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Buddhist Academic Seminar and Ceremony at KU Leuven

In 2016 the Taiwan Ministry of Education signed an agreement with KU Leuven to set up a Taiwan Studies Programme, co-sponsoring one Taiwanese scholar every two years to be a visiting scholar at KU Leuven, and for KU Leuven to organize a conference.
Prof. Yang Cheming from National Cheng Kung University was selected as the first Taiwan Studies Chair and came to KU Leuven for three months to do research and teach. He also assisted in organizing an academic Taiwan Studies seminar on Buddhism, which took place at KU Leuven on May 18. KU Leuven invited experts on Buddhism from Taiwan and mainland China: Nagwang Gyatso Vajra Guru of Tuli Monastery in Qinghai, Venerable Huei Kai of Nanhua University, and Venerable Fatzang of Wanfo Buddhist Monastery in Tainan, as well as presenters from Belgium, including Prof. Bart Dessein of the University of Ghent, and Prof. Peter Baekelmans of KU Leuven. They presented their research and understanding of topics such as the comparative study of Buddhism and Western Philosophy, the modernization of Buddhism and the Taiwanization of Buddhism. The presentations were followed by a panel discussion on the role of Buddhism in popular culture. This lively debate was an enjoyable exchange for all the participants.
The following day, the practice of Buddhism was highlighted in a Buddhist liturgy of redemption, “The Tiantai Rite of Repentance of the Lotus Samadhi”. Other activities, such as a tea ceremony, a calligraphy demonstration, flower arrangements, a pottery exhibition, and opportunities to sample traditional Buddhist vegetarian cuisine, allowed those attending to get a taste of Taiwan’s culture. Professor Katlijn Malfliet, the Vice-rector; Professor Bart Kerremans, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences; Professor Leen D’Haenens, Vice-dean for International Relations; and Wang Wan-li, Deputy Representative at the Taipei Representative Office in the EU & Belgium were among the many people present to enjoy the wonderful atmosphere. This 2-day seminar was a great success.