The Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies

A Recognised Independent Centre of the University of Oxford

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Home Newsletters OCBS News - September 2013

OCBS News - September 2013

Article Index
OCBS News - September 2013
Opera's first Pali libretto
Taking the Buddha Seriously
New staff member
Journal of The Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies
OCBS Annual Review 2013
Pali Summer School 2014
OCBS Lectures MT 2013
All Pages


Welcome to the September 2013 Issue of OCBS News.

In this issue we have some exciting news on things that will tickle both your fancy and your mind - and perhaps even your ears. Richard Gombrich has recently translated an opera libretto into Pali and, on the more serious side, he delivered a very compelling keynote address at a conference in Singapore.

In addition to the news about our Journal, we also bring you some of our newest Annual Review and, last but not least, of the ever-popular Pali Summer School.

Thank you for your continued support of the OCBS.



Richard Gombrich was recently approached to translate a part of the libretto for Jonathan Harvey’s Wagner Dream into Pali. As you certainly know, Pali is a 2,000-year-old language close to what the Buddha would have spoken but which is nowadays, sadly, on the brink of passing out of all memory. Neither Oxford nor Cambridge now has a post in Pali and no British university currently offers a degree devoted to the subject.

Richard’s contribution features in the Welsh National Opera’s production of this musical masterpiece, which had its staged première on Thursday 6 June at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. This was something the composer had been keen to see happen, in order to enhance and clarify the cultural dialogue which is the centrepiece of this opera.

To see the press release, please click here.



On 6 July 2013 Richard Gombrich gave a thought-provoking keynote address (via video recording) at the 8th Global Conference on Buddhism, held at the Kong Meng Shan Phor Kark See Monastery in Singapore. The theme of the conference was ‘In the World of Rapid Change’ and Prof Gombrich remarked, among other things, on the recent outbursts of anti-Muslim violence, which are to his mind entirely incompatible with the Buddhist values of non-violence, kindness, and compassion. This talk, entitled ‘Taking the Buddha Seriously’, may be read together with his keynote address at a 2010 conference in Bangkok, as there is some thematic and textual overlap between them. The text of both talks may be found here.


We are very happy to announce that we now have a new member of our team.

Davor Aslanovski has an MPhil in Late Antique and Byzantine Studies and extensive administrative experience. He will be performing the role of Operations Assistant. This is to provide support to Steven Egan, our Operations and Development Manager, so that he may devote more time to the vital task of fundraising for the Centre’s future.

We would like to welcome Davor to the Centre and look forward to benefiting from his experience.

Volume Four was published in May this year and you can view the Table of Contents and Abstracts by clicking here. Volumes One and Two are now open access and can be viewed on-line. For information on how to subscribe please click here.

We hope you will consider taking out a subscription or recommending us to any organisations you belong to.

We would also like to remind you that we can offer access to Universities and Institutions through IP address and Domain Name access. If you are a user of a library that has been thinking of subscribing to our Journal please do pass this information on.


The OCBS has recently created its 2013 Annual Review. This document sets out our achievements of the last few years and provides details of important plans for future development. Below is an excerpt from the Director’s Message:

'The Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies is coming of age. The long awaited review of the OCBS by the University’s Committee for Recognised Independent Centres hasproduced a glowing report on what has been achieved since our founding. Moreover, the OCBS has recently been joined by Prof. Stefano Zacchetti, who holds the Numata Chair of Buddhist Studies at the University, the only fully endowed chair in this field in Europe. We intend now to build on this foundation by expanding the Centre’s scope in every way that we can.

'The proposed new direction for the OCBS is to achieve a convergence of a thorough secular study of Buddhism, as it is emerging into engagement with the modern world, with the translation and communication of that knowledge into applications for contemporary life – personal, family, community and global. That will involve digging deeply to learn and understand, but also reaching out to engage and teach, both academically and practically. We aim to maintain and improve the rigorous study of Buddhism in all its forms and create at Oxford an endowed and active institution to promote it.'

You can access the full review by clicking here. If you wish to support the Centre, or become involved in our fundraising activities, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

As in previous years, the participants of the Pali Summer School 2013 came from a wide variety of backgrounds - geographic, cultural, and educational. They included academics, students, and Buddhist practitioners, all of whom have become very good friends. The texts read this year included the Puṇṇovādasutta (Majjhima Nikāya), parts of the Alagaddūpamasutta (Majjhima Nikāya), the Buddha's first sermon (Vinaya), the fire sermon (Vinaya),  the commentary on the Dīgha Nikāya (Dīgha Nikāya Aṭṭhakathā, i.e. Sumaṅgalavilāsinī), and the First Council Selection and some verses from the Dhammapada.

We are reviewing the booking system for this course. Some people now book places up to a year in advance, and the 14 places on the course can be all taken by Easter. On the other hand, every year there is a larger number of cancellations, often from early bookers, shortly before the course begins. This is unsatisfactory and has led us to incur financial loss. We therefore need to create a fairer and more efficient system.

Bookings for the Summer School in August 2014 will therefore open on 19 January. You can book on or after this date by emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Attempts to book earlier will not be noted. Bookings will have to be accompanied by a deposit of £150. Further details can be found on our website.



We have a very interesting series of lectures coming up this term.

All lectures will be held in Balliol College Lecture Room XXIII Mondays at 5.30 p.m.

Our first two lectures will feature speakers closely connected to the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies. Dr Alexandra Green (currently employed as a curator at the British Museum) earned her PhD from the SOAS and Dr Lucia Dolce is currently their Reader in Japanese Religion and Japanese. Later in the term our programme will include talks by two new arrivals at Oxford: Dr Matthew Walton and Dr Jan Westerhoff. More details will be forthcoming on our website very soon.


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