Ávila to Host Dialogue Between Chan/Zen Buddhists and Carmelites in July 2020
The Catholic Order of Discalced Carmelites and the International Centre of Teresian and Sanjuanist Studies (Centro Internacional Teresiano-Sanjuanista, CITeS) of Ávila, Spain, in cooperation with the Centre of Buddhist Studies (CBS) at The University of Hong Kong (HKU), have officially announced the “2nd World Encounter of Teresian Mysticism and Interreligious Dialogue. Chan/Zen Buddhism and Carmelite Spirituality: on Love and Compassion.” The conference will be held next year in the city of Ávila, on 22–26 July.
This will be the second collaboration between CITeS and CBS. In 2016, CITeS announced its intention to conduct a series of interreligious encounters, placing Carmelite spirituality in dialogue with other religious traditions. The first of these events, the “1st World Encounter of Teresian Mysticism and Interreligious Dialogue. Theravāda Buddhism and Teresian Mysticism: Meditation and Contemplation, Pathways to Peace,” took place in Ávila from 27–30 July 2017 and was also co-organized by CITeS and CBS. The partners in dialogue in this interfaith encounter were the Discalced Carmelites and Theravada Buddhists. Owing to its great success, CITeS and CBS decided to organize a second forum, in which the conversational partner of the Discalced Carmelites will be the Chan/Zen school of Buddhism, with a proposed theme of cultivating love and compassion for a more benevolent society.
The venue will be the architectural marvel of the star-shaped CITeS headquarters, with its spacious, light-filled, state-of-the-art facilities. The center is located just outside of the medieval walled city of Ávila, the hometown of Saint Teresa of Ávila. This Castilian municipality, known as the “Town of Stones and Saints,” was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
Throughout the four days of sharing and dialogue, participants will have opportunities for spiritual enrichment as they learn about the two traditions’ beliefs and practices, and explore common affinities and differences in a spirit of togetherness, integrity, and mutual respect. The goal is to learn how love and compassion are cultivated in both traditions for a world full of more loving-kindness.
Illuminating this congress will be the teachings of Saint Teresa of Ávila (1515–82) and Saint John of the Cross (1542–91), two of the most influential mystics in the Catholic tradition on the Carmelite side, and on the Buddhist side, Master Huineng (638–713), the sixth patriarch of Chan/Zen Buddhism, considered by many to be its true father.
This second congress in Ávila will feature papers and presentations, panel discussions, meditation workshops, and chanting ceremonies, to name a few of the many activities planned, all conducted in an atmosphere of conviviality and fraternity.
The Chan/Zen Buddhist tradition will be represented by renowned scholars and experienced meditators. Scholars will come from around the globe, including China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan in East Asia, and the United Kingdom and the United States in the West. The meditation workshop will be led by a Chan/Zen meditation master from Canada, while monastics from China will perform sutra chanting every morning after a Christian mass.
On the Carmelite side, professors at the International Center of Teresian and Sanjuanist Studies are known to be among the most eminent exponents of Carmelite spirituality, and other reputed Christian scholars will join them as speakers.
The program is structured to demonstrate how love and compassion are developed along the two respective spiritual paths. Presentations from both sides on the parallel theme will be followed by panel discussions chaired by a moderator knowledgeable on the subject matter in both traditions.
The full conference program and registration form are available at the following link: http://www.buddhism.hku.hk/documents/Spain_reg_form2020.pdf
Thecongress will be held in English and Spanish, with simultaneous interpretation. It will be transmitted in its entirety online, and will be made available in DVD format. The proceedings from the encounter will also be published.
Third International Teresa of Ávila and Inter-religious Dialogue Award
An award ceremony will be held on the third day of the congress to present the “3rd International Teresa of Ávila and Interreligious Dialogue Award,” which was established by CITeS through a private donation to further the spiritual wealth of humanity and to promote authentic interreligious dialogue. This third call’s focus is on comparative studies between Carmelite spirituality and other religious traditions, and the winner will be honored with a first prize of €6,000. Four runners-up will each receive €1,000. The winning papers will be considered for inclusion in a special commemorative volume.
Information about the third international award is available via the following link: http://www.buddhism.hku.hk/documents/Spain_award2020.pdf
The organizers of the congress encourage participants to take advantage of their trip by traveling around Ávila. This beautiful World Heritage city, about an hour from Madrid by train, has an exceptional legacy. Ávila’s Old Town still reflects hundreds of years of interaction between Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Participants might better appreciate the context of the congress through a visit to the 2.5-kilometer medieval walls, or places such as the Saint Teresa Convent and Museum.
Ávila is also in the vicinity of the historical city of Toledo, which is a short trip from Ávila, as well as other major European cities.
Further information and contact details
Conference registration form
CITeS “Universidad de la Mística,” Calle Arroyo Vacas 3, 05005 Ávila, España.
Telephone: (00 34) 920 352240
On Love and Compassion: 2nd World Encounter Teresian Mysticism and Interreligious Dialogue: Chan/Zen Buddhism and Carmelite Spirituality (Conference registration form)
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