Mbs course Outline 13-14 (Updated on November 28, 2013) Centre of Buddhist Studies


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The lecturer will make further announcement in class if there is special class schedule in the 2nd semester.

Essays (two submissions): 30 %
Examination: 60 %
Attendance: 10 %
1. A P Buddhadatta Maha Thera, The New Pali Course – Parts I, II, Buddhist Cultural Centre, 1997

(Please try to order the book from the online bookshop of the Buddhist Cultural Centre:

http://www.buddhistcc.net/bookshop/book_info.asp?bid=636 )
2. Ven. Prof. Kakkapalliye Anuruddha, A Guide to the Study of Pali: The Language of Theravada Buddhism, Centre of Buddhist Studies, HKU, 2010
3. Lily de Silva, Pali Primer, Vipassana Research Institute, 1994
Course details and assessment methods to be confirmed by the teacher.


Basic Tibetan

Dr. G.T. Halkias

Tel: 3917-2846

Email: halkias@hku.hk

Schedule: 2nd Semester; Thursday 6:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Class Venue: CPD-1.24, 1/F, Centennial Campus
Course Description

The purpose of this course is to provide a working knowledge of Tibetan grammar and an ability to read the standard Tibetan texts. The major emphasis will be on the study of Buddhist texts preserved in the Tibetan Tripitaka. The course will begin with grammatical exercises and guidance for students to read simple Tibetan texts.

Mid-term and final exams (80%)

In class and weekly homework (20%)

Course Outline
Lecture 1: Introduction to Tibetan Language. The Thirty Letters of the Alphabet. The Vowel Signs. Superfixed and Subfixed Letters. Punctuation.

Lecture 2: General Introduction to the Linguistic Structure of Tibetan. Word Order. Nominal Particles. Special Functions of Nominal Particles.

Lecture 3: Demonstrative Pronouns. Final Particles – Statements, Questions and Commands.

Lecture 4: Introduction to Case Particles. Genitive Particles. Plural Particles.

Lecture 5: Instrumental Particles. Emphatic Particle.

Lecture 6: Direct and Indirect Objects of Verbs. The oblique particle. Vocative case.

Lecture 7: The Verb. The Use of Verbal Stems and negation.

Lecture 8: Locative, conjunctive and concessive particles. The use of possessives.

Lecture 9: The ablative and prolative particles. Uses of las and nas and the semi final particle.

Lecture 10: Particles of general subordination and its uses. Modal adverbs and Sanskrit verbal prefixes.Use of Particles with verbs and verbal nouns. The coordinating particle.

Lecture 11: Pronouns: Personal. Interrogative, and relative. Indefinite particle and pronouns. Honorific and respectful forms.


Hodge, Stephen. 1993. An Introduction to Classical Tibetan. Aris & Phillips, Warminster, England.

Reference Sources

  1. Beyer, Stephen. 1992. The Classical Tibetan Language. NY: State University of New York Press.

  2. Jäschke, H. A. 2003. A Tibetan-English Dictionary. Reprint. NY: Dover Press.

  3. Jäschke, H. A. 1989. Tibetan Grammar. Reprint. Delhi: Sri Sat Guru Publications.

  4. Laufer, Berthold. 1918. “Origin of Tibetan Writing.” Journal of American Oriental Society, Vol. 38: 34-46.

  5. Van der Kujip, Leonard. 1996. “The Tibetan Script and Derivatives.” In The World’s Writing Systems, eds. P. Daniels and W. Bright, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 431-441.

  6. Wilson, Joe B. 1992. Translating Buddhism from Tibetan: An Introduction to the Tibetan Literary Language and the Translation of Buddhist Texts from Tibetan. Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications.

  7. Wylie, Turrell. 1959. “A Standard System of Tibetan Transcription.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Vol. 22: 261-267.

Online Resources

  1. Online Tibetan-English Dictionary (The Tibetan and Himalayan Library): http://www.thlib.org/reference/dictionaries/tibetan-dictionary/translate.php

  2. Tibetan Consonants and their Sounds (The Hopkins Tibetan Treasures Research Archive Website): http://haa.ddbc.edu.tw/gakha.php

