L. S. Cousins
Lance Selwyn Cousins, 2012.
|Born||7 April 1942|
Hitchin, Great Britain
|Died||14 March 2015 (aged 72)|
Lance Selwyn Cousins (7 April 1942 – 14 March 2015) was a leading scholar in the field of Buddhist Studies. Born in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, he studied history and oriental studies at Cambridge University, and took up a post in the Department of Comparative Religion at Manchester University as lecturer and then senior lecturer. After early retirement in the 1990s he settled in Oxford and continued to publish scholarly papers and reviews including a widely cited historical summary such as "The Dating of the Historical Buddha: A Review article," which was published in The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. He was a Fellow at Wolfson College University of Oxford and part of the faculty at the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. Prior to this, he was briefly President (2002/3) of the Pali Text Society (PTS). Professor Richard Gombrich once described him as the leading authority in the West in the field of abhidhamma.
Cousins helped establish the Pali Canon on the web and assisted many publications being involved with a breadth of translations from Pali to English himself. He had completed two books by the time of his death that are likely to be published soon.
In addition to his academic work, he was also a teacher of Buddhist meditation in a Thai samatha tradition being a founder member of the Samatha Trust and the Samatha Association. He commenced samatha classes under Nai Boonman in 1963 at Hampstead. He was instrumental in founding the Cambridge University Buddhist Society and its samatha class in the 1960s. When he moved to Manchester in 1967, he started the Manchester University Buddhist Society and the class there that lead to the beginning of several similar classes in the rest of the UK and the eventual establishment of the Manchester Centre for Buddhist Meditation in Chorlton. He was an influential teacher and conducted several retreats incorporating the UK, particularly at the Samatha Centre, Greenstreete farm in Wales, The USA, Ireland and Sri Lanka.
'Lance Cousins: An Obituary, Appreciation and Bibliography', published in Buddhist Studies Review vol.32, no.1, 2015, can be accessed at: https://journals.equinoxpub.com/BSR/article/view/28964
His book-length publications primarily revolved around work on Pali texts, translations and translators:
1974. Buddhist Studies in Honour of I.B.Horner, ed. L .Cousins, A. Kunst and K.R. Norman. Dordrecht, Holland, D. Reidel Publishing Co.
1979. Revised reprint with indexes, and list of some variant readings, of the Ahas?lin? ed. E. Müller (1897). London, Pali Text Society, pp. 432-510.
1992. Special Issue in honour of K.R. Norman, Indo-Iranian Journal, ed. Cousins et al., 35 (2 & 3).
1995. Mah?niddesa Part III (index volume). Oxford, Pali Text Society.
1996. The Dispeller of Delusion (Sammohavinodan?), 2 vols, trans. Bhikkhu Ñamoli, extensively revised for publication, with annotations and index, by L.S. Cousins, Nyanaponika Mah?thera and C.M.M. Shaw. Oxford, Pali Text Society.
1999. Reverse Index to the Mah?niddesa, with Y. Ousaka and M. Yamazaki, digital edition: http://hirose.sendai-nct.ac.jp/~ousaka/EngH.html
He was also working in the early 2000s with Somadeva Vasudeva, a visiting scholar from Kyoto University, on transliterating a number of s?tras of a newly discovered D?rgha ?gama, including a fragment on when the consumption of meat is not appropriate for a monk. At the time of his death, he was preparing for publication: i) a collection of lectures relating to meditation, to be edited by Sarah Shaw, and ii) a translation of the Yamaka commentary and, with Charles Shaw, of the Yamaka. The first third of the latter has now been published: The Book of Pairs and its Commentary: A translation of the Yamaka and Yamakappakara?ahakath?, Vol I (2018), tr. C.M.M. Shaw and L.S. Cousins. It includes Lance's translation of the relevant portion of the ancient commentary, the Pañcappakara?a-ahakath? and is intended as the first of a planned three-volume translation of the whole Yamaka and its commentary.
