tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-193271072019-06-12T15:22:59.710+01:00Jayarava's RavesA truth is a belief that yields expected results when one acts upon it Unknownnoreply@blogger.comBlogger541125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-32263627141014051462019-05-20T12:25:00.000+01:002019-05-20T12:25:29.617+01:00Karma & Rebirth Reconsidered: An Inquiry into the Buddhist Myths of a Just World and an AfterlifeMy new book is finished and now on sale.<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq"><i>Karma &amp; Rebirth Reconsidered: An Inquiry into the Buddhist Myths of a Just World and an Afterlife. </i>Visible Mantra Press. £29.99. <a href="http://www.lulu.com/shop/jayarava/karma-and-rebirth-reconsidered/paperback/product-24104559.html">Purchase online</a>.</blockquote><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Blurb</b></div><br /><blockquote class="tr_bq" style="text-align: justify;">In this book, Jayarava combines historical scholarship with philology and philosophical enquiry to re-examine the religious myths of the just world and the afterlife as they manifest in Buddhism, i.e. <i>karma </i>and <i>punarbhava </i>or rebirth.&nbsp;</blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq" style="text-align: justify;">Taking a multidisciplinary approach he begins with an exploration of the psychology of religious beliefs, seeking to understand why the supernatural is ubiquitous across all human cultures. Drawing on evolutionary psychology, linguistics, and cognitive metaphors the book outlines a theory of religious belief which explains why belief in the supernatural continues to seem intuitive and natural to so many.&nbsp;</blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq" style="text-align: justify;">The central part of the book looks in detail at historical instantiations of the karma and rebirth doctrines. Some early inconsistencies led to doctrinal innovations and polemical tracts, but no consensus on karma or rebirth ever emerged amongst Buddhists of different sects. Modern Buddhists sects have very different views on the details of karma and rebirth, even while insisting on the just world and afterlife myths per se.&nbsp;</blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq" style="text-align: justify;">A critique of Vitalism opens the way to reconsideration of karma and rebirth from a contemporary point of view. Scientific inquiry shows that, although they remain plausible to many, the just world and afterlife myths are no longer tenable in any form.</blockquote><div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Outline&nbsp;</b></div><br /><div></div><div style="text-align: justify;">This book consists of six main sections, each consisting of several chapters.<br /><br />Before getting into the more detail, I attempt to present some recent ideas on two subjects that will always be in the background as we assess religious doctrines. In the opening remarks I note that one of Dharmacarī Subhuti’s criteria for religious belief is that it be compatible with reason. The first section of the book, <i><b>Compatible With Reason</b></i>, explores what reason is and how it works. This is important because classical theories of reason are now acknowledged to be inaccurate and misleading. So establishing some basic understanding of reason is important before setting off.<br /><br />Chapter 1 is an introduction and chapter two is this outline. Although I expect readers will already be familiar with karma and rebirth, in Chapter 3,&nbsp;<i>Karma &amp; Rebirth: The Basics</i>, I give a bare outline of the two doctrines. This chapter can be skipped over by the well informed.&nbsp;</div><div><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Chapter 4, <i>Of Miracles</i>, reviews David Hume’s discussion of miracles and his method for evaluating testimony regarding miracles. Hume lays down some ground rules for reasoning about the claims made by religious people. Since both karma and rebirth break the laws of physics, and can be considered as miracles, Hume’s criteria are highly relevant to the criterion that belief be compatible with reason.<br /><br />In Chapter 5, <i>Facts and Feelings</i>, I explore the neuroscience of decision-making. Classic theory of reason suggests that emotions play no role in reasoning. Contrarily, research by Antonio Damasio shows that emotions, or at least the interplay of emotional and cognitive processes, play a central and decisive role in reasoning. Break that link and we are unable to make decisions.&nbsp;Importantly the salience of information is encoded by emotions, by how we "feel" about it.&nbsp; Belief involves decision-making, so understanding how we make decisions is important to this discussion.<br /><br />Staying on this theme, in chapter 6&nbsp;<i>An Argumentative Theory of Reason</i>, I review recent research by Dan Sperber and Hugo Mercier that attacks the classic theory of reasoning from a different direction. Mercier and Sperber point out that most people are very poor at solo reasoning tasks, but that they do much better in small groups. Reasoning, in this account, is not our first line approach to constructing arguments, but only comes into play when we wish to critique or deconstruct someone else’s argument. When reasoning, we all employ confirmation bias, but as a feature rather than a bug.