Online Lecture Series

Buddhism in Myanmar

Date: 2021 January 15, 22 & 29

          2021 February 5

Time: 6:30-8:30 pm (HKT)

Conducted in English

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Lectures topic:

Jan 15 - Lecture 1:   

An Overview of Buddhism in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar

by Ven. Prof. Dr. Dhammasami, Rector of Shan State Buddhist University (SSBU), Taunggyi, Myanmar

Jan 22 - Lecture 2:

Pali Studies in Myanmar

by Dr. Aleix Ruiz-Falques, Head of Department of Pali and Languages, SSBU & Ven. Nyanasami, Lecturer in Pali, SSBU

Jan 29 - Lecture 3:

Meditation in Myanmar

by Dr. Pyi Phyo Kyaw, Dean of Academic Affairs, SSBU

Feb  5  - Lecture 4:

Living Tradition of Abhidhamma Studies in Myanmar

by Dr. Pyi Phyo Kyaw, Dean of Academic Affairs, SSBU

Organized by HKU Centre of Buddhist Studies

Sponsored by Buddhist Lodge of Laity (居士林)

 

Jan 15 (6:30-8:30 pm (HKT)) - Lecture 1

An Overview of Buddhism in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar

by Ven. Prof. Dr. Dhammasami, Rector of Shan State Buddhist University (SSBU), Taunggyi, Myanmar

 

 

 

Abstract

This talk looks at Buddhism in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar from both historical and legendary viewpoints. Legends say the Buddha visited Myanmar while historical evidence is strong to show that Theravada Buddhism flourished as early as the first century AD. In recounting how long Buddhism has been in Myanmar, there can be more than one narrative, with a divergence of views mostly influenced by political doctrine of each period. While this paper will attempt to look beyond those political considerations, it will also update the audience with less known aspects of Buddhism in Myanmar.

About the speaker

Venerable Khammai Dhammasami was born in Shan State, Union of Myanmar where he was ordained as a novice monk at 8. He has studied Pali, Abhidhamma and Theravada doctrines at some leading monasteries in Myanmar. He is also familiar with Buddhism in Thailand and Sri Lanka where he spent a few years in each of those countries. He gained three master's degrees from Sri Lanka and a doctorate at Oxford University, UK where he worked on history of monastic education in Thailand and Burma under Prof. Richard Gombrich. He has founded a few monasteries in Europe and is founder-rector of Shan State Buddhist University, Myanmar. 

 

Jan 22 (6:30-8:30 pm (HKT)) - Lecture 2

Pali Studies in Myanmar

by Dr. Aleix Ruiz-Falques, Head of Department of Pali and Languages, SSBU & Ven. Nyanasami, Lecturer in Pali, SSBU

 

 

Abstract

In this talk we are going to offer an overview of Pali studies in Myanmar, their origins, their development and their present day implementation. Pali scholarship flourished during the Pagan period in Myanmar (1054–1287 CE). Especially during the 12th and 13th centuries a number of grammatical treatises were imported or produced in Pagan. These treatises have become the main pillar of monastic education over the centuries. Originally Pali scholarship was composed only in Pali language, but in the course of time commentaries in Burmese, called nissayas, developed as a study aid. The technique and methodology of these nissayas is mainly based on Pali grammatical and exegetical terminology. Therefore we can say that Pali grammatical scholarship in the 12th and 13th centuries shaped the ways in which Buddhist texts have been approached up to today. After surveying some important moments of this long history, we will illustrate how the scholastic tradition is still alive. In order to do so, we will describe two prestigious monastic examinations of our time, namely the Thamane Kyaw and the Alankara degrees.

About the speakers

Venerable Nyanasamilankara (Loilem, 1982)
Ven.Nyanasamilankara, studied Pali and Buddhism in traditional monastic education in Myanmar and completed final level in the Thamane Kyaw Private examination, which is specially designed for young novices in Myanmar, at the completion of which Ven. Nyanasami was awarded the Alankāra Degree.  He also completed a Dhammacariya degree level examination, which is organized and recognized as equivalent to a First Degree by the government of the Union of Myanmar. After finishing his studies in the traditional System, Ven. Nyanasamilankara continued his Postgraduate and Master of Arts in Buddhist Studies at Univerisity of Kelaniya and at the Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka (PGD, Kelaniya; MA Kelaniya & BPU). Currently Ven. Nyanasamilankara is lecturer in Pali and Director of the Publication Office at the Shan State Buddhist University. He is also the founder and abbot of the Sāsanālaṅkāra Pālinikāya monastery in Taunggyi, Shan State, Myanmar. In addition to his teaching duties, Ven. Nyanasamilankara is working on a doctoral research project at SSBU. The doctoral project focuses on the Lokuppatti, a 12th-century cosmological text in Pali, written in Pagan, Myanmar, of which Ven. Nyanasami is preparing a first critical edition and translation.

