Dr. Stuart Chandler

Dr. Stuart Chandler has been researching Western Pennsylvania’s evolving religious pluralism as a Pluralism Project Affiliate since 2001. He has established a Center for the Study of Religion in Pennsylvania (CSRP) which employs students to conduct field research, which, combined with the research of students from his World Religions courses, resulted in a public presentation entitled “Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, SikhSikhs call their tradition the “Sikh Panth,” meaning the “community (panth) of the disciples of the Guru.” The tradition reveres a lineage of ten Gurus, beginning with Guru Nanak in the 16th century and coming to a clos. with the death of Guru Gob...: the Surprising Religious Landscape of Western Pennsylvania” and subsequent publication as a fifty-page magazine that was distributed to the social studies departments of 250 high schools in Western Pennsylvania. His successful strategy was to offer the student authors of the best papers an alternative to taking a final exam in his course. Instead, they could read, incorporate, and edit the research of fellow students into a joint final essay for publication in the magazine.

Eastern Religions Come to Western Pennsylvania

Dr. Chandler has organized a highly successful museum exhibit entitled “Eastern Religions Come to Western Pennsylvania.” Pennsylvania has welcomed religious diversity ever since its founding under William Penn. Such pluralism did not expand beyond the Christian and Jewish communities, however, until quite recently. After the change in national immigration laws in 1965, non-European peoples practicing a wide range of faiths have both gathered in homes and established ever larger and more ornate places of worship to serve their burgeoning memberships. These immigrants have been joined by Euro-American and African-American converts. “Eastern Religions Come to Western Pennsylvania” focuses on several of the latest additions to the American religious mosaicMoses was the great Biblical prophet who is credited with leading the people of Israel out of Egyptian bondage and teaching them the divine laws at Sinai. The story of Moses is told in the book of Exodus in the Bible and is also told in the Qur’an, wher... by considering the Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, and Sikh traditions as they are practiced in the Pittsburgh region.

Few people realize that one need not even leave the town of Indiana to find Zen, TheravadaTheravada, literally “the way of the elders,” was one of the eighteen earliest sub-schools of Buddhism. Today, the term designates the various traditions of Buddhism most prominent in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. Although these traditions differ in i..., and Tibetan Buddhist meditationMeditation is the disciplined practice of quieting and focusing the mind or cultivating the heart’s attention. Different meditation practices commend focusing attention on a word, a prayer, a form, or the breath as a way of practice. Meditation is commo... groups, or to admire more than a dozen Hindu home altarsAn altar is a raised platform or stand which bears the central symbols of a religious tradition—whether in a temple, church, shrine, or home—and at which offerings are made, worship is offered, or prayers are said.. A quick drive down to Pittsburgh allows one to visit a half dozen Buddhist centers, three Hindu templesA Hindu temple will be called a mandir in northern parts of India or a koyil in the south. There are many styles of temples and temple-complexes, but most temples are laid out according to precise dimensions and proportions and erected to be the symbolic ..., a Sikh gurdwaraThe gurdwara, “the gateway of the Guru,” is the place for community gathering and worship in the Sikh tradition. The Guru is the Adi Granth, the sacred scripture of the Sikh tradition. Each center will include a chamber where the Adi Granth is kept, a..., and a Jain shrine. The exhibit “Eastern Religions Come to Western Pennsylvania” at The University Museum at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) is designed to give a glimpse into the practices and teachings of these groups as they adjust to their American surroundings. The more than one hundred photographs on display permit visitors to witness the observance of Buddha’s Birthday in Tien Vien Chon Nhu TempleA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref..., the performance of a fire service in the Hindu-Jain TempleEach Jain temple is regarded as a replica of the assembly hall miraculously created by the gods for Mahavira upon his enlightenment. Hence, in entering a temple, a Jain has the sense of approaching the spot where a living Tirthankara sits in omniscient co..., the escorting of three deities on a golden chariot at Sri Venkateshwara Temple, and the celebration of a wedding in the Sikh gurdwara. These photographs surround examples of Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist altars, and of a Sikh reading table. Also on display are art works by the SinghUpon initiation into the Khalsa, Sikh men assume the name Singh, “Lion.” sisters and Arpana Caur (three of the most renowned contemporary Sikh painters), by Mahendra Shah (America’s premier Jain artist), and by the American Zen practitioners John Daido Loori Roshi, Kaz Tanahashi, and Tom Matsuda.

