“A Buddhist crossroads” forthcoming in book form

The 2013 special issue of Contemporary Buddhism from the conference “Southeast Asia as a crossroads for Buddhist exchange” will now be published in book form as A Buddhist crossroads: pioneer western Buddhists and Asian networks 1860-1960 (Routledge, July 2014), for those who don’t have access to the journal.


for those who don’t have access to the journal.


Upcoming “Buddhism and Ireland” lectures, TCD and King’s College London

Announcing two upcoming lectures associated with the book Buddhism and Ireland:

Laurence Cox, ” ‘Beyond the fields we know’: understanding Buddhism and Ireland.”
Buddhist Research Seminar, King’s College London (3.01 Virginia Wade Building, 22 Kingsway, WC2)
Friday 24 January, 5 pm.

Researching an almost-untouched subject like Buddhism and Ireland poses particular challenges, not least a discipline in a state of infancy, with researchers trained in other fields. At the same time, it forces interdisciplinary collaboration, integrating theoretical reflection and methodological innovation in order to overcome these challenges. This paper will look at a series of unexpected findings ranging from medieval European reception history via the social history of plebeian whites in imperial Asia to the organisational difficulties of contemporary peripheral Buddhisms and ask what “small places, big questions” can offer for other researchers.

Laurence Cox, “A dissident Orientalism? Irish Buddhism in European perspective”.
Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin.
Tuesday 11 February, 6 pm; full details here.

– This talk explores the recent history of Buddhism and Ireland in a broader European perspective, drawing on research for the book Buddhism and Ireland.

Upcoming talks

Prof. Brian Bocking, “The forgotten first London Buddhist mission, 1889 – 1892: Charles JW Pfoundes and the Kaigai Senkyôkai”. Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions, School of Oriental and African Studies, London. Thursday 12 December, 5 – 6.30; other details here.

– This talk discusses the strange history of what was not only the first Buddhist mission to London but in fact the first known Buddhist mission to the west, a decade before the Japanese missions in California.

Dr Laurence Cox, “A dissident Orientalism? Irish Buddhism in European perspective”.
Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin.
Tuesday 11 February, 6 pm; full details here.

– This talk explores the recent history of Buddhism and Ireland in a broader European perspective, drawing on research for the book Buddhism and Ireland.

“Buddhism and Ireland” Dublin launch

Buddhism and Ireland” book launch

Public talk by Professor Brian Bocking

“Forgotten but not gone: recognising Ireland’s Buddhist heritage in colonial Asia”

TCD, Thursday 26 September, 7 pm

Brian Bocking is Head of Asian Studies and Professor of the Study of Religions at UCC. Author of many works on Japanese religion, Buddhism and the academic study of religions, he is currently carrying out research on the forgotten ‘Irish Buddhist’ U Dhammaloka (?1856-?1914), a pioneer Western Buddhist monk celebrated throughout South / East Asia in the early 1900s, and the Irish Japanologist and pioneer London Buddhist missionary Charles J W Pfoundes (1840-1907).


M. Uí Cadhain lecture theatre
Arts Block 2041B
Trinity College Dublin

Admission free – all welcome

Hosted by the MPhil in Race, Ethnicity, Conflict at TCD http://www.tcd.ie/sociology/ethnicracialstudies/

For more on the book Buddhism and Ireland see the publishers’ site

Book launch poster

Book update

Contrary to earlier information the book will now be available on sale from October 11th (it is already available for pre-order via the publishers’ website, Amazon etc.) Display copies have already been printed and will be available to view at the launch.

Sincere apologies for this delay, due to circumstances beyond our control.


Other events

Laurence Cox, “How the Dharma came to the west: Buddhism and Ireland”. Dublin Buddhist Centre, Friday 20 September, 8 – 9 pm (part of Dublin Culture Night: more details here. Admission free, all welcome). “Aspects of Buddhist culture have been travelling westwards across Asia and Europe for many centuries, even as far as Ireland. How does this history affect Irish culture, and what does it mean for Buddhism in Ireland today? The talk will discuss some fascinating encounters and remarkable lives which crossed the boundaries of race and religion, and will include visual materials as well as some ‘relics’ of the first Irish Buddhists.”