  3. Tibetan Writing Course (Cornel University): http://www.lrc.cornell.edu/medialib/ti/twc


Special topics in Buddhist Studies (1): Buddhism and Science

Prof. Peter Fung, Prof. L.C. Chan, Dr. Barry Kerzin, Ven. Sik Hin Hung

Course tutor: Dr. Junling Gao

Tel: 3917-5019

E-mail: buddhism@hku.hk

Schedule: 2nd Semester; Saturday 2:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Class Venue: CPD-3.04, 3/F, Centennial Campus
Course Description
Buddhism and Science have much in common in the views of many; the compatibility of the two will be investigated in this course. Some scholars consider that Buddhist worldview, philosophic and psychological teachings share many commonalities with modern science. Furthermore, both encourages objective investigation, using different tools and methods, and seek the truth to explain reality. This course will introduce some of the commonalties between Buddhism and Science and examine how the continuous dialogue between the two can further advance research in Science and humanity. Special emphasis will be placed on Buddhism and the following areas: Medicine, Physics, Counseling and Neuroscience.
Course Outline




Content and discussion



Prof. L.C. Chan

Health and wellbeing in contemporary times – lessons from Buddhist teachings

Advances of modern science have done much to illuminate the causes of disease but little in the relief of suffering and the promotion of healing. Buddhist teachings reveal how the mind together with our actions can play a vital role in well-being and in promotion of health. Right mindfulness, one of the Noble Eightfold Path, is now incorporated as part of mindful communication in clinical practice serving both to heal the patients, and the healthcare professionals

Buddhism and Medicine



Dr. Barry Kerzin

From the Gross to the Subtle: Mapping the Mind and Understanding its Functions

Neuroscientists are mapping the brain. Contemplative scientists are mapping the mind. Are these two different worlds? Do they meet?



Dr. Barry Kerzin

The Eight-Stage Process of Death and Dying

Death is a process. There are eight stages. First the physical elements weaken. Then the mind reabsorbs from its grosser to subtler states. This ends with the subtlest mind of clear light. This death process will be explained in more depth. Based on these subtle minds and bodies we practice vajrayana. The practice of Medicine Buddha will be introduced from this perspective.



Dr. Barry Kerzin

Emptiness and Dependent Arising: Two sides of the Same Coin

The meaning of emptiness is absence of independent existence. The meaning of dependent arising is dependent existence. Absence of independence means dependence. Hence emptiness and dependent arising have the same meaning. Without the universal compassion of Bodhicitta the Mahayana path is incomplete. Thus we will explain the meaning of Bodhicitta, and how to cultivate it. This leads to our fully actualizing our full potential to benefit others as well as ourselves.

Buddhism and Physics1:



Prof. Peter Fung and Ven. Hin Hung

Karma and Classical Physics (1)

Similarities and differences between the Buddhist concept of karma and Newtonian Physics will be explored. Both predictable linear motion and non-linear motion of matter will be discussed.

The meaning of causality in science so far discovered will also be examined.



Prof. Peter Fung and Ven. Hin Hung

Karma and Classical Physics (2)



Prof. Peter Fung and Ven. Hin Hung

Dharmic (intrinsic) nature and Quantum Physics (1)

Buddhist concepts of emptiness, dharmic (intrinsic) nature of phenomena will be compared with major concepts of Quantum Physics. Concepts like particle/wave duality, entanglement of the wave functions and probabilistic nature of events will also be discussed.



Prof. Peter Fung and Ven. Hin Hung

Dharmic (intrinsic) nature and Quantum Physics (2)



Prof. Peter Fung and Ven. Hin Hung

Three natures of perception and General Physics

The similarities and differences between the Yogacara school teachings of the three natures of perception and the general laws of physics will be investigated.

Psychotherapy, Neuroscience and Buddhism



Ven. Hin Hung

Meditation and Neuro-science

How neuroimaging (EEG and fMRI) and physiological assessment methods have helped us to better understand meditation and its effects on our mind



Ven. Hin Hung

Buddhism and Psychotherapy

How Buddhist teachings have contributed toward psychotherapy? What would be the essential components of a Buddhist based psychotherapy?


Two written essays of 3500 words. (100%)


Beckman HB, Wendland M, Mooney C, et al. The impact of a program in mindful communication on primary care physicians. Academic Medicine; 2012, 87:815–819.

Begley S. Train your mind, change your brain: how a new science reveals our extraordinary potential to transform ourselves. New York: Ballantine Books; 2007.

Hanson R, Mendius R. Buddha's brain: the practical neuroscience of happiness, love & wisdom. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications; 2009.

HH Dalai Lama and Hopkins J. How to see yourself as you really are. London: Ryder; 2007.

Hopkins J, Lati Rinpoche, HH Dalai Lama. Death intermediate state and rebirth in Tibetan Buddhism. New York: Snow Lion Publications; 1981.

