peter Harvey, University of Sunderland
The Four Ariya-saccas as “True Realities for the Spiritually Ennobled”- the Painful, its Origin, its Cessation, and the Way Going to This – Rather than “Noble Truths” Concerning These, 2009, Vol. 26
Gisela Krey, University of Bonn
On Women as Teachers in Early Buddhism: Dhammadinnā and Khemā, 2010, Vol. 27
Anālayo, University of Hamburg and Dharma Drum Duddhist College (Taiwan)
Channa’s Suicide in the Saṃyukta-āgama, 2010, Vol. 27
John Kelly, Aide to Bhikkhu Bodhi with his Aṅguttara Nikāya translation
The Buddha's Teachings to Lay People 2011, Vol. 28
Richard Burnett, Teacher and Housemaster, Tonbridge School, Kent (UK)
Mindfulness in Secondary Schools: Learning Lessons from the Adults, Secular and Buddhist, 2011, Vol. 28
Ian Reader, University of Manchester
Buddhism in Crisis? Institutional Decline in Modern Japan, 2011, Vol. 28
Naomi Appleton, University of Cardiff
The Multi-Life Stories of Gautama Buddha and Vardhamāna Mahāvīra,2012, Vol. 29
John S. Strong, Bates College
Explicating the Buddha's Final Illness in the Context of his Other Ailments: The Making and Unmaking of some Jātaka Tales, 2012, Vol. 29
Khristos Nizamis, Independent Scholar (Australia)
"I" without "I am": On the Presence of Subjectivity in Early Buddhism, in the Light of Transcendental Phenomenology,2012, Vol. 29

Indexing and Abstracting

Bibliography of Humanities and Social Sciences Literature, K.G. Saur Verlag
Scopus Abstract and Citation Database
Web of Knowledge (Arts & Humanities Citation Index and Current Contents/Arts & Humanities)
ATLA Religion Database®

Publication and Frequency
May and November
ISSN: 0265-2897 (print)
ISSN: 1747-9681 (online)

Editorial Address: Peter Harvey, School of Art, Design, Media and Culture, Priestman Building, Green Terrace, Sunderland SR2 3PZ.

Most Viewed Articles


The Bhikkhunī Ordination Debate: Global Aspirations, Local Concerns, with special emphasis on the views of the monastic community in Burma

This paper examines the recent events following the bhikkhunī revival in Sri Lanka, and looks at the position of the Burmese Saṅgha, which has traditionally seen itself as the custodian of an ‘authentic’ Buddhist legacy, thrown into a debate by the action of a Burmese bhikkhunī who was recently ordained in Sri Lanka. It introduces the early initiatives of revivalist monks in Burma as well as the viewpoints of Burmese Saṅgha and the nuns in regard to the bhikkhunī issue. Since most debate on the position of nuns take place without much reference to the local political contexts in which they stand, the state monastic organization in Burma is introduced to aid understanding of the framework in which the nuns operate today. At another level, the paper draws attention to the tension created between the international bhikkhunīs who promote liberal ideologies of gender equality, individual rights and universalism
into a faith based community, and local nuns who adhere to the traditional norms of religious duty, moral discipline and service to the community, and questions the ultimate aim in endorsing such secular ideals.
Posted: 2007-10-08More...

Popular Buddhist Ritual in Contemporary Hong Kong: Shuilu Fahui, a Buddhist Rite for Saving All Sentient Beings of Water and Land

Shuilu fahui (水陸法會) is a Buddhist rite for saving all sentient beings (pudu, 普度) with a complex layer of ritual activities incorporating elements of all schools of Chinese Buddhism, such as Tantric mantras, Tian Tai rituals of asking for forgiveness (chanfa, 懺法), and Pure Land reciting of Amitābha’s name. The ritual can be dated to the Tang Dynasty (c. 670–673 CE) and has been one of the most spectacular and popular rituals in Chinese Buddhism. Shuilu fahui is still performed in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, and continues to be very popular amongst such Chinese communities. This study is an aid to understanding how Chinese Buddhism is practised by monks and nuns in Hong Kong, and how they interact with lay Buddhists through Shuilu fahui. This rite constructs and represents a unified religious world that contains many important and profound religious meanings, and it continuous to ­develop in order to accommodate the various demands of people in Hong Kong.
Posted: 2008-05-18More...

