Our next seminar will be at 6:00-7:30pm on Thursday 11 October in
Lecture Theater S325 of the John Woolley Building, University of Sydney.
We hope you can attend.
Reincarnation Lineages in Tibetan Buddhism: Did they
Tibet’s reincarnation system has played a central role in its religious,
political and social life for nearly seven centuries. Across the Tibetan
Buddhist world, there are now thousands of people, mostly men and boys,
who were recognized as the reincarnation of a deceased teacher when they
were young children, given specialized training, and then expected to
perform the role of religious teachers as adults. Many of Tibet’s most
influential historical and contemporary figures have been recognized reincarnates.
But the system of reincarnation lineages has also had horrible
consequences for both those who have been recognized by it and those who
live with its influence. Reincarnates have been involved in wars,
murders, kidnappings, torture, forced marriages and corruption.
Reincarnates themselves have also been victimized. This presentation will
look briefly at how the system developed, document some of its best and
worst moments, and examine what elements of the system have worked for
Tibetan Buddhists and which have and are harming them. It will also ask
what role this thirteenth-century institutional model can or should have
in the globalized and profoundly interconnected twenty-first century.
Ruth Gamble is a cultural and
environmental historian of Tibet and the Himalaya. Her first book, Reincarnation in Tibetan
Buddhism; the Third Karmapa and the Invention of a Tradition
(Oxford University Press, 2018) traces the development of Tibet’s
reincarnation lineages and argues that they developed symbiotically with
the region’s network of sacred sites. She has also produced an ETextbook,
Introduction to the
Tibetan Language (Australian National University Press,
2018), and a series of articles about the idea of place in Tibetan
literature. She is now researching an environmental history of the
Yarlung Tsangpo River, and writing on associated topics associated with
the environmental humanities in relation to the Himalaya and Tibet.
Gold leaf covered schist reliquary in
the form of a stupa. Kusana period, North Western India. National
Museum, Karachi, Pakistan. Copyright: Huntington, John C. and Susan L.Huntington Archive