Termas and Cultural Paradigms

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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby Huifeng » Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:33 am

There has been a continued implied sense in the use of the term "academic studies" (and related terms) throughout this thread to mean the study of history, the search for so-called historical facts. I would like to point out that this is only one possible line of academic approach, and definitely not the only one. While such searches for historical facts, including the search for the so-called "historical Buddha" were more popular in the latter 19th and early 20th centuries, they are not in vogue these days at all. Post modern approaches to such topics have shown so many problems that few scholars will touch these things, and those that do usually end up with a huge number of holes. (Having spent over a semester studying and teaching Nakamura's Gotama Buddha, it really is a methodological mess at times. Bechert et al's efforts to date the Buddha show a huge range of problems, too.) What was scholarship 50 years ago is still in vogue among a more popular level, and a kind of pseudo scholarship, however. A look at Part 2 of Hans Penner's recent Rediscovering the Buddha, for example, should be enough to point out many of the problems, and also shows that much of modern Buddhist studies academia is not working along the lines of history or searches for historical facts.

Ok, just my 2c.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Sat Jan 05, 2013 4:32 am

Huseng, my friend, I must assure you that I am not anti-intellectual in the slightest. And I have definitely come across the type of anti-intellectual person with "faith" and beliefs they can't handle being questioned. But I am not that sort of person. I think part of the fact is that I wasn't putting myself and my views clearly in context earlier. So lemme try to clarify.

I am strongly pro-intellectual in general--in fact I am a nursing student and up to my eyeballs, gladly, in evidence-based practice... and I'm specifically pro-intellectual in the case of most western people first exploring Buddhism and seeing what the teachings actually consist of (instead of some vaguely feel-good notion of what the Buddhist path is) and taking some time to test it out to see if it holds up to analysis and to their own observations, experiences, and conclusions. I am especially for this in the case of people considering and exploring Vajrayana. I think it's an excellent idea to study the foundational Buddhist texts, particularly the distillations of the main points re: aggregates, elements, and sense fields and the major mental afflictions and their derivatives, etc; and especially the distillations of the Prajnaparamita sutras such as the Madhyamakavatara and Mulamadhyamakarikas, and the main points of the Tathagatagarbha sutras like the Uttaratantra shastra; likewise for Buddhist logic, and so on. These are just some of the main things I personally think are important for most every beginning western Buddhist interested in the Tibetan Vajrayana tradition. Then, in terms of inner tantra ala Nyingma, you can't go wrong with shastras like Do Drupchen's Key to the Precious Treasury or Mipham's Essence of Clear Light, both on the Guyhagarbha tantra. And I fully support people studying Davidson and the like if they're moved to.

When I seemed to poo poo academic study of tantra, I didn't make it clear I was speaking from the POV of someone who has already done tons of research and studying and asked many, many, many questions of scholars and contemplated things and came to my own conclusions. I WAS that "doggedly curious and doubtful person" I mentioned in an earlier post and which you took to be a pejorative label. It wasn't--some of us are just that way and we need extra help coming to terms authentically with Vajrayana practice and squaring it with our intellects and their notions. That's not a judgmentally qualitative statement, only a matter of fact one. But now I've been practicing inner tantric creation stage for 12 yrs--not a long time by most accounts, and there are no impressive claims I can make about my practice, but I have practiced enough to have gotten into my own groove with practice. And I eventually came to realize that--within the realm of creation stage in Nyingma, which is intertwined with the view and practice of Dzogchen--a whole bunch of intellectual focus is beside the point in creation stage because the aim of practice isn't to build something up with the intellect, but to gradually rely less and less on the intellect and ease more into one's real condition, which is perfected and endowed with all qualities from the beginning. So it's not that this is anti-intellectual in the conventional foolish, threatened, self-conscious way we all too often see in the world today. Rather it's deeper than the intellect--it's about tapping into the unstained condition the intellect is a distortion of.

So, to restate briefly, I think intellectual study is excellent in the beginning and until one comes to grasp that the practice is more profound than intellectual data. At that latter point, if one wants to do analysis, the supreme analysis is along the lines of "who is visualizing this seed syllable and mantra mala?" and the like. That way one can go straight to the point.
Last edited by Pema Rigdzin on Sat Jan 05, 2013 4:54 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Sat Jan 05, 2013 4:42 am

Yudron wrote:... But, as a practitioner, the feeling state of being in a fortified palace--for those deities that have one--is simply evocative of a certain style of enlightenment. I feel the qualities of the deities mandala.. this is enlivening...

For Nyingmpas, the deity is rigpa, and we are resting in that. IMHO analyzing the historical under-pinnings of the imagery and so forth just leads to a splitting off in one's practice, contributing to the idea that these practices are far away Asian things. To me, the setting of these practices is my house, and my body, and there is no time.


:good:

Yudron, you've said in far fewer words what I was unable to clearly convey in several paragraphs! I'm thankful for that (as I'm sure everyone else is, too! :) )
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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby muni » Sat Jan 05, 2013 9:20 am

With respect, Huseng,

intellectualizing, analysing seems giving debates so often while those need no rejection at all!
There is taught; to remain intellectualizing when terma is 'given', is not exactly helpful. Since terma reveals nondual nature, keeping intellectualizing/conceptualizing is still believing natures' truth is to reveal by thoughts and so there is grasping to them.
Awakened nature is always "talk" from nature's clarity wisdom.
Without awakened nature/ Guru, mind remains keeping track of coming/going of thoughts, conditioned intellect.

But merely rejecting the navigation intellectual system is stupid.
All paths are to open our nature, there is no distinction at all in nature. Deep bowing for ALL.
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Re: Termas and Cultural Paradigms

Postby deepbluehum » Sun Jan 06, 2013 1:25 am

Huifeng wrote:There has been a continued implied sense in the use of the term "academic studies" (and related terms) throughout this thread to mean the study of history, the search for so-called historical facts. I would like to point out that this is only one possible line of academic approach, and definitely not the only one. While such searches for historical facts, including the search for the so-called "historical Buddha" were more popular in the latter 19th and early 20th centuries, they are not in vogue these days at all. Post modern approaches to such topics have shown so many problems that few scholars will touch these things, and those that do usually end up with a huge number of holes. (Having spent over a semester studying and teaching Nakamura's Gotama Buddha, it really is a methodological mess at times. Bechert et al's efforts to date the Buddha show a huge range of problems, too.) What was scholarship 50 years ago is still in vogue among a more popular level, and a kind of pseudo scholarship, however. A look at Part 2 of Hans Penner's recent Rediscovering the Buddha, for example, should be enough to point out many of the problems, and also shows that much of modern Buddhist studies academia is not working along the lines of history or searches for historical facts.

Ok, just my 2c.

~~ Huifeng


What is the current state of the art In Buddhist academia?
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