BAHAR Seminar, Thursday March 31, 2011: Dawn Collins

On Thursday March 31, 2011, Dawn Collins (Cardiff University) will present a seminar to the Body, Health and Religion Research Group (BAHAR). The topic will be, ‘The blessing in breath: ritual healing performed by invisible agents in Tibetan traditions’. The seminar will take place in Humanities Building, Room 3.48, Cardiff University, from 4.30 to 6 p.m. All welcome.

Dawn introduces her seminar as follows: “The paper will explore notions of empowerment underlying ritual healing in Tibetan traditions. It will discuss these in the context of healing enacted by contemporary Buddhist nakpa or Bonpo akawenbo using breath and spittle in curing illness. It will pose questions regarding how healing properties are thought to be transmitted via these medium and in what ways these are locally perceived as operative in healing illness on the Tibetan Plateau.

“Such healing is linked to notions of empowerment and blessing. Ideas regarding tactility and
its perceptibility will be examined in exploring how aspects of the body or its emissions can support or bear such invisible agents of blessing or empowerment. The paper will discuss ideas regarding what is empowered or blessed, and how that empowerment is transmitted.

“The paper will attempt to understand these contemporary Tibetan healing practices by an
examination of Asian traditions containing similar notions of invisible catalysts or agents. These include, for example, notions of qi in Chinese medical theory, the adis of Mongol ritual, and adhistana in Indian thought. Theories framing Buddhist and Bonpo rituals that could be described as tantric will be explored through the lens of the body and its expirations or excretions. In particular, concepts of the subtle body will be investigated and visualisation techniques employed in such ritual will be discussed in the context of their perceived powers of transformation.”

Enquiries to Geoffrey Samuel.


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