Center for buddhist studies conference

Nov. 2-3, 2018

University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona


Envisioning the Buddhist Canon
in the Digital Age

November 2, 2018

Location at Silver and Sage room, Old Main building
9:00 – 9:20am

Opening Ceremony

Host: Jiang Wu | Director, Center for Buddhist Studies
Speakers: Alain-Philippe Durand | Dean, College of Humanities
Representatives of conference sponsors
Kimberly Jones | Vice Dean, College of Humanities

9:20 – 9:30am

Group Photo and Coffee Break

9:30 – 10:50am

Panel 1. The Buddhist Canon in the Modern Era

Chair: Albert Welter | University of Arizona

Jiang Wu | University of Arizona
The Chinese Buddhist Canon and the Rise of Textual Modernity in East Asia
Despite the rising interests in modern East Asian Buddhism in recent years, studies on how the Buddhist textual tradition copes with modernity and reinvigorates itself as a vital force of religious changes are conspicuously missing. In this paper, I discuss the modern fate of the Buddhist canon in East Asia, including China, Japan, and Korea to highlight the unique time period when East Asia was undergoing significant changes in the face of Western “threats,” not only politically and militarily, but also culturally, intellectually, and religiously. This paper attempts to explore the relationship between religion and modernity by focusing on the transformation of East Asia’s scriptural tradition, more specifically the common cultural heritage of the Chinese Buddhist canon among East Asian countries. I argue that the modernization of the Chinese Buddhist canon is an integral part of the process of modernizing East Asia’s textual tradition, contributing to the rise of what I call “textual modernity.”
Greg Wilkinson | Brigham Young University
The Buddhist Canon in America: Meditation Centers and Scriptural Texts
From the noble silence of Chan to the chanting of Nichiren and Pure Land, meditation practices represent a significant, if not dominant, role within American Buddhism. However, what role does the Buddhist canon fulfill for American Buddhists? Because of the significant work of the Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai (BDK) or The Society for the Promotion of Buddhism, Buddhist scriptures are now readily available to American Buddhists in English translation. This paper attempts to set a framework to define what “Buddhist scriptures” mean in America. In America, are there consistent distinctions between canonical texts included in catalogs like the Taishō Canon and attributed Shakyamuni or Huineng from writings of sectarian leaders past or present? A survey of six influential American meditation centers representing six different Buddhist traditions is then presented focusing on their statements about Buddhist scriptures. Are scriptures simply proof texts arguing for the efficacy of central practices or are they presented as scriptures with historical provenances and transcendent origins on par with America’s prevalent Abrahamic scriptures. Finally, this paper reflects on whether the statements made by American meditation centers are emerging as an independent and distinct scriptural tradition or are understandings of Buddhist scriptures simply a reflection of canonical discourses in Asia?
Dewei Zhang | Sun Yat-sen University
Competing for National Pride: Making New Editions of the Buddhist Canon in Modern East Asia
Starting in the late nineteenth century, East Asia has witnessed a lasting wave of making new editions of the Buddhist canon. Notably, during the period not only have the countries in the region embraced the West fully, forced or voluntarily, for the first time but their relationships with each other have been profoundly reshaped in the wake of the rapid rise of Japan in the world hierarchy of power. Against the backdrop, centering on the production of the Taishō canon in the 1920-1930s, this paper examines consistent efforts to create new editions of the Buddhist canon from both sides of Japan and China. It reveals how the canon has since been taken as a kind of symbolism of Asian cultures on the global stage, and how the struggle for the best version of it has become, beyond a religious or intellectual enterprise, part of a competition for cultural autonomy and national pride in the context of modern East Asia. Over the course, it shed light on motivations of the participants while engaging in the enterprise and, in particular, the tensions deriving from their dual-identity as scholars and/or Buddhists and as nationalists of a given country. Also, it explores how such complexities among the people involved have affected the contents, structure, and formats of the newly-produced canon as well as other significant consequences.
10:50 – 11:00am

Coffee Break

11:00am – 12:00pm

Panel 2. New Initiatives of Canon Studies

Chair: Caleb Simmons | University of Arizona

Andrew Wong | Maitreya Culture and Education Foundation
A Brief Account of the Beginning of “Selected Edition of Teaching Materials for the Chinese Buddhist Canon” 《汉文大藏经教材选编》 Project
A few years ago, former director general of PRC’s National Religious Bureau Dr. Ye Xiaowen 叶小文 requested Professor Andrew L. C. Wong to act as the chief editor for editing new Chinese Tripitaka to replace Taisho-pitaka 《大正藏》being used as major reference materials for Chinese postgraduates and scholars of Buddhist studies. Professor Andrew L. C. Wong deemed it premature to do this as there was insufficient Chinese scholars to form the editorial board for such a large-scale edition, instead Dr. Ye and Professor Wong agreed to initiate the Buddhist Canon Selected Translation project. This could be considered as the continuation of the Essentials of Tripitaka 《藏要》 published by Nanjing Inner Studies Academy 南京支那内学院 ninety years ago, but the scope of texts will not be restricted to the sutras and sastras in the Essentials of Tripitaka. The project was formally launched on April 1, 2018 right after the Maitreya Twin Forum 慈宗双论坛 in Hong Kong. Under the Maitreya Culture & Education Foundation established by Professor Wong, a specific editorial committee has been set up and will select explanatory notes of important sutras and sastras in Chinese Tripitaka for editing. The editorial committee will proof-read different versions, make footnotes and translate the classical texts into contemporary Chinese language. The final version will first be uploaded online for internal studies by Prof. Andrew L. C. Wong’s students, then open for public and eventually be published into series of teaching material booklets. The first stage of editing will focus on commentaries on prajna-paramita-related sutras and vijnaptimatra-related sastras, such as, An Appreciation of Implicit & In-depth Meaning of Heart Sutra 《心经幽赞》written by Master Kuiji 窥基大师 of the Tang Dynasty, Yogacara-bhumi-sastra Bodhisattva-bhumi 《瑜伽师地论记 . 菩薩地》, important chapters compiled by Ven. Dunlun 遁伦法师, a disciple of Master Xuanzang 玄奘大师 in the Tang Dynasty. It will take about ten years to complete the first stage of contemporary Chinese translation and will then move to the next stage of translating into English. However, cooperation with foreign Buddhist institutions like The Center for Buddhist Studies at the University of Arizona University could speed up the whole process. We trust this project will be beneficial to the Buddhist studies worldwide as most of these commentaries have never been introduced to the non-Chinese academic circles.
Wayne de Fremery | Sogang University
Data Adaptive Text Extraction Techniques for Individualized Big Data Curation and the Generation of Machine Learning Models for Buddhist Canon Research
A variety of barriers block researchers in religious studies and the humanities from taking advantage of advances in machine learning to investigate humanistic and religious studies questions. One of the largest is a lack of large-scale datasets curated by and for specialists. A second is a lack of machine learning models made specifically to investigate religious and humanistic questions. This presentation describes attempts to help researchers overcome these barriers. Specifically, the presentation details efforts by researchers investigating the Buddhist canon to curate individualized, large-scale datasets using a new software called Mo文oN. These curatorial efforts support the goal of building machine learning models that can facilitate the digital encoding of every extant version of the Buddhist canon. Several methods are described for adaptively extracting text from images of the Qisha canon using Mo文oN to create a large dataset of tagged images of characters. The presentation concludes with a description of how these individualized, large-scale datasets can be used to generate machine learning models that can facilitate the automated transcription of the entire Qisha canon, as well as other canon materials.
12:00 – 1:00pm