The seminar “From Laurence Carroll to U Dhammaloka: Irish hobo, Buddhist monk, anti-colonial agitator” (Laurence Cox, Mihirini Sirisena, Rachel Pisani) took place on Tuesday 10 September in the Irish School of Ecumenics, TCD. Further details here.

Dhammaloka seminar, Dublin, Sept 10

From Laurence Carroll to U Dhammaloka:
Irish hobo, Buddhist monk, anti-colonial agitator

Tuesday, 10 September, 2 – 5 pm

Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College (east end of TCD campus, close to Westland Row and Lincoln Place entrances; Google map http://goo.gl/purj5).

In 1872 Booterstown-born Laurence Carroll worked his way across the Atlantic to start a life as a sailor and hobo which would take him across the United States and eventually across the world. In 1900 he was ordained a Buddhist monk in Rangoon and became U Dhammaloka, using western atheist arguments to challenge Christian missionaries and the British empire in Asia. As U Dhammaloka he became a very public figure in Japan, China, Singapore, present-day Malaysia, Siam, Burma, Nepal, India and Ceylon and was charged with sedition, pursued by the colonial police, placed under surveillance and faked his own death before disappearing mysteriously in Penang in 1913.

Famous in his own time, Dhammaloka’s story did not suit later generations in Ireland or in Asia and has only recently been rediscovered by an international team of researchers. This seminar presents the results of a year attempting to track Dhammaloka’s hobo past and follow his traces in Asia. Dhammaloka’s history shows us different ways of thinking about what Buddhism means, the history of Irish religion and the meaning of atheism.


Welcome (Dr Jude Lal Fernando)

Introduction:  a beachcomber Buddhist in colonial Asia (Dr Laurence Cox)

The first Dharma bums: hobo and monk as ways of life (Ms Rachel Pisani)

Qs & As


From the edge of the ambit: an interpretation of Dhammaloka’s 1909 tour of Ceylon (Dr Mihirini Sirisena)

What does it all mean? Empire, religion and paths not taken (Dr Laurence Cox)

General discussion

Hosted by the Irish School of Ecumenics

This research forms part of the Irish Research Council-funded project
“Early western Buddhists in Asia”

The exhibition “Encountering Buddhist Asia” is open in NUI Maynooth until August 23rd; further details at https://dhammalokaproject.wordpress.com/u-dhammaloka/public-events/

The associated book Buddhism and Ireland is published on September 1st by Equinox.

Exhibition extended, Dhammaloka seminar, book launch

Brief announcements of three continuing and upcoming events in the Dublin region.

(1) The very successful exhibition “Encountering Buddhist Asia” at Maynooth’s Russell Library has been extended for another six weeks and will now close on August 23rd. Admission is free but by appointment. Further details here.

(2) The final Dhammaloka Project seminar will be held at the Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin on September 10th. Advance information available here.

(3) After some false starts, “Buddhism and Ireland” has gone to the printers and will be available on September 1st, with sincere apologies for the delays. Full details of how to get the book here. It will be launched by Prof. Brian Bocking, Dept. of the Study of Religions, UCC at an event hosted by the TCD MPhil in Ethnic and Racial Studies on September 26th (7 pm, Ui Cadhain theatre, Arts Block).

More information on the book launch nearer the time!

Dublin seminar (Sept 10), advance notice

Advance notice of a Dublin seminar which will disseminate the final outcomes from this year’s IRC-funded project on the early Irish Buddhist U Dhammaloka and other early Irish Buddhist figures (John Bowles Daly in Sri Lanka and U Visuddha in S. India).

The event will be on Tuesday, September 10th from 2 – 5 pm in the new Irish School of Ecumenics venue (E. end of TCD campus, close to pedestrian entrance and Lincoln Place gates: map http://goo.gl/purj5). It will be chaired by Dr Jude Lal Fernando and include presentations from Dr Laurence Cox, Dr Mihirini Sirisena and Ms Rachelann Pisani.

The event is jointly organised by TCD School of Ecumenics, the Irish Network for the Study of Buddhism, and the Dhammaloka project. Further details will be published nearer the time.