lunes, 31 de julio de 2017

[안내] Request for Workshop Proposals – InterAsian Connections VI: Hanoi (2018)

서울대학교 아시아연구소가 파트너로 참여하고 있는 SSRC InterAsia Program 2018 12 4-7일의 기간 베트남 사회과학원과 함께  InterAsian Connections VI: Hanoi 공동 개최합니다.
이번 국제회의 개최를 위한 Request for Workship Proposals 공지되었기에 관련내용 전해드리니, 많은 연구자들께서 관심을 갖고 지원하여 주시기를 부탁드립니다. 2018년도 국제회의 프로포절 공모의 세부 내용은 아래의 공지사항을 확인하시기 바랍니다.

Conference on InterAsian Connections VI: Hanoi (December 4-7, 2018) Hosted by Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences

Organized by: Social Science Research Council InterAsia Program, Duke University Global Asia Initiative, Göttingen University Global and Transregional Studies Platform, the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Hong Kong, Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore, Seoul National University Asia Center, Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, and Yale University – collectively the Organizers.

Request for Workshop Proposals

InterAsian Connections VI: Hanoi is the sixth in a series of conferences showcasing innovative research from across the social sciences and related disciplines that explores themes that transform conventional understandings of Asia. Crossing traditional area studies boundaries and creating international and interdisciplinary networks of scholars working to theorize the intersection of the “global” and the “regional” in a variety of contexts, Asia is reconceptualized as a dynamic and interconnected historical, geographical, and cultural formation stretching from West Asia through Eurasia, South Asia and Southeast Asia, to East Asia.
The 2018 Hanoi conference—comprised of both closed, director-led thematic workshops and plenary sessions open across workshops and to the general public—will be structured to enable intensive “working group” interactions on specific research themes as well as broader interactions on topics of mutual interest and concern. Each workshop will have two directors with different institutional affiliations, preferably representing different disciplines.
Joint proposals are invited from faculty members at accredited universities and colleges in any world region who are interested in co-organizing and co-directing a thematic workshop that addresses one of the following broadly conceived workshop themes (click here to see full description of workshop themes):
1.     Sites of InterAsian Interaction
2.     Territorial Sovereignties and Historical Identities
3.     Transregional Religious Networks
4.     Environmental Humanities in Asia
5.     Rethinking Conceptual Frameworks for the Rise of Asian Cities
6.     Infrastructures and Networks

Application Process for Workshop Directors

Applications are invited from scholars who would like to convene an international workshop that brings together a group of researchers working to address one of the broadly conceived workshop themes located in an InterAsian research landscape.
All workshop directors are encouraged to think about InterAsia in the context of connectionsconvergencesand comparisons. We are interested in developing the study of connections –  the exploration of historical and/or contemporary transnational/cross-national/trans-regional processes, structures, practices, and flows within and across the territorial and imaginative space of Asia, secondly convergences  or the responses of different Asian societies to common processes, and finally comparisons involving the investigation of societies/polities within Asia, especially those that utilize  innovative units of comparison.  In addition to the investigation of particular issues and processes as described in the workshop themes, the conference aims to critically investigate the ways in which fields of knowledge map Asia and imagine alternatives. Workshop directors should encourage papers that promote a conscious InterAsian project of inquiry. We aim at gathering as broad an international and multi-disciplinary representation of scholars as possible.  We also encourage proposals for workshops that will see participation by activists, policymakers, media practitioners, and cultural producers addressing different aspects of the InterAsian conference theme.
Each workshop should have two directors (with different institutional affiliations and preferably representing different disciplines) and will include 10-12 participants (senior and junior scholars, graduate students, other researchers) chosen competitively from across relevant disciplines in the social sciences, humanities and related fields. Workshop Directors will be selected by the Organizers and are then expected to help recruit and select workshop participants, thus they should have sufficient research experience on the region and themes of their proposals. Directors will be selected according to four criteria:
  • The theoretical and/or empirical contributions of the workshop—i.e. the extent to which the proposed workshop represents an innovative and original contribution to existing scholarship on the subject;
  • The InterAsian relevance of the workshop—i.e. the extent to which the proposed workshop takes forward the intellectual mandate of the conference, of redefining “Asia” as a dynamic and interconnected formation, whether through innovative comparative approaches or through a focus on connections within and across the traditionally defined regions of Asia (West Asia, Eurasia, Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia). Arguments that particular topics imply specific geographic configurations within and across Asia will be welcomed;
  • The anticipated composition of the workshop—i.e. the extent to which the workshop will elicit participation from a diverse community of scholars, with preference given to workshops that have multi-disciplinary and international appeal, and that involve scholars and researchers at different stages of their careers;
  • The anticipated research outcomes of the workshop—i.e. the extent to which the workshop has the potential to generate new and innovative research agendas and to forge/sustain intra and inter-regional networks of scholarly research and exchange among institutions and individuals working in and on Asia.
Note: workshop directors from the last two InterAsian Connections conferences (Istanbul 2013 and Seoul 2016) may not apply to serve as workshop directors, but may choose to apply as workshop participants. 
The deadline for application submissions is October 31, 2017 and decisions will be announced by early November.
Once these workshop directors have been selected, we will issue a second Call for Workshop Papers for individual paper submissions (please look for this call in December 2017).
Applicants should submit the following materials. Click here to download application materials
1.     Application cover sheet–basic workshop details
2.     1-2 page C.V. for each workshop director (academic qualifications and employment history; list of publications)
3.     1-page abstract of the workshop that could be circulated as an open call for papers (may be single-spaced). As a note, if selected to lead a workshop, directors may be asked to revise this CfP prior to circulation.
4.     Answers to five questions (3-4 pages, may be single-spaced)