His publications, though, were primarily in the form of incisive and original articles, the quality of which is reflected in the fact that in Buddhism: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies, an eight-volume collection of influential articles on Buddhism, edited by Paul Williams (New York: Routledge, 2005), eight of the 110 entries are by Lance Cousins: three more than any other author. These are: 'Pali Oral Literature', 'The Dating of the Historical Buddha: a review article' (in vol. 1); 'Buddhist Jh?na: Its Nature and Attainment according to the Pali sources'; 'The "Five Points" and the Origins of the Buddhist schools'; 'Person and Self' (in vol. 2); 'S?kiyabhikkhu/Sakyabhikkhu/kyabhik?u: A Mistaken link to the Mah?y?na?' (in vol. 3); 'The Pah?na and the Development of the Therav?din Abhidhamma', and 'Nibb?na and Abhidhamma' (in vol. 4).
A list of his publications, other than the above books, is given below. Their titles give an indication of the focuses of his scholarship: Pali literature, Buddhist history, especially early Buddhist schools, Abhidhamma and meditation.
All the following are downloadable from https://oxford.academia.edu/LSCousins, unless otherwise stated.
1972. 'Dhammap?la and the ?ika Literature', Religion, 2, pp. 159-165: a review article (of Lily de Silva's edition of the k? to the D?gha Nik?ya), which discusses the relation of the 'Dhammap?la' author of commentaries to the 'Dhammap?la' author of sub-commentaries.
1983. 'Pali Oral Literature', in Buddhist Studies Ancient and Modern, ed. Philip Denwood and Alexander Piatigorsky, London, Curzon Press, and Totowa, N.J., Barnes & Noble, pp. 1-11: on the suttas as showing techniques of improvisation found in other oral literature.
2013. 'The Early Development of Buddhist Literature and Language in India', Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, 5, pp. 89-135: http://www.jocbs.org/index.php/jocbs/issue/view/7
1997. Detailed analytical review article on Bhikkhu Ñamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Majjhima Nik?ya, reviewed in Journal of Buddhist Ethics 4, pp. 260-80:
1996. 'The Dating of the Historical Buddha: a review article', Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 6(1), pp. 57-63: a review of a large conference on this issue.
2003. 'S?kiyabhikkhu/Sakyabhikkhu/kyabhik?u: a mistaken link to the Mah?y?na?', Nagoya Studies in Indian Culture and Buddhism: Sa?bh, 23, pp. 1-27: a critique of this term as signifying a Mah?y?nist.
1991. 'The "Five Points" and the Origins of the Buddhist Schools' The Buddhist Forum Volume II, ed. Tadeusz Skorupski, London, School of Oriental and African Studies, pp. 27-60: on the points attributed to the Mah?sghika Mah?deva, but originating as earlier Abhidhamma discussion points between the Sarv?stiv?dins and what were later to become the Therav?dins: http://www.shin-ibs.edu/documents/bForum/v2/03Cousins.pdf (An earlier and unrevised version is in: Buddhist Essays : A Miscellany: A Memorial Volume in Honour of Venerable Hammalawa Saddhatissa ed. P. Sorata, L. Perera and K. Goonesena, London, World Buddhist Foundation, 1992, pp. 79-126.)
1994. 'Person and Self', in Buddhism into the Year 2000: International Conference Proceedings, (no named editor), Bangkok and Los Angeles: Dhammakaya Foundation, pp. 15-32: on the central idea of the Pudgalav?din schools.
2001. 'On the Vibhajjav?dins: the Mahi?s?saka, Dhammaguttaka, Kassapiya and Tambapaiya branches of the ancient Theriyas', Buddhist Studies Review, 18(2), pp. 131-82: on early roots of what became the 'Therav?da': . http://ukabs.org.uk/buddhist-studies-review-vols-1-22/
2012. 'The Teachings of the Abhayagiri School', in How Therav?da is Therav?da? Exploring Buddhist Identities, ed. Peter Skilling et al., Chiang Mai, Silkworm Books, pp. 67-127: on a Mah?y?na-leaning Sri Lankan fraternity.
