Posted by Tom Pepper on October 26, 2012
Take this Quiz and Find Out!!
No, I don’t mean are you Soto Zen or Thai Forest or Jodo Shinshu. I don’t even mean are you a “Bookstore Buddhist” a “Retreat Buddhist” or a “Secular Buddhist.”
The question I am interested in is: Are you the kind of Buddhist who can handle the truth?
Or, to be a bit more serious about it, what is your position with respect to what I like to call the Buddha Event? I mean “event” in the sense that Badiou uses the term: the emergence of a truth in human discourse or practice, the appearance of some truth which, although already true, was not recognized as true in the World. There are only ever truths, for Badiou, in the human World, never in nature—because it is only the humanly constructed World, the realm of ideology, of social structures and symbolic systems, that can ever exclude some truth from appearing; this cannot happen in nature, where what exists simply is. In the course of what is often referred to as the Axial Age, a number of truth events occurred, a number of truths appearing in the Worlds of various cultures. What I call the Buddha Event, then, is the appearance in India of one of the most important but elusive truths for the human species: the truth that there are two realms or levels or registers of reality, the mind-independent reality of the universe which is intransitive and exists completely indifferent to us, and the humanly produced reality which is transitive, open to change, and coterminous with humanity, but still possesses real causal powers—we can change our World, but we cannot change it on a whim, or in any way we might please, because it has a certain structural and causal influence over our actions.
I’ve discussed this “Buddha Event” in other essays on this blog. What I want to discuss briefly here are the kinds of subjects such a truth event tends to engender—and the Buddha event is no exception here. Badiou, in Logics of Worlds, offers a typology of the subject in terms of its relation to the appearance of a truth. The subject may be faithful, reactionary, or obscurantist. (The latter two are sometimes translated as “reactive” and “obscure,” but I prefer this translation because it emphasizes that the term names the function of the subject position, not its qualities.)
The faithful subject is the one that notices the truth event and tries to force its acceptance in the World. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Secularists, Traditionalists, True Believers | 53 Comments »
Posted by Glenn Wallis on October 13, 2011
All X-Buddhisms are incapable of genuinely conversing with the sciences and the humanities. They are, furthermore, unable to comprehend themselves. For both, we need Speculative non-Buddhism (or something like it). All Buddhism can ever achieve is a Narcissus-like self-referential iteration of its self-given image—as this or that X-Buddhism. For Buddhism must at all costs preserve its majestic omen pontificator: “The Dharma,” Architect of the Cosmic Vault and the Keeper of its Inventory. Only by feigning dialogue at the Feast of Knowledge can Buddhism preserve itself. This is fanged dialogue.
* * *
In this post, I want to continue articulating the procedures of Speculative non-Buddhism. Because my method can appear abstract, it may help if I use a concrete example to get some traction. To that end, I want to refer to a recent article by Rita Gross called “Buddhist History for Buddhist Practitioners” (links at bottom).
Rita Gross is an exemplary Buddhist studies and feminist scholar. She is also a senior teacher in Shambhala Buddhism. I am not critiquing her article point by point here. What I am doing is extracting the major premise and the major conclusion, and then analyzing these to illuminate Speculative non-Buddhist theorems. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Accommodationists, Constructivists, Speculative Non-Buddhist, Traditionalists, True Believers | Tagged: Buddhist teachers, Rita Gross | 43 Comments »
Posted by Glenn Wallis on August 26, 2011
Barry Magid is one of a handful of self-described Buddhist teachers whose work I unhesitantly recommend to others. I do so because of his clear-eyed assessment of, on one hand, the potential and limits of Buddhist practice and, on the other hand, the cunning machinations of us homo sapiens apes. As a result of the former, he courageously places Buddhism in dialogue with Kohutian psychoanalysis, invokes Wittgenstein on language, and solicits the views of contemporary poets and ancient skeptics alike. Because of the latter, he is able to perspicuously illuminate reflexive but unfruitful meditation strategies, such as the curative fantasy and the secret practice.
Barry Magid’s lucent, no-nonsense approach stems, I suspect, at least in part from his close association with Charlotte Beck, his teacher in the Ordinary Mind School of Soto Zen. (Magid received “dharma transmission” from Beck in 1999.) As Magid says of Beck in his recent memoriam to her: Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Traditionalists | Tagged: Barry Magid, Buddhist teachers, flinching, Zen | 37 Comments »
Posted by Glenn Wallis on May 6, 2011
Post-traditional Buddhism Compared to Non-Buddhism
In a question posed to him regarding his recent Buddhist Geeks podcast, Hokai Sobol talks about what he terms “post-traditional Buddhism.” Below is a transcript of his answer, including an addendum made later. I thought his remarks might mark a good opportunity to clarify what I mean by “non-Buddhism.” I don’t mean for my comments to be a detailed critique of Sobol’s idea, or even much of a critique at all. Rather, I want to use his idea as a wedge, as a way to mark a distinction with what I am advocating. I will be brief and suggestive for now, drawing on what I wrote in the “What is Non-Buddhism” page.
Sobol, in the bio accompanying the podcast, says that he “is committed to the formulation of an authentic, no-nonsense spirituality for the 21st century.” Towards this end, he is working towards the development of what he calls “post-traditional Buddhism.” He articulates this form of Buddhism as follows: “post-traditional in the strict sense means evolving Buddhism beyond ethnocentric identities, parochial attitudes, and ideologically-based loyalties; in the broad sense it means also being alert to modern and ‘postmodern’ reactivity when it comes to spiritual principles of authority, verticality, and devotion.” While he advocates for the “post,” however, he by no means wants to rend this “post” from the tenuous yet tethering hyphen that separates it from “traditional.” In other words, he wants to “make a practice post-traditional without throwing the baby with the bath water of the tradition.”
Sobol’s post-traditional Buddhism, in other words, is careful to preserve tradition. It almost appears to come down to something like a generational divide. But, in this case, the younger generation is well-enough behaved; for Sokol sees a need to protect tradition from “modern and ‘post-modern’ reactivity.”
To both traditionalists and post-traditionalists, non-Buddhism must appear as ill-behaved to an extreme. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Critics, Post-traditionialists, Traditionalists, True Believers | Tagged: Hokai Sobol, post-traditionalism | 6 Comments »