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)
Notions such as Sunyata, Catuskoti, and Indra's Net, which figure prominently in Buddhist philosophy, are difficult to readily accommodate within our ordinary thinking about everyday objects. Famous Buddhist scholar Nagarjuna considered two levels of reality: one called conventional reality and the other ultimate reality. Within this framework, Sunyata refers to the claim that at the ultimate level objects are devoid of essence or "intrinsic properties", but are interdependent by virtue of their relations to other objects. Catuskoti refers to the claim (...) that four truth values, along with contradiction, are admissible in reasoning. Indra's Net refers to the claim that every part of a whole is reflective of the whole. Here we present category theoretic constructions which are reminiscent of these Buddhist concepts. The universal mapping property definition of mathematical objects, wherein objects of a universe of discourse are defined not in terms of their content, but in terms of their relations to all objects of the universe is reminiscent of Sunyata. The objective logic of perception, with perception modeled as [a category of] two sequential processes (sensation followed by interpretation), and with its truth value object of four truth values, is reminiscent of the Buddhist logic of Catuskoti. The category of categories, wherein every category has a subcategory of sets with zero structure within which every category can be modeled, is reminiscent of Indra's Net. Our thorough elaboration of the parallels between Buddhist philosophy and category theory can facilitate better understanding of Buddhist philosophy, and bring out the broader philosophical import of category theory beyond mathematics. (shrink)
Dharmakīrti’s (c. seventh century) Examination of Relations (Sambandhaparīkṣā) is unique in the Indian Buddhist canon for its being the only extant root text devoted entirely to the topic of the ontological status of relations. But the core thesis of this treatise—that relations are only nominally real—is in prima facie tension with another claim that is central to Dharmakīrti’s epistemology: that there exists some kind of “natural relation” (svabhāvapratibandha) that reliably underwrites inferences. Understanding how Dharmakīrti can consistently rely on natural relations (...) to prop up his presentation of inferential reasoning while at the same time advancing an anti-realist account of relations is critical for making sense of his system of logic and epistemology, which came to be nearly universally adopted in Tibetan Buddhism cutting across traditions. Chomden Rikpé Reldri (1227–1305), who was perhaps the most prolific commentator on logic and epistemology in the history of Tibetan philosophy, composed two texts commenting on the Examination of Relations, neither of which have received any scholarly attention to date. In this paper, I provide an introduction to Chomden Reldri’s two commentaries and consider how they may illuminate Dharmakīrti’s text and also what they reveal about the understanding of Dharmakīrti’s account of relations in early Tibetan scholasticism. I then present a translation of Dharmakīrti’s Examination of Relations together with Chomden Reldri’s commentary, Annotations and Topical Outline of the Examination of Relations (’Brel pa brtag pa’i mchan dang sa bcad gnyis). (shrink)
Adequate knowledge about Buddhism is essential to the education and culture of any person who does not want to be simply another alienated member of a herd that walks blindly amid a technological revolution. It is possible to understand early Buddhism through modern language and knowledge and establish its relations with contemporary thought and its references. With this, it becomes possible to deepen and broaden our perception of these millennial principles' compatibility with our modern ways of living and knowing. The (...) study required for this is quite laborious. Buddhism is the subject underlying a gigantic literary and cultural mountain. The closer we get to its original concept, the deeper and more voluminous the excavation we have to do. (shrink)
Charles Taylor criticizes many liberal theories based on a kind of atomism that assumes the individual self-sufficiency outside the polity. This not only causes soft-relativism and political fragmentation but also undermines the solidarity of the community, that is, the very condition of the formation of autonomous citizens. Taylor thus argues for communitarian politics which protects certain cultural common goods for sustaining the solidarity of the community. However, Brenda Lyshaug criticizes Taylor’s communitarianism as suppressing plurality and enhancing hostility among cultural groups. (...) In the face of such controversies, I argue for modern Confucian familism which emphasizes the family as a common good that provides a safe, stable, and nurturing environment for nurturing children and cultivating civility for future generations with a sense of community and autonomy. I also defend Confucian familism from four possible criticisms: insufficiency of familism, hierarchical relationship in the family, the danger of nepotism, and challenge from postmodern families. I argue that unlike traditional Confucianism, modern moderation of the Confucian family can greatly reduce the hierarchical problem; its emphasis on the family as one of the foundations of politics can avoid the danger of being atomistic liberalism and suppressive communitarianism. (shrink)