2013. 'Tambapaiya and T?mraiya', Journal of Buddhist Studies, 11, pp. 21-46: on the ancient Sri Lankan school. (oxford.academia.edu only has the abstract, but the article is downloadable from: https://ocbs.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Tambapan%CC%A3n%CC%A3iya-and-Ta%CC%84mras%CC%81a%CC%84t%CC%A3iya.pdf)
2017. 'On the Earliest Buddhist Schools', in Holy Wealth: Accounting for This World and the Next in Religious Belief and Practice: Festschrift for John R. Hinnells, ed. by Almut Hintze and Alan Williams, 21-48. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
For Lance Cousins, this is not a dry scholastic literature, but an exploration of subtle relationships and a great aid to practice. Richard Gombrich once described him as the leading authority in the West on Abhidhamma.
1983-4. 'Nibb?na and Abhidhamma', Buddhist Studies Review, 1(2), pp. 95-109: an exploration of Nibb?na in the Nik?yas and then how the Abhidhamma systems shared in seeing it as an atemporal, non-spatial unconditioned reality that was neither mind, in the usual sense, nor material: http://ukabs.org.uk/buddhist-studies-review-vols-1-22/
1981. 'The Pah?na and the Development of the Therav?din Abhidhamma', Journal of the Pali Text Society, 9, pp. 22-46: on how the outlines of the developed Therav?din theory of the citta-v?thi, or the process of perception as a series of specific mind-states, lie in this canonical Abhidhamma text: http://www.palitext.com/JPTS_scans/JPTS_1981_IX.pdf
2003. 'Summary of the Abhidhamm?vat?ra', in Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, Vol. IX Buddhist Philosophy from 350 to 600 A.D., ed. Karl Potter, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, pp. 217-254. (Not at oxford.academia.edu).
2011. 'Abhidhamma Studies I: Jotip?la and the Abhidhamma Anuk?', Thai International Journal for Buddhist Studies, 2, pp. 1-36: on a neglected medieval k? text.
2013 [Buddhist era 2556]. 'Abhidhamma Studies II: Sanskrit Abhidharma Literature of the Mah?vih?rav?sins', Thai International Journal for Buddhist Studies, 4, pp. 1-61, with a possibly amended version published in 2016 as 'Sanskrit Abhidharma Literature of the Mah?vih?rav?sins' in Text, History and Philosophy: Abhidharma across Buddhist Scholastic Traditions¸ edited by Bart Dessein and Weijen Teng, 169-222. Leiden: Brill: on the influence of Sri Lankan Abhidhamma ideas in mainland India, especially through the works of Jotip?la (sixth-seventh century). (oxford.academia.edu only has the abstract.)
2015. 'Abhidhamma Studies III: Origins of the Canonical Abhidha(r)mma Literature', Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, 8: http://www.jocbs.org/index.php/jocbs/issue/view/10/showToc
2015. 'The Case of the Abhidhamma Commentary', Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, 36-37/1-2 (2013-2014), pp.389-422: on this literature in general but particularly the Ahas?lin?, whose sources he traces back to the late second century and earlier. (Not at oxford.academia.edu).
Forthcoming. 'The sacca-sa?khepa and its commentaries': planned to be published in the Journal of the Pali Text Society.
1973. 'Buddhist Jh?na: its Nature and Attainment According to the Pali Sources', Religion, 3, pp. 115-31: a key early study of this meditative state central to samatha meditation, with which he was greatly involved. (A paper of the same title also appears in Medagoda Sumanatissa Felicitation Volume, ed. D. Dorakuura, C. Wikramagamage and A. Gu?asi?ha, Colombo, Medagoda SumanatissaFelicitation Committee, 1996, pp. 105-116.)