About Dr. Stuart Chandler

Stuart Chandler obtained his Ph.D. in comparative religion from Harvard University in the spring of 2000 and joined IUP’s faculty that fall. His area of concentration is the religions of China and Japan, especially BuddhismBuddhism is a multi-hued tradition of life, thought, and practice that has developed from the teaching and practice of Siddhartha Gautama (6th century BCE) who came to be called the Buddha, the awakened one. The three major streams of the tradition—Ther.... Dr. Chandler’s book Establishing a Pureland on Earth: The FoguangFoguang (“Buddha’s Light”) Buddhism is a humanistic Buddhist movement with its headquarters in Taiwan and over 100 branch temples on five continents. Founded by Master Hsing Yun in the 1960s, the movement is devoted to creating a Pure Land on earth.... Buddhist Perspectives on Modernization and Globalization was published by University of Hawaii Press in 2004. He has written numerous articles, chapters, and encyclopedia entries. Some of his more recent works include “The Dimensions of Contemporary Chinese Buddhism ” (Buddhism in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives, edited by Stephen C. Berkwitz, ABC-CLIO, 2005), “Foguangshan” (Encyclopedia of Religion, second edition, edited by Lindsay Jones, Macmillan, 2005), and “Spreading Buddha’s Light: The Internationalization of Foguang Shan” (Buddhist Missionaries in the Era of Globalization, edited by Linda Learman, University of Hawaii Press, 2004).

In addition to studying Chinese Buddhism, Dr. Chandler conducts research on the evolving religious landscape of Pennsylvania. He has served as the director of the Center for the Study of Religion in Pennsylvania (CSRP) since its founding in 2002. The most important project undertaken by this center thus far was an exhibit entitled “Eastern Religions Come to Western Pennsylvania,” which was shown in IUP’s Sutton Hall Museum and Kipp Art Gallery from September 24 through December 9, 2005. This exhibit focused on the Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, and Sikh traditions, especially their practice in the Pittsburgh region.

Dr. Chandler’s current projects include the creation of a website for CSRP and the translation of the memoirs of a woman by the name of Oishi Junkyo, who was a geisha, artist, and Buddhist nunA nun is a woman who renounces worldly life and is ordinarily a member of a monastic order or community, thereby undertaking a special commitment to study, service, asceticism, prayer, or disciplined spiritual practice. In the Buddhist tradition, fully or... in early twentieth-century Japan.

As the coordinator for the Asian Studies Committee and the faculty advisor for the Committee for the Study of Culture and Religion, the Oak GroveSacred groves have historically been among the most important sites for Pagan worship. In Druidism, trees are thought to have specific attributes that contribute meaning to the site where they grow. Contemporary Druid groups are often called “groves.”... DharmaDharma means religion, religious duty, religious teaching. The word dharma comes from a Sanskrit root meaning “to uphold, support, bear,” thus dharma is that order of things which informs the whole world, from the laws of nature to the inner workings ... CircleIn some Pagan traditions, a “circle” refers to the people who gather for a ritual. When standing in a circle, all the participants are able to see each other, with no one member elevated over any other. This practice is often felt to encourage egalita..., and the Chinese Students Association, Dr. Chandler has worked to bring numerous guest speakers and performers to IUP. Notable among these were the Zen artist Kazuaki Tanahashi; the Hindu musicians Dr. Nirmala Sundararjan, Shankar Krish, and T.S. Nandakumar; RabbiRabbi means “my master,” an authorized teacher or master of the Torah and the classical Jewish tradition. After the fall of the second Temple in 70 CE and the scattering of the Jewish people in exile, the role of the rabbi became very important in gat... Bulka (OrthodoxIn general, orthodox means having a “correct opinion or outlook” and is a term used by people in many religions who claim authority for traditional views and forms of their religion. rabbiRebbe is the title of the spiritual leader of the Hasidim, the pietist Jewish movement which began in 18th century Poland and continues today, with its honoring of holy teachers and its emphasis on prayer and devotion. and expert in Logotherapy); Dr. John Cort (America’s leading expert on the Jain tradition); and a troupe of ten Drepung Loseling Tibetan Buddhist monksA monk is a man who renounces worldly life and is ordinarily a member of a monastic order or community, thereby undertaking a special commitment to study, service, asceticism, prayer, or disciplined spiritual practice. In the Buddhist tradition, fully ord... who created a sand mandalaThe Sanskrit word mandala means circle and, by extension, the whole world. It is used in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions to refer to the symbolic circles that represent the entire world, with all its divine energies, in a microcosm. Especially in the Ti... over a four-day period.

Courses regularly taught by Dr. Chandler include “World Religions,” “Introduction to Religion,” “Buddhist Thought and Practice,” and “Religions of China and Japan.”

Selected Links and Publications

  • Faculty webpage: Dr. Stuart Chandler
  • Book: Establishing a Pureland on Earth: The Foguang Buddhist Perspectives on Modernization and Globalization (University of Hawaii Press, 2004)
  • Chapter: “The Dimensions of Contemporary Chinese Buddhism ” (Buddhism in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives, ed. Stephen C. Berkwitz, ABC-CLIO, 2005)
  • Chapter: “Foguangshan,” Encyclopedia of Religion, second edition, ed. Lindsay Jones (Macmillan, 2005)
  • Chapter: “Spreading Buddha’s Light: The Internationalization of Foguang Shan,” Buddhist Missionaries in the Era of Globalization, ed. Linda Learman (University of Hawaii Press, 2004)