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1)Mahāyāna Buddhism

Mahāyāna Buddhism started as a new movement with a slogan to dedicate oneself not only for one’s own salvation but also that of others around 1 AD. It spread from India to China, the Korean Peninsula and Japan through the Silk Road and also reached Tibet. In Mahāyāna Buddhist tradition, philosophical thinking also developed and a number of schools emerged. Among them, those who taught Madhyamaka, Yogācāra, and Tathāgatagarbha theories are well known. Mahāyāna Buddhism then led to a movement called Tantrism integrating folk and Hindu rituals. This is als called ‘esoteric Buddhism’ as seen in Shingon and Tendai Buddhism in Japan.
Professor Zimmermann is well-known in his studies of Tathāgatagarbha thought. This thought holds that ‘every person has a potential to become a tathāgata, that is, Buddha, through awakening’ and has been very influential in China, Japan and Tibet. Esoteric Buddhism succeeds this thought. Esoteric Buddhism is mystical teaching and some of the rituals and training methods are hidden which would allow the individual to attain Buddhahood quickly. Professor Isaacson established the Centre for Tantric Studies at the University of Hamburg in 2007 in order to study ‘Tantrism’, a way of thinking shared by the esoteric Buddhism and Hinduism. Researchers from across the world including Japan gather for research at the Centre. Professor Wangchuk established Khyentse Centre for Tibetan Buddhist Textual Scholarship in 2011 to study the development of Buddhism in Tibet. Their Institute publishes Hamburg Buddhist Studies (edited by Professor Zimmermann) as a means of disseminating research findings.
The research unit at the University of Hamburg is one of the major hubs of the study of Mahāyāna Buddhism. At the University of Tsukuba, Yoshimizu has been actively studying Madhyamaka thought in India and Tibet, Sakuma researches Yogācāra thought and Ono has developed research into Buddhist Logic. We aim to pursue comprehensive study into Mahāyāna Buddhism which covers China and Japan as well drawing from the discipline of intellectual history by making the most of the current collaborative regime.

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