1984. 'Samatha-y?na and Vipassan?-y?na' in Buddhist Studies in Honour of Hammalava Saddhatissa, ed. Gatare Dhammapala et al., Nugegoda, Sri Lanka, University of Sri Jayewardenapura, pp. 56-68: a key discussion of the various ways in which samatha and vipassan? meditation can be combined.
1992. 'Vitakka/vitarka and Vic?ra: Stages of Sam?dhi in Buddhism and Yoga', Indo-Iranian Journal, 35(2-3), pp. 135-57: on key ingredients of the first jh?na and also certain stages of Patañjali's yoga.
1996. 'The Origins of Insight Meditation' in The Buddhist Forum, Volume 4, ed. Tadeusz Skorupski, London, School of Oriental and African Studies, pp. 35-58: on the relation of samatha and vipassan? in ancient and recent times:
1997. 'Aspects of Esoteric Southern Buddhism' in Indian Insights: Buddhism, Brahmanism and Bhakti, ed. Peter Connolly and Sue Hamilton, London, Luzac Oriental, pp. 185-208: an exploration of kinds of Therav?da meditation side-lined in modern times, involving visualisations and use of mantra-like verbal formulae in Pali.
2009. 'Scholar Monks and Meditator Monks', in Destroying M?ra Forever: Buddhist Ethics Essays
in Honor of Damien Keown¸ ed. John Powers and Charles S. Prebish, Ithaca, N.Y., Snow Lion, pp. 31-46: reflections of the relation of scholarship and meditation, two key focuses of his own life.
2015. 'The Sutta on Mindfulness with In and Out Breathing' in Buddhist Meditative Praxis: Traditional Teachings and Modern Applications, ed. K.L. Dhammajoti, University of Hong Kong, Centre of Buddhist Studies, pp. 1-24. This is on the sixteen stages of ?n?p?na-sati meditation, both in its original meaning and later interpretation. (Not at oxford.academia.edu)
1974. 'Ethical Standards in World Religions: III. Buddhism', The Expository Times, 85(4), pp. 100-104: a brief but excellent overview of Buddhist ethics.
1996. 'Good or Skilful? Kusala in Canon and Commentary', Journal of Buddhist Ethics, 3, pp. 136-64: http://blogs.dickinson.edu/buddhistethics/files/2010/04/cousins12.pdf An exploration of the meanings of this term which is central to both Buddhist ethics and meditation.
1994. 'Therav?da Buddhism in England', in Buddhism into the Year 2000: International Conference Proceedings, (no named editor), Bangkok and Los Angeles, Dhammakaya Foundation, pp. 141-50: an overview of a topic that he was himself much involved in.
1984. Fifty-five entries in J.R. Hinnells, Penguin Dictionary of Religions, Harmondsworth (not at oxford.academia.edu). On Buddhism:'abhidhamma', '?laya-vijñ?na', 'anukamp?', 'bh?van?', 'bodhi-pakkhiya-dhamma', 'Buddhaghosa', 'Buddha image', 'Central Asian Buddhism', 'Dhammap?la', 'dihi', 'emptiness', 'kamma-h?na', 'lokuttara', 'nibb?na', 'Pali', 'p?ramit?', 'samatha', 'Sinhalese Buddhism', 'skilful means', 'South-East Asia, Buddhism in', 'nyat?v?da', 'suttanta', 'Therav?da', 'Vaibhika', 'vipassan?', 'Western Buddhism', 'Yog?c?ra'.On Indian philosophy:'Advaita Ved?nta', 'Advaitin cosmology', '?j?vaka', 'bhakti-yoga', 'Brahmas?tra', 'dar?ana', 'dhy?na-yoga', 'Gos?la', 'gu?a', 'ha?ha-yoga', 'karma-yoga', 'jñ?na-yoga', 'l?l?', 'Lok?yata', 'm?y?', 'M?ms?', 'n?stika', 'Ny?ya', 'prak?ti', 'R?m?nuja', 'Skhya', 'sa?s?ra', '?a?kara', 'Vai?e?ika', 'Vaiava Ved?nta', 'Ved?nta', 'yoga', 'Yoga-dar?ana'. (All retained in: John R. Hinnells, A New Dictionary of Religions, Blackwell, 1995.)