1:00 – 2:20pm

Panel 3 Young Scholar’s Forum

Chair: Alison Jameson | University of Arizona

Lixia Dong | University of Arizona
The Transformation of the Sutra of Forty-Two Sections in the Chinese Tripitaka
The significance of the Sutra of Forty-Two Sections as one of the earliest translated sutras transmitted to China has long been recognized by scholars. However, the significance of the changing identity of the Sutra of Forty-Two Sections has not been recognized yet. This article attempts to investigate the textual transformation of the Sutra of Forty-Two Sections in the Chinese Tripitaka. There are four versions of the Sutra of Forty-Two Sections in the Chinese Tripitaka and two versions outside of this collection. The versions included in the Chinese Tripitaka are: (1) the version included in the Tripitaka Koreana; (2) the imperial Zhenzong 真宗annotated edition; (3) the Shousui 守遂annotated edition; and (4) the version included in Baolin zhuan 宝林传. The versions outside of the Tripitaka are Liuhe Stupa’s六和塔 stone inscription edition and Huaisu’s 怀素 (725-785) cursive script version of the Sutra of Forty-Two Sections. This study will focus on the study of the former three versions in the Chinese Tripitaka, while incorporating the comparison to the other versions of the Sutra of Forty-Two Sections into the study. My study reveals the transition of the Sutra of Forty-Two Sections from an early Buddhist sutra to a Mahayana sutra, and finally to a Zenified sutra, and demonstrates that the transition should have taken place during the period between the mid-Tang to the late-Tang dynasty.
Youteng Bi | University of Arizona
Susiddhikara Worship Method and the Textual Lineage in Chinese Canonical Tradition
Recent breakthrough in the Tripitaka study unfolds that the organization of canonical tradition in China appears to be dynamic interplay of openness and closure, as suggested by scholars like Lewis Lancaster and Jiang Wu. It is commonly known that Zhisheng’s Kaiyuan Catalogue played vital role in the formation of the relative opened textual lineage of the Chinese canonical tradition. I will, in this paper, examine a textual lineage of esoteric texts in the Chinese canonical tradition. However, this examination will showcase the influence of a non-Han canon, the Khitan Canon on the whole Chinese canonical tradition which has not been closely studied. In this paper, I will retrieve and analyze the transmission of one esoteric manual Susiddhikara Worship Method in Chinese canons from the Song to the modern period. The main argument in this paper is that Khitan Canon has a significant influence on the transmission of the Susiddhikara Worship Method and the formation of a textual lineage of esoteric scriptures in the Chinese canonical tradition. This paper consists of three major parts: I first discuss the meaning and significance of the Worship Method in esoteric Buddhism during the Medieval time. Then I retrieve the transmission of this ritual manual in the Chinese canonical tradition from the medieval time to the contemporary period. Finally, I examine the differences of two versions of the Worship Method and analyzes the role of Khitan Canon played in forming this textual lineage.
Huiqiao Yao | University of Arizona
The Summary of the Great Vehicle and the Revival of the Yogācāra School during the Late Ming Dynasty
The Summary of the Great Vehicle (Mahāyānasaṃgraha) is one of the central works of the Yogācāra School of Mahayana Buddhism. This text is written by Bodhisattva Asanga, and it explains the major doctrines of the Mahayana Yogācāra school such as the “latent container consciousness” (ālāya-vijñāna), “the three patterns of existence” (trisvabhāva), and “the five paths” (pañca-mārga). Its three Chinese translations and four translations of two commentaries have been included in most of the existent Chinese Buddhist canons. However, there is a hiatus in the incorporation of different versions of this text to the canons during the early Ming dynasty. In the Yongle Southern Canon and Yongle Northern Canon, Xuanzang’s and other translations of the commentaries were not included into the canons. It was not until the late Ming in the Jiaxing Canon that the commentary texts were reintroduced. In this paper, I argue that the reincorporation of Xuanzang’s translation into the late Ming Buddhist canon reflects integrated nature of the late-Ming Buddhist revival, which encompassed multiple Buddhist schools of thought, including historically less popular ones such as the Yogācāra School. This paper is divided into three parts. Firstly, it introduces The Summary and how it became one of the basic texts of the “School of Summary”; then it presents the history of Xuanzang’s orthodox Yogācāra tradition in imperial China, and analyzes why it was largely ignored from the Tang dynasty onwards; finally, the paper discusses the revival of the Yogācāra School in the late Ming dynasty, and how the reincorporation of Xuanzang’s translation into the canon serves as evidence of the revival of the Yogācāra School.
2:20 – 2:30pm

