Volker Helmut Manfred Zotz was born on October 28, 1956 in Landau, Palatinate, Germany. His parents are Helmut Zotz and Ines (Aehle) Zotz. During his studies and early career, Zotz was living in Vienna, Austria. For ten years, from 1989 to 1999, he stayed in Japan where he held several academic positions. Later, he spent years in Luxembourg and India as a university teacher and researcher. Volker Zotz is generally regarded as one of the leading experts on Buddhism and Confucianism. His special interest is in cross-cultural communication and the influence of cultural factors and differences on international development in a globalizing world. He spends his time equally between Europe and Asia.
From 1978 Zotz studied Buddhism under Ernst Steinkellner and philosophy under Kurt Rudolf Fischer at the University of Vienna. He conducted research and fieldwork in Nepal, India, and Afghanistan. In 1986 he received a Ph. D. from the University of Vienna for his doctoral thesis on the influence of Buddhism on German philosophy, literature and culture during the Fin de siècle.
Mehrdimensionale Ursachenforschung, Vienna, 1987-1992; Institute Buddhist Cultural Studies Ryukoku University, Kyoto, Japan, 1989-1990; Department of cultural history, University Applied Arts, Vienna, 1990-1991; Department of philosophy, University Vienna, 1991-1995; Institute Buddhist Cultural Studies Ryukoku University, Kyoto, 1994-1997; Visiting professor at Buddhist Comprehensive Research Institute, Otani University, 1997-1998; Director International Institute Buddhist Studies, Hong Kong and Kyoto, since 1998. Founder, Eurasischer Humanismus, Kyoto, 1995; Professor, University of Luxemburg, 1999.
He is the leader of the Buddhist order of the Arya Maitreya Mandala, founded in 1933 by Lama Anagarika Govinda.
Zotz has always been very interested in literature and literary theory. He contributed significantly to literary criticism.
Having lived for several years in India, Japan, France, Austria and the USA, Volker Zotz is connected with people all over the world who are active in his fields of study and share his interests.
Volker Zotz is married to the Austrian writer and anthropologist Birgit Hutter Zotz. The couple also collaborates closely on many projects. Birgit Hutter Zotz has published various books and articles on topics ranging from the culture of Buddhism to image-building in tourism, mysticism, and the oracle priests of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries.
friend and colleague:
Ainslie Meares, an unconventional Australian psychiatrist, placed meditation at the core of his therapeutic work. He held that meditation was most successful when pared to its quintessence, as simple tranquillity, rather than as a complicated contemplative procedure. Meares was influential on Zotz during his early career. Volker Zotz translated the Australian therapist’s works into German.
teacher and friend:
Lama Anagarika Govinda (1898-1985), Indian painter and poet of German origin, was an expositor of Buddhism and meditation of international renown. Volker Zotz was from his youth a major disciple of Lama Govinda, became his spiritual heir, and acts as Govinda’s literary executor.
Friend & colleague:
Ruth Milander Tabrah
Volker Zotz was a close friend of Ruth Tabrah. The American writer and novelist became famous for her social-critical novels, books on the Hawaiian Islands and Japanese history. Zotz wrote her biography in German: „Von Milltown via Sable Rapids nach Echigo. Leben und Werk der Ruth Tabrah.“ (Damaru # 35, 2004)
Teacher and colleague:
Takamaro Shigaraki is considered as one of the most important Japanese Buddhist scholars of the 20th century. He illuminated Buddhist philosophy from an existentialistic viewpoint and under the influence of Paul Tillich. Shigaraki and Zotz collaborated at Ryukoku University in Kyoto. Zotz translated Shigaraki’s works from Japanese into German.