1984. 'Buddhism in Handbook of Living Religions, ed. J.R. Hinnells, Harmondsworth, Penguin, New York, Viking, 1984, pp. 273-343. An expanded version of this is in A New Handbook of Living Religions, ed. J.R. Hinnells, Oxford, Blackwell, 1997, pp. 369-444: perhaps the best concise overview of Buddhism. (Not at oxford.academia.edu).
1995. 'Introduction', in Ven. B. ?nandamaitreya Mah?n?yakathera, Nine Special Qualities of the Buddha & Other Essays, London, World Buddhist Foundation, pp. i-ix. (Not at oxford.academia.edu).
1998. 'Buddha' and 'Nirva', in Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Chief Editor Edward Craig (Not at oxford.academia.edu, but at:
2018. 'Cetiya and Th?pa: the Textual Sources', chapter 2 in Relics and Relic Worship in the Early Buddhism: India, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Burma, edited by Janice Stargardt and Michael Willis. 18-30. London: British Museum Publications
1972. 'Annotated Bibliography of Mysticism'in Community Relations Commission, Education for a Multi-Cultural Society III, 1972, pp. 80-83. (Not at oxford.academia.edu).
1989. 'The Stages of Christian Mysticism and Buddhist Purification: Interior Castle of St Theresa of Avila and the Path of Purification of Buddhaghosa', in The Yogi and the Mystic: Studies in Indian and Comparative Mysticism, ed. Karel Werner, London, Curzon, pp. 103-20: traces similarities of experience through differences of language and culture.
Of his 45 book reviews, those available from oxford.academia.edu are of these books (dates are of the reviews, not the books):
1974. B.C. Olschak, Mystic Art of Ancient Tibet, reviewed in The Expository Times 85, p. 286.
1976. Lynn de Silva, The Problem of the Self in Buddhism and Christianity, reviewed in The Expository Times 87, p. 92
1976. R. Puligandla, Fundamentals of Indian Philosophy, reviewed in The Expository Times, 87, p.349.
1976. Oscar Shaftel, An Understanding of the Buddha, reviewed in The Journal of Asian Studies, 36 (1), pp. 120-21.
1978. Irmgard Schloegel, The Zen Way, G. Parrinder, Wisdom of the Early Buddhists, and Ernest Wood, Zen Dictionary, reviewed in The Expository Times, 89, p. 154
2001. Carol S. Anderson, Pain and its Ending: The Four Noble Truths in the Therav?da Buddhist Canon, reviewed in Journal of Buddhist Ethics, 8, pp. 36-41: http://blogs.dickinson.edu/buddhistethics/files/2010/04/cousins0111.pdf
Other reviews of his include ones of:
1972. H. Saddhatissa, The Buddha's Way, reviewed in Religion, 2.
1974. Melford E. Spiro, Buddhism and Society: A Great Tradition and its Burmese Vicissitudes, reviewed in Religion 4.
1974. S.M. Stern and Sofie Walzer, Three Unknown Buddhist Stories in an Arabic Version, reviewed in Journal of Semitic Studies 19.
1976. Tenzin Gyatso, the XIVth Dalai Lama, The Buddhism of Tibet and the Key to the Middle Way, reviewed in The Expository Times 87.
1976. N?g?rjuna, The Precious Garland and the Song of the Four Mindfulnesses, reviewed in The Expository Times 87.
1979. The Open University, 'Man's Religious Quest: The Noble Path of Buddhism, reviewed in Religion 9(1), pp. 125-27.
1979. Hee-Jin Kim, D?gen Kigen: Mystical Realist, reviewed in Religion 9(2).
1980. Joseph Head and S. L. Cranston, Reincarnation: The Phoenix Fire Mystery, reviewed in Religion 10(2), pp. 224-25.
1980. Giuseppe Tucci, Religions of Tibet, translated by Geoffrey Samuel, reviewed in The Tablet.
1980. Amaury de Riencourt, The Eye of Shiva, reviewed in The Tablet.
1980. Confucius, The Analects, translated by D.C. Lau, reviewed in The Tablet.
1981. Fumimaro Watanabe, Philosophy and its Development in the Nik?yas and Abhidhamma, reviewed in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 48(1), p. 156.