Coffee Break

2:30 – 4:00pm

Panel 4. The Buddhist Canon from Historical Perspectives

Chair: Jiang Wu | University of Arizona

Albert Welter | University of Arizona
The Uses and Abuses of Buddhist Texts in China: Searching for a “Practical Canon”
For those with sufficient means, printing the canon resulted in a welcome display of merit, a gift of unequal value. But what is the value of its contents to “end users,” those who actually read and applied its varied messages? For most practitioners, the Buddhist canon represents a massive corpus, impressive in size, but otherwise unwieldy for practical application. Because of its enormity, the Buddhist faithful looked to creative ways to manage and use the canon’s contents in keeping with their own religious and spiritual aspirations. My presentation explores ways in which Chinese Buddhist communities strove to make sense of this massive corpus. One such means was to select and rally around a certain body of philosophically and doctrinally consistent scriptures such as was done with the Sanlun school三論宗 or the Weishi school 唯識宗. Another means evolved in accordance with the well-known panjiao 判教 system of classification that effectively dissected the canon into a hierarchical doctrinal taxonomy, providing a sectarian guide from the perspective of the most elevated (and thus most important) teachings, as, for example, in the Tiantai 天台 (Fahua jing 法華經) and Huayan 華嚴 (Huayan jing 華嚴經) schools. There were also those who, upon surveying the massive output represented in the canon, constructed abridged versions that aspired to provide a digest of the entire corpus, as with the Zongjing lu 宗鏡錄 compiled by Yongming Yanshou. In addition, there were those in the Chan school who dispensed with the traditional canon altogether, criticizing it as a derivative representation of Buddhist teachings and posited the yulu 語錄 dialogue records of Chan masters as a new and more authentic canon in their place. A different type of critique of canonical scriptures was suggested in the use of dhāraṇī as a mnemonic device that encapsulates the meaning of a section or chapter of a sutra, and ultimately provides a kind of mysterious access to the truth implicit in the entire canon itself. As a result, when referring to the Buddhist canon, one should keep in mind different kinds of definitions of canon: as an officially recognized set of sacred books, either the entire corpus of Buddhist texts included in the Dazangjing 大藏經; as a restricted corpus, a “practical canon” determined by particular sectarian criteria with corresponding doctrines and principles; as a digest intended to reduce the essence of canonical teachings to a manageable size; or through various means to dispense with the canon in place of allegedly more authentic teachings or methods predicated on more direct access to Buddhist truth.
Rae Dachille | University of Arizona
Mapping the Body of the Tibetan Buddhist Canon: Citational Practice as “Limitation” and “Ingenuity” in Buddhist Exegesis
Jonathan Z. Smith has argued that “canon is best seen as one form of a basic cultural process of limitation and of overcoming that limitation through ingenuity.” This paper examines practices of citation of the Tibetan Buddhist canon to respond to the following questions: Where does the meaning of the canonical lie for Tibetan authors? Does authority reside only in the translation of Indian Buddhist sources or is it modified through the citation of the canonical in new contexts? How does command of the art of citation garner prestige and express authorial prowess? In responding to these questions, the paper proposes a unique methodology for mapping citations in Buddhist texts.
James Robson | Harvard University
The Body of Texts Inside of the Buddha’s Body: A Preliminary Assessment of the Canonical Texts Interred Inside of Buddhist Statues in East Asia.
In recent years there has been a significant amount of new publications concerning texts and manuscripts found within Buddhist statues across East Asia. This presentation aims to bring together the rather disparate information and assess the nature of the texts that have been identified thus far in statues from China, Korea, and Japan. While the handwritten manuscripts, which tend to be devotional texts related to donors, are of interest and have attracted much attention, my purposes in this talk will try to arrive at some general conclusions concerning what types of canonical sources found there way into statues across Asia. This talk will address a series of interrelated questions. Do certain canonical texts appear in a certain type of statue? What is the date range for the canonical texts that have been discovered thus far? Are there any discernible regional differences for what types of texts appear in Buddhist statues across Asia? Is it possible to understand why certain texts were interred in statues? Should these materials be considered a type of alternative canon or archive? How might these newly discovered texts be integrated into the Buddhist canon of the future?
4:30 – 6:00pm

Khyentse Foundation Buddhist Studies Lecture Series

(Sponsored by The Khyentse Foundation)
Host and Chair: Albert Welter

A. Charles Muller | Center for Evolving Humanities, University of Tokyo
"Ti-yong ("essence-function"): Toward a More Thorough Understanding of the Ethico-Soteriological Prioritizing Principle for East Asian Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism."
The ti-yong 體用 paradigm, which thoroughly pervades and informs the Buddhist, Daoist, and Confucian manifestations of traditional East Asian philosophy, has received surprisingly scant attention from modern-day scholarship. When it has been treated, it has been mainly: (1) the subject of mere philological/historical inquiry (in Japan); (2) treated as a strictly metaphysical paradigm (in Western studies of Neo-Confucianism), or (3) taken solely as a kind of onto-cosmology (by such scholars as Xiong Shili and Whalen Lai). While all of these are perfectly valid approaches to ti-yong, they do not capture the full original intent or scope of the paradigm, which is to provide a priorities-based soteriological system and an ethical framework for personal behavior. Such an application is readily visible in the Confucian and Daoist classics as well as East Asian Buddhist commentaries. This presentation will examine some of the major ways in which each of these three traditions applied this hermeneutic structure to resolve various conceptual problems, and also go a step further by suggesting that essence-function can be understood not only as a hermeneutical device or an onto-cosmological map, but as a conceptual tool for the practitioner to reconcile the contradictions that emerge in juxtaposing the world of one’s inner being with external “realities.”
6:00 – 7:30pm

