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A Historical Reflection on Buddhist Concepts and Ethics in Bhutan

Our former Senior Research Fellow Dagmar Schwerk will present a talk titled Carrying a Basket of Gold: A Historical Reflection on Buddhist Concepts and Ethics in Bhutan on 18 March at the University of British Columbia (UBC). She currently holds the Khyentse Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in Tibetan Buddhist Studies at UBC and will present some of the findings of her research project carried out at the KFG "Multiple Secularities" in 2018 (“Bhutan in Transition. Metamorphosis and Institutionalisation of Buddhist Concepts”) in this talk.

What lies behind the idea and policies of Gross National Happiness (GNH) in Bhutan and how have Buddhist concepts and ethics been implemented on an institutional level in past and present? In this talk, Dagmar Schwerk provides a historical perspective on the development and institutionalization of Buddhist concepts and ethics in Bhutan which first manifested themselves in a twofold system of governance under a charismatic Buddhist master in the seventeenth century. She also takes a closer look at the broader intellectual history of the twofold system of governance, just kingship, and knowledge systems of Buddhist ethics—along with the connected intertwining between religion and other societal areas in pre-modern Bhutan.