Hegel inverted the Tantric Buddhist, Bönpo and Stoic view of human spiritual and social evolution by presenting it as a progressive perfecting rather than as a progressive degeneration impelled by the gradual development of the basic human delusion called avidya (unawareness). Since he cancelled the crucial map /territory distinction, he had to explain change in nature as the negation of the immediately preceding state, and since he wanted spiritual and social evolution to be a process of perfecting, he had (...) to invent a negation that, rather than canceling former negations, or incorporating them and thus increasing fragmentation and delusion, incorporated them and thereby produced an increase of wholeness and truth: the Aufhebung or sublation, not found in any existing process—whether logical or in phenomenological—and existing only in Hegel’s imagination. The only existing negation that incorporates the preceding negation, rather than canceling or annulling it (as logical negation does), is the phenomenological negation occurring in Sartre’s bad faith, which Laing illustrated with a “spiral of pretenses,” and Hegel’s sublation is a misrepresentation of this phenomenological negation that he fancied to make his inverted view of spiritual, social and political evolution possible. In the Tantric Buddhist, Bönpo and Stoic view what increases is fragmentation and delusion. When these reach their logical extreme,they achieve their reductio ad absurdum in ecological crisis. (shrink)
_Making Sense of Tantric Buddhism_ fundamentally rethinks the nature of the transgressive theories and practices of the Buddhist Tantric traditions, challenging the notion that the Tantras were "marginal" or primitive and situating them instead -- both ideologically and institutionally -- within larger trends in mainstream Buddhist and Indian culture. Critically surveying prior scholarship, Wedemeyer exposes the fallacies of attributing Tantric transgression to either the passions of lusty monks, primitive tribal rites, or slavish imitation of Saiva traditions. Through (...) comparative analysis of modern historical narratives -- that depict Tantrism as a degenerate form of Buddhism, a primal religious undercurrent, or medieval ritualism -- he likewise demonstrates these to be stock patterns in the European historical imagination. Through close analysis of primary sources, Wedemeyer reveals the lived world of TantricBuddhism as largely continuous with the Indian religious mainstream and deploys contemporary methods of semiotic and structural analysis to make sense of its seemingly repellent and immoral injunctions. Innovative, semiological readings of the influential _Guhyasamaja Tantra_ underscore the text's overriding concern with purity, pollution, and transcendent insight -- issues shared by all Indic religions -- and a large-scale, quantitative study of Tantric literature shows its radical antinomianism to be a highly managed ritual observance restricted to a sacerdotal elite. These insights into Tantric scripture and ritual clarify the continuities between South Asian Tantrism and broader currents in Indian religion, illustrating how thoroughly these "radical" communities were integrated into the intellectual, institutional, and social structures of South Asian Buddhism. (shrink)
Innovative readings of the "Guhyasamaja Tantra" underscore the text's overriding concern with purity, pollution, and transcendent insight and a large-scale, quantitative study of Tantric literature shows its radical antinomianism to be a ...
Yoga came to Tibet from India more than a thousand years ago, and it was quickly absorbed into the culture's rich traditions. In this small book readers will discover Heart Yoga, which developed over the centuries in the Gelukpa tradition of the Dalai Lamas. The program presented here combines popular yoga exercises wtih special Tibetan poses, and methods of working from the inside to give a healthy and a happy heart. Roach discovered a number of previously unknown Tibetan works on (...) yoga in the course of his ongoing efforts to find and preserve ancient Tibetan Buddhist texts. He discusses the ideas and insights presented in these texts and places them within the context of the Buddhist tradition. To help readers incorporate this ancient wisdom in their daily lives, he provides a specific regime of yoga postures and meditations. Combining instructive illustrations with the unique philosophical underpinnings of the Buddhist approach, Geshe Roach has created a unique program for yoga on a physical and spiritual level. (shrink)
... Introduction to Buddhist Tantra Tantra forms the esoteric basis of all major religions. It stands for the awakening of dormant divinity. It is a mystic technique to invoke the spirituality of man and woman.