Longchen Rabjampa (1308–64), scholar of the Tibetan Buddhist Nyingma tradition, presents a novel doxographical taxonomy of the so-called Svātantrika branch of Madhyamaka Buddhist philosophy, designating the Indian Mādhyamika Śrīgupta (c. 7th/8th century) as the exemplar of a Svātantrika sub-school which maintains that appearance and emptiness are metaphysically distinct. This paper compares Longchenpa’s characterization of this “distinct-appearance-and-emptiness” view with Śrīgupta’s own account of the two truths. I expose a significant disconnect between Longchenpa’s Śrīgupta and Śrīgupta himself and argue that the impetus (...) for Longchenpa’s doxographical innovation originates not in Buddhist India, but within his own Tibetan intellectual milieu, tracing back to his twelfth-century Sangpu Monastery predecessors, Gyamarwa and Chapa. (shrink)
Over the past generation, the rise of East Asia and especially China, has brought about a sea change in the economic and political world order. At the same time, global warming, environmental degradation, food and water shortages, population explosion, and income inequities have created a perfect storm that threatens the very survival of humanity. It is clear now that the Westphalian model of individual sovereign states seeking their own self-interest will not be able to respond effectively to this win-win or (...) lose-lose crisis. In this volume, a cadre of distinguished scholars comes together to reflect on Confucianism and Deweyan pragmatism as possible resources for a new geopolitics that begins from an ontology of interdependence and recognizes the irreducibly ecological nature of the human experience at every level. Both Confucian and Deweyan traditions emphasize the primacy of experience, the importance of vital relationality, and the moral roots of good governance. The potential benefits of conceptually blending the two are many. Indeed, the contemporary Chinese philosopher Tang Junyi provides us with a cosmological understanding of the "idea" of Confucianism that, in parallel to Dewey's "idea" of democracy, can enable us to anticipate the core values, if not the specific contours, of a "Confucian democracy." Just as Dewey's "idea" of democracy is his vision of the flourishing communal life made possible by the contributions of the uniquely distinguished persons that constitute it, Tang Junyi's Confucianism is a pragmatic naturalism directed at achieving the most highly integrated cultural, moral, and spiritual growth for the individual-in-community. In both, we find an affirmation of communal harmony as a process "starting here and going there" through which those involved learn together to do ordinary things in extraordinary ways. Just such a cosmological understanding of democracy is one way of describing what will be needed to address the many predicaments characterizing the environmental, cultural, socioeconomic, and political dynamics of the twenty-first century. (shrink)
How can Buddhists prove that non-existent things do not exist? With great difficulty. For the Buddhist, this is not a laughing matter as they are largely global error theorists and, thus, many things are non-existent. The difficulty gets compounded as the Buddhist and their opponent, the non-Buddhist of various kinds, both agree that one cannot prove a thesis whose subject is non-existent. In this paper, I will first present a difficulty that Buddhist philosophers have faced in proving that what they (...) take to be non-existent does not exist. I will then survey two main solutions that they have provided. Those 'solutions' may not solve the problem or solve the problem but creates other problems. I will not survey the Buddhist treatment of the problem of proving about non-existence in order to present a new solution that we have yet to see. Instead, I will articulate a problem about non-existence that is unique to Buddhist philosophers. I will do so in order to present an interesting puzzle about non-existence that has largely escaped attention in the 'Western' literature. (shrink)
The intent of this article is not to compare the philosophies of education of Confucius and Peter Kemp but to draw out what is perennial in Confucius’s philosophy of education and bring it to the contemporary context in Peter Kemp’s philosophy of education. The first part deals with Confucius’s teachings on education. The second part highlights Peter Kemp’s philosophy of education, the context of which is globalization and its dangers. The synthesis of both philosophies would mean that education is a (...) right that everyone is entitled to, that education is basically cultivation of character more than instruction, that the virtues of ren, righteousness, wisdom, and propriety can be adapted and applied to the demands of global citizenship. The method of teaching can be both dialogical (Confucius) and democratic (Kemp) when the teacher is passionate, engaged, knowledgeable of issues, caring for students, and an exemplar of what she teachers. (shrink)
This article aims to show why Sellars' critique of epistemic givenness has proven so apt in characterizing the philosophical problems that confront the project of Dignaga and Dharmakirti -- problem that result from the etent to whih these buddhists valorized "non-conceptual awareness.
This chapter suggests that Sellars' account of subjectivity as socially constructed, and hence conceptual at its illusory roots, presents a crisp and compelling perspective on cognitive life that captures Buddhist conceptions of transformative non-duality.