Director’s Responsibilities

Following the selection of workshop directors, the Organizers will announce an open call for individual paper submissions for all conference workshops, including thematic workshops and workshops organized by the host institution, Vietnam Academy for Social Sciences, and the Organizers. The responsibilities of the workshop directors include:
  • Helping to recruit individual paper submissions from interested international workshop participants (senior and junior scholars, graduate students, other researchers) competitively from across relevant disciplines in the social sciences, humanities, and related fields;
  • Collaborating with the Organizers to select 10-12 participants for their workshop;
  • Communicating with workshop participants once they have been selected, including providing feedback on participant draft paper submissions approximately four months in advance of the conference;
  • Preparing a workshop agenda and workshop concept note;
  • Convening daily meetings of the workshop at the conference as well as participating in a plenary session;
  • Presenting a research statement at the conclusion of the conference and submitting a final workshop report.
The Organizers will cover all costs of directors’ attendance, including economy class travel and accommodations. Workshop directors will each receive a $1,000 honorarium. Funds will also be available to cover partial expenses of the workshop participants, based on an assessment of needs.

Workshop Themes

1.     Sites of InterAsian Interaction
This workshop would focus on locations through which Asia is made, unmade and remade. These sites are ones through which people, goods, ideas, texts and images traverse, consolidate, are translated and get refracted. The sites themselves could be of different types and scales, from global cities to trucking stops to penal colonies or tourist resorts. They may be permanent or temporary or ephemeral. Papers may address case studies of particular sites, or the topography of networks or different dimensions of the connections and confluences studied. The workshop can bring together the historical and contemporary, the spatial and the temporal dimensions of interactions across the Asian expanse as well as between Asia and the world.
2.     Territorial Sovereignties and Historical Identities
Territorial conflicts among sovereign states, whether on land or sea, have been around since the appearance of the very idea of sovereignty in Europe.  Yet as Thongchai Winnichakul and others have revealed, the very idea of a sovereign ‘geobody’ in Asia is not much more than a century old. Workshops in this area could explore how historical materials and events that do not speak to the modern notion of sovereignty utilized to make sovereignty claims. To what extent is the mobilization around historical identities the more important factor? How rapidly can these identities change? How do states and other players negotiate between relatively recent international laws, identity mobilization and assertions of raw power?
3.     Transregional Religious Networks
Religious mobilization in Asia has long relied on the movement of actors, ideas and institutions across national and imperial boundaries: movement is a constant despite enormous transformations in technologies of border control, ideas of sovereignty, and notions of citizenship.  With the rise of a global discourse on terror, moreover, religious movement is routinely represented as a threat to state sovereignty: even as international pilgrimage attracts record levels of participation, adherents today must comply with increasing demands for security.  Workshops in this area could explore the role of new strategies used by such networks to facilitate movement and the dissemination of new rationales that seek to attract followers to transregionally imagined forms of community. We will explore as well how conflict among religions and between religions and states often centers on concerns to proscribe or promote specific kinds of movement, with political consequences both for members of religious networks but also for the multi-religious Asian nation-states which these networks traverse.  How and when, for instance, do political actors distinguish between religious teachers, proselytizers, pilgrims, labour migrants, and refugees?  When and how do counter-movements that seek to (re)place particular religions within borders become popular? Finally, what can these networks tell us about the mutual entailments of religion, politics and sovereignty across modern Asia?
