Manuel Lopez

Advisor: Kurtis Schaeffer
Year Entered Program
: 2008
Currently Pursuing: PhD
Current Status: Coursework
Courses Taught: RELG 1040, Introduction to Eastern Religious Traditions;
TA for: RELB 2135 Chinese Buddhism
Educational Background: Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona, Spain)

Research Interests

I am interested in the early history of Buddhism in Tibet, particularly the so called Dark Age (842-978 CE), the period of social, political, and economic instability that followed the collapse of the Tibetan Empire (618-842 CE.) Tibetan scholars have traditionally discussed the Dark Age as a period of intellectual decay and moral corruption, in which Buddhism almost disappeared from the Tibetan plateau. My research focuses on one of the few texts that have survived from that period, the Lamp for the Eye in Meditation, written by the Tibetan scholar Nupchen Sangye Yeshe. A close analysis of this work, shows that, while there is no doubt that the collapse of the political and economic structures of the Tibetan Empire also meant the loss of the most important source of support for Buddhism, that same event also unleashed a decentralized and innovative period in which Tibetans were able to make Buddhism their own. Nupchen Sangye Yeshe’s text shows
that, liberated from the restraints of Buddhist orthodoxy imposed by the no longer existent state and monastic institutions, Tibetans were able to transform what had been a foreign religion imposed by the state into a vehicle that was able to express genuine Tibetan religious ideas and concerns: Buddhism had become Tibetan Buddhism.