Urs App

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Urs App, born August 10, 1949 in Rorschach (Switzerland)

Urs App (born 1949 in Rorschach, Switzerland) is a historian of ideas, religions, and philosophies with a special interest in the history and modes of interaction between East and West.


Urs App was born in 1949 in Rorschach on the Swiss shore of the Lake of Constance and studied in Freiburg, Kyoto and Philadelphia psychology, philosophy and religious studies. In 1989 he obtained a Ph.D. in Religious Studies (Chinese Buddhism) from Temple University in Philadelphia.[1] From 1989 to 1999 he was full professor of Buddhism at Hanazono University[2] in Kyoto and Associate Director of the International Research Institute for Zen Buddhism[3] at Hanazono University (Director Seizan YANAGIDA[4]). He has since devoted himself to writing books and producing documentaries while engaging in research at various academic institutions in Asia and Europe, most recently at the Research Institute for Zen Culture[5] (Zenbunka kenkyujo, Kyoto; 2005–2007), the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF;[6] 2007–2010), the Scuola Italiana di Studi sull'Asia Orientale[7] (Italian School of East Asian Studies [Wikidata], ISEAS; 2010-2011), and the École Française d'Extrême-Orient (2012-).

Focuses of research are Buddhist studies (especially Zen Buddhism), the history of orientalism, the history of the European discovery of Asian religions, the history of philosophy in East and West (in particular also Schopenhauer's reception of Asian religions and philosophies), and the exchange of ideas between Asia and the West.


  • Zen Meister Yunmen. Leben und Lehre des letzten Giganten der Zen-Klassik. Wil: UniversityMedia, 2018 (ISBN 978-3-906000-29-9)
  • Zen Master Yunmen. His Life and Essential Sayings. Boulder: Shambhala, 2018 (ISBN 978-1-61180-559-8)
  • Michel-Jean-François Ozeray and Urs App.The First Western Book on Buddhism and Buddha. Wil: UniversityMedia, 2017 (ISBN 978-3-906000-27-5)
  • Schopenhauer's Compass. An Introduction to Schopenhauer's Philosophy and its Origins. Wil: UniversityMedia, 2014 (ISBN 978-3-906000-03-9)
  • The Cult of Emptiness. The Western Discovery of Buddhist Thought and the Invention of Oriental Philosophy. Rorschach / Kyoto: UniversityMedia, 2012 (ISBN 978-3-906000-09-1). (Listed among the best Buddhist books of 2012 by the Buddhadharma journal)[8]
  • Schopenhauers Kompass. Die Geburt einer Philosophie. Rorschach / Kyoto: UniversityMedia, 2011 (ISBN 978-3-906000-08-4 [hardcover] and ISBN 978-3-906000-02-2 [paperback])
  • Richard Wagner and Buddhism. Rorschach / Kyoto: UniversityMedia, 2011 (ISBN 978-3-906000-00-8)
  • The Birth of Orientalism. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010 (ISBN 978-0-8122-4261-4)[9] (Winner of the 2012 book prize of the French Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres)[10]
  • Arthur Schopenhauer and China. Sino-Platonic Papers Nr. 200 (April 2010) (8,7 Mb PDF, 172 p.)
  • William Jones's Ancient Theology. Sino-Platonic Papers Nr. 191 (September 2009) (3.7 Mb PDF, 125 p.)
  • Over twenty volumes of concordances of Chinese Zen texts.[11]
  • Richard Wagner und der Buddhismus: Liebe – Tragik. Zürich: Museum Rietberg, 1997. New, enlarged edition: Rorschach / Kyoto: UniversityMedia, 2011 (ISBN 978-3-906000-10-7)
  • Zen-Worte vom Wolkentor-Berg. Darlegungen und Gespräche des Zen-Meisters Yunmen Wenyan (864–949). Bern / München: Barth, 1994 (ISBN 3-502-64640-6)
  • Master Yunmen. New York: Kodansha International, 1994. (ISBN 1-56836-004-5).
  • Facets of the Life and Teaching of Chan Master Yunmen Wenyan (864-949). Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International, 342 pp. (Ph.D. dissertation, Temple University, 1989)

Documentary films[edit]

  • Sengai. 11-minute documentary film for the exhibition of works by the Japanese Zen master and painter Sengai at the Rietberg Museum, Zürich, Switzerland (2014).[12]
  • Der Teebesen. 20-minute documentary film for the Japanese Bamboo objects exhibition in the Ethnographic Museum[13] of the University of Zurich, Switzerland (2003),[14] at the Ethnological Museum Munich (Völkerkundemuseum München, 2006), and at the Trinkkultur - Kultgetränk exhibition at the Völkerkundemuseum of Zurich University, 20 June 2014 - 21 June 2015[15] (in collaboration with Monica Esposito).
  • On the Way to Tōhaku's Pine Forest. 20-minute documentary film for the Hasegawa Tōhaku art exhibition (2002) at the Rietberg Museum,[16] Zürich (in collaboration with Monica Esposito)
  • Dangki – Les chamanes de la Chine. 51-minute documentary shown in 2001 on France 2 (in collaboration with Monica Esposito).
  • Oracles in China. 11-minute documentary shown at the Oracle exhibition 2000 at the Rietberg Museum, Zürich (in collaboration with Monica Esposito).
  • Oracles in Japan. 10—minute documentary shown at the Oracle exhibition 2000 at the Rietberg Museum, Zürich (in collaboration with Monica Esposito).
  • Dangki: Chinese Oracle Kids. 12-minute documentary shown at the Oracle exhibition 2000 at the Rietberg Museum, Zürich (in collaboration with Monica Esposito).


ZenBaseCD1 (1995)

Selection of papers[edit]


  1. ^ http://en.scientificcommons.org/44529217
  2. ^ http://www.hanazono.ac.jp/english/
  3. ^ http://iriz.hanazono.ac.jp/index.en.html
  4. ^ de:Yanagida Seizan
  5. ^ http://www.zenbunka.or.jp/
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-01. Retrieved 2010-11-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Centres - - ECAF". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03.
  8. ^ http://www.thebuddhadharma.com/web-archive/2012/12/19/the-best-buddhist-books-of-2012-selections-from-the-review-e.html
  9. ^ http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/14776.html
  10. ^ http://www.aibl.fr/seances-et-manifestations/coupoles-312/coupole-2012/article/palmares-2012?lang=fr
  11. ^ See http://www.worldcat.org/identities/lccn-nr93-48791
  12. ^ https://www.journal21.ch/sengai-ein-meister-der-alle-meisterschaft-hinter-sich-gelassen-hat
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-05-31. Retrieved 2017-04-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ See UniJournal-Die Zeitung der Universität Zürich, No. 2/03, March 31, 2003, p. 16.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-02-16. Retrieved 2015-03-02.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ Museum Rietberg
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2010-10-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ See "Buddhist Studies in the Digital Age", Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal No. 13 (2000), pp. 486-487.
  19. ^ http://iriz.hanazono.ac.jp/frame/book_f6a.en.html
  20. ^ http://www.kanji.zinbun.kyoto-u.ac.jp/~wittern/mirrors/iriz/irizhtml/zenbase/zentexte.htm.
  21. ^ See review in the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 23/1-2 (Spring 1996), pp. 214-5.
  22. ^ http://indologica.de/drupal/?q=node/513
  23. ^ http://www.ub.uni-frankfurt.de/publikationen/schopenhauer.html

External links[edit]