<br /><br />Bringing this section to a close, in Chapter 7&nbsp;<i>Reasoning and Beliefs</i> I try to show how Chapters 5-7 constitute the beginnings of a theory for understanding religious belief. Using an example taken from a heterodox economist, I look at how beliefs distort the way that we interpret new information. </div><div><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">In the next section, <i><b>Religion is Natural</b></i>, Chapters 8-13, I expand on the theory of religious belief and look at myths such as the just-world and the afterlife. The central proposition here is that religious ideas are intuitive and thus seem “natural”. They are therefore understandable. Such myths emerge from our evolutionary psychology. The two ideas have some distinctive features, but they are closely related. Chapter 8,&nbsp;<i>The Horrors of Life,</i> deals with the myth of the just world. I tackle the idea of justice, the problem of evil, and related ideas such as the moral universe. The desire for an ordered and regular world is entirely understandable for a self-aware species trying to scrape a living in a capricious environment. However, I argue that our experience of the world should convince us that the world is not just. Rather it is amoral and indifferent to us. Chapter 9 looks at the myth of the afterlife and how it interacts with the myth of the just world. The afterlife is how religions get around the injustice of the world. Justice is delivered in the afterlife and often in the form of “balancing”. The image of the balance is literal in the <i>Egyptian Book of the Dead</i>, which perfectly illustrates the concept. However, karma is also seen in terms of metaphors of accounting and balancing the books.</div><div><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">When thinking about Buddhist myths of the afterlife I thought it would be useful to see it against the broad backdrop of other afterlife beliefs. However, I found that most discussions of the afterlife do not look at the structural features of the afterlife per se, but rather discuss beliefs according to each religion. They thus fail to see that the afterlife is few variations on a theme. In order remedy this, Chapter 10, <i>A Taxonomy of Afterlife Beliefs</i>, takes a broad approach to the afterlife based on features rather than religious beliefs. There are two basic kinds of afterlife: single destination and cyclic. Buddhism is a hybrid of these: cyclic if you do nothing, and single destination if you practice Buddhism. </div><div><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Chapter 11 explores Thomas Metzinger’s conjecture that out-of-body experiences might have given rise to the idea of a soul. Several kinds of experience, which we might broadly call religious, make the idea of a mind-body duality seem plausible or even inevitable. I argue that a mind-body duality is necessary for any afterlife to take place. Something about the mental life of the person has to survive the death of the body for there to be an afterlife. However, mind-body dualities have long been abandoned by scientists for good reason: all the evidence we have refutes such a duality.<br /><br />Nevertheless, in Chapter 12&nbsp;<i>Secret Agents</i>, I explore the thesis for belief in mind-body duality and supernatural agents put forward by Justin L. Barrett. Barrett argues that evolution has primed us to hold just such beliefs as an indirect consequence of survival mechanisms. For example, it is important to distinguish agents from objects because in nature agents are often prey or predator, or in some way dangerous. And it is better to err on the side of mistaking objects for agents than vice versa. It is better to avoid 100 sticks that look like snakes but are not, than to fail to avoid a single venomous snake. </div><div><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Finally, in this section, in Chapter 13, <i>Metaphors and Embodied Cognition</i>, I introduce the theory of cognitive metaphors developed by cognitive linguist George Lakoff and philosopher Mark Johnson. This allows us to deconstruct the language associated with religious experiences. How we (unconsciously) frame our experiences through language, through the conventions of our society, affects the way we interpret our experiences. In particular, the language of the mind-body duality is deeply embedded within English along with a raft of related metaphors. Understanding the language of religion is a key to understanding what makes religion seem plausible. </div><div><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">We now have a working theory of religious belief and a number of useful tools for evaluating information we may encounter. In the section <b><i>Evolution of Rebirth &amp; Karma</i></b>, Chapters 14-18, I begin to explore karma and rebirth directly. Beginning in Chapter 14, <i>Rebirth Eschatologies</i>, I revisit the category of cyclic afterlife beliefs and flesh out how such beliefs work. I explore the notions of “this world” and “the next world” as we encounter them in early Buddhist texts. I note that Buddhists often use the word <i>loka</i>, i.e. “world”, to mean the world of experience.