Dr. Aleix Ruiz-Falqués (Barcelona, 1982)

B.A. Classics, University of Barcelona, M.A. Sanskrit, University of Pune, Ph.D. Pali Language and Literature, University of Cambridge (UK). Former research fellow at the Dhammachai Tipiṭaka Project and fellow at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. Member of the Myanmar Manuscript Digital Library (https://mmdl.utoronto.ca/about/archives/). Currently a lecturer in Pali and Head of the Department of Pali and Languages, Shan State Buddhist University. His main field of research is the Pali tradition of Myanmar, with a strong focus on grammatical literature and scholastic traditions. He is also an active member of the Transnational Network of Theravada Studies (http://theravadastudies.org) He is a regular translator of Pali and Sanskrit works into Spanish and Catalan languages. Personal website: www.kabbasetu.com 

 

Jan 29 (6:30-8:30 pm (HKT)) - Lecture 3

Meditation in Myanmar

by Dr. Pyi Phyo Kyaw, Dean of Academic Affairs, SSBU

 

 

 

Abstract

Myanmar has a long history of engagement with Abhidhamma, commentarial literature, and meditation. Nonetheless, there has been a heightened sense of fear and anxiety since the 19th century among Burmese Buddhists with regards to the decline and disappearance of the Buddha’s religion because of the complex conditions of the rise of European scientific knowledge systems and the British colonial period. Combine this with Myanmar’s long engagement with Buddhist teachings and practices have led to the popularization of meditation and Abhidhamma Studies in Myanmar. This lecture and the next will explore these two distinctive features of Burmese Buddhism. In this lecture, I examine the variety within the meditation traditions of Myanmar, highlighting a rich range of meditation techniques and practices, part of an effort to overturn the monolithic representation of what has come to be known as “Burmese Vipassanā Meditation”.

About the speaker

Dr. Pyi Phyo Kyaw is Dean of Academic Affairs and Lecturer in Theravada Studies at Shan State Buddhist University, Taunggyi, Myanmar. She is also a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at King’s College, London, United Kingdom. She studied BA in Economics and Management at Oxford University, before completing her MA in Buddhist Studies at SOAS, University of London, in 2010, and her Ph.D. in Buddhist Philosophy at King’s College, London in 2014. 

She has undertaken meditation practice within different meditation traditions in Myanmar over the past 15 years. She has also undertaken monastic training in Myanmar as a precept-nun in a meditation centre based at Pyay (formerly Prome) in 2007, 2015 and 2020. She specialises in Burmese Buddhism, Abhidhamma (Theravada analytical philosophy), Theravada meditation, Buddhist business practices, and Buddhist ethics. She also teaches Vipassana meditation in Budapest, Hungary.
 

 

Feb 5 (6:30-8:30 pm (HKT)) - Lecture 4 (Recording is available!)

Living Tradition of Abhidhamma Studies in Myanmar

by Dr. Pyi Phyo Kyaw, Dean of Academic Affairs, SSBU

Abstract

Abhidhamma is the collection of texts that provide an unparalleled analysis of the processes involved in ethics, psychology, and the relationship between mind and body. It is considered the most complex and abstract part of the Theravada Buddhist doctrine, making it particularly hard to communicate. Despite this, Abhidhamma scholars in nineteenth and twentieth-century Myanmar, such as Ledi Sayadaw Ven. Ñāṇa (1846-1923), Sayagyi U Ohn (1846-1925), Shwe Zan Aung (1871-1932), and Pe Maung Tin (1888-1973), were pioneers in making Abhidhamma doctrine and texts not only popular in Myanmar but also available to the global audience. In this lecture, I explore the living expressions of Abhidhamma, revealing its ongoing and multidimensional significance in Myanmar. I also reflect on how the pioneering Burmese scholars employed their unique educational training and liberal outlook to engage with both internal and external audiences.   

About the speaker

 

 

 

Dr. Pyi Phyo Kyaw is Dean of Academic Affairs and Lecturer in Theravada Studies at Shan State Buddhist University, Taunggyi, Myanmar. She is also a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at King’s College, London, United Kingdom. She studied BA in Economics and Management at Oxford University, before completing her MA in Buddhist Studies at SOAS, University of London, in 2010, and her Ph.D. in Buddhist Philosophy at King’s College, London in 2014. 

She has undertaken meditation practice within different meditation traditions in Myanmar over the past 15 years. She has also undertaken monastic training in Myanmar as a precept-nun in a meditation centre based at Pyay (formerly Prome) in 2007, 2015 and 2020. She specialises in Burmese Buddhism, Abhidhamma (Theravada analytical philosophy), Theravada meditation, Buddhist business practices, and Buddhist ethics. She also teaches Vipassana meditation in Budapest, Hungary.

© 2020 by HKU Centre of Buddhist Studies

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