4.     Environmental Humanities in Asia
The topic of Environmental Humanities has been gaining popularity over the last several years. While the need for such an area of inquiry is palpable from the environmental crisis facing the planet, it is unclear what the agenda of such an inquiry should be.  First, how would such an approach both demarcate its territory of inquiry and also speak to or join the more developed inquiries conducted by technical, geo-engineering and market approaches? Second, in what ways might the particularity of problems in Asia (eg population density or significance of the billion people dependent on circum-Himalayan rivers) and the approaches developed in this area be different from other parts of the world? What are some of the themes that thread through the diverse projects undertaken about this topic? These questions are suggested as examples only of the kind of questions to be posed at this stage of the field’s development.
5.     Rethinking Conceptual Frameworks for the Rise of Asian Cities 
This workshop should focus on the apparent disconnect between the rise of urban nodes in the Inter-Asian region and existing urban studies paradigms (both in the social sciences and humanities) that remain largely Euro-centric and positivist.  Asian urban nodes accommodate a growing percentage of the world’s population.  They have unique historical baggage and are faced with volatile, competitive pressures today.   The workshop expects papers to capture the lived experiences of their populations as they engage the tumultuous modern transformations of Asia in the past century and the reconfigurations of spaces in the new century.  New analytical tools should be devised to highlight diverse energies to become “urban”, contesting political agendas and moral imagination.
6.     Infrastructures and Networks
Workshops in this area could explore infrastructures as material and organizational networks “that facilitate the flow of goods, people, or ideas and allow for their exchange over space” (Larkin 2013), a useful concept to study the circulation of knowledge and practices that transcend national and political boundaries, re-defining a region. The concept should be central in the history of trade, material and human flows, circulation of technological knowledge and practices that are entangled with not only built infrastructures, but also organizational and regulatory networks, and cultural imaginaries.


  • October 31, 2017 – Workshop director proposals due
  • November 2017 – Workshop director selections announced
  • Late November 2017 – Revised Call for individual workshop papers due from selected directors (if applicable)
  • By December 1, 2017 – Call for individual workshop papers circulated
  • January 15, 2018 – Workshop paper proposals due
  • February 2018 – Workshop participant selection
  • June 2018 – Draft workshop papers due
  • August 2018 – Director comments due to participants on all draft papers
  • November 2018 – Final, revised workshop papers due
  • December 2018 (tbd) – InterAsian Connections VI: Hanoi

Submission Options

Email all applications to: Please indicate InterAsian Connections VI and the name of the workshop theme in the subject line.
Questions? Email us at:

H-Net Notifications -- JOB

Table of Contents

  1. BOOK REVIEW> Galen Amstutz on Iwata, "Kindai Bukkyō to seinen" and Ōmi, "Kindai Bukkyō no naka no Shinshū" (from H-Japan)
  2. JOBS> H-Net Job Guide Weekly Report For H-Buddhism: 17 July - 24 July

BOOK REVIEW> Galen Amstutz on Iwata, "Kindai Bukkyō to seinen" and Ōmi, "Kindai Bukkyō no naka no Shinshū" (from H-Japan)

by Lewis Doney
Review published on Saturday, July 22, 2017
Ōmi Toshihiro
Galen Amstutz