<br /><br />In Chapter 15, <i>Rebirth in the Ṛgveda</i>, I review work by Polish Scholar Joanna Jurewicz, on the first accounts of rebirth in India. Although, classically, rebirth is thought not to be mentioned until much later, Jurewicz points out that a <i>Ṛgveda</i> verse does seem to mention being reborn amongst one’s family. It seems likely that a cyclic afterlife was a regional feature of India rather than specific to any one religion. </div><div><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">There is some evidence that both rebirth and karma developed over time in Buddhism. In Chapter 16, with help from Gananath Obeyesekere, I explore this development and outline the changes that seem to have occurred overtime. The point is that the belief in rebirth did not emerge fully formed and that change over time was an important feature of the Buddhist belief system. Buddhist eschatology incorporates a number of elements from Brahmanism (devas, asuras, pretas). I follow this up in Chapter 17, <i>Escaping the Inescapable</i>, by showing how Buddhist karma changed over time. In particular, I look at a post-canonical change from karma being inescapable, to the institution of practises that allowed Buddhists to avoid the consequences of their actions. </div><div><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Finally, in this section, in Chapter 18, I deal with the figure of Yama and the idea of Hell. Yama is a figure Buddhists adopted from Vedic religion. Originally, he is a promethean hero who is celebrated as the first man to discover the route to rebirth amongst the ancestors in the afterlife. This Yama lives in the sky. The Buddhist Yama is the king of Hell, a place of torment and torture for people who have lived extremely immoral lives. The emergence of Hell as a concept, let alone a place, is an interesting phenomenon. I explore the sparse evidence on the subject and the question of how the hero became king of Hell. </div><div><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">In the Section, <i><b>Conflicting Traditions of Rebirth &amp; Karma</b></i> (Chapters 19-23) I focus on Buddhism. When we explore the Buddhist tradition in detail we find a range of conflicting opinions and theories about karma and rebirth. In this section, I rely frequently on internecine polemics written by Buddhists about other Buddhists. However, I begin in Chapter 19, <i>Karma &amp; Dependent Arising</i>, by outlining a problem that seems to have driven a great deal of later doctrinal speculation and innovation. I show that as they stand in the suttas the doctrines of karma and of dependent arising are incompatible. One requires that consequences follow actions are a considerable remove, and the other denies the possibility of action at a temporal distance. Sectarian solutions to this problem are associated with the various Abhidharma schools. They all attacked each other’s theories and never reached a consensus. Opposition died out along with the sects that vanished with the decline of Buddhism in India beginning by about the 7<sup>th</sup> Century. The conflicts often centred on three key ideas, which I treat separately: in Chapter 20, <i>The Antarābhava or Interim State</i>; Chapter 21, <i>Manomaya kāya</i>, and Chapter 22&nbsp;<i>Gandharva</i>. In each case I show that these ideas were hotly contested amongst the different Buddhist sects. Each was quick to point out the flaws of the others. All views had valid criticisms levelled against them. </div><div><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">I finish this section in Chapter 23, <i>The Problems of Seeking Singularity</i>, with some reflections on how we look at history. We are usually taught some tidy version of history in which there are differences, but these are only on the surface, beneath which is a broad and deep unity. An actual reading of the historical texts reveals intractable disputes on many fronts. As with the distorting effect of religious beliefs generally, how we approach history affects how we interpret it. </div><div><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">In the section on <b><i>Vitalism</i> </b>(Chapters 24-28), I take a long digression. A reader could skip this whole section and move onto the next without losing the main thread. Why include several chapters critiquing vitalism in a book on karma and rebirth? As already noted, the idea of a mind-body duality underpins all myths of the afterlife. Similarly, the afterlife underpins the just-world myth, since justice is delivered after death. Just so, the idea of Vitalism, that life is engendered by some external “spark” underpins our views of life and death. In Chapter 24, I introduce Vitalism as <i>The Philosophy That Wouldn’t Die</i>. Vitalism has a long history in the Western world. It takes in ideas about spirits and life. However, vitalism has been abandoned by scientists and most philosophers because the evidence refutes it and it has less explanatory power than more recent ideas. </div><div><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">In Chapter 25, <i>Crossing the Line Between Death and Life</i>, I outline modern attempts to understand the origins of life. I try to show that we are now at the point where, given the conditions, life was no accident, it was inevitable. Chemistry follows a kind of slope of energetic feasibility. Under the conditions of the early earth, the chemistry of metabolism was the most energetically feasible path. It was followed by replication and life, as we know it, got started and has never ceased. No supernatural elements are <i>required</i> for life. </div><div><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">In Chapter 26, <i>Spiritual</i>, I return to the methods of cognitive linguistics. I take apart the concept of “spiritual” and highlight specific frames and the associated metaphors. The whole thing is based on medieval ideas about life. Language does change, but it can be deeply conservative. The language of “spiritual” is anachronistic and references frames that are not relevant to the Buddhist project.