The ICBI seeks to bring together the international community around the subject of Chinese Ch'an Buddhism - and its many strands of development that have spread across the world - often into very different cultural milieus, historical epochs and socio-economic categories! China is the historical and cultural epicentre of this type of Buddhism (which is a form of Indian Buddhism integrated with Confucian and Daoist influences), and due to politics, world history and different views of the destiny of humanity - the 'disconnect' between the academia of China and the West must be a) acknowledged and b) striven to be over-come.
In the very interesting Conference on Ch'an Buddhism translated above - no Western scholars attended even though many were invited with all-expenses paid trips and free accommodation provided, etc. This did not stop the Conference from going ahead - as the work of Western scholars was discussed in their absence. A major achievement of this Conference can be seen in the fact that Mainland Chinese scholars sat in the same room as Japanese and Taiwanese scholars and a civilised and highly beneficial debate unfolded.
Chinese Ch'an Buddhism never died-put in China (a common myth that still circulates like Halley's Comet), and is thriving today! Furthermore, Chinese Ch'an is a 'living-tradition' that has spread throughout the world and into many different places! I have made the point that suitably qualified Indian scholars need to do more in 'proving' the existence of 'Dhyana' Buddhism within South India - and isolate the strand of this Buddhism that Bodhidharma brought to China. This development would move the debate forward and counter the assumption that Ch'an is a purely Chinese invention that possesses no Indian roots.
Peace in the Dharma