The Mahāyāna Buddhist term dhāraṇī has been understood to be problematic since the mid-nineteenth century, when it was often translated as “magical phrase” or “magical formula” and was considered to be emblematic of tantricBuddhism. The situation improved in contributions by Bernhard, Lamotte and Braarvig, and the latter two suggested the translation be “memory,” but this remained difficult in many environments. This paper argues that dhāraṇī is a function term denoting “codes/coding,” so that the category dhāraṇī is polysemic (...) and context-sensitive. After reviewing Western scholarship, the article discusses dhāraṇī semantic values and issues of synonymy, the early applications of mantras, the sonic/graphic background of coding in India extended into Buddhist applications, and the soteriological ideology of dhāraṇīs along with some of its many varieties. (shrink)
This chapter explicates the philosophy of the body of sixth-century Buddhist thinker Kūkai. Kūkai brings together what initially seem to be opposing concepts: body and emptiness. He does this in the context of formulating a system of cosmology inseparable from religious practice. We interact with the rest of the cosmos through our body. Kūkai characterizes the cosmos in turn as the body of the Buddha, who personifies the embodiment of the dharma. This cosmic body is comprised of myriad bodies through (...) their interactivities, in which we ourselves partake. The interdependence obtains both horizontally (among microcosmic bodies) and vertically (between macrocosm and microcosm). But this interdependent nature of bodies also means emptiness. All bodies are empty of substantiality. Enlightenment is to realize this emptiness of all. An additional factor is language because Kūkai conceives the body as the linguistic medium for communicating that dharma of emptiness. (shrink)
This is a major anthropological study of contemporary Tibetan Buddhist monasticism and tantric ritual in the Ladakh region of North-West India and of the role of tantric ritual in the formation and maintenance of traditional forms of state structure and political consciousness in Tibet. Containing detailed descriptions and analyses of monastic ritual, the work builds up a picture of Tibetan tantric traditions as they interact with more localised understandings of bodily identity and territorial cosmology, to produce a (...) substantial re-interpretation of the place of monks as ritual performers and peripheral householders in Ladakh. The work also examines the central and indispensable role of incarnate lamas, such as the Dalai Lama, in the religious life of Tibetan Buddhists. (shrink)
The rich and interconnected universe of Śākya Mchog Ldan’s views, including those on the buddha-essence, cannot be limited to or summarized in a few neat categories. Nevertheless, the following two interrelated ideas are crucial for understanding Śākya Mchog Ldan’s interpretation of the buddha-essence: 1) only Mahāyāna āryas (’phags pa) have the buddha-essence characterized by the purity from adventitious stains (glo bur rnam dag).
For Vajrayana Buddhism, the now is an interval, a boundary, a point of tension and suspension with an atmosphere of uncertainty. It is a bifurcation point of variable length; its name is “bardo.” The bardo is immersed in the conventional, or “seeming” reality. It emerges from what is called the “unstained” ultimate or primordial emptiness or “basal clear light.” Further, the ultimate is not the sphere of cognition. Cognition, including cognition of time, belongs to conventional reality. Buddhahood, in contrast, (...) is a condition of uncompounded knowledge where basic mind blossoms without temporal or other cognitive distinctions, unmade, unfabricated, luminous and pristine. Cyclical existence involves both the ultimate and the conventional as it moves through six bardos—all of which are the effulgent of the basal clear light—until Buddhahood. The six are: the bardo of this life ; the bardo of dream; the bardo of meditation; the bardo of dying; the bardo of dharmata ; and the bardo of existence. Each realm is both ultimate and conventional, and has specific initiation-based yogas to investigate these differences. The process of transition from one to the next involves at least three bodies, one mind, and aspects of speech. In each bardo, the character of the now as embodiment and temporal knowing varies yet a complete and consistent cross-bardo yogic wisdom leads to its total cessation in the basal clear light; the now is extinguished. The author presents, from the viewpoint of a knowledgeable practitioner of over 30 years, an essay on Vajrayana Buddhist time, drawing implications for Fraser’s time typology. The essay will draw from English translations of significant older, tantric texts on dream yoga, deity yoga, the Chod, tantric time, the bardo of death, and empowerment. Useful practices that can be applied by the audience to test the tradition and author’s assertions will be suggested. (shrink)
This article provides a philosophical overview of some of the central Buddhist positions and argument regarding animal welfare. It introduces the Buddha's teaching of ahiṃsā or non-violence and rationally reconstructs five arguments from the context of early Indian Buddhism that aim to justify its extension to animals. These arguments appeal to the capacity and desire not to suffer, the virtue of compassion, as well as Buddhist views on the nature of self, karma, and reincarnation. This article also considers how (...) versions of these arguments have been applied to address a practical issue in Buddhist ethics; whether Buddhists should be vegetarian. (shrink)
