AABS Seminar | Attitudes Toward Animals in Tibetan Buddhism

30 April, 2013
5.30 - 7.30pm

Speaker: Catherine Schuetze

Presented by the Australian Association of Buddhist Studies (AABS)

Catherine Schuetze explores the negotiations between ideology and pragmatism in medicine through a social history of attitudes towards animals in Tibetan medicine. More specifically, she looks at the conflict between Tibetan medicine’s pragmatic use of animals as medical ingredients (zootherapy) and its ideology of compassion and non-slaughter of sentient beings. The syncretisation of Buddhism with medicine resulted in a conflation of these traditions’ respective representations of animals within the same textual medical canon, even though they appear to be incongruent. The Tibetan medical tradition has negotiated these apparent contradictions through its relationship with its major institutional texts, the Four Tantras (rGyud bzhi), and its definitive commentary, the Blue Beryl (Baidurya sngon po). In this talk, the process of negotiation is analysed through the prism of the social ruptures that have affected the tradition, with an emphasis on the most recent and dramatic of these ruptures, the adjustment to the new socio-political environments of exile in India. Drawing from a situated textual analysis of the root medical texts as well as a series of interviews with traditional Tibetan medical practitioners living in exile, Dr. Schuetze examines the contemporary production of an “ahimsa” (non-harm) form of Tibetan medicine that has been developed as a replacement for zootherapeutics at the Men-Tsee-Khang Institute of Tibetan Medicine and Astrology in India.

About Catherine Schuetze:
Catherine Schuetze is a PhD candidate at Australian National University, researching ethno-veterinary medicine in the Tibetan regions. She is also a practicing veterinary surgeon who has been working in India for ten years, after founding the international non-governmental organisation Vets Beyond Borders in 2002.

Location: Lecture Room N395, Woolley Building

Contact:Wendi Adamek
Phone: 61 2 9351 3083