Next Conference of the European Network of Buddhist-Christian Studies (Salzburg, Austria, 1.-5.7.2021)
The European Network of Buddhist-Christian Studies (ENBCS) will have its 13th international conference in Salzburg / Austria from 1st to 5th of July, 2021. The topic will be “Euro-Buddhism and the Role of Christianity”.
Since the late 19th / early 20th century Buddhism began to be practiced in Europe and was often presented by its European foll
owers as a persuasive alternative to Christianity which had come under heavy attack from various sides. Buddhism in Europe was less a result of missionary activities from Asian countries but arose, to a significant extent, out of the propagation by Europeans who studied Buddhism through various literary sources. However, European Buddhists sought connections to Asian countries from a comparatively early stage onwards, and organizations such as the Mahābodhi Society came to play an important role. Tensions between Buddhism and Christianity in the West’s Asian colonies and the critique of Christianity in the West had their reciprocal impact on each other.
Whereas in the early days of European Buddhism the focus was predominantly on Theravāda, after the Second World War Western interest shifted to Japanese Zen-Buddhism and, somewhat later, to Tibetan Buddhism. Increasingly also other forms of Buddhism (such as Pure Land or Nichiren Buddhism) became present in Europe. Immigrants from Asian countries such as Thailand and Vietnam brought along their local forms of Buddhism and established their own centers. While some of these immigrant communities kept largely to themselves, other forms of Asian Buddhism, as for example “Inter-Being”, opened their home traditions and adopted distinctly European and even Christian elements. Today, then, Buddhism in Europe exists in a large variety of forms and with different degrees of individual belonging and/or commitment. Nowhere in Asia are so many different types of Buddhisms present in one particular society as is now the case in a number of European countries.
Invited speakers (among them Ruperth Gethin, Francisco Díez de Velasco, Carola Roloff, Natalie Watson) will address the history and diversity of Buddhism in Europe and its different attitudes to Christianity, with a particular focus on issues such as Buddhism between idealization and reality, the challenge of secularism, gender justice, and Buddhist-Christian hybridities. In addition, there will be open panels for paper presentations on any current research in Buddhist-Christian relations.
Perry Schmidt-Leukel, ENBCS-President