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The 10th MaMa Charitable Foundation

Lecture Series in Buddhist Studies


HKU Centre of Buddhist Studies 20th Anniversary Series

Buddhism and the Senses

​About the lecture series


Western sources sometimes describe Buddhism as a “world denying religion”. Philosophically, Buddhism is known for its “sense skepticism,” its claim that the senses cannot be relied upon to provide accurate knowledge of the world. The lives of Buddhist monks and nuns have been described in terms of the restraint of the senses. And yet Buddhism has produced stunning sense objects throughout its history, inspiring the cultures of Asia, and now the world. This lecture series, delivered by some of the world’s leading scholars of Buddhism, will explore the Buddhist tradition’s complicated relationship to the five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.

​Lecture Schedule 2023

Hong Kong Time                  Speaker                        Topic

8-10 pm | Feb 4
Donald Lopez
8-10 pm | Feb 11
Robert DeCaroli
Sense of Sight
8-10 pm | Feb 18
Donald Lopez
Sense of Hearing
4:30-6:30 pm | Feb 25
Lina Verchery
Sense of Smell
8-10 pm | Mar 4
James Robson
Sense of Taste
8-10 pm | Mar 11
Reiko Ohnuma
Sense of Touch
8-10 pm | Mar 18
Donald Lopez

​About the Speakers

Donald Lopez

The 10th MaMa Charitable Foundation Visiting Professor in Buddhist Studies, HKU

Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies, University of Michigan

Donald Lopez is the Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan. He is the author, translator, and editor of numerous works in the field of Buddhist Studies. He has also written extensively on the European encounter with Buddhism. In 2008, he was the first scholar of Buddhism to deliver the Terry Lectures at Yale. In 2014, The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (edited with Robert Buswell) was awarded the Dartmouth Medal of the American Library Association for best reference work of the year. In 2000, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Robert DeCaroli

Professor of South and Southeast Asian Art History, George Mason University

Robert DeCaroli is Professor of South and Southeast Asian art history at George Mason University and specializes in the early art history of Buddhism. He is the author of Haunting the Buddha: Indian Popular Religions and the Formation of Buddhism and Image Problems: The Origin and Development of the Buddha’s Image in Early South Asia and has written many articles and book chapters. Recently, he co-curated Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice across Asia at the National Museum of Asian Art. He has been awarded a Getty Research Institute Fellowship and the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies Research Fellowship.

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Lina Verchery

Ph.D. Harvard University

Lecturer, Victoria University of Wellington

Dr. Lina Verchery is a scholar of contemporary Chinese Buddhism and an independent filmmaker who teaches at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand Aotearoa. Lina received her PhD in Buddhist Studies from Harvard University’s Committee on the Study of Religion, where her interdisciplinary work on Chinese Buddhist monastic life drew on over fifteen years of textual, multi-media, and ethnographic research in Taiwan, Asia, and throughout the global Chinese diaspora. An award-winning filmmaker, Lina’s documentary, experimental, and educational films about Buddhism and connected topics have been screened in festivals and on television networks around the world.  

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James Robson

James C. Kralik and Yunli Lou Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and the William Fung Director of the Harvard University Asia Center

James Robson received his Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Stanford University in 2002. He specializes in the history of medieval Chinese Buddhism and Daoism and is particularly interested in issues of sacred geography, local religious history, and Chan/Zen Buddhism. He has been engaged in a long-term collaborative research project with the École Française d’Extrême-Orient studying local religious statuary from Hunan province. He is the author of Power of Place: The Religious Landscape of the Southern Sacred Peak [Nanyue 南嶽] in Medieval China (Harvard, 2009), which was awarded the Stanislas Julien Prize for 2010 by the French Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres and the 2010 Toshihide Numata Book Prize in Buddhism. Robson is the editor of the Norton Anthology of World Religions: Daoism and the author of "Signs of Power: Talismanic Writings in Chinese Buddhism" (History of Religions 48:2), "Faith in Museums: On the Confluence of Museums and Religious Sites in Asia" (PMLA, 2010), and "A Tang Dynasty Chan Mummy [roushen] and a Modern Case of Furta Sacra? Investigating the Contested Bones of Shitou Xiqian.”


Reiko Ohnuma

Robert 1932 & Barbara Black Professor of Religion

Department of Religion, Dartmouth College

Reiko Ohnuma is the Robert 1932 & Barbara Black Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Dartmouth College. She specializes in South Asian Buddhism, with a focus on narrative literature preserved in Sanskrit and Pali. She is the author of Unfortunate Destiny: Animals in the Indian Buddhist Imagination (Oxford University Press, 2017); Ties That Bind: Maternal Imagery and Discourse in Indian Buddhism (Oxford University Press, 2012); and Head, Eyes, Flesh, and Blood: Giving Away the Body in Indian Buddhist Literature (Columbia University Press, 2007).

Dramatic Sunset

Conducted in English | All are welcome

Enquiry (852)3917-0094 |


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