Krasner MS. In pursuit of balance: a paradigm shift. The Bulletin of the Monroe County Medical Society; 2008:14-15.

Krasner, MS. Through the Lens of Attention, Apprenticeship, and Attachment in Health and Healing. Zen Bow; 2006, 29:10-14.

Kwee MGT. New horizons in Buddhist psychology: relational Buddhism for collaborative practices. Chagrin Falls, OH: Taos Institute Publications; 2010.

Paonil W, Sringernyuang L. Buddhist perspectives on health and healing. The Chulalongkorn Journal of Buddhist Studies; 2002, 1:93-105

Ratanakul P. Buddhism, health and disease. Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics. 2004, 15:162-164.

Ricard M, Trinh XT. The quantum and the lotus: a journey to the frontiers where science and Buddhism meet. 1st American ed. New York: Crown Publishers; 2001.

Schwartz J, Begley S. The mind and the brain: neuroplasticity and the power of mental force. New York: Regan Books/HarperCollins Publ.; 2002.

Shantideva and Batchelor S. A guide to the Bodhisattva’s way of life. Dharamsala: The Library of Tibetan Works and Archives; 1992.

Wallace BA. Buddhism & science: breaking new ground. New York: Columbia University Press; 2003.

Watson G, Batchelor S, Claxton G. The psychology of awakening: Buddhism, science, and our day-to-day lives. 1st ed. York Beach, Me.: S. Weiser; 2000.


The dissertation shall be a critical study within the field of Buddhist Studies and shall be 20,000-24,000 words in length. The title of dissertation shall be submitted for approval by not later than March 31 of the final academic year in which the teaching programme ends and the dissertation shall be presented by July 31 of the same year. Candidates shall submit a statement that the dissertation represents their own work (or in the case of joint work, a statement countersigned by their co-worker(s), which shows the degree of their work) undertaken after registration as candidates for the degree. The examiners may also prescribe an oral examination on the subject of the dissertation.
This course is equivalent to two single-semester courses.
(For students who selected BSTC6025 Dissertation, please also fill in Dissertation Application Form (available at http://www.buddhism.hku.hk/p01_sub_req.htm) and submit it to General Office on or before February 10, 2014.)

Special topics in Buddhist Studies (3):

Spirituality in architecture: with special reference to Nyingma teachings

The Architecture of Buddhism

Dr. W.S. Wong

Tel: 2859-2142

Email: wswong@hku.hk

Schedule: 1st Semester; Saturday 2:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Class Venue: CPD-G.02, G/F, Centennial Campus

Course description
Based on the teachings of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, this course is an interdisciplinary study of Architecture and Buddhism using physical buildings to explain Buddhist philosophies. The Vimalakirti Sutra says, “All the different kinds of earthly desires are all the seeds of the Buddha”. The course will begin with an introduction to the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism and clarification of the relationship for the three schools of Madhyamaka, Yogacara and Tathagatagarbha (Buddha-nature). Subsequesntly, spirituality is explained and discussed in each of the three schools of Madhyamaka, Yogacara and Tathagatagarbha illustrated with examples from the study of architecture like architectural styles, theories of architecture, functionality, historical references and construction technology. The spirit of modernism, technology, symbolism, sustainability and humanity in architectural studies are revealed to be embraced in corresponding views of various Buddhist philosophies from the three schools of Madhyamaka, Yogacara and Tathagatagarbha with reference from Sutras and Shastras. The course will also cover Buddhist Architecture in Asia such as India, China (including Tibet) and Japan etc.
Course objectives

This is an introductory course of the principles of Architecture and Buddhism and presents the fusion of two seemingly different disciplines with our built environment seen as the application of Buddhist theories. The student will have an insight to the spirituality behind making buildings as well as the application of Buddhist philosophies in the understanding of the design and construction of buildings. Students will be exposed to technical terms and philosophies of both Architecture and Buddhism. This is the first of such interdisciplinary courses in the post-graduate curriculum of both Faculties of Art and Architecture. Reference for this course is based on literature from both Buddhism and Architecture.

