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4 Buddha-Nature and Original Enlightenment

Brook A. Ziporyn Indiana University Press ePub

FOUR

BUDDHA-NATURE AND ORIGINAL ENLIGHTENMENT

SO! THERE ARE NO THINGS! THERE ARE NO DEFINITIVE, either/or “states”! There is no such thing as a “state” of suffering! Madness, eh? Even if this madness is what is really taught in something called Mahāyāna Buddhism, does such madness really do us any good? Doesn’t it rather threaten to undermine any notion of what “doing us any good” could possibly mean? Where is it all leading? We may have to wait until we get to the unexpected applications of these ideas in Tiantai thought to a get stronger sense of how all these strange moves lead us somewhere quite novel, perhaps somewhere that might end up being very worth going in surprising ways. But for now let’s move on. What about Nirvana, the cessation of suffering, the absence of suffering? Isn’t that where all this Buddhism stuff is supposed to “lead us”? Obviously that is going to have to be reconceived here too.

WHATEVER IS, IS NOT NIRVANA

Here is a typical description of Nirvana in early Buddhist texts:

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7. Pythagoras and the Art of Memorization and Incantation

Jules Evans New World Library ePub

JAMES STOCKDALE WAS A YOUNG FIGHTER PILOT flying bombing missions over North Vietnam, when his A-4E Skyhawk aeroplane was hit by antiaircraft fire. Stockdale ejected from his aircraft and parachuted down to the village below. When he landed, angry villagers attacked him and broke his leg so badly he walked with a limp for the rest of his life. He was then taken to Hoa Lo prison, where he spent the next seven years. As the senior naval officer in the prison, he was in charge of organizing the other inmates’ tactics and their escape bids. He was also first in line for torture, and was tortured fifteen times, put in solitary confinement for over four years, and kept in leg irons for two years. Within this extreme and disorientating environment, the teachings of ancient philosophy were his survival kit. He had come across the Greeks when he was studying philosophy at Stanford University, and his philosophy professor had handed him a copy of Epictetus’s Handbook. Stockdale had felt an immediate kinship with the ancient Greek worldview, and kept the Handbook on his bedside throughout his three seven-month tours on aircraft carriers off the coast of Vietnam. Because he had read and memorized certain key passages of these books, he had them “at hand” to deal with life in the POW prison. He remembered many of the ancients’ “attitude-shaping remarks” (as he puts it), and they helped him cope with his adverse circumstances. He remembered, above all, the first sentence of the Handbook: “Some things are up to us, and others are not.” He accepted that most of his life was out of his control, but that his own character, dignity, and self-respect was in his control, and no one could take it away from him.

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~ The Known and the Unknown

J Krishnamurti Krishnamurti Foundation America ePub

The long evening shadows were over the still waters, and the river was becoming quiet after the day. Fish were jumping out of the water, and the heavy birds were coming to roost among the big trees. There was not a cloud in the sky, which was silver blue. A boat full of people came down the river; they were singing and clapping, and a cow called in the distance. There was the scent of evening. A garland of marigold was moving with the water, which sparkled in the setting sun. How beautiful and alive it all was the river, the birds, the trees and the villagers.

We were sitting under a tree, overlooking the river. Near the tree was a small temple, and a few lean cows wandered about. The temple was clean and well swept, and the flowering bush was watered and cared for. A man was performing his evening rituals, and his voice was patient and sorrowful. Under the last rays of the sun, the water was the color of newborn flowers. Presently someone joined us and began to talk of his experiences. He said he had devoted many years of his life to the search for God, had practiced many austerities and renounced many things that were dear. He had also helped considerably in social work, in building a school, and so on. He was interested in many things, but his consuming interest was the finding of God; and now, after many years, His voice was being heard, and it guided him in little as well as big things. He had no will of his own, but followed the inner voice of God. It never failed him, though he often corrupted its clarity; his prayer was ever for the purification of the vessel, that it might be worthy to receive.

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4. Theopoetics as the Insistence of a Radical Theology

John D. Caputo Indiana University Press ePub

 

 

I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short;
from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none,
and those who mourn as though they were not mourning,
and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing,
and those who buy as though they had no possessions,
and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it.
For the present form of this world is passing away
.

—1 CORINTHIANS 7:29–31

At the end of his 1920–21 lecture course on the letters of St. Paul, the young Heidegger wrote:

Real philosophy of religion arises not from preconceived concepts of philosophy and religion. Rather, the possibility of its philosophical understanding arises out of a certain religiosity—for us, the Christian religiosity.1

We cannot start with a stable concept of “philosophy” and a stable concept of “religion” and then “apply” “philosophy” to “religion.” We must allow what are called “philosophy” and “religion” to tremble together under the force of their mutual contact, letting each push back on the other. That contact can be made not in the abstract, but rather from out of the original sources of the experience of “religiosity,” out of the concrete experience of the religious traditions. Heidegger continues:

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3. Topology

Mjaaland, Marius Timmann Indiana University Press ePub

The questions of place and topology require separate consideration. The use of topics as an analytical approach goes back to Aristotle’s Topics, where he defines the conditions for the art of dialectics. The topological approach is reserved for arguments based on commonly held opinions, Greek endoxa. Thus, they differ from the questions that are treated by way of syllogisms. Aristotle gives no definition of a topos, but the topoi are referred to as places from where his arguments can be invented, elaborated, or discovered.1

In the early 1520s, topics as a philosophical and theological approach was rediscovered by humanist and Reformer Philipp Melanchthon, Luther’s closest ally at the University of Wittenberg. His Loci Communes (1521) represents a new type of theology, based on common topoi in the scriptures, in particular from Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Hence, it is written according to the principle sola scriptura, but with due respect to traditional rules of dialectic and rhetoric. Günter Frank points out that Melanchthon applied the same principle of topics to the interpretation of a variety of texts in his Tübinger Rhetorik (1519), but developed a specifically theological method in the Loci.2 Frank argues that the concept of topoi is ambiguous from the beginning, for example, through the different usage of the term in Aristotle’s Topics and the Rhetoric, and it oscillates between various meanings in Cicero and later in medieval philosophy up to the Renaissance. According to Melanchthon, the notion describes places of arguments (like in Cicero), but also a semantic field, a “signature” of things, which makes it possible to organize general thoughts under a common heading. Finally, he applies the term loci for generic propositions concerning a specific question, achieved through systematic analysis of texts.3 Hence, Melanchthon is basically faithful to Aristotle’s prescriptions, but he applies the method in a way which emphasizes the authority of scripture and thus remains faithful to the principles of the Reformation, including sola scriptura.

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