Amstutz on Fumiaki, 'Kindai Bukkyō to seinen: Chikazumi Jōkan to sono jidai' and Ōmi Toshihiro, 'Kindai Bukkyō no naka no Shinshū: Chikazumi Jōkan to kyūdōshatachi'

Iwata Fumiaki. Kindai Bukkyō to seinen: Chikazumi Jōkan to sono jidai. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2014. 332 pp. JPY 3,600 (cloth), ISBN 978-4-00-025988-0.Ōmi Toshihiro. Kindai Bukkyō no naka no Shinshū: Chikazumi Jōkan to kyūdōshatachi. Kyoto: Hōzōkan, 2014. 230 pp. JPY 3,000 (cloth), ISBN 978-4-8318-6043-9.
Reviewed by Galen Amstutz (Institute of Buddhist Studies / Graduate Theological Union)
Published on H-Japan (July, 2017)
Commissioned by Orion Klautau

Chikazumi Jōkan: An Institutional Activist of Modern Shin Buddhism

It is not yet widely enough recognized that there was intense intellectual activity in the large "heritage" Japanese Buddhist organizations as they adapted to the early twentieth century. An important example of this energy was the now relatively obscured religious studies scholar and Shin Buddhist educator Chikazumi Jōkan (1870-1941), who prominently inspired a number of modern young Japanese intellectuals, especially in the Taishō period. The two studies reviewed here are efforts to refocus attention on Chikazumi and reestablish a conception of his historical importance.
Iwata Fumiaki’s more narrative study deals rather straightforwardly with the scholar’s life and influence in a series of chronological and thematic chapters, delineating how Chikazumi straddled two eras. He was raised in a late Tokugawa/early Meiji Shin Buddhist social environment in the Kansai region near Lake Biwa, at the family temple Saigenji in Nagahama (Shiga Prefecture). Educated in a traditional manner by his father but with a new emphasis on the Tannishō text, which became conspicuous in modern Jōdo Shinshū, he was successful as a young student in Kyoto. With Kiyozawa Manshi’s (1863-1903) recommendation he was sent, in 1890, for special higher school study in Tokyo, where over the following years he would encounter the circles of the leading Buddhist intellectuals of the day. He became deeply involved in the Bukkyō Seinenkai movement and with the contemporary definitional and political debates circulating around the question of “religion” (shūkyō). But he also suffered through episodes of spiritual anguish or breakdown (hanmon), which resulted in a deeper experiential commitment (kaishin) toward Buddhism. Chikazumi in this younger period engaged in political activity, especially via journalism in the Seikyō Jihō periodical initiated in 1899, and joined the Buddhist campaign against the First Religions Bill in the Diet (regarded by Buddhist institutions as treating Christianity too favorably). In this part of his life, he seems to have manifested a combination of deep inward Buddhist orientation and vigorous social activity. In 1900-1902, he spent two years in Europe per the direction of the Higashi Honganji, where he began to absorb the traditions and practices of European religious studies and Buddhology, which were then somewhat still new to Japan. Afterward, as a teacher in Tokyo, he began to engage with “Western modernity” when lecturing at the Kyūdō Kaikan institution. Subsequently, over the following couple of decades, Chikazumi was chiefly involved with the doctrinally oriented publication Kyūdō, which was aimed at generating a version of Shin Buddhist discourse for the twentieth century. Offering what was at the time a strikingly fresh personal confessional voice, especially in his rendition of the “absolute compassion of misery,” Chikazumi’s writing and teaching had much influence over a number of intellectual leaders, especially educators, who were his contemporaries.
In the final phase of his career, Chikazumi participated (as he had not done so much before) in efforts directed to the interests of the Higashi Honganji institution and its membership per se, now via effort on the newspaper Shinkai Kengen. This led him to become entangled in organizational matters like scandals around the Higashi Honganji hereditary leadership. He also struggled with the relationship between the family-religion interests of the regular temple membership (attuned to the relatively generic East Asian conception of the Pure Land as a karmic transition zone) and the more philosophically upscale, personally interiorized version of Shinranian thought championed by the progressive intellectuals. Unfortunately, in 1931, Chikazumi suffered an attack of partial physical paralysis, which interfered with, but did not stop, his activities up to his death in 1941.
Connections between Chikazumi and younger intellectuals of his era are dealt with in the second part of Iwata’s volume. One of these aspects was his influence on Japanese psychiatry, especially through the psychiatrist Furusawa Heisaku (1897-1968) who invented the term “Ajātaśatru complex” (ajase kompurekkusu). Furusawa possessed both a deep Shin Buddhist orientation and training in the Western traditions which were new to Japan. Another of these influences was Chikazumi’s effects on certain writers, especially Kamura Isota (1897-1933) and Miyazawa Kenji (1896-1933), the latter of whom had a Shin Buddhist upbringing but experienced a familial conflict that led him to switch to his better-known Lotus Sutra devotionalism. Finally, a third dimension of Chikazumi’s influence was his role in the “religious philosophy” of Miki Kiyoshi (1897-1945), who is also known as a Marxist thinker.

