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Yogācāra Studies Unit

Call for Proposals

The Yogācāra Studies Unit welcomes proposals for papers sessions, individual papers, and roundtables. These sessions might focus on a classical text, on specific topics or themes, on methodological issues, or on recent publications in the field (books, papers, etc.). The allocation of sessions for the Yogācāra Studies Unit is either A) One 2.5 hour session and one 90 minute session or B) Three 90 minute sessions, two of which are co-sponsored sessions. The choice of which option to use will be dictated by the number and types of panel proposals received.
At this year's Business Meeting, a number of proposals were put forward. We welcome submissions for these panels, as well as proposals on other topics of interest to scholars of Yogācāra thought.

1) Text Panel: “Yogācāra in Dharmakīrti: Pramāṇavārttika 3.194–224”
The Yogācāra Studies Unit generally dedicates one panel to the discussion of a primary text, which should be conducted according to the following guidelines: preferably, the text should be extant in Sanskrit, Chinese and Tibetan, and there should also be a translation, even a partial one, into English. The panel organizer should propose a specific passage from the text for panelists and attendees to read together and focus on. This passage should be made available to our membership at least two weeks prior to the Annual Meeting. During the session, which will be either a 90 min or 2.5 hours long, speakers should be ready for brief presentations – not more than 7 minutes long – aimed at raising questions and points for the discussion. The remaining time will be dedicated for a close reading of the text section by the group and discussion. This year's text panel proposes to ground our discussion of Yogācāra in Dharmakīrti’s thought on John Dunne’s translation of Pramāṇavārttika 3.194–224 in the appendix to Foundations of Dharmakīrti’s Philosophy (Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2004), 396–411, and the Sanskrit text on which it is based (see Dunne’s references). Rather than presenting formal papers, panelists are invited to make exploratory remarks about different portions of the text for approximately seven minutes each, leaving the majority of the time for a detailed discussion of the passage with the audience. Interested panelists should send a short proposal to David Tomlinson at

2) Yogācāra and Pratyabhijñā
This panel seeks to build on recent scholarship that has already noted the extensive influence of Yogācāra thought on Pratyabhijñā. We're particularly interested in work that addresses 1) how ultimate truth can or cannot be expressed using language; 2) how Pratyabhijñā positions relate to disagreements or divergences within different strands of Yogācāra traditions; and 3) the extent to which shared or specific tantric practices shed light on the relationship between Pratyabhijñā and Yogācāra. Interested participants should send a short statement to Cat Prueitt at

3) Yogācāra as Idealism?: The State of the Debate and New Avenues of Inquiry
The past few decades have seen strong disagreement among scholars of Buddhist philosophy about whether or not it is right to think of the important Yogācāra theory of "mind only" as a form of "idealism" and, if so, what kind of idealism it is. This debate has given way in more recent years to an increased focus in the field on more specialized topics, with new monographs published that pay attention to particular figures (e.g. Vasubandhu, Sthiramati) or particular concepts or themes (e.g. the three natures theory, the concept of pure subsequent mundane awareness). This panel seeks to revive the question of Yogācāra as idealism, but to do so in a manner that is informed by the most current scholarship on particular Yogācāra texts, thinkers and ideas. Panelists are invited to submit proposals that directly address the question of Yogācāra as idealism, and that ground their consideration of this question in a particular figure, text, or concept from within the field of Yogācāra. Those interested in participating in the panel should send a short proposal to Joy Brennan at or Roy Tzohar at

4) Conceptions of Time: Yogācāra and Cross-sectarian
Those interested in participating in the panel should send a short proposal to Roy Tzohar at

5) Yogācāra and Vedānta in Classical India
Those interested in participating in the panel should send a short proposal to Jay Garfield at

6) Spontaneous Thought as Mental Chatter: Does Thought Involve Mental Chatter?
Those interested in participating in the panel should send a short proposal to Sonam Kachru at

Statement of Purpose

The Yogācāra tradition within Buddhism provides the seminal basis for many forms of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Yogācāra was the preeminent Buddhist school for many centuries in India, East Asia, and Tibet. Even after its relative decline as a distinct tradition, its teachings continued to provide the basis for both the theory and practice of subsequent Buddhist Mahāyāna schools throughout Asia, and it has seen a resurgence in the 20th and 21st century in Asia, including in China, Hong Kong, Japan, and among Tibetans.


Steering Committee Members


E-mail with Attachment (proposal is in attachment, not in body of e-mail)

Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members