</div><div>Chapter 27, <i>The Antarābhava as a Vitalist Concept</i>, revisits the idea of the interim state in light of the critique of vitalism. The interim state depends on mind-body dualism and vitalism. If vitalism is not a helpful way of looking at the world (anymore), then neither is the interim state a helpful way of trying to understand life and death.</div><div><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">To close out this section, in Chapter 28, <i>The Science of Reincarnation</i>, I review some of the arguments made for reincarnation by a group of Western researchers, whose “evidence” consists entirely of interviews with young children. The methods employed are deeply flawed and the resulting conclusions don’t explain anything. The “scientists” simply assert that reincarnation is the only explanation for the stories told by infants. Worse, for Buddhists, they assert a form of reincarnation consistent with Hindu conception of a soul travelling from body to body, and inconsistent with the metaphysics of Buddhism. </div><div><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">The final section of the book, <i><b>Karma &amp; Rebirth Reconsidered</b></i> (Chapters 29-31) draws together all these many threads and argues that when we consider <i>all</i> the evidence that karma and rebirth are simply not plausible. I begin, in Chapter 29, <i>Objections to Naturalism</i>, by making a defence of naturalism. Experience suggests that those who reject my arguments often do so on the basis that they do not believe in naturalism. I try to anticipate and neutralise these objections to clear the way for the reader to take in the following arguments confident that they are grounded in reality. However, I also note that many of the strongest arguments against karma and rebirth are not scientific, but historical. The chaos of conflicting views already outlined never did produce a consensus. </div><div><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Chapter 30, <i>On the Impossibility of an Afterlife</i>, recapitulates and expands on the most popular essay on my blog (it has twice as many page views as the second most popular essay). The basic idea comes from an argument outlined by physicist Sean Carroll. I take a slightly different approach to Carroll, but the conclusion is much the same. The laws of physics, and particularly the laws of thermodynamics, rule out any afterlife in which any information about us is preserved. There is simply no possibility that rebirth can be a genuine phenomenon. As a myth, it has informed Buddhism for centuries, but it does not survive scrutiny. </div><div><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">The argument in Chapter 31, <i>The Logic of Karma</i>, is one that I developed independently. I show that the Buddhist theories of karma that we have available all fail to explain how actions can be connected to consequences over time. The explanations are all flawed and it is very easy to show how. This leaves us with no viable theory of karma. Since there can be no afterlife in which moral and immoral acts are balanced out, the idea of karma leading to better and worse rebirths is already in tatters. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The myth of the just-world and the myth of the afterlife are just myths. They are not real. We are born once, live one life, and after death, there is nothing. I understand that the conclusions I arrive at will be shocking and repugnant to some Buddhists. In technical terms, the view is <i>ucchedavāda</i> or “annihilationism”. This is traditionally a wrong view, but we now know that it is the inescapable conclusion of understanding how our world works. There is no life after death.<br /><br />Despite this, I see no reason to succumb to nihilism. The world is not just, but human beings and human societies can be. There is no afterlife, but that simply means that our actions in this life count for more, not less. Life becomes more meaningful in this view, not less. Everything we do counts. If we are to leave a positive legacy as a result of our one life, then we have to work hard to make a positive difference. There is no scope for drifting or vagueness. The imperative to change ourselves and to change the world, is all the greater. But in the end this is how things are. Deluding ourselves with fantasies that life is fair or that we will not die, only gets in the way of facing up to our responsibilities. <br /><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Other Words</b></div><br />So this is my book. It is what it is.&nbsp;It started life as essays on this blog that appeared over a number of years. It is therefore eclectic in scope and content. Had I set out to write such a book my choice of terminology might have been more consistent. My interest in the secondary literature might have been more comprehensive. Also I have to emphasise that despite my enthusiastic engagement with this subject, I am an amateur and and outsider. I have all the usual foibles of the autodidactic. These will be obvious to the professional scholar, though I hope that they will find something here to provoke thought and rethinking.