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Buddhadharma : Spring 2006
spring 2006| 62 |buddhadharma curiosity piqued, pressed on: “Ever get anywhere?” Conze responded brusquely, “First trance state.” The dialogue ceased abruptly, and the issue was never broached again. At the time, it must have been utterly shocking for the students in that sem- inar to learn that any scholar of Buddhism actually did anything Buddhist. Now, less than forty years later, not only are scholar-practitioners common- place in the university, but they are even writing inspiring books, like Georges Dreyfus’s The Sound of Two Hands Clapping: The Education of a Tibetan Buddhist Monk, which describes the now- professor’s path to earning his monastic geshe degree. When I was young graduate student in the Buddhist studies program at the University of Wisconsin in the fall of 1967, I heard my very first scholar-practitioner story. It was about a recent visit to the university by Edward Conze, then considered to be the world’s foremost authority on the complicated form of Mahayana literature known as Prajna paramita. This story, however, had nothing what- soever to do with Professor Conze’s academic passion. Instead, it concerned a question playfully put to the rather blunt and outspoken scholar dur- ing a seminar session: “Dr. Conze, do you actually meditate?” “Yes!” Conze replied. The student, Charles Prebish examines the emerging role of Buddhist scholar-practitioners and how they are deepening our understanding of Buddhism. Plus, a look at some of the key scholar-practitioners who are leading the way. Charles s. Prebish is Co-editor of WestWard dharma: buddhism beyond asia and buddhism in the modern World: adaPtations of an anCient tradition. he is a Professor of religious studies at Pennsylvania state university and founding Co-editor of the online Journal of buddhist ethiCs. The New Panditas DougBurgess