Reception at UA Poetry Center

November 3, 2018

Location change at Integrated Learning Center Room 119
9:00 – 10:30am

Panel 5: Digitization of the Buddhist Canon

Chair: Takashi Miura | University of Arizona

Masahiro Shimoda | University of Tokyo
Building a Digital Infrastructure for the Humanities and the Role of Buddhist Studies
Buddhist studies has played a significant role in the history of the humanities in modern times since the early 19th century and is expected to continue to fill the role in the future in the new context of the humanities in the digital age. The uniqueness in role of Buddhist studies is mainly by virtue of the characteristics of the transmitted knowledge of Buddhism, such as of polyglot and multicultural nature, of long-lastingness in history extending more than two thousand years, of a variety of texts compiled in a form of corpus of different languages, etc. The digitization projects of this whole corpus seen in such as SAT and CBETA in Chinese canon and BDRC in Tibetan and Sanskrit will make these features distinctly visible, benefiting Buddhist studies a clear advantage for being a model for other areas of studies in the humanities. In this presentation, I would like to discuss the significance of building a digital infrastructure for a whole area of a specific study by demonstrating the newly released SAT 2018, which has absorbed several important new functions and standards, such as IIIF, Word2Vec, Unicode CJKF and so forth.
A. Charles Muller | University of Tokyo
The Digital Dictionary of Buddhism and CJKV-E Dictionary of Confucianism and Daoism at 32 Years
The Digital Dictionary of Buddhism [DDB] is a compilation of Chinese ideograph-based terms, texts, temple, schools, persons, etc. found in Buddhist canonical sources. The Chinese-Japanese-Korean-Vietnamese/English Dictionary [CJKV-E] is a compilation of Chinese ideographs, as well as ideograph-comprised compound words, text names, person names, etc., found primarily in the Confucian and Daoist classics. It also includes vocabulary from Neo-Confucian texts, as well as other philosophical and historical sources. The information on individual ideographs in the CJKV-E is intended to be comprehensive, containing pronunciations and meanings from ancient and modern sources from the Sinitic cultural sphere including China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. Modern-day compound words are included incidentally, but the coverage of modern materials is not intended to be comprehensive. The dictionaries started out as a single project during my first semester of graduate school, and have, over time, grown to be standard reference works in the fields of Buddhist and Asian Studies. They are distinctive in being eminently successful crowd-sourced projects, supported by more than 300 scholars and subscribed to by 60 university libraries around the world. This presentation will briefly cover the history of the project, the major challenges that it has overcome, and those that it faces in the future.
Tensho Miyazaki and Kiyonori Nagasaki | International Institute for Digital Humanities
Toward an Ecosystem for Buddhist Studies in the Digital Environments
A vast amount of digital resources for Buddhist studies have spread in the world through the Web due to the contribution of many important projects. But this turn of events has brought a somewhat dangerous situation. For example, while someone might make a presentation without finding an important research resource that exists on Web, an audience may easily show the resource with any digital device during the discussion. To share digital research resources appropriately while avoiding such a mishap, an ecosystem that allows any researcher to access any resources equally and efficiently should be required by use of common technologies which anyone can leverage. SAT Daizōkyō Text Database Committee (SAT) has been addressing the issue not only through creating text databases and its convenient interfaces but also through tackling international standards for digital cultural resources such as Unicode, TEI (Text Encoding Initiative), and IIIF (International Image Interoperability Framework). SAT registered 6 variant characters of Siddhaṃ scripts into Unicode 9.0 and over 2800 CJK unified ideographs into Unicode 10.0. The members of SAT established a SIG for East Asian/Japanese texts to form more suitable guidelines to encode East Asian texts. Moreover, SAT has released several solutions to leverage IIIF technology to enhance digital Buddhist studies, such as right-to-left viewing function in the Mirador IIIF viewer and SAT Taishōzō Image Database. The version 2018 of the SAT Database (SAT2018) which SAT has released in the end of March is a use case of such environment with Word2vec textual analysis function. SAT would like to seek for possibilities of the coming future of Buddhist studies to realize such an ecosystem with international colleagues.
10:30 – 10:40am


10:40am – 12:10pm

Panel 6 The Application of AI and Deep Learning Tools (I)

Chair: Bryan Carter | University of Arizona

Jin Lianwen| South China University of Technology
Toward High Performance Optical Character Recognition of Historical Tripitaka Document Images: A Deep Learning Approach
Historical documents like the Tripitaka are invaluable treasures that human ancestors have left with us in past centuries. An important and efficient way to understand and protect these documents is through digitization, in which Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology plays a crucial role. However, various Tripitaka document collections encounter serious quality degradations including stains, torn, ink seeping, etc, which makes the segmentation and recognition of characters of such document images very challenging. In this talk, I will introduce how to design a high-performance deep learning OCR engineer for Tripitaka, and a new recognition-guided character detection/segmentation method that achieves tight Chinese character detection/segmentation in historical Tripitaka documents. Experiments show that, the proposed CNN based OCR model can achieve very high accuracy for different collections of Tripitaka documents, and our method significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art methods and leading commercial OCR softwares.
Ven. Xianchao | Longquan Temple
AI-assisted compilation of Buddhist Tripitaka
The compilation of the Tripitaka in the past used to be a long-term and arduous task, which required enormous human, financial and material resources. The rapid development of AI in recent years is expected to greatly improve the compilation efficiency of the Tripitaka. Beijing Longquan Monastery has been continuously exploring the ways of collaboration in the fields between AI and the Tripitaka. It has already applied the AI trendy deep-learning algorithms into OCR(Optical Character Recognition) and text punctuation, the accuracy of such techniques used is approaching to professional level, and is more sophisticated beyond the ordinary beings in some applied cases. The Man-Machine model helps to reduce training costs, improve the efficiency and effectiveness of performances, as well as to facilitate the standardization. The AI technology has also been applied widely in fields like the Character-retrieval of different versions, Semantic Annotation, Sentence meaning explanation, and Old-fashioned language translation. It can be foreseen that AI will be an important tool for future studies of Buddhism and even humanities and social sciences, and will become a powerful assistant for scholars.
Jiang Wu and Haiyong Zhang | University of Arizona / Boeckeler Instruments Inc.
Preliminary Research on the Chinese Buddhist Canon based on Google Attention OCR and TensorFlow Applications
AI and Deep Learning technologies have opened up new possibilities for the study of the Chinese Buddhist Canon. In this presentation, we will report on our initial findings based on experiments using Google Attention OCR and TensorFlow Applications. We will focus on a manageable size of samples from the remaining volumes of Kaibao Canon created in the tenth century to test and train our system.
12:15 – 1:30pm

