Tag Archives: philosophy

White Bones Red Rot Black Snakes

Enchanting, pow­er­ful, hor­rific, beau­ti­ful, wise, deadly, com­pas­sion­ate, se­duc­tive. Women in Buddhist story and im­age are all these things and more. She takes the signs of the an­cient god­dess – the lo­tus, the sa­cred grove, the ser­pent, the sac­ri­fice – and uses them in as­ton­ish­ing new ways. Her story is one of suf­fer­ing and great tri­als, and through it all an un­quench­able long­ing to be free. This beau­ti­fully il­lus­trated work is as lay­ered and sub­ver­sive as mythol­ogy it­self. Based di­rectly on au­then­tic Buddhist texts, and in­formed with in­sights from psy­chol­ogy and com­par­a­tive mythol­ogy, it takes a fresh look at how Buddhist women have been de­picted by men and how they have de­picted them­selves.

Rebirth and the In-between State in Early Buddhism

Does Early Buddhism cat­e­gor­i­cally re­ject or, on the con­trary, tac­itly ad­mit the pos­si­bil­ity of an in­ter­me­di­ate state be­tween two ad­ja­cent lives? How can these de­scrip­tions and views be used to make sense of re­search find­ings on ‘Near Death Experiences’ bring us closer to a more ac­cu­rate un­der­stand­ing of death and be­yond?

The Mystique of the Abhidhamma

While the ab­hid­hamma is pre­sented as be­ing based on the Buddha’s ul­ti­mate dis­cern­ment of ‘mind & mat­ter’, in re­al­ity the clas­si­cal Theravādin ab­hid­hamma is a scholas­tic phi­los­o­phy which is lit­tle un­der­stood, and which, if ex­am­ined crit­i­cally, is full of in­co­heren­cies. Within Buddhist tra­di­tion, how­ever, the ab­hid­hamma is per­haps more sig­nif­i­cant for its purely re­li­gious or mys­ti­cal sig­nif­i­cance, rather than as a guide for prac­tice or un­der­stand­ing.

When Life Begins

Reproductive ethics are one of our most ur­gent mod­ern dilem­mas. Each year, it seems, new tech­nolo­gies push the bound­aries of life. Abortion re­mains a di­vi­sive po­lit­i­cal is­sue. In the Buddhist un­der­stand­ing of the Middle Way, we can seek a more rea­son­able ap­proach.

All Dhammas

The ba­sis of in­sight med­i­ta­tion is the con­tem­pla­tion of im­per­ma­nence, suf­fer­ing, and not-self. Yet even here we are faced with a tricky in­ter­pre­tive prob­lem: for while all saṅkhāras are said to be im­per­ma­nent and suf­fer­ing, all dham­mas are said to be not-self. Why this sub­tle, enig­matic shift, and what are the im­pli­ca­tions for med­i­ta­tion?

Satipaṭṭhāna and the Evolution of the Dhamma Theory

While the Satipaṭṭhana Sutta is of­ten claimed to be the most im­por­tant of the Buddha’s teach­ings, close tex­tual analy­sis re­veals that it is a com­pos­ite text, with sub­stan­tial dif­fer­ences be­tween the many ex­ist­ing ver­sions. The use of the fun­da­men­tal term dhamma in fact re­veals the text to be part of the early Abhidhamma move­ment.

Without Delay

The term akā­lika, ‘time­less’, is one of the most fa­mil­iar in the whole Dhamma. It is re­cited as part of the daily chant­ing as a fun­da­men­tal as­pect of the Dhamma. And yet its mean­ing is far from clear, and so it has at­tracted many in­ter­pre­ta­tions. Rather than be­ing a philo­soph­i­cal no­tion, it seems that is a call to ac­tion: if you prac­tice, you can see the re­sults for your­self.