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Emptiness and Form: Fiction and the Dharma
Dates: Dec 12, 2021
Online Course

Instructor(s): Ruth Ozeki, Francisca Cho

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Buddhist traditions have sometimes characterized the dharma—the teachings of the Buddha—as beyond the realm of language and thought. If this is so, then why have so many Buddhists articulated their understanding of the dharma through literature, in poetry, discourses, plays, and fiction? Might the transformed modes of perception described in doctrinal texts be experienced through literature, through deeply engaging literary texts that blur boundaries between the imaginary, the representational, and the real? Join Ruth Ozeki, Zen Buddhist priest and novelist, and Francisca Cho, professor and one of the most prominent contemporary scholars on Buddhism and literature, as together, they explore emptiness and form, and the many ways that reading and writing literature can teach the dharma.

This program is freely offered.


Online Event: This event will be hosted on the Zoom video conferencing platform and closed captions are available. 


This event will take place on Zoom (shown in US Eastern Time):

Sunday, December 12,

7:30 – 9:00 pm EST


Please check the time of the group meetings in your timezone here. This event will be recorded and a link to the recording will be sent via email to those who register after the course.

As we work to become a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse community, we invite feedback/suggestions you may have regarding ways that we can make participation in the program more accessible and welcoming; please email us at contact@buddhistinquiry.org.This event will be recorded and a link to the recording will be sent via email to those who register after the course.

  • Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest. Ruth was ordained in 2010 and is affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center and the Everyday Zen Foundation. She is the author of  My Year of Meats (1998), All Over Creation (2003), and A Tale for the Time Being (2013). Her most recent novel, The Book of Form and Emptiness, was published by Viking in September 2021. She lives in British Columbia, and New York City. She currently teaches creative writing at Smith College, where she is the Grace Jarcho Ross 1933 Professor of Humanities in the Department of English Language and Literature.

  • Francisca Cho is Professor of Buddhist Studies at Georgetown University. Her research focuses on the expression of Buddhist concepts in East Asian fiction, poetry, and film, looking at the impact of Buddhism beyond formal religious institutions to see how it has given both theory and support to aesthetic media as serious religious practice. Her current work is on a Buddhist theory of cinema.


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