Holly Gayley
Associate Professor
Religious Studies

HUMN 290

Courses

  • Foundations of Buddhism, Women in Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Gender in Hagiography, Buddhist Ethics, Ritual Theory, Transnational Buddhism, Buddhist Literature in Tibet

Primary Teaching Areas and Opportunities for Student Supervision

  • Buddhism, women in Tibet, gender and sexuality in Buddhist tantra, Buddhist ethics, tantric ritual, minorities in China, Buddhist modernism

Overview: 

Holly Gayley is an Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her research focuses on the revitalization of Buddhism in Tibetan areas of the PRC in the post-Maoist period. Dr. Gayley became interested in the academic study of Buddhism through her travels among Tibetan communities in India, Nepal, and China. She completed her Masters in Buddhist Studies at Naropa University in 2000 and Ph.D. at Harvard University in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies in 2009. Dr. Gayley's first book titled, Love Letters from Golok: A Tantric Couple in Modern Tibet, came out in November 2016 with Columbia University Press. The book charts the lives and love letters of a contemporary Buddhist tantric couple, Khandro Tāre Lhamo and Namtrul Jigme Phuntsok, who played a significant role in revitalizing Buddhism in eastern Tibet since the 1980s. Examining Buddhist conceptions of gender, agency and healing, this book recovers Tibetan voices in representing their own modern history under Chinese rule and contributes to burgeoning scholarly literature on Buddhist women, minorities in China, and studies of collective trauma.
 
Dr. Gayley's second project explores the emergence of Buddhist modernism on the Tibetan plateau and a new ethical reform movement spawned by cleric-scholars at Larung Buddhist Academy in Serta. Her recent publications on the topic include "Controversy over Buddhist Ethical Reform: A Secular Critique of Clerical Authority in the Tibetan Blogosphere" (Himalaya Journal, 2016), "Non-Violence as a Shifting Signifier on the Tibetan Plateau" (Contemporary Buddhism, 2016 with Padma 'tsho), "Reimagining Buddhist Ethics on the Tibetan Plateau (Journal of Buddhist Ethics, 2013), and "The Ethics of Cultural Survival: A Buddhist Vision of Progress in Mkhan po 'Jigs phun's Advice to Tibetans of the 21st Century" in Mapping the Modern in Tibet (International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, 2011).
 

RESEARCH AREAS AND PUBLICATIONS

Women in Tibet, Gender and Sexuality in Buddhist Tantra

Inseparable Across Lifetimes: The Lives and Love Letters of the Tibetan Visionaries Namtrul Rinpoche and Khandro Tāre Lhamo. Boulder, CO: Shambhala Publications, forthcoming.

"Gendered Hagiography in Tibet: Comparing Clerical Representations of the Female Visionary, Khandro Tāre Lhamo." In Buddhist Feminisms and Femininities, edited by Karma Lekshe Tsomo. Ithaca, NY: State University of New York Press, January 2019.

"Revisiting the Secret Consort (gsang yum) in Tibetan Buddhism." Religions 9.6 (June 2018). DOI: 10.3390/rel9060179.

"The Love Letters of a Buddhist Tantric Couple: Reflections on Poetic Style and Epistolary Intimacy." History of Religions 56.03 (February 2017): 311–351.

"Yeshé Tsogyal as Female Exemplar." In Chonyi Drolma (trans.), The Supreme Secret Biography of Yeshé Tsogyal. Boulder: Shambhala Publications, 2017.

Love Letters from Golok: A Buddhist Couple in Modern Tibet. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016.

"Modern Miracles of a Female Buddhist Master." In Figures of Buddhist Modernity in Asia, edited by Jeffrey Samuels, Justin McDaniels, and Mark Rowe. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2016.

Buddhist Ethics, Advice Literature, Cultural Revitalization in Contemporary Tibet

"Buddhist Ethics in Contemporary Tibet." In The Oxford Handbook of Buddhist Ethics, edited by Daniel Cozort and James Mark Shields. Oxford: Oxford University Press (May 2018).

"The Compassionate Treatment of Animals: A Contemporary Buddhist Approach in Eastern Tibet." Journal of Religious Ethics 45.1 (March 2017): 29–57.

A Gathering of Brilliant Moons: Practice Advice from the Great Rimé Masters of Tibet, co-edited by Holly Gayley and Joshua Schapiro. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2017.

"Advice for Solitary Retreat." Essay and original translations of works by Do Khyentsé Yeshé Dorjé, Patrul Rinpoché, and the Third Dodrupchen Jikmé Tenpai Nyima  in A Gathering of Brilliant Moons. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2017.

Introduction to A Gathering of Brilliant Moons, an anthology of translations, co-authored by Holly Gayley and Joshua Schapiro. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2017.

"Non-Violence as a Shifting Signifier on the Tibetan Plateau," co-authored by Holly Gayley and Padmatso. Contemporary Buddhism 17.1 (June 2016): 62-80.

"Controversy over Buddhist Ethical Reform: A Secular Critique of Clerical Authority in the Tibetan Blogosphere." Himalaya Journal 36.1 (May 2016): 22-43.

"Reimagining Buddhist Ethics on the Tibetan Plateau." Journal of Buddhist Ethics 20 (2013): 247–286.

"The Ethics of Cultural Survival: A Buddhist Vision for Progress in Mkhan po 'Jigs phun's Heart Advice to Tibetans of the 21st Century." In Mapping the Modern in Tibet, edited by Gray Tuttle. Sankt Augustin, Germany: International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, 2011.

Buddhist Modernism and the Secular in Tibet

Voices from Larung Gar: Articulating Buddhist Modernism on the Tibetan Plateau, co-edited by Holly Gayley and Jann Ronis. Under contract with Shambhala Publications.

The Secular in Tibetan Cultural Worlds. Special Issue of Himalaya Journal, co-edited by Holly Gayley and Nicole Willock. Published as May 2016 (36/1) issue.

"Theorizing the Secular in Tibetan Cultural Worlds." Introduction to special issue on The Secular in Tibetan Cultural Worlds, co-authored by Holly Gayley and Nicole Willock. Himalaya Journal 36/1 (2016): 12–21.

"T-Pop and the Lama: Buddhist 'Rites out of Place' in Tibetan Monastery-Produced VCDs." In Religion and Modernity in the Himalaya, edited by Megan Sijapati and Jessica Birkenholtz. New York: Routledge Contemporary South Asia Series, 2016.

Treasure Revelation in the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism

Love Letters from Golok: A Buddhist Couple in Modern Tibet. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016.

"Ontology of the Past and its Materialization in Tibetan Treasures." In The Invention of Sacred Tradition, edited by Olav Hammer and James Lewis, 213–240. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

"Soteriology of the Senses in Tibetan Buddhism." Numen 54.4 (2007): 459–499.

"Patterns in the Ritual Dissemination of Padma gling pa's Treasures." In Bhutan: Traditions and Changes, edited by Francoise Pommaret and John Ardussi, 97–119. Leiden: Brill, 2007.

Introduction to The Life and Revelations of Pema Lingpa, translated by Sarah Harding. Boulder, CO: Snow Lion Publications, 2003: 1–28.