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Asia Center to Host Speakers on Buddhism


By Sarah Geegan

The University of Kentucky Asia Center, in the latest installment of its 2012 Spring Speaker Series, will present an exploration of Buddhism and it's place in daily life on Friday, March 23.

The event, which will include two lecturers, will expose students to Buddhism and the social and practical roles it plays in various societies. Professors Ruth Baer from the UK Department of Psychology and Jeffery Samuels from the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Western Kentucky University will present.

Baer, esteemed for her work in clinical psychological therapy, has published several articles and edited the book, "Mindfulness-Based Treatment Approaches: Clinician's Guide to Evidence Base and Applications." These publications address the issue of applying the Buddhist-derived notion of "mindfulness" to clinical psychology. In her lecture, Baer will illustrate how  "mindfulness," a concept drawn directly from Buddhist meditation practices, can be applied to various forms of clinical psychological therapy and the challenge this entails for Buddhism and Western psychology alike.

Samuels, well known among South Asian Studies scholars for his expertise on Sri Lankan Buddhist monasteries and the relationship between Buddhism and culture, published "Attracting the Heart: Social Relations and the Aesthetics of Emotion in Sri Lankan Monastic Culture," in 2010. He will discuss how Sri Lankan monasteries, though formally places of retreat from society, nevertheless provide models for how to live daily life that powerfully shape Sri Lanaken society. He will also challenge conventional theories suggesting that recruitment into monasteries is largely motivated by a desire for upward mobility.

UK Anthropology professor Mark Whitaker, who for the past 30 years has studied Tamil-speaking people on the east coast of Sri Lanka, helped plan the event in coordination with the Asian Center Steering Committee.

Whitaker said he was very excited to hear the two speakers' insights.  "This is an event that should be fascinating to anyone interested in Asia, Buddhism or the relationship between culture, psychology and religion," Whitaker said.

The event will take place in the Presidents Room, at the Singletary Center for the Arts. Samuels' presentation will begin at 2 p.m., and Baer's presentation will begin at 3:30 p.m.

For more information, click here.