Towards An Expanded Image of Practice

Richard Keys has published a new essay at Dharmic Détournement that will interest readers of our Trash Theory series. His piece, “Towards an Expanded Image of Practice,” helps advance our thinking about what form(s) x-buddhist practice might take going forward. I find it very productive that Keys grounds his thinking in premises such as (his words):

• practice indicates an active relationship with the real;
• practice proceeds from the “truth of suffering;”
• meditative practice actively co-constitutes and mediates subjective experience; such that:
• underlying theory of mind and maps of meditative experience are embodied in the meditative techniques themselves on a basic level;
• discursive production is a central feature of Buddhism;
• practice is always tied up with language and representation, with theory, that informs and frames it as a mode of intervention in the real;
• practitioners must realise that the are actively participating in their own subjectification, determined relative to a socially constructed “plan of action” and conception of the real;
• therefore, must actively seek to participate in shaping it.

Three big takeaway points:
“I think it is paramount that we continue to critically interrogate how the goal of practice is conceived (as well as the axiomatic conditions from which it proceeds), and by extension what form the plan of action that proceeds from this assumed ends will necessarily take, rather than simply taking them as given.”

“Though greater collective engagement, both critically and creatively with theory, both Buddhist and otherwise, Western Buddhism would go some way to overcoming the anti-intellectualism and reductive understanding of discursive thinking, that generally characterises it, and come to develop a more rich and robust body of discourse than stands.”

“New social formations, new sanghas, and traditions, with new approaches and values must be formed, beyond the current horizons of Western Buddhism in order for us to construct a new image of practice.”

Let’s have some discussion at Dharmic Détournement!

2 responses to “Towards An Expanded Image of Practice”

  1. JAMES FRIEL Avatar

    I would be very curious as to how you would describe the context of discursive action in terms of the reality toward which practice is intended. Also, are you considering the discursive aspect of the practice to include expressions of symbolic exchanges betwixt interlocutors?

  2. Jundo Cohen Avatar

    I feel that you may be making things too complicated. Live gently as one can, avoiding the extremes of excess desire, anger and the frictions and violence of divided thinking. Engage in some practice to allow one to transcend the self/other divide, and to experience beyond thoughts and the divisions of the mind (as a Soto fellow, that is Zazen and Dogen’s vision of ongoing “practice-enlightenment”). Go past the individual self, then get up from the sitting cushion and get busy in life as this individual self. Finally, do as one can to leave this world better (people will disagree on the content of that, but the world has problems that need solving. As Zen folks often point out, there is nothing lacking, not one things ultimately in need of fixing … but much lacking and much to fix, so grab a hammer and get to work.). Beyond that, do not over-complicate this path. Gassho, Jundo Cohen

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