Buddhist Studies Expert Speaks At Denison University Convocation
Date of Event: November 6, 2000
Posted: October 23, 2000
Genichi Victor Hori, professor of religious studies at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, will speak at an All-College Convocation at Denison University at 8 p.m. on Thursday (Oct. 26) in the Slayter Auditorium. Sponsored by the Goodspeed Lecture Series, Hori's topic is "Expressing the Unspeakable: The Zen Koan." A reception in the Faculty Lounge will follow his lecture. Both events and free and open to the public. On Friday (Oct. 27), Hori will meet with students in two religion department classes, Buddhism and World Religions.
The "koan" is a verbal and textual teaching device used in the Zen Buddhist tradition. It deals with the particular problem of how to express what is said to be inexpressible, according to John Cort, associate professor in the religion department at Denison. "Monks study and meditate upon koans as part of a long, sophisticated curriculum that trains the monk to express nonduality," he says. "The goal is also known as satori or kensho, the experience of enlightenment."
Among the more famous koans are "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" and "Question: Does a dog have Buddha-nature? Answer: Mu (nothingness)." In his talk, Professor Hori will discuss this crucial aspect of Zen religious practice.
Hori spent 20 years in Japan, 13 of them as a Rinzai Zen monk in koan training. He is presently working on a book Zen Words, an annotated translation of "capping phrases" for Zen koans. At his Buddhist ordination, Hori was given the name Sogen; his parents gave him the Japanese name of Genichi.
Hori earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Toronto and his doctorate in western philosophy at Stanford University. He was a research fellow in the department of philosophy at Kyoto University in Japan. He also has served as a Numata Foundation visiting scholar in Buddhist studies at the University of Toronto and at Harvard University in the 1990s. He organized a conference on teaching Buddhism at McGill University in 1999 as well as a panel discussion on "The Media and New Religions in Japan" for the annual meeting of the Japan Studies Association of Canada.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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