国際文化学科の新任教員挨拶 No. 2 ～仏教学が専門のモリス・ジョナサン先生～
I am delighted to be a faculty member of the Department of International Culture as of April 2015, and pleased to introduce myself here. I was born in England in a city called Hull, and grew up in rural North Yorkshire. I was interested in politics in my late teens and worked as a volunteer for my local Member of Parliament. I then spent some time working, studying and travelling in Israel. These two experiences were very valuable to me, and I often think back on them.
I studied Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies at Bristol University, during which time I was first introduced to Buddhist Studies and Buddhism. My (then) active interest in Japanese martial arts encouraged me to take an opportunity to teach English in Japan. I worked as an Assistant Language Teacher in a high school in Shimane Prefecture for three years, during which time my interest in Japanese and East Asian culture deepened.
Having completed my contract in Shimane, I entered the University of London (SOAS) and took an MA in Buddhist Studies. I studied a broad range of topics in Indian, Tibetan and East Asian Buddhist thought, and wrote a dissertation on the theory of merit making in Early Buddhism. After a short spell as a company employee I returned to Japan, this time to study at Tohoku University. I spent the next nine years in Sendai studying Japanese Intellectual History and teaching in various places and capacities.
My research has focused on certain aspects of the worship of holy men and women in pre-Modern Japan and Europe. Due to my early interest in Philosophy, I have also given a lot of time to the theoretical aspects of this area of study. I was very active as a translator during my time in Sendai, and in addition to working on academic translations, I did a lot of work for publishers specializing in language learning and for museums. I met my wife in Sendai, and our daughter was born there.
Though I am not very physically active these days, my interest in East Asian culture and thought is stronger than ever. Here at Komajo, I aim to pass on my enthusiasm for learning through a second language. Let me conclude with a short message to the students. Despite the gender equality laws that exist in modern societies, no society encourages women to be active and take on leadership roles in the same ways and to the same extent as men. Search for the encouragement and energy you will need to make the best contribution to life you possibly can. The world needs many more female leaders, at all levels. When I can help you, let me know. That said, the best thing university can offer is the foundation of an intellectual life that brings meaning beyond private success and disappointment. Take up the offer.