Lunch Break

1:30 – 2:30pm

Panel 7: The Application of AI and Deep Learning Tools (II)

Chair: Judd Ruggill | University of Arizona

Alex Amies| Google Cloud Platform, Google Inc.
Methods for Indexing, Annotating, and Retrieving Information from Chinese Buddhist Texts
The paper will describe and compare methods for indexing and retrieving information from Chinese Buddhist texts, emphasizing the special needs of academic uses of primary source texts. Document retrieval methods described will include full text, vector space, and machine learning approaches. Examples from the corpus for the Taisho and the corpus for Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s collected works will be demonstrated. The findings include (1) search based on exact query match alone gives a high precision but moderate recall leading to relevant documents with minor textual variations being missed; (2) queries with vector space models have some advantages but are not able to clearly differentiate relevant from irrelevant documents; (3) a machine learning approach based on a logistic regression statistical model can be used to provide a measure of document similarity combining multiple parameters, which can discover more relevant documents than exact query string matching and; (4) combining exact query string match and vector space model search results can give more optimal feedback to users on document relevance than either method alone.
Ven. You Zai | Foguang Temple
Adaptive Machine Learning in the Digitization of the Chinese Buddhist Canon
The implementation of an optical character recognition (OCR) to extract images of historical Buddhist manuscripts, printed or handwritten into machine-encoded text continues to be a major challenge in the digitization of Buddhist canon and textual studies, particularly those pertaining to Chinese Buddhist manuscripts that use non-Latin characters. This paper gives an overview of the design, implementation and performance analysis of an image-based search engine based on pattern matching and user-adaptive recognition system developed in “MooN” that allows preservation of the attributes of each character and word. Such architecture usually relies heavily on high performance computing, large storage capacity, interactivity and a Posix file system structure to successfully process the work. However, “MooN” creates a new environment for users to build and train their own datasets on the client-side application, enhancing effectiveness of text retrieval and text encoding of Chinese Buddhist manuscripts in the end-user environment.
2:30 – 2:45pm

Coffee Break

2:45 – 4:30pm

Roundtable: “The Digital Tripitaka and Artificial Intelligence”

Moderator: Ken S. McAllister | Associate Dean of Research and Program Innovation (College of Humanities), Professor of Public & Applied Humanities

Ven. Xianchao | Longquan Temple
Masahiro Shimoda | University of Tokyo
Alex Amies | Infrastructure Department, Google INC
Jiang Wu | The University of Arizona

6:00 – 8:00pm

Farewell Party


Alex Amies

Google Cloud Platform, Google Inc.

Alex Amies is a computer science professional, working with Google as a Strategic Cloud Engineer. His professional and academic interests include cloud computing, machine learning, natural language processing, digital libraries, Buddhist studies. Alex has been volunteering with Fo Guang Shan for more than ten years in translation and other projects. Alex created the web sites,, and Alex has degrees in Computer Science (BSc, University of New South Wales, Australia), Civil Engineering (BE, University of New South Wales, Australia and MS Stanford University), and Applied Buddhist Studies (MA, Nan Tien Institute, Australia).
Youteng Bi 毕幽腾

University of Arizona

Youteng Bi毕幽腾 is a Ph.D. student majoring in contemporary Chinese Buddhism. She received her B.A. in Philosophy from Nanjing University and her M.A. in Religious Studies from Duke University. Her current research interest lies in the online lay people community in contemporary China.
Bryan Carter

University of Arizona

Dr. Bryan Carter received his Ph.D. at the University of Missouri-Columbia and is currently an Associate Professor in Africana Studies, at the University of Arizona specializing in African American literature of the 20th Century with a primary focus on the Harlem Renaissance and a secondary emphasis on digital culture.  Dr. Carter is also the Director of the Center for Digital Humanities for the College of Humanities.
Rae Erin Dachille

University of Arizona

Dr. Rae Erin Dachille (Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies, University of California at Berkeley) specializes in the religious and artistic traditions of Himalayan Buddhism. Her research focuses upon representations of the body in art, ritual, philosophy, and medicine in Tibetan and Sanskrit sources.  Dr. Dachille’s book project, entitled Searching for the Body: Translating Buddhist Embodiment in the Postmodern Age, explores the variety of attitudes toward the body reflected in a heated scholastic exchange between two prominent Tibetan monks.  The book examines the complex and sometimes paradoxical understandings of the body’s strengths and vulnerabilities specific to the fifteenth-century Tibetan context.  It also demonstrates the value of evaluating these ‘esoteric’ sources in relationship to broader humanistic conversations on the body. Dr. Dachille’s work reflects her enduring interest in revealing the many ways in which Tibetan Buddhist sources may enrich our approach to studying the body as an object of knowledge as well as to formulating new theories of representation. She teaches courses in Tibetan Buddhism, South Asian religion, theories and methods for the study of religion, and religion in the medical humanities.
Wayne De Fremery