The "hard problem" of today's consciousness studies is subjective experience: understanding why some brain processing is accompanied by an experienced inner life. Recent scientific advances offer insights for understanding the physiological and chemical phenomenology of consciousness. But by leaving aside the internal experiential nature of consciousness in favor of mapping neural activity, such science leaves many questions unanswered. In Ontology of Consciousness, scholars from a range of disciplines -- from neurophysiology to parapsychology, from mathematics to anthropology and indigenous non-Western modes (...) of thought -- go beyond these limits of current neuroscience research to explore insights offered by other intellectual approaches to consciousness. These scholars focus their attention on such philosophical approaches to consciousness as Tibetan TantricBuddhism, North American Indian insights, pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilization, and the Byzantine Empire. Some draw on artifacts and ethnographic data to make their point. Others translate cultural concepts of consciousness into modern scientific language using models and mathematical mappings. Many consider individual experiences of sentience and existence, as seen in African communalism, Hindi psychology, Zen Buddhism, Indian vibhuti phenomena, existentialism, philosophical realism, and modern psychiatry. Some reveal current views and conundrums in neurobiology to comprehend sentient intellection. Contributors: Karim Akerma, Matthijs Cornelissen, Antoine Courban, Mario Crocco, Christian de Quincey, Thomas B. Fowler, Erlendur Haraldsson, David. J. Hufford, Pavel B. Ivanov, Heinz Kimmerle, Stanley Krippner, Armand J. Labbé, James Maffie, Hubert Markl, Graham Parkes, Michael Polemis, E Richard Sorenson, Mircea Steriade, Thomas Szasz, Mariela Szirko, Robert A.F. Thurman, Edith L.B. Turner, Julia Watkin, Helmut Wautischer. (shrink)
Rudyard Kipling, the famous english author of « The Jungle Book », born in India, wrote one day these words: « Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet ». In my paper I show that Kipling was not completely right. I try to show the common ground between buddhist philosophy and quantum physics. There is a surprising parallelism between the philosophical concept of reality articulated by Nagarjuna and the physical concept of reality implied (...) by quantum physics. For neither is there a fundamental core to reality, rather reality consists of systems of interacting objects. Such concepts of reality cannot be reconciled with the substantial, subjective, holistic or instrumentalistic concepts of reality which underlie modern modes of thought. (shrink)
After distinguishing between a metaphysical and a contemplative strategy interpretation of the no-self doctrine, I argue that the latter allows for the illumination of significant and under-discussed Kantian affinities with Buddhist views of the self and moral psychology. Unlike its metaphysical counterpart, the contemplative strategy interpretation, understands the doctrine of no-self as a technique of perception, undertaken from the practical standpoint of action. I argue that if we think of the contemplative strategy version of the no-self doctrine as a process (...) engaged in, in order to free oneself from delusion and to see things more objectively in order to promote right action, then we find a clear parallel in Kant’s duty of self-knowledge which demands that we rid ourselves of deluded moral self-descriptions. While in Buddhism the aim is a selflessness that liberates one from suffering, for Kant the aim is an agency free of the conceit that interferes with clear moral vision, sound judgement, and dutiful action. I conclude by responding to objections advanced by Charles Goodman which aim to show that the Kantian position is deeply at odds with Buddhist thinking, arguing that neither Kantian agency nor Kantian self-legislation is undermined by the doctrine of no-self. (shrink)
Is there a ‘common element’ in Buddhist ethical thought from which one might rationally reconstruct a Buddhist normative ethical theory? While many agree that there is such an element, there is disagreement about whether it is best reconstructed in terms that approximate consequentialism or virtue ethics. This paper will argue that two distinct evaluative relations underlie these distinct positions; an instrumental and constitutive analysis. It will raise some difficulties for linking these distinct analyses to particular normative ethical theories but will (...) give reasons to think that both analyses may be justified. It will close with some reflections on the complexity involved in trying to establish a single and homogeneous position on the nature of Buddhist ethics. (shrink)
As a specific domain of inquiry, “ Buddhist epistemology” stands primarily for the dialogical-disputational context in which Buddhists advance their empirical claims to knowledge and articulate the principles of reason on the basis of which such claims may be defended. The main questions pursued in this article concern the tension between the notion that knowledge is ultimately a matter of direct experience---which the Buddhist considers as more normative than other, more indirect, modes of knowing---and the largely discursive and argumentative ways (...) in which such experiential claims are advanced. (shrink)
In this article, I defend Buddhism from Paul Waldau’s charge of speciesism. I argue that Waldau attributes to Buddhism various notions that it does not necessarily have, such as the ideas that beings are morally considerable if they possess certain traits, and that humans, as morally considerable beings, ought never to be treated as means. These ideas may not belong in Buddhism, and for Waldau’s argument to work, he needs to show that they do. Moreover, a closer (...) look at his case reveals a more significant problem for ecologically minded Buddhists—namely that the Pāli texts do not seem to attribute intrinsic value to any form of life at all, regardless of species. Thus, I conclude that rather than relying on Western concepts, it may be preferable to look for a discourse from within the tradition itself to explain why Buddhists ought to be concerned about the natural world. (shrink)
In this clear, concise account, Siderits makes the Buddhist tradition accessible to a Western audience, offering generous selections from the canonical Buddhist texts and providing an engaging, analytical introduction to the basic tenets of Buddhist thought.
