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Punting Through a Shallowed World: Buddhist Eschatology on a 19th Century Vietnamese Frontier

Friday, February 14, 2020 at 4:00pm

Rockefeller Hall, 374
Central Campus

The Society for Buddhist Studies workshop series provides graduate students and faculty with an opportunity to present works-in-progress. Please join us to discuss a paper by Quảng Huyền (Trần Khải Hoài), "Punting Through a Shallowed World: Buddhist Eschatology on a Nineteenth Century Vietnamese Frontier." Quảng Huyền is a PhD candidate in the Field of Asian Literature, Religion & Culture, working on millenarianism and premodern Vietnamese literature. A copy of the paper will be made available to participants in advance, and light refreshments will be available.

In the mid-nineteenth century, Đoàn Minh Huyên (1807–1856) articulated an eschatology based on the prophecy of Maitreya, the future Buddha, that spoke to life on the riverine “water frontier” along the southern Vietnamese and Khmer borderlands.  In Huyên’s language of waterborne metaphor, the Buddha Dharma like a river had attenuated, leaving behind a “shallowed world.”  This world, parched of true Dharma, was marked by violent transformation of the lands and waters that reflected human being’s waywardness amidst the confusions caused by the Dharma’s fading.  Denied authentic memory of Buddha’s teachings as moral anchor, humankind was thus left unmoored on the Seas of Suffering.
In this session, Quảng Huyền presents some of the key features of Đoàn Minh Huyên’s visionary teachings as found in a text attributed to Huyên that was written circa 1842 in Vietnamese demotic Sinographs (chữ Nôm) and tries to make sense of Huyên’s rarified teachings, the so-called Intangible Way (Đạo vô vi) that created a path of personal cultivation during a vertiginous moment, when the bearings of any such path were thought to have been inexorably forgotten.  In addition, Quàng Huyền invites speculation for living iterations of Đoàn Minh Huyên’s teachings for today’s responses to present day ecological, environmental, and man-made disasters in Vietnam and beyond. 

This event is funded by the GPSAFC and open to the Graduate and Professional Community, as well as any others interested. Please contact Bruno Shirley at bms297 for any special arrangements you may require in order to attend this event, or to be added to the paper circulation list.

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Asian Studies, Southeast Asia Program



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Contact Name

Bruno Shirley


Quảng Huyền (Trần Khải Hoài)

Speaker Affiliation

Department of Asian Studies

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