Richard Anders was one of the rare post-war German lyricists to identify his poetry with André Breton’s surrealism. Anders, who lived in Berlin, is the author of numerous books of surrealist aphorisms and prose poems. Volker Zotz and Richard Anders are close friends and collaborators for many years.
novelist and art historian
José Pierre was one of the great authorities on Surrealism. He met André Breton 1952 and became his right-hand man. He assisted Breton in arranging the international exhibitions “Eros” (1959) and “L'Ecart Absolu” (1965). After the Breton’s death Pierre became a friend of Volker Zotz and wrote a preface to his biography of Breton.
Kosho Ohtani, former abbot of the Nishi Honganji temple in Kyoto, and Volker Zotz started in Vienna (Austria) a study centre for cross-cultural philosophy of religion, which is called Komyoji. Ohtani was a cousin of the late Emperor Hirohito. He served as the president of the Buddhist Federation of Japan.
Oscar Kiss Maerth
The British writer Oscar Kiss Maerth attempted to start a non-violent revolution against the supremacy of technology and wanted to overcome the struggle for material profit. While a he was a high school student, Volker Zotz became a friend of Kiss Maerth despite their differing views on many topics. Zotz did not agree with Kiss Maerth, but appreciated his eccentric perspective.
Peter Riedl, a prominent radiologist and professor of medicine at the University of Vienna, is the founder and publisher of “Ursache & Wirkung”, the leading journal on Buddhism in German language. Volker Zotz served as the journal’s editor-in-chief for several years.
Hisao Inagaki, Professor Emeritus in Kyoto, held offices for the International Association of Shin Buddhist Studies. He wrote numerous books, including “A Dictionary of Japanese Buddhist Terms“ and “A Glossary of Zen Terms“. He and Volker Zotz were colleagues at the Ryukoku University.
Karl-Heinz Ohlig is a German scholar of religious studies and theology. He was Dean of the faculty of Philosophy at Saarland University when Volker Zotz earned the habilitation, the highest academic qualification a scholar can achieve by his or her own pursuit in Germany.
Li Gotami Govinda was a famous Indian painter and Photographer. Li Gotami's husband, Lama Anagarika Govinda, was a teacher of Volker Zotz. Li Gotami and Zotz became friends, and Zotz was appointed the head of the Munich based foundation "Lama und Li Gotami Govinda Stiftung".
Teacher and colleague:
Kurt Rudolf Fischer
Kurt Rudolf Fischer was professor of philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Vienna. Fischer stayed for nine years in China. He was also an expert on Austrian philosophy, psychology and psychoanalysis. In the 1980s Fischer became the doctoral advisor of Volker Zotz.
Charles-Marie Ternes, an expert in ancient history and religious studies, has been very active in exploring the topic of the meaning of religion throughout history. Ternes edited “Symbolisme et expérience de la lumière dans les grandes religions“. He was a collaborator of Volker Zotz at the Centre Universitaire de Luxembourg.
Friederike Migneco writes essays and books in German, French and Italian, mainly on cultural, historical, ethical and religious topics. Together wit Volker Zotz she edited and published works of the Estonian-Russian mystic and hermetic philosopher Valentin Tomberg (1900-1973) Zotz and Migneco founded the publishing house "Kairos" in Luxemburg.
Gerhard Schwarz, Professor at Vienna and Klagenfurt Universities, is an international specialist for workplace psychological problems and conflict management. An expert in communication, Gerhard Schwarz is working in development and evaluation of methodical practice to encourage an effective resolution of conflicts. Volker Zotz and Gerhard Schwarz collaborated in the project "Mehrdimensionale Ursachenforschung."
Yamada Meiji (山田明爾), was a professor at Ryūkoku University in Kyoto, Japan. He has been an expert in the Gandhara region of the northwest of ancient India and in the Buddhist tradition of the “Pure Land”. Volker Zotz and Yamada Meiji were colleagues at Ryūkoku University during the 1990s.
Joseph Weizenbaum was a computer scientist and a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the 1950s, Weizenbaum worked on analogue computers and assisted to create a digital computer. Weizenbaum and Zotz were friends and conversational partners. Volker Zotz referred to a dialogue with Weizenbaum in his book "Konfuzius für den Westen".