Sogang University

Wayne de Fremery has a doctorate from Harvard University in East Asian Languages and Civilizations, a master’s in Korean Studies from Seoul National University, and a bachelor’s in Economics from Whitman College. Currently an associate professor in the School of Media, Arts, and Science at Sogang University in Seoul, Wayne’s work integrates traditional methods from the humanities with approaches from design, information science, and artificial intelligence to investigate information systems, documentary traditions, and East Asian literature. His specific domain expertise is twentieth-century Korean poetry and bibliography. A member of the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) committee on Document Description and Processing Languages (IEC JTC1/SC34) as part of the Korean National Body, Wayne is the first non-Korean expert to represent South Korea on an ISO committee. The author of a growing number of academic publications about bibliography, computation, and literature, Wayne also holds several patents and has won significant design awards.
Lixia Dong 董利霞

University of Arizona

Lixia Dong董利霞 is originally from Zhejiang, China. She is currently a Ph.D. student majoring in East Asia Buddhism. She received her M.A. in Buddhist Studies from Hong Kong University in Hong Kong and her B.A. in Economics from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics in China. Her current research interests are Chan Buddhism, Tea Ceremony, and Ritual.
Alain-Philippe Durand

University of Arizona

Alain-Philippe Durand is Dean of the College of Humanities, Professor of French, Honors College Distinguished Fellow, and affiliated faculty in Africana Studies, Latin American Studies and LGBT Studies at the University of Arizona. His research interests include French and Brazilian literatures, French Cinema, Hip-Hop, and the promotion of the Humanities disciplines in the professions. He is the author and editor of four books: Black, Blanc, Beur. Rap Music and Hip-Hop Culture in the Francophone World; A Techno World. New Electronic Spaces in the French Novel of the 1980s and 1990s; Novels of the Contemporary Extreme, and Frédéric Beigbeder and his doubles. The French Government awarded Durand the Palmes Académiques. The French publication France-Amérique named him among its list of fifty French talents living in the United States.
Alison Jameson

University of Arizona

Alison Jameson is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and East Asian Studies. Her areas of specialization include Song dynasty Neo-Confucianism and contemplative pedagogy. She received her M.A. in Philosophy from Ohio University and her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. Dr. Jameson teaches a wide range of courses including History of East Asian Buddhism I and II, Zen Buddhism, Special Topics in East Asian Studies, Love in World Religions, and Life after Death in World Religions and Philosophies. Dr. Jameson serves as the faculty undergraduate advisor for Religious Studies. She is the Director of the Institute for the Study of Religion and Culture.
Lianwen Jin 金连文

South China University of Technology

Lianwen Jin 金连文 received the B.S. degree from the University of Science and Technology of China, Anhui, China, and the Ph.D. degree from the South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, China, in 1991 and 1996, respectively. He is a professor in the College of Electronic and Information Engineering at the South China University of Technology. He has received the New Century Excellent Talent Program of MOE China Award and the Guangdong Pearl River Distinguished Professor Award. His research interests include handwriting analysis and recognition, optical character recognition, scene text detection and recognition, deep learning, and intelligent systems. He has authored over 150 scientific papers which were published in peer-reviewed journals such as IEEE TPAMI, IEEE TNNLS, IEEE TCYB, IEEE TCSVT, TII, IEEE TMM, IEEE TITS, Pattern Recognition, Neurocomputing,, and in main-stream international conferences including ICDAR, ICFHR,  ICPR, CVPR, AAAI, IJCAI
Ken McAllister

University of Arizona

Ken McAllister, Ph.D., is the Associate Dean of Research & Program Innovation for the College of Humanities. His research examines the history of technology, computer culture (hacking, phreaking, breaking, and virus writing) and computer games. In 1999, he co-founded and continues to co-direct the Learning Games Initiative (LGI), an international transdisciplinary organization that studies, teaches with, and builds computer games. Ken also co-curates the LGI Research Archive (LGIRA), one of the world’s largest publicly accessible computer game collections. The LGIRA currently houses more than 250,000 items related to the past half-century of international game development, including 10,000+ games, 100+ working game systems, and an ever growing number of game related items, from the latest scholarly monographs to highly obscure game accessories (e.g., the Nintendo Game Boy Sewing Machine). Ken has lectured, published, and taught extensively on the rhetorics of new media, game industry labor practices, digital aesthetics, and software preservation and archiving.
Takashi Miura 三浦隆司

Takashi Miura’s 三浦隆司research focuses on Japanese religion during the early-modern and modern periods. His current book project examines the spread of the concept of “world renewal” (yonaoshi) in Japanese society from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century and in particular highlights the rise of “yonaoshi gods,” a new category of divinities that emerged in Japan during the same time period. Miura’s broad research interests include new religion, popular religion, millenarianism, and Buddhism. He also investigates the exchange of religious ideas, texts, and movements in modern East Asia, particularly between Japan and China. He teaches courses on Japanese religion focusing on different time periods (ancient, medieval, and modern) and Buddhism. He holds a doctorate in Asian Religions from Princeton as well as an M.A. (Asian Religions) and B.A. (Religion/Japanese-English Translation) from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.
Tensho Miyazaki 宮崎展昌

International Institute for Digital Humanities

Tensho Miyazaki 宮崎展昌 is a researcher of the International Institute for Digital Humanities. His main research field is early Mahāyāna sutras, including their Tibetan and Chinese translations. He received his PhD in Buddhist studies from the University of Tokyo in 2010. In 2012, he published a Japanese book based on his PhD dissertation, titled “A Study of the Ajātaśatrukaukṛtyavinodana: Focusing on the Compilation Process” (阿闍世王の研究). In recent years, he has been preparing a Japanese annotated translation of the Tibetan version of the Ajātaśatrukaukṛtyavinodana, consulting with several kinds of the Tibetan Kangyurs and its Chinese versions. His current projects include a research on Chinese Buddhist canons, including old manuscript Buddhist canons preserved in Japan.
A. Charles Muller

