Graduate Theological Union

Buddhism

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Integrating Practices: Christianity and Buddhism

Daeseop Yi is a Ph.D. candidate who hails from South Korea. He came to study at San Francisco Theological Seminary in 2004 in the Doctor of Ministry program. During his program, he discerned a desire to study more deeply about how transformation within the spiritual process occurs. With this focus he entered the Ph.D. program. “While I was doing coursework in the Christian Spirituality Area, we had to study a religion and a discipline in addition to Christianity.” He became fascinated with Buddhism, he focused on comparing Christian and Buddhist traditions. “I realized that I had been living, integrating, and adopting Buddhist and other Indigenous practices, but studying in an academic way made it really interesting for me.”

Beyond Berkeley: Religion and Cultural Exchange

Courtney Bruntz came to the GTU unsure of exactly what direction she would take. “At that point I was really interested in interreligious work, but thought at some point I would focus solely on Buddhism and the religions of Asia. GTU was a really good place to start that process because of all the different member schools and centers of distinction.” Bruntz’s journey beyond her Lutheran upbringing in Nebraska began at the age of 19 when her sister got married. Her brother-in-law is a third generation Japanese American. She recalls that her brother-in-law’s grandmother kept initiating conversations on the wedding being interreligious and intercultural. “I hadn’t thought about the intersection of two cultures and faith traditions until then. That experience shaped my initial years at college.”

And the Winner is … Ronald Y. Nakasone for the Sarlo Excellence in Teaching Award

Ron NakasoneThis year the Sarlo Excellence in Teaching Award honors Ronald (Ron) Y. Nakasone as a teacher who embodies the values of interreligious sensitivity and commitment, interdisciplinary approach and content in teaching, sensitivity to ethnic and cultural diversity, and creative classroom pedagogical methods and performance.

“I am a teacher, yes, but I see myself as a mentor,” says Nakasone, who is a Buddhist cleric from the Pure Land tradition — one of the most popular traditions of Buddhism in East Asia — and a renowned calligrapher. And because of his interest in spirituality and aging, he is also on the faculty at Stanford Geriatric Education Center, charged with training caregivers who work with ethnic minorities.

Buddhist Studies: New Avenues

by Tori Pinto, M.A. '11

Growing up Buddhist, I wanted to pursue a career that would allow me to better understand my own religious heritage, as well as contribute academically to the growing body of research on contemporary Japanese religion. We are moving into an exciting time for Buddhist Studies as more attention is being given to ritual, popular religion, folk and oral tradition, as well as visual and material culture. Ultimately I would like to bring a deeper awareness and understanding of Buddhism to American universities, moving beyond the sweeping generalizations and surface readings that we sometimes encounter with imported religions.

News

Jenny Te Paa Named Alum of the Year

A-twitter with American Buddhist Monk Heng Sure

You might need a list to describe Heng Sure. He’s a Buddhist monk, director of the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery, scholar, member of several interfaith organizations, GTU alumnus, teacher at Pacific School of Religion (PSR), musician, singer-songwriter of Buddhist folksongs, story teller, youth leader, and most recently, a tweeter on Twitter. Or you could drop the list and just say he is real. His name — given to him by his teacher Master Hsuan Hua when he became a monk — translated from Mandarin, means “constantly real.”

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