Projects

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Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia

During the PNC conference “New Horizons: Information Technology Connecting Culture, Community, Time, and Place,” held at Berkeley University on 7-9 December, Vello Vaartnou launched his new project, an online Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia (CBE).

CBE is an online platform for gathering, preserving, translating, publishing and spreading the message of Buddha through historic and contemporary texts; articles, books, videos and photos related to Buddhism. The encyclopedia introduces different aspects and approaches and will not exclude any Buddhist materials which are not directly related to China.

CBE gathers all possible material about Buddhism in one place and sets into logical and chronological order. Encyclopedia contains links in every article, enabling readers to find explanations instantly and continuously acquire new information. All articles are also illustrated and cross-referenced.

http://chinabuddhismencyclopedia.com/

International conference „Buddhism & Australia“

The author of the Idea and main organizer of the conferences is Vello Väärtnõu, who has organized international academical conferences in Europe since 2006.

The aim of the conference is to provide a channel for information of interest and relevance to scholars in Asian & Buddhist studies in Austral-Asia, to research and investigate the buddhavacana, the original teachings of the Buddha, without bias to any particular school or discipline (such as Theravada, Mahayana or Vajrayana) and to promote both the academic study of Buddhism, and the application of the teachings to daily life.

The conferences will provide workshops for an interchange of ideas between representatives of the Buddhist communities, academics and representatives of relevant government agencies on issues, problems and challenges facing Buddhist communities within the framework of present-day multicultural Australia by examining the state of Buddhism in Australia, with particular reference to the role it is playing or could play in addressing some of the problems of contemporary Society.

Our goal is to publish the papers generated by the conference on-line (www.buddhismandaustralia.com) and to establish co-operation between academic and religious institutes and organizations.

Our activities will serve as a nationwide Buddhist gathering for peace, wisdom and compassion in the interest of Australia and all human beings and they will provide the opportunity for all to see the big picture of what happens in the Buddhist communities so that they will be able to share wisdom on common issues affecting Buddhist practitioners and Buddhist organizations.

At another level, it will give public the opportunity to highlight the contribution of Buddhism to modern society in our country, to explore areas of weakness and to create the basis for a wider network of co-operation between different Buddhist traditions.

Scientific conferences like “Buddhism & Australia” are unique in a global perspective as Buddhist activities in modern society try to describe Buddhism as a religion of peace and faith, as historically Buddhism has been always very knowledgeable teaching based on self education, rather than faith. Having specialists of different Buddhist traditions and practices working harmoniously with academics from around the globe, analyzing and comparing the history, presence and future of Buddhism will most surely contribute to the development of Buddhism in modern society. At the same time it will produce large volume of up-to-date and relevant information, which can be used by the coming generations for educational purposes

The first conference „Buddhism & Australia“was held in 2-4 February 2012, in Murdoch university. The conference gathered high level academics and Buddhist scholars from 16countries, including Taiwan, China, India, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Cambodia,Indonesia, Thailand, USA, Germany, Russia, Buryatia, Canada, Latvia and Australia.

The conference was officially opened by Vello Väärtnõu, who outlined in his opening speech some of the goals of Buddhism & Australia conferences:

„The teachings of Buddha have spread throughout a variety of cultures spanning a widely in geographical terms, especially in the last 60 years. It is thought that in a few thousand years the teachings of Buddha helped attain a totally different mental dimension and method of thinking compared to the forms we know today. The world is changing in all its forms and so are we, things that surround us become sources of knowledge and such is the way of Buddhist knowledge. From this concept manifested the idea of calling together monks, scientists, lay Buddhist and other people, who are interested in researching the way of the Buddha. This works to fulfill knowledge both within the context of practical wisdom and academic knowledge as well. We live in a period of increasingly rapid globalisation. This means we have to talk about subjects within a wider geographical perspective tapping in to the ways various countries think.”

All papers and speeches of the first conference are published in conference website: www.buddhismandaustralia.com

The next conference „Buddhism & Australia“ will be held in 23 – 24 January 2013 at St Georges College, University of Western Australia. The main subject of the “Buddhism & Australia” Conference is “History, current presence and future directions for Buddhism in Austral-Asian region”

http://buddhismandaustralia.com/

History of Australian Buddhism

There are more than 500 000 Buddhists in Australia, who are members of numerous different Buddhist temples, monasteries and other organization. They all have their profound history of who they are and how they have arrived to Australia. Buddhism has enriched Australian culture enormously by different cultural customs, rituals, symbols and traditions; however nobody has done a collective research to gather together the historical facts, documents, photos and art composing them in to a well structured and informative database.

This creates an opportunity for the Australian Buddhists to work together in order to achieve the best results and by gathering historical materials, history will be made.

It is natural that WA Buddhists will co-operate with the Buddhists from their country of origin to get more background information and informative materials. Buddhism & Australia conference creates an excellent opportunity to build a bridge between local communities and internationally recognized monasteries and universities and it will strengthen the Buddhist community of Australia wide.

Gathering materials about the History of Buddhism in Australia will lay the foundation of Australia’s position amongst Buddhist, whom there is nearly half a billion around the globe.

At current presence, many members of the elder generation of Buddhists are still alive and all their memories, stories, facts, pictures and videos should be collected via this project, giving each community the opportunity to give version on where they are from, how they arrived here, what are their activates and contributions. From a larger scale it will give an overview of Buddhism in Australia in the first decades of the 21th century.

The research of History of Australian Buddhism will create more concrete links between Australia and Asia, as most Buddhist communities originate from Asian countries.