Generalizing at the beginning of the second half of his book, Iwata argues that although each of these figures developed in his own creative field in his own way, they shared a common emphasis on the Shin doctrinal notion of “absolute compassion” (zettai no jihi). Iwata suggests that even observers within Japan have missed this connection due to their various preconceptions or prejudices about the material. Broadly, he criticizes the tendency of Japanese researchers to read texts narrowly without taking account of the larger contexts of their production.
Ōmi Toshihiro’s rather contrasting book, which originated recently (2012) as a doctoral dissertation for Keio University, treats Chikazumi in a vein both more academic and more innovative. The opening preface self-consciously addresses the question of historiography of modern Japanese Buddhism, especially concerning Shin Buddhism’s position in contemporary research, how paradigms and perspectives have shaped the subject, and the research situation regarding Chikazumi.[1]

With this awareness in mind, Ōmi’s first chapter examines how “modern Shinshū” is itself a concept that was invented in the twentieth century. Kiyozawa Manshi’s thought—which the author handles in the style of contemporary criticism as a mode of discourse (gensetsu)—created the major lineage of this modernity. Despite the disruptive or revolutionary reputation of this discourse initially, over time in the twentieth century, at least in the Higashi Honganji branch, it has moved from being unapproved doctrine (itan) to established tradition (dentō). Chikazumi was an important player in this “modern Shinshū” process of adaptation and transition.
However, as Ōmi explains in the second chapter, the process was not just a matter of discourse—in the sense of producing some mere revised language at the surface level—but of a deepening or restoration of the sensibility of the tradition away from an orientation to “philosophy” (tetsugaku), in other words, something merely conceptual and therefore misleading, toward “experience” (taiken), the genuine personal reality. Ōmi further elucidates that Chikazumi pursued a mode of communication about this new, grounded experience which can be summarized as the very “vanishing of linguistic space” (gengo kūkan no shoshitsu) (pp. 79-80). Chikazumi, through his youthful anguish, introspection, confessionalism, and sense of received compassion, went through such a process himself, thus providing modern Shin Buddhism with a turning point that could serve as a model for others.
Chikazumi’s existential transitions occurred in a larger context that was unprecedented in Japanese history. Chikazumi explicitly or implicitly was in intense dialogue with the forms of Western discourse that had entered Japan since the Meiji period and created neologisms, such as tetsugaku and taiken. Additionally the cultural (and political) field now included Christianity, and True Pure Land Buddhism in particular was forced to interact with this new religious player because of Shin’s institutional prominence and its non-monastic, congregational structure. On this stage, Chikazumi operated as a proselytizer who was concerned with strategy and tactics for spreading religious ideas; and over time his relation to Christianity shifted from confrontation to appropriation. He eventually reached a position described by Ōmi as “cutting off practice, but retaining the imaginational orientation (shinkō, ‘faith’)” (p.97). Yet as Ōmi himself voices, this stance only reemphasizes the question of just what this “modern era of Shinshū” is. What was experientially new and what was essentially just a recasting for a new era?
The apparent intensification of inward experience and the impacts of modern Christianity were interwoven with what Ōmi calls a “Buddhism of Personalities” (jinkaku no bukkyō). Modernity strengthened the distinction and differentiation of individuals, which was—even if only strictly speaking a phenomenon in the realm of (mere) “conventional reality”—a cultural and even political shift which had greatly affected the sensibility of Japanese Buddhist life by the Taishō period. The shifts were related to gender questions. Ōmi addresses the problem of reading the interior lives of female members of Shin communities (monto), the changing role of women in “modern Buddhism,” and the playing out of matters of real experience and hopeful imaginative orientation in everyday life.
