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Buddhadharma : Spring 2006
buddhadharma| 65 |spring 2006 DunCan rYuken WILLIams grew up in Japan (his mother is a Japanese Buddhist and his father is an english anglican) and began practicing Zen medita- tion at a local soto Zen temple while he was in high school. at the age of twenty-two, he was ordained under the guidance of rev. ryugen ogasawara. he has a Ph.D. in religious studies from harvard university and currently teaches at the university of California, Irvine. In the fall, he will start a new tenured position as associate professor of Japanese Buddhism at the university of California, Berkeley. georges DreYfus, a native of switzerland, studied at all three of the main geluk mon- asteries re-established in India, and at the Buddhist school of Dialectics in Dharamsala. In 1985, after fifteen years of study in India, he became the first Westerner to receive the degree of geshe. he has a Ph.D. in religious stud- ies from the university of Virginia, where he studied under Jeffrey hopkins, and he is now a professor of religion at Williams College. he is the author of The Sounds of Two Hands Clapping: The Education of a Tibetan Buddhist Monk. lifestyle altogether. This has fostered a “scholar- ship gap,” which to a large extent is being rapidly filled by scholar-practitioners who, although not living as full-fledged monastics, have solid schol- arly and academic training grounded in a rigorous personal practice. Prior to 1975, there weren’t very many places in North America where one could pursue gradu- ate-level academic training in Buddhist studies and get the solid grounding necessary to become an authentic scholar-practitioner. The University of Wisconsin, along with Harvard University and the University of Chicago, dominated the landscape, and there certainly weren’t many openly Buddhist scholars on the scene. By 1995, when I conducted the second of two statistical surveys of Buddhist studies scholars in North America, I was able to verify that one could do advanced work in Buddhist studies at no fewer than sixteen universi- ties or colleges, and the anecdotal data supplied by my informants supported my suspicion that between one-quarter and one-half of the people whose teaching focused on Buddhist studies were in fact scholar-practitioners. Two years later, Duncan Ryuken Williams published an article called “Where to Study?” in the Spring 1997 issue of Tricycle in which he listed twenty-two universi- ties with extensive resources in Buddhist studies, including a special category of universities he called “practitioner-friendly institutions.” In this new category, he cited the California Institute of Integral Studies, the Graduate Theological Union, Hsi Lai University (recently renamed University of the West), the Institute of Buddhist Studies, and Naropa University. We might now add to that group the United States branch of Soka University. Some of the twenty-two universities cited by Williams such as the University of Virginia (where Jeffrey Hopkins produced no less than eighteen Ph.D.’s during his long tenure) have made a huge impact on Buddhist studies generally, but particu- larly upon scholar-practitioners. An American school of Buddhist studies was obviously fermenting in the years after 1970, and by the turn of our new century, it would rival, and perhaps even surpass, the earlier Anglo-German, Franco-Belgian, and Leningrad schools of Buddhology. Most obviously, this rapid develop- Photo:(toP)natashaJuDsonPhotos:(Center)JongBokYI;(rIght)marLIesBosCh VICtor sogen horI was introduced to Zen when he went to Japan in 1970 on a scholarship to study Japanese philosophy at kyoto university. he received his Ph.D. in philosophy from stanford in 1976, and immediately after he was ordained. he devoted the next thirteen years to training at monasteries in Japan. In 1990, he returned to academic life, “free to wreak destruction upon students,” he jokes. he is a professor of Japanese religions at mcgill university in montreal, and the author of Zen Sand: The Book of Capping Phrases for Koan Practice.