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2012 Buddhism in China-- Connecting to the Source:

Platform Sutra Workshop (Winter)


Program Information


Platform Sutra Workshop

Guangzhou, China

Dec. 28, 2012 to Jan. 6th, 2013


The Platform Sutra Workshop will begin with a five day intensive workshop on the Platform Sutra led by the Eminent Buddhist Scholar, Professor Peter N. Gregory, followed by a three day tour to the temples related to the Sixth Patriarch Huineng. The five day intensive will include a monastic life practicum consisting of daily meditation. Nanhua temple where Huineng’s full body relic has been enshrined will be a part of the tour as well as Guangxiao, Baoguang, Liurong and Liuzu Temple. The Workshop is coordinated with Professor Gong Jun from Zhongshan University in Guangzhou and sponsored by Chan Base Association in Guangzhou.


Significance of the Platform Sutra

The Platform Sūtra tells the story of the triumph of Huineng—an illiterate menial from the “barbarian” south—over  the learned senior monk Shenxiu in a poetry contest to determine the inheritance of the mantle of the Sixth Patriarch. Their exchange of poems embodies what came to be know the “sudden” and “gradual” approaches to Chan practice, and the outcome of the contest marked the “sudden” Southern lineage’s ascendancy over the “gradual” Northern lineage as the orthodox tradition of Chan. The PS played a formative role in the development of the Chan, Sǒn, and Zen traditions, and the discovery of early manuscript versions of the Platform Sūtra in the cave-temples of Dunhuang has been at the center of modern reappraisals of early Chan history vis-à-vis the tradition's representations of that history.


Biography of Professor Peter N. Gregory

Peter N. Gregory joined the faculty at Smith College as the Jill Ker Conway Professor of Religion and East Asian Studies in 1999. After receiving his doctorate in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University in 1981, he taught in the Program for the Study of Religion at the University of Illinois for fifteen years. He has also served as the President and Executive Director of the Kuroda Institute for the Study of Buddhism and Human Values since 1984, and in that capacity he has directed two publication series with the University of Hawaii Press: “Studies in East Asian Buddhism” and “Classics in East Asian Buddhism.” His research has focused on medieval Chinese Buddhism, especially the Chan and Huayan traditions during the Tang and Song dynasties, on which he has written or edited seven books, including Tsung-mi and the Sinification of Buddhism (1991). He is currently completing a translation and study of a ninth-century Chinese Buddhist text on the historical and doctrinal origins of the Chan tradition (Zongmi’s Preface to the Collected Writings on the Origins of Chan (禪源諸詮集都序). He has taught the Platform Sūtra frequently in classes on Chan and Zen and has recently published "The Platform Sūtra as the Sudden Teaching" in Readings on the Platform Sūtra (2012). 



Dec. 28th: Arrival (Guangzhou, China)

Dec. 29th – Jan 5th: Platform Sutra classes and Monastic Life Practicum.

Jan. 3rd – Jan. 5th: Huineng Temple TourJan.

6th: Departure (Guangzhou, China)



Accepted applicants must provide their own transportation to and from Guangzhou, China. There are no additional costs for the Platform Sutra Workshop. Room and board, tuition and local transportation costs will be covered by a scholarship for all selected participants.


Dress Code

During the Monastic Life Practicum, participants are required to wear gray loose fitting pants and long sleeved shirts. This will help facilitate the objectives for this part of the program as well as ensure that clothing is appropriate and comfortable for meditation.


Eligibility and Application

The Platform Sutra Workshop accepts applications from faculty, graduate level and advanced undergraduate students, and those who have already completed their degrees from any country.


Applicants from diverse academic disciplines are encouraged to apply with preference given to those in the field of East Asian and Buddhist Studies. Applications will be reviewed by a panel including Buddhist clergy, scholars and alumni.


Approximately 25 applicants will be offered admission to this program, ten of which will be fielded from post-doctoral scholars from China. Applications will be reviewed on a ROLLING BASIS, and decisions will be made within two weeks after submission. Selection is quite competitive; applicants are encouraged to apply early to insure a better chance of admission into the workshop.


College Credit

Participants may receive university credit from the University of the West to the academic institution they attend: REL 427 “Chinese Buddhism: Philosophy and Practice” for undergraduates and REL 638 “Seminar in Chinese Buddhism: Philosophy and Practice” for graduate students. Enrollment in a credit course is not required to participate in this program. Interested applicants should check the University of West’s website for current enrollment information and fees. Upon completion the student will receive a letter grade for the class.  Please check with the academic institution/department you attend beforehand to see if it will accept credits from UWest.

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