Even further the shifts were entangled with modifications in the nature of the relationships between the headquarters institutions (honzan) and their hereditary heads (or figureheads) and the centralizing modern Japanese political regime. Efforts to rethink and reform the institutions had begun early, including with the role of the sect leadership (shūmon) in the early Shōwa period. Yet the tradition remained complexly multi-stranded, displaying a good deal of collusion between the institutions and the new state, persistent devotionalism among ordinary members toward the hossu (hereditary head and descendant of Shinran), and serious tensions between commitment to Shin Buddhism and commitment to the state. In any case, after the Japanese defeat in the Fifteen-Year War, the nature of “Shin Buddhist modernity” had been transformed. As Ōmi summarizes in his closing chapter—which focuses on a number of intellectuals who were also regarded as myōkōnin (persons really gifted with experiential knowledge)—the Shin Buddhist tradition since the Meiji period has been a rich, complex intermingling of tradition and modernity.
What do these books suggest more broadly? Whether out of disinterest or misunderstanding, in their perception of Japanese Buddhism since 1900, non-Japanese, along with most “secular” Japanese as well, have tended to underestimate the continuity within the established, normalized, or routinized world of institutional Buddhist activity. This disappearance of relatively “ordinary” organized Buddhism from contemporary awareness contrasts with the sporadic attention given to more apparently disruptive, “celebrity” figures, such as Kiyozawa Manshi. More broadly, the phenomenon is tied to a questionable modern historiographical perspective that discounts the contribution of the inherited “everyday” Buddhist presence in Japanese society in the twentieth century—especially in the early half when there was great deal of creative ferment. So, from the perspective of the early twenty-first century—a full hundred years after Chikazumi and his cohorts were active—one can be impressed by the passionate effort that was given at that time to “re-tune” a sophisticated Buddhist language for the post-Meiji world. The results are still contemporary, and have become embedded in much of common Japanese twentieth-century Buddhist discourse.
At the same time it is worth reinforcing Ōmi’s observation: what is this “Shin Buddhist modernity” all about, really? A reassessment might be that it is not actually helpful either directly or implicitly to associate it with “universal” notions of religious “modernity” or “modernization” derived from the Western experience of Christianity. Perhaps the Shin case involves a fundamentally non-Western “modernization” story with many nexuses and points distinctive to itself. From that perspective, while research into this complicated, kaleidoscopic Japanese Pure Land story is of substantial academic value in the history of that special Asian country, and is perhaps of some existential interest to a facet of Japanese Buddhists, up to this point it is hard to see that the convoluted record can be made of concern to anyone who is non-Japanese and not involved with Shin Buddhism on the inside.
[1]. A rapidly increasing understanding of these problems by non-Japanese scholars is marked by the outstanding articles in a recent special issue of the journal Japanese Religions, edited by Orion Klautau. See “The Politics of Buddhist Studies in Early Twentieth-Century Japan,” special issue, Japanese Religions vol. 39, nos. 1 & 2 (2014).
Printable Version:
Citation: Galen Amstutz. Review of Fumiaki, Iwata, Kindai Bukkyō to seinen: Chikazumi Jōkan to sono jidai and Ōmi Toshihiro, Kindai Bukkyō no naka no Shinshū: Chikazumi Jōkan to kyūdōshatachi. H-Japan, H-Net Reviews. July, 2017.

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JOBS> H-Net Job Guide Weekly Report For H-Buddhism: 17 July - 24 July

by Jason Protass
The following jobs were posted to the H-Net Job Guide from
17 July 2017 to 24 July 2017.  These job postings are included here based on the categories selected by the list editors for H-Buddhism.  See the H-Net Job Guide website at for more information.  To contact the Job Guide,
write to, or call +1-517-432-5134 between 9 am and 5 pm US Eastern time.


