Episode 09 – Living Religion in the Classroom: Teaching Chinese Buddhism with Rongdao Lai


In this episode, Dr. Rongdao Lai discusses her approach to teaching Buddhism as a living religion, and not only as a philosophy. As an ordained Buddhist nun in the Chinese tradition, she is intimately familiar with the contrasts between the academic study of religion and her own training in Buddhist practices at temples. She aspires to teach all of her students how to develop a critical approach to evaluating the study of Buddhism and its canonical objects: why are certain texts and topics treated as core to the study of Buddhism? The possibility of attending to lived Buddhism and contemporary problems in the study of Buddhism and the world opens up a world of new possibilities for students and professors.


“I want students to see how people live their Buddhism.” Rongdao Lai 

“If Buddhism is the only course in the humanities that students take, this is an amazing opportunity to give them something they’ll never forget.” Rongdao Lai

Links and References 

Rongdao Lai’s McGill University profile page 

Information on Bill 21, National Assembly of Quebec website

Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei, Japan; Documentary by Christopher Hayden, 2002 (duration 52:14) 

Kwaidan film (1965) Wikipedia page