Bhutan to Host International Conference on Vajrayāna Buddhism from June 30 at Thimpu
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The Central Monastic Body and the Centre for Bhutan Studies & GNH Research (CBS & GNHR) will host an international conference on “Tradition and Innovation in Vajrayāna Buddhism: A Mandala of 21st Century Perspectives” from 30 June to 3 July in Thimphu, Bhutan on the subject of continuity and change within both historical and contemporary expressions of Vajrayāna Buddhism.
The conference has been organized by the Central Monastic Body and the Centre for Bhutan Studies & GNH Research, with inputs from Ian Baker, a Buddhist scholar and board member of the International Society for Bhutan Studies (ISBS). The conference is also supported by Bhutan Prime Minister, LyonchhenTshering Tobgay, His Holiness the Je Khenpo and the Lopöns of the Central Monastic Body. The conference reflects the leadership of the King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and the continual efforts of Bhutan’s Royal Family to integrate Bhutan’s rich cultural and spiritual heritage with contemporary advances in the fields of science, medicine, education, and technology.
Featuring more than 300 international and local participants, the conference will be held at Royal Institute of Tourism and Hospitality (RITH) campus, Motithang. Speakers include world-renowned spiritual leaders as well as prominent scholars and neuroscientists researching the effects of yogic and contemplative practices on the human brain and wellbeing. During the course of the three days, presentations on historical perspectives and visionary accounts of Vajrayāna Buddhism’s creative adaptation to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century will be made. The program will also include illustrated talks, films, and live performances. 65 speakers from 17 different countries will share their insights and experiences and engage in discussion with both international and domestic participants. The three-day series of presentations will address Vajrayāna’s dialogue with 21st century science, medicine, and ethics as well as its current and historical interface with the visual and performing arts and contributions to comprehensive human flourishing.
The conference will specifically address the role of women within Vajrayāna Buddhism as well as the form and function of body-mind yogic practices within Vajrayānathat that have traditionally been considered secret. The conference will seek to articulate the ways in which Vajrayāna Buddhist methods of individual and collective transformation can be meaningfully adapted to the emerging technologies, priorities, and social concerns of the contemporary world.
Striving to showcase and translate the impact of Vajrayana Buddhism in the Bhutanese lifescape, participants and audience alike will experience firsthand the living spirit of Vajrayāna Buddhism inherent in Bhutan’s landscape, temples, arts, and daily life. Even the food offered during the conference will reflect Vajrayāna Buddhism’s living presence in Bhutan, in the form of native red rice, organic vegetables, and healing herbs. As Dasho Karma Ura, President of the Centre for Bhutan Studies & GNH Research stated; “This conference is not only about sharing ideas, but about discovering something at the core of our being that we all hold in common. This is the heart of the Vajrayāna Buddhist vision, and the conference will help international guests and Bhutanese alike to apply their innate qualities of compassion, wisdom, and creativity in all aspects of their lives.”