Bucknell University - Bucknell University, Assistant or Associate
Professor in Environmental Studies, with a focus on Race, Identity,
and Community

Stanford University - Law and Legal Institutions in Muslim Societies

University of California - Riverside - Tenure-track Assistant
Professor, Human Biological Anthropology

Washington University in St. Louis - Assistant or Associate Professor
of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


College of Charleston - Visiting Assistant Professor, field open

Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg - Research Fellow,
East Asian Studies

Governors State University - Visiting Asst. Prof. or Instructor, U.S.
Colonial or 19th C. History

Meredith College - Tenure-Track Assistant Professor - Asian History

University of Notre Dame - Assistant Professor in Asian and Gender


Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies - Faculty Member

Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg - Research Fellow,
East Asian Studies


Amherst College - Artist in Residence

University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural
Resources - 4-H Youth Development Advisor

wikiHow - Part-Time Content Creators
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Thanks for subscribing! In this issue we bring you an exclusive article, as well as news 
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This course leads participants step by step along the Buddhist path from
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Fully embracing this present moment

It was late in the evening when my son told me he'd left his backpack in the car. 
That's not a huge deal, but there were things in it that he needed for camp tomorrow, 
and because of where I live my car's parked a few minutes' walk away from
 my apartment. Again, not a huge deal, but I was tired and I was in the middle 
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 with this train of thought. I noticed that my state of mild resentment had
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Fortunately a wiser part of myself stepped in. If this part of me had been verbalizing, it would have said, "You're making yourself suffer unnecessarily. Drop the story. Look at your actual experience, and you'll find that there's fundamentally nothing wrong."

So, first of all I recognized that I was making myself suffer. That's key. 

A lot of the time we don't realize we're doing this. Maybe we think it's 
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One of the things we can do differently is to drop our stories. It's our stories 

about events that make us unhappy. I had a story about how my son "should"
 have remembered his backpack, and how I "should" have remembered to check 
he had it, and how I'd "failed" in that task. And the story was also that going to
 the car was an unpleasant task and that I could be doing better things with my time. 
Those stories were making me feel mildly miserable. To drop our stories, we need 
simply to turn our attention to something else. In this case, "something else" 
is our immediate sensory experience.

When we focus on what's arising in our present-moment sensory experience, 

we reduce our capacity for rumination — overthinking that creates or increases 
our suffering. The mind has limited bandwidth, and the more attentive you are
 to the body's sensations, to perceptions from the outside world, and to feelings,
 the less capacity there is for the mind to carry thoughts  — thoughts that make us unhappy.

So when I turned toward my attention in this way, I was aware of the movements

 of my body, the rise and fall of my breathing, the coolness of the night air, 
the darkness outside, the smell of the river nearby, the sound of traffic on Main Street. 
I was aware also that unpleasant feelings were present. There was a tense, knotted
 ball of resentment in my chest. Now the important thing here is just to accept these 
 unpleasant feelings. React to them or try to get rid of them, and you'll just make 
things worse. So you need to find a way to remind yourself, "There's an unpleasant 
present, and that's OK. There's nothing wrong with having an unpleasant feeling present.
" You just allow that feeling to be there.

This is a radical thing to do. Our mental reactions are attempts to escape or

 fix unpleasant situations. It seems counter-intuitive to turn toward painful 
feelings. But turning toward our suffering reduces our suffering.

Once you're no longer bolstering your pain with reactive thinking, you're still

 left with the feeling. It may still be strong, or it may be that now all you experience 
is a just a kind of "echo" of the original, which quickly dissipates. But even if the 
suffering is strong and persistent, in the absence of obsessing about what you think is wrong, each moment now becomes bearable. (If you think your feelings are 
unbearable, you're back into rumination. So drop the thinking and turn back to 
the feeling again.) Simply let go of thinking, observe painful feelings, and you
 feel more at peace.

In fact you may become aware that there are pleasant things happening too. The night is cool. 

the darkness is soothing. You're getting a little more exercise than you expected. 
You're alive. You're breathing. Fundamentally, everything in this moment is OK. 
You're OK. There's just this moment, and this moment is fine.
With love,

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