Public lecture on understanding and misunderstanding the ‘Four Noble Truths’

mart laanemetsAssociate professor at the Centre for Oriental Studies, University of Tartu, Dr Märt Läänemets will hold the public lecture on 27th of April at 15:00 “What the Buddha really taught? Understanding and misunderstanding the ‘Four Noble Truths’ “. The lecture will be held in English in the Japanese auditorium (Universiteto 5, entrance from the L. Gucevičius Courtyard).

What the Buddha really taught? This is the issue every Buddhist and Buddhologist concerns very much while studying and practicing Buddha’s Dharma. What we have as evidence is the huge corpus of Buddhist texts in several languages with Buddha’s discourses or Buddhavacana – the Buddha’s own Word, as believed – in the core. Today’s critical approach towards the study of the Buddhist corpus, however, rather share the view that large part of this most holy scripture is constructed during the text-generation process that lasted for generations and was finally fixed only centuries after Buddha was passed away thus having no any more control over ‘his own word’. Still the texts are the only source and evidence that represent what the historical Buddha (probably) has taught and what is fixed and transmitted as Buddha’s Word. So the study of texts is the very basis of any further effort to understand and practice Buddhism.

The lecture discusses the important text of the Pali canon – the Dhammacakkappavattana-sutta or Setting in Motion the Wheel of the Dharma – regarded as the record of the Buddha’s first sermon where he deals with the central topic of Buddhism – the Four Noble Truth. Some traditional and modern outlooks will critically debated on the basis of original textual materials and today’s scholars’ and spiritual masters’ arguments.

Märt Läänemets is Associate Professor of the Institute of Cultural Research and Fine Arts and Head of the Centre for Oriental Studies, University of Tartu. His research interests focus on the study of Buddhism and its textual sources in Sanskrit and Chinese. He teaches Chinese language, Chinese culture and history, and Eastern religions in the University of Tartu.