Tre anni fa fu a Gotenburg. Quest’anno, sei anni dopo quella che si tenne a Napoli, la sesta edizione di EuroSEAS (European Association for South East Asian Studies) apre i lavori nella splendida cornice di Lisbona, presso la Scuola di Scienze politiche e sociali.
Dal 2 al 5 luglio accademici europei ed est asiatici si ritroveranno per tirare un po’ le somme sullo stato della ricerca di settore. Ad aprire i lavori nella serata di martedì 2 luglio saranno l’ex presidente di Timor Est e premio Nobel per la pace, José Ramos-Horta e l’ex presidente portoghese Jorge Sampaio, che in passato è stato il primo a ricoprire l’incarico di Alto rappresentante per l’Alleanza delle Civiltà delle Nazioni Unite. Sarà invece il Professor Duncan McCargo, dell’Università di Leeds, a fare il punto a conclusione della prima giornata di lavori organizzati complessivamente in novantasei panel.
Tra le numerose presentazioni anche quella della dott.ssa Alessandra Chiricosta, autrice di ‘Filosofia interculturale e valori asiatici‘. Dopo Napoli, dove l’accademica italiana aveva presentato un lavoro sui movimenti femministi in Vietnam, qui a Lisbona A. Chiricosta si presenta con un paper dal titolo:
The “glocal” dimension of Vietnamese “Political Monks”
Abstract – Are “political monks” a new phenomenon in Vietnam? To give an exhaustive answer to the question may be more complicated than expected, depending on how the concept of “politics” is interpreted. If “Politics” is conceived in its broadest sense, i.e. an active participation in dealing with social issues on the one hand and the shaping of a national identity on the other, it could be said that Buddhism in Vietnam has possessed a “political” dimension, to some extent, since its inception.
The history of Buddhism in Vietnam evolved alongside the history of the country, so that the two are often inextricable. Buddhist monks’ suggestions consistently influence the policies of numerous emperors, especially after the liberation from Chinese occupation; Furthermore, since the fifteenth century when the Vietnamese monarchy decided to adapt the Chinese Imperial model to the Southern country, the Buddhist Sangha has been playing a pivotal role in presenting different perspectives on social and political issues vis-a-vis the Confucian authority.
The particular social and political vocation of the Buddhist Sangha in Vietnam, compared to other countries of the continental South East Asia region, can be explained by observing the prominent role of the Mahayana tradition – even if the country had been influenced by Theravada teachings as well – in which the figure of the “bodhisattva” as an inspiration model endorses the concept of actively helping every sentient being to reach enlightenment. In the pragmatic Vietnamese mentality, it means also guaranteeing acceptable living conditions, which are essential to political aims.
It can be argued, however, that only in modern times, i.e., from the anti-colonial wars onward, the political activism and theorization of some Vietnamese Buddhist monks has gained a “cosmopolitical” and “global” (or it should be better said “glocal”) dimension. Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh constitutes an outstanding example of this statement. His “socially engaged Buddhism” originates in the context of the Vietnam war, although it can be stated that only during his exile in Europe Thich Nhat Hanh began to present Buddhist interpretations and solutions to political global issues, such as the environment, human rights, global peace, individual and social happiness. This paper intends to show how the intercultural perspective of Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh’s “socially engaged Buddhism” is leading to an interesting development of the notion and practises of “glocality,” affecting at the same time, but in different ways, the local (Vietnamese) and the global approach to the issues at stake.
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