The Catholic University of America

Dr. Charles B. Jones Participates in Study Tour in Northwest China

Dr. Charles B. Jones joined 30 other scholars and students of Chinese Buddhism in a seminar and tour of Buddhist sites in Gansu Province, northwest China organized by the Woodenfish Foundation.

Between June 7th and 12th, 2015, the group stayed in the city of Wuwei and held a seminar on the Nirvana Sutra, a seminal and highly influential Buddhist scripture that was first translated into Chinese in that locale in the early fifth century. Dr. Mark Blum of Berkeley, who has been engaged for many years in translating this sutra into English, led to sessions.

From June 12th to the 17th, the group traveled to the Mogao Caves near Dunhuang, the site of over 700 caves carved into a long cliff face housing Buddhist statuary and murals dating from the mid-fourth century onward. It is also the site where, in a sealed storeroom opened in the early 20th century, a cache of documents was discovered dating back to the ninth century; these document changed many long-held beliefs about Chinese and Buddhist history.

In addition to the Mogao Caves, the group toured several other sites as well, such as the 2000-year-old Han Dynasty Great Wall, the Han Tomb in Wuwei, the Yulin Caves (another site with Buddhist statuary and murals 180 km away form Dunhuang). The group also met with representatives of the Dunhuang Research Institute and the Dunhuang Foundation, and during a formal gathering Dr. Jones offered congratulatory remarks in Mandarin.

Earlier, on May 8th and 9th, Dr. Jones attended a conference on the Chinese Buddhist Canon in Hangzhou. His paper, “Is a Dazangjing a Canon? On the Use of “Canon” with Regard to Chinese Buddhist Anthologies,” was submitted in English and Dr. Jones gave his presentation in Mandarin.