The University of San Francisco: College of Arts and Sciences
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Tibetan Reincarnation Symposium
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Keynote Addresses

Professor Jeffrey Hopkins (UMA Institute for Tibetan Buddhist Studies and University of Virginia)

Title: Reflections on Tulku Institution: Technical and Personal

Abstract: My presentation begins with a short description of the types of critical approaches I have used in fifty years of approaching the study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism: the New Literary Criticism of the 1950s, Marxist, Psychoanalytic, and Historico-Philosophical Criticisms. In the manner of New Criticism, I will examine central vocabulary involved in the Tulku institution, juxtaposing it with similar vocabulary in US culture. But then I will stray into what New Criticism opposes in its unbridled form, mere reader-response, descending into free association through my last fifty years of running into the Tulku institution. I also intend to pay respect to the straightforward, honest accounts by Elijah Ary of his own recognition and subsequent journey and recently by Kalu Rinpoche of the harrowing events of his Tulku servitude—by expanding the scope of my roaming to include a little bit more of my own story.

Bio: Jeffrey Hopkins is President of the UMA Institute for Tibetan Studies and Professor Emeritus of Tibetan Buddhist Studies at the University of Virginia where he taught Tibetan Buddhist Studies and Tibetan language for thirty-two years from 1973. He received a B.A. magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1963 and received a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from the University of Wisconsin in 1973. He served as the Dalai Lama's chief interpreter into English on lecture tours for ten years, 1979-1989. At the University of Virginia he founded programs in Buddhist Studies and Tibetan Studies and served as Director of the Center for South Asian Studies for twelve years. He has published forty books, some of which have been translated into a total of twenty-two languages, as well as twenty-six articles.

Professor Donald Lopez (University of Michigan)

Title: Four Possibilities

Abstract: Over the course of its long history, the tulku system has been subjected to criticism from a wide range of figures, from Roman Catholic missionaries, to Chinese emperors, to incarnate lamas themselves. This lecture will examine several important cases of such criticism and consider their motivations and implications.

Bio: Donald Lopez is the Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan. He has written widely on Indian Mahayana Buddhism and on Tibetan Buddhism. He has also explored the European encounter with Buddhism and the formation of the category of Modern Buddhism, including claims for the compatibility of Buddhism and Science. His current projects include the translation of a refutation of the Buddhist doctrines of emptiness and rebirth by the Jesuit missionary to Tibet, Ippolito Desideri (1684-1733); a study of the influence of the Lotus Sutra; and a translation of an eighteenth-century Tibetan compendium of Buddhist philosophy. He advises graduate students working in a range of traditions and periods in the history of Tibetan Buddhism.