Course outline
Course introduction : Overview of Buddhism and Architecture in Nyingma perspective


    1. The three turnings of the Buddha ;

The three types of Buddhist Architecture – Monasteries, stupas, temples – from early Buddhism

    1. Buddhist Architecture of Theravada : The Architecture of discipline

    1. The Tang Temples and Mahayana : The Architecture of reason

    1. The mandala and temples of Vajrayana : The Architecture of symbolism

    1. Zen as special transmission outside scriptures and the Japanese gardens

    1. The Architecture of Tonghkas : Buddhahood without meditation


    1. The Four Schools of Buddhism

Vaibhasika, Sautrantika, Vijnanavada and Madhyamaka

and the four Tibetan schools

Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, Gelug

    1. Basis, path and fruition : Madhyamaka, Yogacara and Tathagatagarbha (Buddha-nature)

Rationality and humanity in Modern Architecture

    1. The five paths to enlightenment in the Heart Sutra : Form emptiness

Fusion of Physical Form and Space

    1. Madhyamaka School : the meaning of Fourfold Dependent Origination in Architecture

    1. Yogacara School : Dharmanimitta and Vijnaptimatra

Perceptions of Architecture

    1. Tathagatagarbha School : view, practice and realization of pristine awareness

Fundamental reading:
Dudjom Rinpoche (1991), Causal Vehicles of Dialectics, “The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism”, Wisdom, pg. 151-240.

Dudjom Lingpa (1994), “Buddhahood Without Meditation”, Padma Publishing

S.W. Tam (2003) Fourfold Dependent origination and Profound Prajna, Buddhall

Le Huu Phuoc (2010), “Buddhist Architecture”, Grafikol

Recommended reference

  1. On Buddhism :

Donald S Lopez, Jr. (1988), “The Heart Sutra Explained, Indian and Tibetan Commentaries” State University of New York Press

Kalupahana, David J. (1986), “Nagarjuna, The Philosophy of the Middle Way, Mulamadhyamakakarika”, State University of New York Press.

Wayman, (1974), The Lion’s Roar of Queen Srimala, Columbia University Press.

Arya Asanga, (2000), “Buddha Nature, The Mahayana Uttaratantra Shastra by Arya Maitreya”, Snow Lion Publication

DT Suzuki (2010), “Zen and Japanese Culture”, Bollinger Series

  1. On Architecture :

Rudofsky (1964), “Architecture without Architects”, NY Museum of Modern Art

Venturi, Brown and Izenour, (15th printing, 1997), “Learning from Las Vegas”, MIT Press

Le Corbusier, (1986), “Towards a New Architecture”, Dover

Paolo Soleri (1973), “Matter becoming Spirit”, Anchor

J. Anderson (2007), “World Architecture”, Chartwell Books. Inc.

R.E. Fisher (2004), “Buddhist Art and Architecture”, Thames & Hudson.


Individual course essay 50%, reading report 30% and quiz 20%

Learning hours

Lectures : 36 hours

Reading report : 5 hours

Self-reading and research : 35 hours

Learning outcomes

  1. To understand analytically the basic teaching of Theravada, Madhyamaka, Yogacara and Tathagatagarbha in Buddhism and architecture

  2. To appraise critically the different aspects of the built environment like Modernism, technology, sustainability, humanity and symbolism in Architecture.

  3. To initiate innovative thinking for the fusion of Architecture and Buddhism.


History of Indian Buddhism: a general survey

Prof. T. Endo

Tel: 3917-5080

Email: tendo@hku.hk

Schedule: 1st Semester; Thursday 6:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Class Venue: Lecture Room C, LG/F, Chow Yei Ching Bldg
Course Description

An objective understanding of the development of any Buddhist tradition presupposes a proper historical perspective. The course is designed to provide students with a general, but not superficial, survey of Indian Buddhism from a historical perspective highlighting all the important developments up to the emergence of Mahyna. The main themes for the course include: the origins of Buddhism and the Indian Background; process of the compilation of the Canon; the classification of the Buddha’s teachings; the Councils; the popularization of Buddhism; the emergence and development of the major Buddhist sects; King Asoka and his contribution to the Buddhist cause; spread of Buddhism outside India; rise of Mahyna Buddhism and other related topics.

Class Schedule




Week 1

Sept 5

No Class

Week 2

Sept 12

Lesson 1

Week 3

Sept 19

Lesson 2

Week 4

Sept 26

Lesson 3

Week 5

Oct 3

Lesson 4

Week 6

Oct 10

Lesson 5

Week 7

Oct 17

(Reading week)

No Class

Week 8

Oct 24

Lesson 6

Week 9

Oct 31

Lesson 7

Week 10

Nov 7

Lesson 8

Week 11

Nov 14

Lesson 9

Week 12

Nov 21

Lesson 10

Week 13

Nov 28

Lesson 11

Week 14

Dec 5

(Make up class)

Lesson 12

Course Outline
Lecture 1: Origins of Buddhism and the Indian background

  • The Indian religious tradition (ramaa-brhman tradition); the date of the Buddha.

