Abstract (Draft 3)
What's with all these Buddhisms?
Its stunning how the simplest of ideas can get completely overshadowed by the multiplication of commentary. Even more so when the argument is, quite literally, over 'Nothing'.
In the 2500 years since the Buddha's teaching we have witnessed a proliferation of the Buddha Dhamma over every continent and into thousands of schools. An eminently simple and singular common doctrine pervades even within the most esoteric and farthest affield philosophy that still functions under the aegis of Buddhism. It is in fact the first sermon of the Buddha, and the Sutra concerning his enlightenment. These two, taken alone, form a skeleton of the practice, a skeleton which has been fleshed out into all the sundry bodies of buddhisms throughout the world.
The first sermon. Its easy enough that by the end of this paragraph you will fully comprehend it. There is suffering. There is the origin of suffering. There is the cessation of suffering, and, there is the Path to the Cessation of suffering.
Now this is the start of exegsis: What is this suffering? Suffering and all phenomena are rooted in ignorance. Ignorance and all phenomena are conditioned on our sensation and percption of the world. There is a path leading out of this cycle of suffering; it is the eightfold path.
The eightfold path is:
Simple enough so far, right? So If you or anyone else lives by this creed we too can put an end to suffering. So what are these Eight by four terms? What is Right View? What is the origin of right view? What is the cessation of right view? What is the path to cessation of Right View?
And for all of these questions, there are answers. But never do these two doctrines in their root come under the knife. Yet, the term 'Concentration' is the pandoras box. For all concentrations are directed toward that path which is the path that is the cessation of suffering. Furthermore, the other seven are, essentially speaking, only the foundation, the premeditation, for the attainment of 'Concentration' or 'Samadhi'.
Samadhi, or Concentration, (which I don't have right now. Currently, I am in a coffee shop ath the University of Berkeley, California library. There are an endless flow of attractive young undergraduates, a girl immediately in front of me is indicating with her bodylanguage that she wants me to approach. Several others are distracting me from all directions. This is lack of concetration, this is ignorance, this is suffering. This is the fundimental reasoning behind Brahmachariya as a monastic practice).
Concentration, in all cases, is attained strictly through the practice of meditation. Meditation is ultimately the goal of Right Effort, Right Mindfulness is a concept of being aware of all of ones actions. "when eating, he is aware that he's eating, when defecating there is awareness that, 'I'm defecating'" etc...
And even at the level of defining what is this meditation, what (asian girls everywhere!) are the attainments of this meditation, what is being accomplished by meditation... on none of these things do any of the Buddhisms fundimentally disagree. So where is this "Great Controversy" justifying the radical schismatism that has divided the Sangha into (rarely) violent disagreement?
Sunnyata. That's right. Nothingness. For beyond the sense door of consciousness, there be dragons. Or rather, there be "No" Dragons. Or better still, there is neither dragons nor not dragons. No, truthfully speaking There are NOT neither dragons nor nor dragons. You see the problem. It is the same dragon Hegel tried to slay with his Notion. All Hegelian logic is centered around the problem of Nothingness, and how "something" can arise out of it; Hegel's final stand is in the inadequacy of all questions with regard to it, and the inevitablility of an end to logic once you step beyond the bounds of consciousness. Okay, I just had a chorus of Hegelian geeks just scream out at that statement. I'll add the (sic.). But in talking about Nothingness, all of Buddhism's diversity was born.
Among the many things that Buddha discouraged, the funniest, to me, is discursive thought. For the Buddha would maintain, the words are not important. What is important is that with mindfulness you eat your day's one meal, sit in an upright position, spine erect, legs crossed, and set up mindfulness before you. Take your meditation subject before you. Now, concentrate.
Its said that the first schisms in the Sangha came from disagreements over the rules of the monestary. In other words, interpersonal conflict. Not doctrine. In fact, to this day, I have yet to find a single conflict between even the Mahayana and Theravada. I have seen Monks wearing the three robes using ATM machines, and carrying wallets. I have seen Monks of all denominations eating meat. I have seen liquor on Vajrayana alters; all in contrary to the teachings in presented in the Suttana, and even still these are but more similarities between the sanghas, which mysteriously maintain arbitrary difference.
My conclusion is: there can be only one Buddhism. There are many schools talking about nothing in different ways. There are a rainbow of practices, an infinite varieties of practices, all based upon the same Right Intention of concentration. I argue that, the differences between the schools are fundimentally Sociological and Scholastic in nature, and not doctrinal. I argue that exegesis in The east has roughly parallelled exegesis in the west; that from the Socratics to Jacques Derrida, and from Buddha to Li Hongzhi essentially the same ground is covered.
Now that we all have our battlefields mapped. Lets get it on.
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