questions on bodhisattva vow

victor van Bijlert victorvanbijlert at KPNPLANET.NL
Sun Dec 21 11:55:05 UTC 2008

As to why, I could answer at length or briefly. I am sure a brief answer
will be preferred. I just reacted to the questions that Allen posted.
Teaching introductory classes on Buddhism in the context of science of
religions (Religionswissenschaft in German, I am not sure if my English is
the correct equivalent), I recognise this type of questions from bright
students. They have sympathy for Buddhism initially but some of them are put
off by doctrinal points that seem to them without foundation or scholastic
but hardly inspirational.

I could imagine that modern Buddhist thinkers are working on a 'reformation'
of the Buddhist tradition in order to make it relevant in the context of
modern life. The kind of questions Allen was bringing to our attention, is,
to my mind, the type of questions that late medieval scholastic Buddhist
systematisers could have thought of. They bear some similarity with medieval
European scholastic theology / philosophy. In any case, I have for a long
time entertained the impression that Buddhist logic and epistemology (the
schools of Dignaga and Dharmakirti) are very much akin to medieval Western
scholastics. At the same time, I am aware that there is a great danger of
misinterpreting Buddhist tradition by drawing the wrong comparisons with
tradtions from other civilisations. The social and historical context of
Buddhism is different from that of medieval Christianity in Western Europe.

Nevertheless, as Buddhism is spreading around the world, far outside the
Indian social context in which in originated, one could perhaps look forward
to a modern rethinking of the Buddhist heritage of the ages, thus enabling
its revival en renewal in the modern world. Hence my suggestion: the end of
Buddhism as we know it, meaning: heralding Buddhism as we do not yet know

I hope this will satisfy your 'why' for the moment?

With warm greetings

-----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
Van: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at] Namens Valerie J Roebuck
Verzonden: vrijdag 19 december 2008 17:34
Onderwerp: Re: questions on bodhisattva vow


Valerie J Roebuck
Manchester, UK

At 11:24 pm +0100 18/12/08, victor van Bijlert wrote:
>Dear Allen,
>Such questions might actually spell the end of Buddhism as we know it (upto
>now anyway).
>Warm greetings
>-----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
>Van: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at] Namens Allen W Thrasher
>Verzonden: donderdag 18 december 2008 23:04
>Onderwerp: questions on bodhisattva vow
>Dear Victor,
>They are just questions that came to me, and not from any recent reading on
>All the best,
>"Dear Allen,
>These are interesting questions, but I do not know from what point of view
>they are posed. They look like questions critical non-believers might pose,
>or they are questions that medieval scholastics might have posed as an
>exercise in theological rhetorics. Could you elucidate if these are
>questions you have actually come across somewhere?
>Kind regards
>Victor van Bijlert"

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