WBU June Forum 2009

With our recent discussions on Buddha Nature the topic for June’s WBU Forum is particularly relevant:

Programme :         WBU SUNDAY FORUM

Topic :                       Buddhist Theory of Human Nature

Date & Time :       June 7, 2552 (2009), 12:00 – 13.30 : P.M.

Speaker :                Dr. Tavivat  Puntarigvivat 

 About the Topic :       Buddhist Theory of Human Nature

Theravada Buddhist Theory of Human Nature

            From Ignorance to Enlightenment:

            Ignorance à {Sila, Samadhi, Panna} à Enlightenment


Mahayana Buddhist Theory of Human Nature

            From Buddha-nature to Enlightenment:

            Buddha-nature à {Sati, Samadhi, Panna} à Enlightenment


Ignorance vs. Buddha-nature: A Pseudo Difference

            While a human being has “ignorance” (avijja), he or she still has a natural level of “awareness” (sati). This natural level of “awareness” enables him or her to have the full potentiality to attain Enlightenment. This full potentiality to attain Enlightenment is the same as “Buddha-nature.”

            “Buddha-nature” is not a mere metaphysical concept of what inherits in a human being since birth. Empirically, Buddha-nature is the “awareness” that nature gives every one of us since we were born. Therefore Buddha-nature is the natural level of “awareness” (sati) that we all have which enables us to have the full potentiality to attain Enlightenment.

            We all have “Buddha-nature” or “Natural level of Awareness (sati)”—the potentiality to attain Enlightenment. But potentiality to attain Enlightenment is not the same as Enlightenment itself. We all have certain level of “ignorance” (lack of awareness) in our daily life. Therefore, all of us, be it Theravada or Mahayana or a mere human being, need to develop this natural level of awareness to the full level of awareness. Once we reach the full level of awareness, the full potentiality is realized and the Enlightenment is attained

About the Speaker :

Dr. Tavivat Puntarigvivat is currently the Director of the Institute of Research and Development at the World Buddhist University in Bangkok. He is also the Secretary General of the Outstanding Women in Buddhism Awards Committee, which has been awarding prominent Buddhist women from around the world each year, in honor of the United Nations International Women’s Day in Bangkok for more than 7 years by now. He was the Editor-in-Chief of the WFB Review—an international academic journal on Buddhism—published by the World Fellowship of Buddhists during 2002-2008.

Dr. Tavivat Puntarigvivat has served as the chairman of the graduate program in Comparative Religion at the Humanities Department, Mahidol University in Thailand for three terms: 1995-1997, 1999-2001, and 2007-present. He has been teaching in the Comparative Religion program at Mahidol University for over three decades. He specializes in such subjects as: Methodology in Religious Studies, History of Religions in China, Tibet, and Japan, and Buddhism in Thai Society. His current research includes such areas as: Buddhism and Transnational Capitalism, Buddhism and Philosophy of Science, and Buddhism and Contemporary Thai Society.

Coming from a broad academic background, Dr. Tavivat Puntarigvivat received his B.A. in Economics from Thammasat University in Thailand in 1972, his M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Hawaii with a Rockefeller Fellowship in 1975, and his Ph.D. in “Religion and Society” from Temple University in Philadelphia, U.S.A., with a Temple University Scholarship in 1994. His doctoral dissertation was a study of “Bhikkhu Buddhadasa’s Dhammic Socialism in dialogue with Latin American Liberation Theology.” He was also a researcher on “Zen Buddhism” at Kyoto University in Japan, with a Japanese Ministry of Education (Monbusho) scholarship from 1984-1986.

            As is the custom in Thailand, Dr. Tavivat Puntarigvivat was a bhikkhu (Buddhist monk) for a phansa (a monastic retreat of three months during the Thai rainy season) in 1980. This monastic experience was of significant importance in refining his intellectual understanding of religious scholarship and practice—especially as embodied in contemporary movements of Thai Theravada Buddhism.

            Dr. Tavivat Puntarigvivat has researched and published extensively, both nationally and internationally, on issues of religion and social ethics—especially from cross-cultural and socio-political perspectives. He has been invited to be a guest lecturer at universities and academic institutions in the United States, such as Temple University, and in Thailand at Thammasat University, Chiangmai University and the Police Cadet Academy. He has been invited to join research projects in the United States, such as What Men Owe to Women: Resources from the World Religions led by Dr. John C. Raines and Dr. Daniel C. Maguire (published by SUNY in 2000), and Liberation Theology in the World’s Living Religions led by Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre (publishing in progress), in which he contributed from the Thai Theravada Buddhist perspective and experience.

            Dr. Tavivat Puntarigvivat has been invited to attend international conferences, such as the UNESCO conference on Religions in Peace and Conflict held in Melbourne, Australia, and the 19th World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religion, held in Tokyo, Japan in 2005. He was also invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to join the diplomatic cultural delegation from Thailand for official visits to Nepal, Bhutan, India, and Sri Lanka, in the project called “Getting to Know the New BIMSTEC Members.” 

Location :

Location :
Meeting Room, the World Buddhist University, 3rd floor, WFB Headquarters Bldg., in Benjasiri Park, Sukhumvit 24, Bangkok, Time : 12.00-13.30 pm. All are welcome to join the programme free of charge. For more information, please call 02-258-0369 to -0373, fax 02-258-0372, or see www.wb-university.org.

The WBU shares the same building with the WFB (World Fellowship of Buddhists), and can be found by our maps below. It is on the third floor. The WBU is open most office hours, and the building can be entered from the rear of the building from the Soi. The front gate that faces the park is generally locked, but there is access to walk through to the rear.

wfb map Jan 08    WFB/WBU Building   Wide area Skytrain map

Link to the homepage of the :  World Buddhist University


6 replies on “WBU June Forum 2009”

  1. I’ll be there, and I’d really like to find a copy of Dr. Tavivat Puntarigvivat’s doctoral dissertation to read.

  2. Ignorance vs. Buddha-nature: A Pseudo Difference

    Did you write this , Phra Pandit ?

    It was a very clear explanation. Thanks.

  3. I will attend as well. Dr. Tavivat Puntarigvivat is a member of my PhD programme’s board of Buddhist Studies at Mahidol University and I haven’t met him before … what a nice occasion!

    See you an Sunday,


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