University of Tokyo

A. Charles Muller is a Professor in the Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, University of Tokyo. His main work lies in the fields of Korean Buddhism, East Asian Yogâcāra, and East Asian classical lexicography. He is the current Publications Chairman for the BDK English Tripiṭaka, and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Japanese Association for Digital Humanities. Among his recent book-length works are A Korean-English Dictionary of Buddhist Terms (Unjusa 2014), and Korea’s Great Buddhist-Confucian Debate (University of Hawai`i Press, 2015). The major online digital projects he has initiated are the Digital Dictionary of Buddhism (, the CJKV-E Dictionary (, the H-Buddhism Buddhist Scholars Information Network ( and the H-Buddhism Zotero Bibliography project (
James Robson

Harvard University

James Robson is the James C. Kralik and Yunli Lou Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. Robson received his Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Stanford University in 2002, after spending many years doing research in China, Taiwan, and Japan. He specializes in the history of medieval Chinese Buddhism and Daoism. He is the author of Power of Place: The Religious Landscape of the Southern Sacred Peak [Nanyue 南嶽] in Medieval China (Harvard, 2009), which was awarded the Stanislas Julien Prize for 2010 by the French Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres and the 2010 Toshihide Numata Book Prize in Buddhism. Robson is also the author of “Signs of Power: Talismanic Writings in Chinese Buddhism” (History of Religions 48:2), “Faith in Museums: On the Confluence of Museums and Religious Sites in Asia” (PMLA, 2010), and “A Tang Dynasty Chan Mummy [roushen] and a Modern Case of Furta Sacra? Investigating the Contested Bones of Shitou Xiqian.” His current research includes a long-term project on the history of the confluence of Buddhist monasteries and mental hospitals in Japan and an international project on the texts and other objects discovered inside of religious statues.
Judd Ruggill

University of Arizona

Judd Ruggill joined the University of Arizona in 2016 as part of the Computational Media Cluster initiative. He is an Associate Professor and Department Head of Public and Applied Humanities and an affiliate faculty member of Africana Studies, the Department of English, the School of Information, the School of Theatre, Film & Television, and the Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory.  From 2008-2016, he was a faculty member in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Arizona State University and a member of the graduate faculty of the Department of English, the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. He holds a PhD in Comparative Cultural and Literary Studies from the University of Arizona (2005), and co-directs the Learning Games Initiative, a transdisciplinary, inter-institutional research group he co-founded in 1999 to study, teach with, build, and archive computer games.
Masahiro Shimoda 下田正弘

University of Tokyo

Masahiro Shimoda 下田正弘  is a Professor in Indian Philosophy and Buddhist Studies with a cross appointment of the director of the Digital Humanities Initiative in the Center for Evolving Humanities at the University of Tokyo. He has been Visiting Professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University College London (2006), at Stanford University (2010) and at University of Vienna. He is the president of Japanese Association for Digital Humanities and Japanese Association of Indian and Buddhist Studies. Since 2015, he has been leading the project of “Construction of a New Knowledge Base for Buddhist Studies: Presentation of an Advanced Model for the Next Generation of Humanities Research.” The interim products of this project   have been released as SAT2018:
Caleb Simmons

University of Arizona

Dr. Caleb Simmons (Ph.D. in Religion, University of Florida) specializes in religion in South Asia, especially Hinduism. His research specialties span religion and state-formation in medieval and colonial India to contemporary transnational aspects of Hinduism. His recently completed book project, Devotional Sovereignty: Kingship and Religion in Early Modern Mysore (currently under review), examines how the early modern court of Mysore reenvisioned notions of kingship, territory, and religion, especially its articulations through devotion. He is currently working on a second monograph, Singing the Goddess into Place: Folksongs, Myth, and Situated Knowledge in Mysore, India that examines popular local folksongs that tell the mythology of Mysore’s Chamundeshwari and her consort Nanjundeshwara. He also edited (with Moumita Sen and Hillary Rodrigues) and contributed to Nine Nights of the Goddess: The Navarātri Festival in South Asia (SUNY Press 2018) a collected volume that focuses on various aspects of the important festival of Navaratri. He also has publications and continuing research interests related to a broad range of contemporary topics, including ecological issues and sacred geography in India; South Asian diaspora communities; and material and popular cultures that arise as a result of globalization—especially South Asian religions as portrayed in comic books and graphic novels. He teaches courses on Hinduism, Indian religions, and method and theory of Religious Studies.
Albert Welter

University of Arizona

Albert Welter is Professor and Department Head of East Asian Studies, University of Arizona. His area of academic study is Chinese Buddhism, and he has published in the area of Japanese Buddhism as well. His main research focuses on the study of Buddhist texts in the transition from the late Tang (9th century) to the Song dynasty (10th-13th centuries). In recent years, he has published Monks, Rulers, and Literati: The Political Ascendancy of Chan Buddhism (Oxford, 2006), The Linji lu and the Creation of Chan Orthodoxy: The Development of Chan’s Records of Sayings Literature (Oxford, 2008), and Yongming Yanshou’s Conception of Chan in the Zongjing lu: A Special Transmission within the Scriptures (Oxford, 2011), in addition to numerous articles. He is currently working on two projects: a comparative analysis of the dialogue records (yulu or goroku) attributed to Chan masters, compiled in the early Song dynasty; and the social and institutional history of Buddhism as conceived through a text also compiled in the early Song dynasty, Zanning’s Topical History of Buddhism (Seng shilue). Stemming from this latter research interest, Professor Welter has also developed a broader interest in Chinese administrative policies toward religion, including Chinese notions of secularism and their impact on religious beliefs and practices. His work also encompasses Buddhist interactions with Neo-Confucianism and literati culture.
Andrew Luen-cheung Wong 王联章