<br /><br />There have been very few attempts to see Buddhism in a broader context. Buddhism scholars tend to discuss sectarian Buddhism in isolation even from other sects of Buddhism. My experience of comparative religion tracts is that Buddhism is vastly simplified and homogenised before being compared to other religions and even then there is little in the way of critical thinking. So the approach here is quite unusual, especially to a general reader who is used to reading books on Buddhism which are written by starry-eyed enthusiasts and scholars who are critical only in a very narrow sense. I used to be starry-eyed too - some of my early blog essays attest to this. But then I really started reading Buddhists texts and to really pay attention to what they said. And gradually I began to see clearly. I went from being starry-eyed, to becoming a star-gazer in the tradition of Galileo Galilei.<br /><br />And this book is one result of that.<br /><br />My next writing project is a book provisionally entitled <i>The True History of the Heart Sutra</i>. To some extent it will begin to answer some of the questions left open by&nbsp;<i>Karma &amp; Rebirth Reconsidered</i>. What is Buddhism without these doctrines? My short answer is that it's experience and the investigation of experience, especially the experiences of the dissolution of the self and the cessation of conscious sensing and cognising. These experiences are subject to very different interpretations from the complete denial of being to affirmation of absolute being; from transcendental liberation to a rigid form of determinism.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;">~~oOo~~</div></div><div><br /></div>Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-12756930526175805762019-05-10T09:56:00.003+01:002019-05-10T16:38:12.961+01:00We Need to Talk About Reason<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div style="text-align: justify;">About a year ago, the <i><a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/classical-liberal-making-a-comeback-right-wing/">Politico</a></i>&nbsp;website noted a new phenomenon. Young male American conservatives have begun referring to themselves as "classical liberals". Many were aping a notorious academic turned lifestyle guru but, given how obviously illiberal their agenda seems to be, I wondered how they could identify with the term "liberal". It seemed doubly weird, given that conservative Americans are so openly hostile towards "liberals", and use the word as invective. My few interactions with people who claim to be classical liberals suggest that they don't know much, if anything, about classical liberalism. Most are just naively repeating slogans.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Clearly, liberalism has delivered us many freedoms for which we may be grateful. It is also true that, had <i>classical </i>liberalism prevailed, these freedoms would would have remained the preserve of the elite. While classical liberals wrested power from kings for the elite, it was the <i>new</i> liberals, the "bleeding heart liberals" who wrested power away from the classical liberal elite (the bourgeoisie), for the people, if only briefly. It was the new liberals who ended the slave trade, and slavery as an institution, for example. They were the first to see that if liberty were to have any meaning, then it had to apply to all.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In the previous essay I covered <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2019/05/on-liberty-and-liberalism.html">the background to liberalism</a> and the confusion between the different applications of the term. In this essay and several to follow I will pick apart some of the fundamental beliefs of liberalism and show that they are anachronistic, at best. I begin with the classical view of reason; thence to a discussion of the ideology of utilitarianism; through the negative impacts of neoclassical liberalism on democracy; and I will finish up with the most egregious products of liberalism, runaway global warming and mass extinction.<br /><br />The ideas of reasoning and rational thought are central to the liberal conception of human beings. Arguably, then, to understand the liberal ideology we need to understand how they conceived of rationality. The problem is that we've known since the 1960s that the ideas of rationality they relied on were wrong. And I mean, obviously, comically wrong, like someone's idea of how we ought to be, without reference to any actual human beings. And if liberalism is based on a delusion, then what would it look like with a accurate theory of reasoning?&nbsp;</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>The Classical Account of Reason</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The&nbsp;<i><a href="https://www.etymonline.com/word/sapience">sapiens</a>&nbsp;</i>in our Latin binomial classification, coined in&nbsp;1758 by the Swedish taxonomer, Linnaeus, means "wise". It comes from the Latin&nbsp;<i>sapientia&nbsp;</i>"good taste, good sense, discernment; intelligence, wisdom." It refers to the Enlightenment belief that men were <i>uniquely </i>capable of reasoning. Again, "men" here accurately reflects the classical view that women were not capable of reasoning. This is not my view, but the fact that it was the classical liberal view is very important to keep in mind.&nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Classically, reasoning is a specific&nbsp;<i>conscious </i>mental process by which we apply&nbsp;<i>logic </i>to problems and&nbsp;arrive at knowledge of&nbsp;<i>the truth</i>, which then guides our decisions. In this view, actions guided by truth are good, while actions guided by falsehood are evil. This view of reasoning is thus linked to&nbsp; concerns of metaphysics (truth), epistemology (how we know things), and morality (good and evil)</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">For much of history, reason coexisted with faith, which supposedly revealed truths that were inaccessible to reason. Until the enlightenment, philosophers employed deductive logic to explain the existence of God, the problem of evil, and other religious ideas. However, deductive logic has a flaw; it tends to reproduce one's starting axioms, or the propositions that are held&nbsp;<i>a priori</i>&nbsp;to be unquestionably true. All of the unspoken beliefs of the thinker influence the selection of valid deductions. So, if a logician believes in God, then at some point they will unconsciously accept a deduction as valid based on this belief. This leads them to the "logical" conclusion that God exists. And they assert that their belief in God is based on reason.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">The initial contrast and demarcation between reason and faith become more of a conflict and contest until, during the Enlightenment, reason combined with empiricism became the weapon of choice for intellectuals to undermine and destroy faith. This was done in the name of liberating people from superstition and the oppressive rule of the Church. And of course liberty is the central theme in liberalism.<span style="text-align: start;">&nbsp;In the Enlightenment, reason was virtually deified. Natural philosophers, soon to be re-christened as "scientists" were the priests of this new cult. This coincided with the peak of materialism: a reaction against the superstitions of religion, which brought everything down to earth.&nbsp;</span>The contrast and conflict between faith and reason is still one of the defining issues of modernity.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Reason was what separated man from the beasts. For classical liberals it also separated the elite from the common man, and men from women. The elite reasoned that only they were truly rational, and as they defined rationality as <i>good</i>, then it made sense to them that <i>they</i>, as the only people capable of goodness, should be in charge of everything and everyone. Indeed, had they not ruled, then the irrational masses might have fallen back into superstition and religion. Liberals knew that they had to rule in such a way as those capable of reason obtained the maximum liberty while those incapable were at least not able to harm the capable. It was a difficult job, but someone had to take it on and the classical liberal elite stepped up. Of course, it was only fair that they be well compensated for their efforts on our behalf. And of course it was tiresome having to deal with the lower classes, so the best of them were put in charge of the day to day business of telling the peasants what to do and reporting profits back to their masters. These middlemen were imaginatively called the middle classes. Thus began the era of what David Graeber has called "the bullshitization of work".<br /><br />We can already begin to see how classical understanding of reasoning was flawed.</div><br /><br /><b>Free Will</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">This ability to reason, free from any non-conscious irrationality, is linked to free will and, in particular, what we call <i>contra-causal free will;</i> i.e., free will in which only reason is exercised and there is no influence from emotion, intuition, any unconscious process, or external influence such as peer pressure. Anyone with a modern view of the mind has to realise that contra-causal free will could simply never exist, because <i>all </i>of our thought processes are influenced by <i>all</i> of these other factors <i>all </i>of the time. Reason as classically defined <i>never</i> happens and we actually have proof of this, but let me continue for now on the theme of free will.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Free will is, of course, closely tied to issues of morality. The Christian answer to the problem of evil is that God gave Adam and Eve the choice to obey, they disobeyed, evil got a foothold, and they were thus cast out of Eden to lead lives of suffering. Even though, as an omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient supreme being, God created it all and could foresee all outcomes, Christians insist that it is not God's fault that we suffer. It is <i>our </i>fault. Buddhists also highlight the wilfulness (<i>cetanā</i>) of humanity as the cause of evil.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;"><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2019/05/on-liberty-and-liberalism.html">As we have seen</a>, most liberals also blamed humanity for the problem of evil and linked this to inherent flaws in the human character, or psyche. According to the classical liberals, humans are <i>by nature</i>&nbsp;variously&nbsp;bellicose, aggressive, competitive, acquisitive, and/or just plain selfish, although we are also supposed to be rational and the inherent antimony between selfishness and rationality seems to go unnoticed; i.e., it is not rational for a social species to be selfish because it will cause a break down in reciprocity and they will die out.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In this view, therefore, morality is linked to reasoning. Only those who use reason to guide their actions can be moral. This is to say that, for classical liberals, morality is <i>solely </i>linked to reasoning and thus it becomes the province of rich European men. The bourgeoisie push out the church as arbiters of morality and temporal courts eventually gain jurisdiction even over the Church (thank God).