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Dr. Michelle Sorensen on the Chöd Tradition

September 21, 2018 @ 5:15 pm - 6:45 pm


Euhemerism and Feminism in the Transmission of the Tibetan Buddhist Chöd Tradition

Machik Labdrön (1055-1153), 19th c. thangka, Rubin Museum of Art

In this talk, I will discuss my textual and ethnographic research on the transmission of Tibetan Buddhist Chöd from the eleventh through the twenty-first centuries. Chöd is a philosophy and practice developed by the Tibetan Buddhist female adept, Machik Labdrön, in the eleventh century. Chöd is considered to be the first Buddhist tradition developed by a woman in Tibet. Chöd was then transmitted to India and later became a practice integral to the main schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Following an introduction to Machik Labdrön and the foundations of Buddhist Chöd, I will then consider how notions of the “feminine” as it characterizes humans and suprahuman beings may have (and may have not) contributed to the historical development and contemporary practice of Chöd in Asian and in Euro-American contexts.

Dr. Michelle J. Sorensen is an assistant professor at Western Carolina University in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. She completed her Ph.D. at Columbia University in New York under the supervision of Dr. Robert A. F. Thurman. Michelle has spent five years traveling, studying, and doing textual and ethnographic research in Asia. As well as giving numerous conference presentations and invited talks nationally and internationally, Michelle has published articles and book chapters on historical and contemporary Chod philosophy and practice. She is currently working on two book projects, one on Machig Labdrön and the development of the Chöd tradition in Tibet and another on the intersections of gender and religious traditions.


September 21, 2018
5:15 pm - 6:45 pm
Event Category:


Nau Hall 342
1540 Jefferson Park Avenue
Charlottesville, VA 22903 United States
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East Asia Center, University of Virginia
Virginia Center for the Study of Religion