Fourth Annual Student Symposium

Saturday, April 17 from 1:00-3:00 PM

DRBU students will be presenting written work from an academic course. We look forward to celebrating student discoveries in close reading and shared inquiry! Please email for Zoom details.

Presenters and Abstracts:

Name, Cohort

Title & Abstract

Sjon Ljos, BA1

“Mapping Yijing Cosmology to 'Free & Easy Wandering' in the Zhuangzi: A Visual Interpretation”

I will present an artistic representation of the story of Kūn and Péng from the Zhuangzi’s introductory chapter “Free & Easy Wandering.” The ancient divination classic Book of Changes (Yijing) offers a cosmological compass upon which to ground and orient Zhuangzi’s whimsical language. Basic Yijing hexagram structure will be introduced, including the Bagua (eight foundational trigrams) and their directional alignment. Overlaying the opening story of Kūn and Péng onto the Bagua compass solidifies the Daoist story into a map. Interacting with a map, an individual is assured of order and place. The visual accompaniment interprets the world map of Kūn and Péng and questions how to harmonize with its cosmological order.

Norbel Casas, BA3

“Unveiling What's Behind a Comedy to Reveal a Glimmer of Hope.”

Have you ever felt that life has been difficult at times? Hasn't everyone? In order to not take life too seriously, the literature work Don Quixote can bring a perfect remedy for your tightened up soul. Ah. And at last the soul loosens up to its natural self. However, what do you do if there's more than meets the eye with the author's intention? And how can one find that hidden priceless gem of meaning to demonstrate not only laughter for the soul, however a glimmer of hope for the soul? How can that be? Find out next time....

James Nguyen, MA1

“The Essentialization and Subversion of Views: A Comparative Examination of Hume and Huineng”

How do we develop constructs around what we experience? How do we create views on what we understand, and ascribe labels like “true” and “false” as signposts to guide our behavior?  

In this talk, we’ll explore the creation and usage of “views,” through two different lenses: the empirical lens of Hume which has been formative modern Western thought, and the Mahayana Buddhist lens of the Sixth Patriarch Huineng of classical Eastern thought.

We’ll compare and contrast some examples, as well as review how these approaches might be brought into practice for the modern mind, for a new way of ‘viewing’ the world. 

Bhikshuni Jin Zhi, MA1

Embodying Knowing and Practice into One Non-duality: the Buddha’s Seeing and Knowing”

The Buddhadharma is vast and boundless, but it is also simple and easy. Why? It is simple because its main principle is rooted in your inner nature, heart and body. People who do not understand their own nature, heart and body, chase external forms and sense objects, and walk against the principle of nature (universal compassion), heart (right Path) and body (humanity). Therefore, they get confused and do all things distortion. Although the Buddhadharma is clear and straightforward, by the law of causality relating to human experience and conception, people still face obstacles to understand its actual meaning, they become doubtful, disbelieve and slander it. Why? There is no  reason other than the conscious mind that creates these problems. Therefore, I will explore the Pali and Mahayana texts in Buddhism to assert that the Buddha’s teachings of the pairing of cause and effect, triple jewels, cultivation on human nature, heart and body, five roots and five powers to transform human consciousness to four wisdoms are all equal and nondual by embodying the knowing and practice into one: the Buddha view and knowledge. 

Lisa Liang, MA1

“Convergence and Divergence in Exegetical Texts of Theravāda and Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma”

How do we discern and classify dharma-s so we may get to the core of the Buddhist doctrines such as the four noble truths, dependent-origination, nirvāṇa, etc.? This was the driving question for the Ābhidharmikas, scholar-practitioners who endeavored to represent the Buddha’s soteriological intent by means of ultimate truth (Pāli: paramatthasacca, Skt: paramārthasatya). Among the most prominent Abhidharma schools were the Sarvāstivāda, representing the northern transmission, and southern transmission of Theravāda. Both the Sarvāstivāda and Theravāda converge on the importance of discerning ultimate truth on the Buddhist path, but the way they diverge is in their standpoint on methodologies and classification. The Sarvāstivada categorized their dharma-s via a fivefold taxonomy (Skt. pañcavastuka; Ch. wuwei 五位) and Theravāda via a fourfold schema of ultimates (Pāli: catu paramattha). This paper explores the exegetical works of the two schools to account for what distinguishes the categories they employ and why they diverge.

Jianqiu Luke Wu, MA2

“Does Science Kill the Magic?”

Over the last few centuries, natural science has become one of the most powerful explanatory tools of our world and ourselves. Our technological advances have been the best proof of this. However, with its materialist explanation of the universe, everything seems to be reducible to inanimate entities and mechanical laws governing them. Under this narrative, there seems to be no need for any non-material explanation for any phenomenon whatsoever, including our own sentience. The magic of life and of the myriad phenomena seems to be debunked, or "killed" by science.

But can science really kill the magic? Can we still have a higher nature that is not reducible to a materialistic explanation? In his Crisis of European Sciences, Edmund Husserl offers an affirmative answer to this question through a deconstruction of science. His solution does not require us to reject science, but rather to understand its concealed real meaning.

Omar Astier, MA2

“Faith and the Teaching on the Three Natures in Yogacāra”

This essay focuses on the relationship between two aspects of the yogacāra teachings on the mind: faith, classified as a positive mental concomitant (cetasika) dharma, considered to be crucial for cultivation in the Dharma, and the Three Natures, a description of the characteristics of all aspects of experience. I being by outlining a description on faith as a mental factor, then I provide a brief explanation on the teaching of the three natures, and finally, I argue that the two are inherently related: faith as outlined in the yogacāra teachings implies a sense of trust in the Real Nature, and, conversely, only by relying on faith can we truly access the teachings on the Three Natures.