Professor David Eckel Seminar Oct 2013

Nan Tien Institute Library, Nan Tien Temple, 180 Berkeley Rd, Berkeley NSW 2506 Australia

2013 UBEF Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies, School of Languages and Cultures, University of Sydney

This Professorship was established at the University of Sydney in 2009 through the generosity of the UBEF - University Buddhist Education Foundation for the purpose of sponsoring an extended visit to Sydney of a distinguished international scholar in any field of Buddhist Studies in order to expose students and academics to current trends in research and to raise the profile of Buddhist Studies in Australia. It is administered by the Department of Indian Sub-continental Studies and the Buddhist Studies Program in the School of Languages and Cultures. The UBEF Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies for 2013 is Professor David Eckel.


David Eckel is a Professor of Religion and an award-winning teacher in the Religion Department at Boston University. Before joining Boston University, he served on the faculty at Middlebury College and Harvard Divinity School. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University, his M.A. from Oxford University, and his B.A. from Harvard College. He is the author of several books on Buddhism and the Madhyamaka tradition, including Understanding Buddhism (Oxford University Press), To See the Buddha: A Philosopher’s Quest for the Meaning of Emptiness (Princeton University Press) and Bhāviveka and His Buddhist Opponents (Harvard Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies).

Professor Eckel will be speaking on the topic: ‘Madhyamaka views of two truths’.

The Madhyamaka School of Indian Buddhist thought has had tremendous influence in the Buddhist world, particularly in Tibet, China and Japan: in the West it has become the subject of intense interest in the fields of comparative religion and philosophy. Many aspects of Madhyamaka thought, however, remain obscure, especially during the period when Buddhist thought was first introduced to Tibet.

Jnanagarbha's Commentary on the Distinction between the Two Truths is a concise and lucid introduction to the issues and personalities that dominated Indian Madhyamaka thought on the eve of its introduction to Tibet. As an example of the influential but little-known Svatantrika branch of the Madhyamaka School, Jnanagarbha’s work shows quite vividly how the commitment to reason in the search for ultimate truth shaped not only the dialogue between Madhyamaka thinkers and members of other Buddhist schools, but also the evolution of the Madhyamaka tradition itself.

David Eckel has translated Jnanagarbha's text in its entirety and provided an introduction that situates the text clearly in its historical and philosophical context. Extensive notes, a transliterated version of the Tibetan translation, and a reproduction of the original Tibetan blockprints make this volume useful to scholars as well as to the interested general reader.

David Eckel is Associate Professor of the History of Religion at the Center for the Study of the World Religions at Harvard University.

For more information please contact Nan Tien Institute on: 02 4272 0609 or email