Concept Paper: Conference on Tibetan Arts & Sciences in the Context of Tibetan Buddhism

Dalai Lama Institute for Higher Education
Concept Paper

Conference on Tibetan Arts & Sciences in the Context of Tibetan Buddhism (September 27-28, 2018)

Background & Objectives:

For many centuries in Tibet, the study of religion has shared strong and deep ties with secular studies. In fact, Buddhism often formed the basis of these fields of classical knowledge known in Tibetan as rigné (rig gnas), generally translated as the ‘sciences’ or the ‘arts and sciences’. Therefore, when undertaking studies in rigné, it becomes imperative to understand this relationship and be able to examine the various fields of rigné in the context of Tibetan Buddhism.

In his public addresses, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama frequently remarks on the importance of preservation of Tibet’s distinct secular knowledge that is seeped in Buddhist philosophy, and using them as our guiding principles in modern times. The preservation and promotion of Tibetan religion, culture, and knowledge is one of the main founding objectives of the Dalai Lama Institute for Higher Education (DLIHE).

By organizing a two-days long conference on ‘Tibetan Arts and Sciences in the Context of Tibetan Buddhism’, DLIHE aims to carefully dissect the union of the religion and the secular, a framework that was prevalent in the Tibetan sociopolitical system. At the very least, through this conference, DLIHE hopes to discern the more essential aspects of Tibetan rigné and their relationship to Buddhism.

Topics & Examples:
Generally, Tibetan rigné is categorized as the five major fields of knowledge (riggnas che ba lnga), but it can also be classified into five major and five minor fields of knowledge (rig gnas chung ba lnga). In sum, the category of rigné is said to encompass all that is knowable and has consequently played an important role in shaping Tibetan thinking and social life even beyond the spheres of rigné. We have invited speakers of high caliber to verify the existence and extent of Buddhist influence on Tibetan culture and traditions, and present a holistic view on these topics.

Research Topics Examples:
(These are the broader topics of the conference and may not be actual presentation titles)
1. Analyzing writings by Tibetan lay and religious experts on Buddhism and Logic
2. Analyzing writings about Tibetan religious history and its relationship and importance to political history of Tibet
3. Buddhism and Tibetan compositions
4. Buddhism and poetry
5. Buddhism and historiography of translated works
6. Buddhist administration and role of the Tulku (incarnate) systems in Tibet
7. Buddhism and Tibetan visual arts
8. Buddhism and Tibetan medical system
9. Buddhism and Tibetan traditions and customs
10. Buddhism and environmental protection

Conference speakers consist of:
• Geshes and Khenpos from non-secretarian monastic institutions
• Lecturers and Professors of specialized studies
• Cultural specialists and researchers
• Professors from Tibetan Department, DLIHE