Buddhists do not deny the existence of gods, but they regard them as beings who are subject to karma and sa?sara and are therefore not free from the fetters of cyclic existence. Their life is extremely pleasant, but when they die they experience horrible agonies, and Buddhists say that there is no greater suffering in the world than that of a god who is dying. In early legends, gods like Indra and Brahma appear as supporters of Buddha Shakyamuni. Some later Buddhist authors, on the other hand, point out their weaknesses, describing them as “beings who are tormented by sorrow and fear, are devoid of compassion, bear various weapons and raise them with the intention to kill” – as opposed to Buddha Shakyamuni, who works solely for the welfare of others. The lecture will illustrate these multi-faceted views with examples from Buddhist literature. Ulrike Roesler obtained a PhD in Indian Studies from the University of Münster (Germany). She held teaching positions in Indian and Tibetan Studies at the Universities of Marburg and Freiburg (Germany) and in Buddhist Studies at the University of Oxford, and has recently been appointed the Lecturer in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies at the University of Oxford. Her research interests are in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, the history of the Kadampa schoolof Tibetan Buddhism, and narrative and biographical literature. Her most recent publication is the volume Lives Lived, Lives Imagined: Biographies in the Buddhist Traditions. Ed. by L. Covill, U. Roesler and S. Shaw. Boston: Wisdom Publications 2010.
Lectures by Dr Ulrike Roesler
“Which wise man would worship beings who are tormented by sorrow and fear?” Powers and Weaknesses of Gods in Buddhist Literature
Desire in Christianity and Indian religions
Desire in its widest sense is fundamental to human existence and has been the focus of much discussion in religious traditions over the centuries. Desire has been seen as a negative quality which keeps people in bondage, as generally seen in Buddhism, but desire for a greater good has also been seen as a positive force in different traditions. The aim of this conference is explore the idea of desire and its understanding in Christianity and Indian religions and to generate discussion of comparative philosophy and theology across traditions.