Lecture 2: The classification of the Buddha’s Words (Buddhavacana)

Lecture 3: The First Buddhist Council

– Its authenticity, motive, and content; the first attempt to collectively sanction the Buddha’s teachings.

Lecture 4: The Second Buddhist Council – the confrontation between the orthodox and the progressive communities; doctrinal conflict and Mahdeva’s ‘Five Propositions’.

Lecture 5: The process of compilation of the Buddhist Canon (particularly the Stra-piaka) – question of the “original Canon”; did the Buddha speak Pli?; the gradual formation of the 4 or 5 nikya/gama.

Lecture 6: The first schism: Sthaviravda vs. Mahsaghika.

Lecture 7: Subsequent development of the major Buddhist sects.

Lecture 8: King Asoka and his contribution to the cause of Buddhism.

Lecture 9: Spread of Buddhism outside India.

Lecture 10: Popularization of Buddhism: pagoda and pilgrimages, the Avadna literature, poetry and story-telling.

Lecture 11: The emergence of Mahyna.

Lecture 12: The disappearance of Buddhism from India and conclusion.


  1. Short essay with 1,500 words: 30 %

  2. Long essay with 3,000 words: 60 %

  3. Attendance: 10 %

Recommended for reference

  1. G.C.Pande: Studies in the Origins of Buddhism, Motilal Banarsidass, 1995.

  2. K.L.Hazra: The Rise and Decline of Buddhism in India, Munshiram Manoharlal, 1995.

  3. A.K.Warder: Indian Buddhism, Motilal Banarsidass, 2000.

  4. Akira Hirakawa, tr. & ed. by Paul Groner: A History of Indian Buddhism: from Sakyamuni to early Mahayana, University of Hawaii Press, 1990.

  5. Hajime Nakamura: Indian Buddhism: A survey with bibliographical notes, KUFC Publications, 1980.

  6. P.V.Bapat: 2500 Years of Buddhism, Government of India, 1959.

  7. K. Anuruddha Thera, Mary M.Y.Fung, S.K.Siu: The First and Second Buddhist Councils: Five versions: English translation from Pali and Chinese, Chi Lin Nunnery, 2008.

  8. Romila Thapar: Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas, Oxford University Press, 1998.

  9. E. Lamotte: History of Indian Buddhism: From the origins to the Saka era, 1988.

  10. Nalinaksha Dutt. Buddhist Sects in India, reprint, 1998.

Suggested Topics for Short and Long Essays

1. What were the external and internal contributory factors for the rapid spread of Buddhism in India during and soon after the time of the Buddha.
2. Discuss critically the various theories for the date of the Buddha proposed by different scholars and its significance for Indian and Buddhist studies.
3. Discuss the circumstances that led to the holding of the First Buddhist Council and assess the role played by MahāKassapa in the Council.
4. Discuss the historicity of the First Buddhist Council and its importance in the history of Buddhism in India.
5. Do you agree that the Second Buddhist Council held about a hundred years after the Parinibbāna of the Buddha according to the Pāli sources marked the beginning of Sectarian Buddhism in India? – Give your reasons.
6. Assess critically the contribution made by King Asoka of India in the 3rd century B.C. towards the spread of Buddhism.
7. The thera Mahinda introduced both the Tipiaka and the Ahakath to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century B.C. – Explain how Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka.
8. Discuss the origins of Buddhism in India and the Indian background at the time of the Buddha
9. Discuss the significance of Mahādeva’s ‘Five Propositions’ in the light of the development of Buddhism in India.
10. Discuss critically the doctrinal differences between the Theravāda (Sthaviravāda) and Mahāsakghika schools of Buddhist thought as found, for instance, in the Kathāvatthu of the Pāli tradition. (「異部宗輪論」(Origin and Doctrines of Early Indian Buddhist Schools - English tr. by Jiryo Masuda) is another work for reference)
11. Explain the process of the compilation of the Buddhist Canon.
12. Discuss briefly the development of 18 Buddhist schools in India.

13. Discuss the spread of Buddhism outside India.
14. Discuss critically the origins of Mahāyāna Buddhism in India.
15. What were the major causes/reasons for the disappearance of Buddhism in India in the medieval time?
Or, you may select any topic of your choice related to the Course.

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