Mindfulness in Schools: Learning Lessons from the Adults, Secular and Buddhist

This paper explores the adult mindfulness landscape, secular and Buddhist, in order to inform an approach to the teaching of mindfulness in secondary schools. The Introduction explains the background to the project and the significant overlap between secular and Buddhist practices. I explain what mindfulness is and highlight a number of important practical differences between the teaching of mindfulness in the adult world and in schools. ‘Balancing Calm and Insight’ looks at mindfulness through a lens infrequently explored in the therapeutic literature, and suggests that a slight shift in the centre of gravity towards Calm might be appropriate. ‘Defining Objectives’ considers how difficult it is to clearly articulate the objective of mindfulness in schools given a new context in which it functions as neither clinical application nor spiritual practice. A range of alternatives is considered. ‘Building a Scaffolding’ explains the importance of context in both Buddhist and secular practice. To succeed, mindfulness should be nested within a broader framework of understanding, or what Kabat-Zinn calls a ‘scaffolding’. I suggest that perhaps the best ‘scaffolding’ for mindfulness in schools is its sense of possibility. ‘Ethics and Community’ describes how ethics are more important in secular mindfulness than they at first appear. The shape ethics might take in a school context is considered, then an assessment of the role of the teacher and what equivalent there might be for what Buddhists call saṅgha, or Community.
Posted: 2011-07-07More...

Cambodian Buddhism: History and Practice , Ian Harris (Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai’i Press, 2005), 352pp, $62/£39.95, ISBN 0824827651

Posted: 2007-10-08More...

Zen Classics: Formative Texts in the History of Zen Buddhism, eds Steven Heine & Dale S. Wright (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006),viii + 283 pp, £14.99, ISBN 0-19-517525-5

Posted: 2007-10-08More...

Most Recent Articles


Putting the Madhyamaka Trick in Context: A Contextualist Reading of Huntington’s Interpretation of Madhyamaka

In a series of works published over a period of twenty five years, C.W. Huntington, Jr. has developed a provocative and radical reading of Madhyamaka (particularly Early Indian Madhyamaka) inspired by ‘the insights of post- Wittgensteinian pragmatism and deconstruction’ (1993, 9). This article examines the body of Huntington’s work through the filter of his seminal 2007 publication, ‘The Nature of the Mādhyamika Trick’, a polemic aimed at a quartet of other recent commentators on Madhyamaka (Robinson, Hayes, Tillemans and Garfield) who attempt ‘to read Nāgārjuna through the lens of modern symbolic logic’ (2007, 103), a project which is the ‘end result of a long and complex scholastic enterprise … [which] can be traced backwards from contemporary academic discourse to fifteenth century Tibet, and from there into India’ (2007, 111) and which Huntington sees as distorting the Madhyamaka project which was not aimed at ‘command[ing] assent to a set of rationally grounded doctrines, tenets, or true conclusions’ (2007, 129). This article begins by explicating some disparate strands found in Huntington’s work, which I connect under a radicalized notion of ‘context’. These strands consist of a contextualist/pragmatic theory of truth (as opposed to a correspondence theory of truth), a contextualist epistemology (as opposed to one relying on foundationalist epistemic warrants), and a contextualist ontology where entities are viewed as necessarily relational (as opposed to possessing a context-independent essence.) I then use these linked theories to find fault with Huntington’s own readings of Candrakīrti and Nāgārjuna, arguing that Huntington misreads the semantic context of certain key terms (tarka, dṛṣṭi, pakṣa and pratijñā) and fails to follow the implications of Nāgārjuna and Candrakīrti’s reliance on the role of the pramāṇas in constituting conventional reality. Thus, I find that Huntington’s imputation of a rejection of logic and rational argumentation to Nāgārjuna and Candrakīrti is unwarranted. Finally, I offer alternate readings of the four contemporary commentators selected by Huntington, using the conceptual apparatus developed earlier to dismiss Robinson’s and Hayes’s view of Nāgārjuna as a charlatan relying on logical fallacies, and to find common ground between Huntington’s project and the view of Nāgārjuna developed by Tillemans and Garfield as a thinker committed using reason to reach, through rational analysis, ‘the limits of thought.’
Posted: 2014-07-24More...