The chapter offers a sustained comparison between American philosopher Wilfrid Sellars and Buddhist philosopher Dignaga and argues that while their views are prima facie inconsistent with one another, there are important areas of agreement worthy of exploration.
This book explores the contributions to the philosophy of mind made by the Tibetan Buddhist thinker Phya pa Chos kyi seng ge (1109–1169) in his seminal text, the “Dispeller of the Mind’s Darkness.” This study, which includes a critical edition and English translation of those portions of the “Dispeller” devoted to explicating the nature of mental episodes and their objects, contributes to a deeper understanding of Tibetan intellectual history, while also facilitating a wider appreciation of both Phya pa’s theory of (...) mind and its significance within the global history of philosophy. (shrink)
In this chapter I analyse two Buddhist moral psychological categories: the brahmavihāras (the four Boundless Qualities), which are the main moral affective states in Buddhist ethics, and the kleśas, or the afflictive mental states. Based on this analysis, I argue for two general claims about moral psychology in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist ethics. First, I argue that Buddhist moral psychology is centrally interested in the psychology of moral improvement: how do I become the kind of person who can respond in the best (...) possible way to the moral needs of myself and others? Second, and related, Buddhist moral psychology focuses on the skills of moral perception and attention. Moral philosophical arguments, I argue, are generally offered in the context of self-cultivation exercises and not, as they often are in Western ethics, as models of moral deliberation. (shrink)
The picture of moral development defended by followers of Aristotle takes moral cultivation to be like playing a harp; one gets to be good by actually spending time playing a real instrument. On this view, we cultivate a virtue by doing the actions associated with that virtue. I argue that this picture is inadequate and must be supplemented by imaginative techniques. One can, and sometimes must, cultivate virtue without actually performing the associated actions. Drawing on strands in Buddhist philosophy, I (...) explain several methods of moral development that rely on imagination and visualization rather than overt action. These techniques are essential in cases where cultivating virtue the way one practices the harp is impossible. In particular, I focus on single-event virtues, first-time virtuous acts, and morally dangerous situations. (shrink)
In the Buddhist ethical traditions, equanimity along with love, compassion, and sympathetic joy form what are called the four boundless qualities, which are affective states one cultivates for moral and spiritual development. But there is a sense in which equanimity seems very unlike the three others: love, compassion, and sympathetic joy all imply an emotional investment in others, whereas equanimity seems to imply an absence of such investment. This observation has provoked debate as to how to properly understand the relationship (...) between equanimity and the other three qualities. In this paper, I propose that equanimity - like love, compassion, and sympathetic joy - is itself a virtue of good intimate relationships and not in conflict with such virtues. (shrink)
The Essential Jewel of Holy Practice is a vibrant philosophical and ethical poem by one of Tibet’s great spiritual masters. Patrul Rinpoche presents a complete view of the path of liberation from the perspectives of the Madhyamaka understanding of emptiness and the Mahāyāna ideal of compassionate care refracted through the Dzogchen perspective on experience. This yields a sophisticated philosophical approach to practice focusing on the cultivation of clear, open, luminous, empty awareness and of liberation leading to the transformation of one’s (...) moral capacity and sensitivity. Patrul Rinpoche’s verses speak intimately and directly to the reader and inspire one to develop one’s mind for the sake of ethical perfection and liberation. -/- The translators’ introduction provides a foundation for reading the poem and their commentary to the verses assists the reader in understanding Patrul Rinpoche’s allusions and technical terms. (shrink)
This book could be seen as a novel method of tracing the history of a scripture. Jacob P. Dalton does this by “tracing the vicissitudes of a single ritual system—that of the Gathering of Intentions Sutra (Dgongs pa ’dus pa’i mdo)—from its ninth-century origins to the present day” (xv). This tantra is referred to as the “root tantra” and is vital for understanding the history of Tibetan Buddhism, particularly the Nyingma school. This book is divided into seven chapters focusing on (...) the various forms of the traditions surrounding this text. (shrink)
A translation and analysis of a short ethical treatise written in Tibet in the late 18th or early 19th century. The Khache Phalu includes references to both Buddhist and Islamic thought in providing ethical and spiritual advice. The analysis gives an overview of the secondary literature in both Tibetan and English that is accessible to non-specialists and defends the claim that many passages are deliberately ambiguous. The translation was done with Tenzin Norbu Nangsal and also includes the full Tibetan text.