Professor Andrew Luen-cheung Wong 王联章, is a visiting professor of multiple universities, including Tsinghua University, Shaanxi Normal University, Nanjing University, Sichuan University, Shandong University, East China Normal University, and others. He is also Chairman of Maitreya Culture and Education Foundation Limited, and Founder of Principal and Mentor of the Institute of Maitreya Studies (Hong Kong). His achievements include: setting up 33 Maitreya libraries on Mainland China and overseas; published 16 books including daily practice manuals of Maitreya Studies; acted as Chairman, Organizing Committee of First International Academic Forum on Maitreya Studies 2013, First Maitreya Youth Cultural Festival 2016, First Youth Forum and Second International Academic Forum on Maitreya Studies 2018, among others.
Jiang Wu吴疆

University of Arizona

Jiang Wu 吴疆 is Professor of Department of East Asian Studies, Director of Center for Buddhist Studies and currently acting head of Department of Religious Studies & Classics at the University of Arizona. He received his Master’s degree from Nankai University (1994) and Ph.D. from Harvard University (2002). Sponsored by multiple grants from various funding agencies, he has been working on GIS projects and creating datasets for Buddhist Geographic Information System (BGIS) for more than fifteen years. Right now, he is perfecting the method and theory of Regional Religious System (RRS) he and others proposed in an article published in 2013. Other research interests include seventeenth-century Chinese Buddhism, especially Chan/Zen Buddhism, the role of Buddhist canons in the formation of East Asian Buddhist culture, and the historical exchanges between Chinese Buddhism and Japanese Buddhism. He is the author of Enlightenment in Dispute: The Reinvention of Chan Buddhism in Seventeenth-century China (Oxford, 2008), Leaving for the Rising Sun: Chinese Zen Master Yinyuan and the Authenticity Crisis in Early Modern East Asia (Oxford, 2015), and editor of Spreading Buddha’s Word in East Asia: The Formation and Transformation of the Chinese Buddhism Canon (Columbia, 2016) and Reinventing the Tripitaka: Transformation of the Buddhist Canon in Modern East Asia (Lexington 2017).
Ven. Xianchao 贤超

Longquan Temple

Ven. Xianchao 贤超 was born in Shenyang, Liaoning Province in 1981 and entered the Fifth National Experimental Class on Science in 1997. In 2007, he obtained his Master of Science degree from the Institute of Condensed Matter and Material Physics, School of Physics, Peking University. In 2009, he received the tonsure from Ven. Master Xuecheng, and was fully ordained in the following year. He has been dedicated to the study and research of Nanshan Vinaya School and Chinese Buddhist Tripitakas. Since 2016, Ven. Xianchao has been serving as the Director of the Tripitaka Office at Beijing Longquan Monastery. He has led a team to integrate big data, machine learning, deep learning to the collation and compilation of Buddhist texts. His team has developed technologies such as single character OCR, and auto punctuation on ancient Chinese books. He published an article titled “Compilation of the Tripitaka: When AI meets Buddhism” at the 2nd Jingshan Zen Ancestral Culture Forum in 2018.
Huiqiao Yao 姚惠橋

University of Arizona

Huiqiao Yao姚惠橋 is originally from Beijing, China. Now she is a second-year PhD student majoring in pre-modern Chinese literature. She received her BA in Chinese language and literature from Renmin University of China, and got her Master’s degree in premodern Chinese literature from Columbia University. Her MA thesis focuses on the discourse of demons and the ambiguous magical identity of Auntie Sheng in The Three Sui Quash the Demon’s Revolt (三遂平妖傳). Currently, her research interest lies in the interactions between intellectual history and religious narratives in late imperial Chinese literature and culture, especially the legacy of the late-Ming philosopher Wang Yangming.
Ven. You Zai

Foguang Temple

Ven. You Zai is a system analyst at the Fo Guang Shan Institute of Humanistic Buddhism. She received her MA in Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University, Taiwan, and BASc in Information Systems Technology at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), Canada. In 2017, she works in collaboration with Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Canon Committee and Fo Guang Electronic Buddhist Canon on a research project on digitizing the Qisha canon using an adaptive machine learning tool, “MooN” to enhance the effectiveness of text searching and encoding Chinese characters of the Chinese Buddhist canon.
Dewei Zhang 張德偉

Sun Yat-sen University

Dewei Zhang 張德偉 is an associate researcher at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou. He was a visiting lecturer at the University of Macau and a postdoc at McMaster University. He holds two PhDs: the first in Chinese Philosophy from Peking University (1999), and the second in East Asian Buddhism from University of British Columbia (2010). His research covers a wide variety of themes in East Asian Buddhism, Chinese intellectual history, late imperial Chinese history, book culture, and printing history. His current studies have focused on the intersections between socioeconomic and political history and Chinese religions. He has two major projects in progress. The first book manuscript, entitled Thriving in Crisis: Buddhism and Socio-political Disruption in China, 1522-1620, is under review by the Columbia University Press. It examines how the late Ming (1573-1644) Buddhist renewal took place and evolved under the profound influence of contemporary politics. The second book manuscript, which is now being wrapped up, explores how the making and spread of the printed Chinese Buddhist canon interacted with sociopolitical history, in the context of pre-modern East Asia. In recent years, he has published some articles primarily related to the two fields.
Organized by Center for Buddhist Studies, Department of East Asian Studies, Department of Religious Studies and Classics, and the Center for Digital Humanities at The University of Arizona.

Sponsored by the World Buddhist Youth Foundation, Society for Promotion of Buddhism (BDK America), and Richard L. Evans Office of Religious Outreach, Brigham Young University (BYU), and Su Wukang East Asia Research Fund.