1982. Winston L.King. Therav?da Meditation: The Buddhist Transformation of Yoga, reviewed in Religion 10(2), pp. 185-86.
1985. Bhikkhu Ñamoli, The Path of Discrimination, reviewed in Indo-Iranian Journal, 28.
1985. C.E. Godakumbura & U Tin Lwin, Catalogue of Cambodian & Burmese Pali manuscripts, reviewed in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 48(3), pp.620-21.
1985. K.R. Norman translation, with alternative translations by I.B.Horner and Walpola R?hula, The Group of Discourses (Sutta-nip?ta) Vol.I., reviewed in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 117(2), pp. 219-20:
1987. Sangharakshita, The Eternal Legacy, reviewed in Studies in Comparative Religion, 19.
1987. Peter Masefield, Divine Revelation in Pali Buddhism, reviewed in Studies in Comparative Religion, 19.
1988. Paul J. Griffiths, On Being Mindless: Buddhist Meditation and the Mind-body Problem, reviewed in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 51(3), pp. 579-80.
1989. S.R. Goyal, A History of Indian Buddhism, reviewed in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 121(1), pp. 168-69.
1992. David Seyfort Ruegg, Buddha-nature, Mind and the Problem of Gradualism, reviewed in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 55(2), pp. 347-48.
1994. John S. Strong, The Legend and Cult of Upagupta, reviewed in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 4(1), pp. 114-15.
1994. K.R. Norman, The Group of Discourses, Vol. II, reviewed in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 4(2), pp. 291-92.
1994. Hirakawa Akira, A History of Indian Buddhism, reviewed in Religion 24.
1994. Uma Cakravarti, The Social Dimensions of Early Buddhism, reviewed in Religion 24.
1994. Damien Keown, The Nature of Buddhist Ethics, reviewed in Religious Studies, 30(2), pp. 252-54.
1995. David Seyfort Ruegg, Earliest Buddhism and Madhyamaka, reviewed in Indo-Iranian Journal, 38.
1995. Reginald Ray, Buddhist Saints in India, reviewed in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 59(1), pp. 172-73.
1996. Peter Masefield, The Ud?na Commentary, Vols 1 and 2, reviewed in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 59(1), pp. 580-81.
1997. Oskar von Hinüber, A Handbook of P?li Literature, reviewed in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 61(1), pp. 155-56.
1999. Richard Gombrich, How Buddhism Began: The Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings, reviewed in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 62(2), pp. 372-73.
2001. Bart Dessein, Sa?yukt?bhidharmah?daya. The Heart of Scholasticism, reviewed in Middle Way 76(2): pp.119-22.
2000. Steven Collins, Nirvana and other Buddhist Felicities, reviewed in Buddhist Studies Review, 17(2), pp.236-39. (Downloadable from https://ukabs.org.uk/buddhist-studies-review-vols-1-22/ )
2002. Padmanabh S. Jaini, Collected Papers on Buddhist Studies, reviewed in Nagoya Studies in Indian Culture and Buddhism, 22, pp.244-45.
2006. An?layo, Satipah?na: The Direct Path to Realization, reviewed in Buddhist Studies Review, 23(1), pp.130-34.
2011. Richard Saloman (with Andrew Glass), Two G?ndh?r? Manuscripts of the Songs of Lake Anavatapta (Anavatapta-g?th?), reviewed in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 74(3), pp. 494-96.
2013. Primoz Pecenko, A?guttaranik?yapurak?, reviewed in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 76(3), pp. 527-28.