Call for Australian Buddhists

We invite you to collect and preserve the history of your religious organisation and gather the historical materials connected to your organisation`s foundation, teachers, activities etc. All collected photos, films, documents, descriptions, articles in official press and other materials will be published in the web.

It will be very voluminous work that will take much energy and time. Need to talk to old Buddhists and write down their memories connected to your organisation and Buddhism in Australia; as well collect other people`s memories of old times, past events or historical moments which they had witnessed or have heard from others.

All those materials will constitute later an official history of Buddhist organisations. This work can best be done by Buddhists themselves as Buddhists know best their own history, and they should be involved in compiling the history of Australian Buddhism.

We will set up all those materials to the website. The capacity of written materials and photos is unlimited, the capacity of films and videos will be decided later.

As all this work is very intensive, each Buddhist organisation must choose one representative who deals with the history of organisation and sends this information to the team of Australian Buddhist History. Estimated project duration would be 5 years before it will be possible to put together the whole Australian Buddhist History. It is important to start this project immediately and not to defer.

An author of this project is Vello Väärtnõu, who is the author of international conferences „Buddhism & Australia“ and who has built an on-line encyclopaedia, meant for readers in Northern Europe (www.nyingma-buddhism.com).

All Australian Buddhist organisations are invited to participate in these important project and work together in order to achieve the best result.

http://www.australianbuddhisthistory.com/

Exhibition of Australian Buddhism

Many have heard the saying: “A picture says a thousand words”. The same is true for Buddhist art.

This exhibition records the Buddhist culture and art of Australia, and exposes photos and items related to the history and presence of different Australian Buddhist communities

The exhibition will also unite Buddhists across Australia to work towards making Buddhism more popular and creating a sense of Buddhism through visual presentation. Once we have established the exhibition of Australian Buddhism, the plan is to organize an exhibition of Austral-Asian Buddhism. Museums, Universities and Monasteries from Asia will be invited to take part of the unique event, giving the whole project an international theme and direction.

Members of Buddhist societies Australia wide are asked to participate the exhibition by presenting the art effects (photos, paintings, statues, relics, ritual items, etc).

The first exhibition on Buddhism in Western Australia took place in 11-17 June 2012, in Perth Town Hall

International conference "Buddhism & Nordland"

Vello Väärtnõu had the idea to organize the international conference on Buddhism in cooperation with other Nordic countries already many decades ago. During the soviet occupation it was impossible to organize such a conference in Estonia because it was officially forbidden to propagate religion in every way. The first real step toward the realization of this idea was made in 2007 when the first conference “Buddhism and Nordland” took place and which was organized by Vello Väärtnõu along with Estonian Nyingma.

The aim of the conference is to investigate and record the history of Buddhism in the Nordic countries, how is it reflected in the local culture, what are the similarities and differences in the neighbouring countries. It is the subject-matter that units researchers in the Nordic countries academic and common discourse and brings them together to Estonia – namely it is the only annual international Buddhist conference in Europe on Nordic Buddhism.

It was Väärtnõu's idea to bring scholars, scientists and Buddhists together who then would complete each other by revealing different aspects and materials on the subject of the history of Nordic Buddhism during the conference. Looking back to the first five conferences, it has to be said that this unique idea harnessed itself smoothly and became popular among scholars and Buddhists. Scientists from different countries plus Buddhists from different schools – it is the best format for cooperation to research Buddhist topics, it has received great interest from participants and brought inspired feedback from the participants from the very beginning. Inspired by such a conference idea, the Russian and Finnish scholars, also some Buddhists and along with Estonian speakers, formed the so called Guard of the first conference in February 2007.

In the first five years, the conference has grown into a three-day conference, has increased in the number of participating countries and lectors as well expanded geographically.

High level speakers participated from different European institutions and beyond, for example Latvian University, Vilnius University, the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts RAS in St. Petersburg, P. Kozlov Museum in St Petersburg, University of Helsinki, Lund, Bergen and Oxford University, Stockholm Ethnographic Museum and as well from the universities of Mongolia, Kathmandu and Jawaharlal Nehru University in India. Among the attendees of the conference were also the St Petersburg Buddhist Temple, the International Buddhist College in Thailand, the Ivolga Monastery in Buriatya, the TaoZen Centre in Sweden, the Aro tradition in Italy, the Swedish-Tibetan Society, the Danakosha Centre and Finnish Buddhists, the Cultural Society of Buriats in St Petersburg Aaja Ganga etc.

Conference “Buddhism and Nordland” has already given impetus to scientific research into the area of Nordic Buddhism in Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and other countries. The idea and functionality of the conference has turned out to be of great vitality and proven itself excellent. Besides the conference days, the participants have had an opportunity to get acquainted with Estonian Buddhist architecture, visit the Buddhist exhibitions organized by Estonian Nyingma during the conference, participate in guided tours and have a casual dinners with organizers, guests and speakers. Every year all this creates a unique, exciting and friendly atmosphere for the conference.

Nordland is a common synonym for the Nordic countries and which historically included Germany in addition to the traditional nordic countries. In older translations from Estonian, Nordland was used instead of contemporary Nordic.

http://www.budcon.com/

Estonian Nyingma Encyclopaedia of Buddhism

In 2005 the new Internet project was started by Vello Väärtnõu. He created the first web portal on Buddhism, the Estonian Nyingma Encyclopedia of Buddhism in Estonian languages, which contains scientific works, terminology, explanations, articles, travelogues, and has so far published more than 3200 articles. This Encyclopaedia is the result of Väärtnõu´s many years of work and he has done this remarkably capacious educative work for free. Also most of articles about Buddhism in Estonian Wikipedia are written by him.

http://www.estoniannyingmaencyclopedia.com/