Date: 12 Nov 2020 (Thu)

Time: 6:30-8:00 pm

Conducted in English

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Online lecture: 

https://hku.zoom.us/j/92817206372

Meeting ID:928 1720 6372

Organizer

HKU Centre of Buddhist Studies

Co-organizer

Society of Fellows in the Humanities, Faculty of Arts, HKU

Sponsor

Tung Lin Kok Yuen

Abstract

This talk first reviews the full 1933 French translation by Gustave-Charles Toussaint of Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava’s most influential biography, the Padma bka’ thang shel brag ma—recovered/composed by the treasure-finder U-rgyan gling-pa in 1352. Despite its many flaws, Toussaint’s rendition, along with Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays’s 1978 improved English translation based upon it, remains a widely available reference for Western practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism to this day. 

More specifically, this talk analyses the first chapter of the Padma bka’ thang where Amitābha Buddha’s western pure land (Sanskrit: Sukhāvatī; Tibetan: bDe ba can) is extolled, and traces how Toussaint’s gross misinterpretation of this chapter inspired the famous French writer Victor Segalen’s unfinished long poem Thibet, in which a Nietzsche-spirited mountain climber embarks on an existential journey of conquering Tibet.

 

About the speaker

Dr. Yunfei Bai is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at the University of Hong Kong. He holds a PhD in French from Rutgers University. His recent articles on the intersections between Tibetan and French literatures have appeared in journals such as Archiv Orientální and Revue d’Études Tibétaines.

© 2020 by HKU Centre of Buddhist Studies

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