Thematic Research on the Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra: An Integrative Review

The current integrative review aims to do the following: first, examine the Chinese and English topical studies on the Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra published from 1900 to 2011; second, analyze the characteristics of those works; third, investigate related study trends through a statistical analysis; and finally, identify research gaps. This review not only offers a comprehensive overview of the available literature on the Sūtra retrieved from 25 English and Chinese electronic databases, but also categorizes the 256 selected publications (n=34 English; n=222 Chinese) into eight sub-themes: art (n=36; 14%), book reviews (n=11; 4%), philological studies (n=11; 4%), literature (n=24; 10%), philosophy (n=77; 30%), textual criticism (n=22; 9%), translation (n=56; 22%), and miscellaneous topics (n=19; 7%); thus illuminating different research foci and features between English and Chinese scholars, and also among Chinese researchers in various territories. This project illustrates how an integrative review can be employed in Buddhist studies; it reveals challenges and opportunities related to Buddhist studies, stemming from technology; it suggests collaborative research in Buddhism; and it proposes the application of the philosophy of the Sūtra to practical disciplines.
Posted: 2014-07-24More...

In Search of the Origin of the Enumeration of Hell-kings in an Early Medieval Chinese Buddhist Scripture: Why did King Bimbisāra become Yama after his Disastrous Defeat in Battle in the Wen diyu jing 問地獄經 (‘Sūtra on Questions on Hells’)?

The idea of a purgatorial journey to the Ten Kings of the Ten Hells is a distinctive feature of funerals and ancestral worship in Chinese Buddhism and Chinese popular religions. In Indian Buddhism ideas emerged of chief deities presiding over others in a few of many heavens and of various hells with different tortures governed by Yama and his messengers, yet the idea that each hell was governed by a ‘king’ is not found in early Indian Buddhist sources. This article examines what is probably the earliest enumeration of hell-kings, in the Sūtra on Questions on Hells. This very early example derives from an extraordinary story about how King Bimbisāra and his eighteen ministers became Yama and kings of eighteen hells after a disastrous defeat in battle. My analysis will illustrate how this account was probably consciously formulated by an author familiar with two sources: (i) the story of the Buddha’s concern about the fate of his followers in the Shenisha jing (闍尼沙經; Janavasabha Sutta), and (ii) the popular Chinese belief in sacrificial cults of ‘defeated armies and dead generals’.
Posted: 2014-07-24More...

Mindfulness, Free Will and Buddhist Practice: Can Meditation Enhance Human Agency?

Recent philosophical and neuroscientific writings on the problem of free will have tended to consolidate the deterministic accounts with the upshot that free will is deemed to be illusory and contrary to the scientific facts (Blackmore 2011; Harris 2012). Buddhist commentaries on these issues have been concerned in the main with whether karma and dependent origination implies a causal determinism which constrains free human agency or — in more nuanced interpretations allied with Buddhist meditation — whether mindfulness practice allows for the development of at least some potentially free volitions and actions (Harvey 2007; Repetti 2012). After examining some of the key arguments in this debate, it is suggested that the present-moment attention and awareness central to mindfulness practice may offer a way out of the impasse presented by the alleged illusion of free will. The meditative spaciousness of non-judgmental, present-moment awareness can help to foster the capacity to transform those mental formations which constrain autonomous thought and action. This conclusion is informed by the general thesis that free will is not a given — an innate aspect of the human condition — but, like wisdom or rationality, a potential quality of mind which may be developed through training, education and skilful means.
Posted: 2014-07-24More...

The Meaning of ‘Mind-made Body’ (S. manomaya-kāya, C. yisheng shen 意生身) in Buddhist Cosmological and Soteriological systems

The ‘mind-made body’ (S. manomaya-kāya, C. yisheng shen 意生身) is seen as a subtle body attained by a Buddhist adept during meditative practice. Previous research has elucidated this concept as having important doctrinal significance in the Buddhist cosmological system. The Pāli canonical evidence shows that the manomaya-kāya is not merely a spiritual byproduct of meditative training, but also a specific existential mode of being in the system of the three realms. Studies of the manomaya-kāya to date, however, have focused mostly on early Pāli materials, and thus do not encompass theoretical development and soteriological significance of this notion in later tradition. As a beginning step to fill this gap, this article explores the meanings of the manomaya-kāya represented in the Śrīmālādevī Sūtra and the two treatises of the Ratnagotravibhāga Śāstra and the Foxing lun, which are doctrinally based on the Śrīmālādevī Sūtra in their discussion of the manomaya-kāya. Through the observation of the manomaya-kāya in these Mahāyāna texts, this article seeks to demonstrate how the concept is used in the broader cosmological and soteriological system of Mahāyāna tradition. For this purpose, I first review the meanings of the manomaya-kāya in early Buddhist texts and then observe the cosmological and soteriological meaning of the notion by analyzing the theoretical connection between the three Mahāyāna texts.
Posted: 2014-07-24More...


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