This volume collects Jay Garfield 's essays on Madhyamaka, Yogacara, Buddhist ethics and cross-cultural hermeneutics. The first part addresses Madhyamaka, supplementing Garfield 's translation of Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way, a foundational philosophical text by the Buddhist saint Nagarjuna. Garfield then considers the work of philosophical rivals, and sheds important light on the relation of Nagarjuna's views to other Buddhist and non-Buddhist philosophical positions.
What turns the continuous flow of experience into perceptually distinct objects? Can our verbal descriptions unambiguously capture what it is like to see, hear, or feel? How might we reason about the testimony that perception alone discloses? Christian Coseru proposes a rigorous and highly original way to answer these questions by developing a framework for understanding perception as a mode of apprehension that is intentionally constituted, pragmatically oriented, and causally effective. By engaging with recent discussions in phenomenology and analytic philosophy (...) of mind, but also by drawing on the work of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty, Coseru offers a sustained argument that Buddhist philosophers, in particular those who follow the tradition of inquiry initiated by Dign?ga and Dharmak?rti, have much to offer when it comes to explaining why epistemological disputes about the evidential role of perceptual experience cannot satisfactorily be resolved without taking into account the structure of our cognitive awareness. -/- Perceiving Reality examines the function of perception and its relation to attention, language, and discursive thought, and provides new ways of conceptualizing the Buddhist defense of the reflexivity thesis of consciousness-namely, that each cognitive event is to be understood as involving a pre-reflective implicit awareness of its own occurrence. Coseru advances an innovative approach to Buddhist philosophy of mind in the form of phenomenological naturalism, and moves beyond comparative approaches to philosophy by emphasizing the continuity of concerns between Buddhist and Western philosophical accounts of the nature of perceptual content and the character of perceptual consciousness. (shrink)
I discuss an interpretation, recently proposed by Mark Siderits, of the claim that within the Buddhist tradition the self is a convenient fiction. I subsequently propose a novel approach to fictionalism in contemporary metaphysics, outline an application of such an approach to the case of the self and then specify one version of fictionalism combined with some basic tenets of Buddhism.
In recent decades, several attempts have been made to characterize Buddhism as a systematically unified and consistent normative ethical theory. This has given rise to a growing interest in meta-ethical questions. Meta-ethics can be broadly or narrowly defined. Defined broadly, it is a domain of inquiry concerned with the nature and status of the fundamental or framing presuppositions of normative ethical theories, where this includes the cognitive and epistemic requirements of presupposed conceptions of ethical agency.1 Defined narrowly, it concerns (...) the justificatory status of fundamental moral claims or judgments, i.e., claims or judgments of the form ‘x is good, right, virtuous’ and ‘x is bad, wrong, vicious.’.. (shrink)
This article explores the defense Indian Buddhist texts make in support of their conceptions of lives that are good for an individual. This defense occurs, largely, through their analysis of ordinary experience as being saturated by subtle forms of suffering . I begin by explicating the most influential of the Buddhist taxonomies of suffering: the threefold division into explicit suffering , the suffering of change , and conditioned suffering . Next, I sketch the three theories of welfare that have been (...) most influential in contemporary ethical theory. I then argue that Buddhist texts underdetermine which of these theories would have been accepted by ancient Indian Buddhists. Nevertheless, Buddhist ideas about suffering narrow the shape any acceptable theory of welfare may take. In my conclusion, I argue that this narrowing process itself is enough to reconstruct a philosophical defense of the forms of life endorsed in Buddhist texts. (shrink)
We find the claim that time is not real in both western and eastern philosophical traditions. In what follows I will call the view that time does not exist temporal error theory. Temporal error theory was made famous in western analytic philosophy in the early 1900s by John McTaggart (1908) and, in much the same tradition, temporal error theory was subsequently defended by Gödel (1949). The idea that time is not real, however, stretches back much further than that. It is (...) common to hear it said that according to Buddhist philosophy (as though that were a monolithic view) time is illusory. While it is not true that, in general, either contemporary or ancient Buddhist scholars have thought time to be illusory, there are certainly some schools of Buddhist thought, such as that of traditional Dzogchen practitioners, according to which there is no time. This paper is an attempt to set out a taxonomy of different views about what it takes for there to be time and, alongside that, a taxonomy of views about whether there is time or not, and if there is time what it is like. (shrink)