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Friends Talk on Modern Tibetan Buddhism by Prof. Annabella Pitkin

Each year, the Friends of the Lehigh University Libraries sponsor a talk by a newer member of the Lehigh University faculty designed to share faculty research with a broader campus and community audience.

On Thursday, November 10th, Prof. Annabella Pitkin of the Religion Studies Department will speak about research in contemporary Buddhism. Entitled "Grief, Love, and Memory in Modern Tibetan Buddhism," Prof. Pitkin summarizes:
American media images of Buddhism often present stereotypes of serene, otherworldly meditators, or remote, emotionless monks. But in fact, Buddhist literatures and popular cultures across many times and places brim with passionate feelings. In the Tibetan Buddhist world, relationships between teachers and their disciples are idealized as intensely emotional: students are moved to tears or feel all their hair stand on end when they encounter a beloved teacher. Meditators ritually evoke these feelings during devotional prayer.
In this talk, I examine portrayals of grief, love, and memory between students and teachers in the lifestory of one 20th century Tibetan Buddhist figure, who lived during the agonizing upheavals of Tibet’s long 20th century. Refuting longstanding caricatures of Tibetan Buddhists as unable to be modern because of their religious commitments, I argue that emotionally charged teacher-student relationships connect present-day Tibetan Buddhists to a treasured past, while at the same time enabling new futures.

Date: November 10. 2016, 4:10 PM, Scheler Humanities Forum, Room 200, Linderman Library