<br /><br />In reality, no one reasons in this way. Almost everything about this liberal discourse is wrong. The understanding of reasoning, of humanity as a social animal, of women, and of morality are all wrong. And these false ideas continue to dominate the thinking of the bourgeois elite. Before reviewing how we do reason, I want to sketch out some related ideas.&nbsp;</div><br /><br /><b>Madness</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Losing one's reason is seen with increasing alarm as the modern world emerges. Whereas the mad were largely harmless and left to themselves up to late medieval times, especially in Europe, madness gradually becomes a&nbsp; <i>moral </i>issue, which at that time falls under the purview of the Church. Christians begin to see madness as a sign of sinfulness; the mad must be morally compromised or they would not be mad (deductive logic again). No distinctions are made in terms of the organic causes or etiology of madness until much later.<br /><br />Michael Foucault notes that leprosy was not treated the same as madness. Of course, people were afraid of contagion (though they had no idea how leprosy spread). But they did not see lepers as morally compromised. Indeed, apart from fear of contagion, lepers were seen relatively positively: their suffering now would free them to go directly to heaven at death. Churchs would have places where lepers could observe services through a window, for example.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">According to Foucault, the confinement and punishment of the mad begins just as leprosy was disappearing from Europe, leaving the sanatoriums empty. The lazar houses where lepers has been quarantined soon became lunatic asylums. Since physicians ran the lazar houses they also inherited the care of lunatics.<br /><br />Thereafter the loss of reason followed the trends of the medical profession. At first ithey treated madness an an imbalance of the humours. Melancholia, for example is an excess of black bile; whereas mania is an excess of blood. When doctors began to be interested in "psychology", treatment of madness moved from physical medicine to psychological medicine. The loss of reason was ascribed to repressed sexual urges or other psychological complexes. Then as antipsychotic drugs emerged, it was ascribed to chemical imbalance. And so on.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Throughout this period of change from, say, 1500 to 2000 the definitions of reasoning and rational hardly changed. Reasoning was an abstract ability possessed only by humans. It has to be exercised consciously. It is completely separate from and superior to other types of mental activity, excluding emotions in particular. It is almost synonymous with the use of logic. The rational human being is typified by the objective, emotionless man of science. They are contrasted with the hedonistic, irrational, emotional peasant man.&nbsp;&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Friedrich Nietzsche describes two opposing ideals in society: Apollonian, associated with logic, order, rules, rule following; and Dionysian&nbsp;with emotion, chaos, spontaneity, and creativity. Freud thought he saw similar tendencies fighting for dominance in the psyche of every man. This trope lives on in the pseudo-scientific description of the left-brain and right-brain in what are effectively Apollonian and Dionysian terms.<br /><br />But we may say that the classical liberals saw themselves as rational. Despite the fact that they wrested power from traditional sources against the tide of conservatism, they invested it in certain, rational, individuals. And they were terrified of the great unwashed masses who might (and sort of did) do the same to them. Thus we see the double standards of the class system: freedom to the point of hedonism for the elite, combined with strict authoritarian rule and puritanism for the workers.<br /><br />Thomas Jefferson rails against the institution of slavery throughout his political career, but continues to own hundreds of slaves the whole time because he feels he must take responsibility for them and that they cannot do so for themselves. The liberal elite decide what freedom is and who gets to enjoy it. Liberty for the few and slavery for the rest.<br /><br />&nbsp;</div><b>Romanticism</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">There was a significant rebellion against the materialist, rationalist, Apollonian view of humanity&nbsp; that emerged from the Enlightenment and dominated European and colonial circles for a time. It gave rise to the Dionysian movement we call Romanticism. They turned materialism on its head: they valued emotion over reason, subjectivity over objectivity. And so on. However, materialists and romantics agreed one one thing: the primacy of the individual.<br /><br />In England, romanticism resulted in an outpouring of emotional poetry from upper-class layabouts high on opium, but it also left a lasting sentimental imprint in attitudes to "nature". In Germany, things took a more philosophical turn, towards forms of Idealism that denied the very reality of the material world and posited that everything was simply one's own subjectivity.<br /><br />Emerging from this German-speaking milieu was a new theory about madness in both its florid aspect of what we now call psychopathy (a disease of the psyche) and the more everyday irrationalities we call neurosis (an abnormal condition <i>-osis</i> of the nerves <i>neuro</i>). The new idea was that our conscious mind was only the tip of the iceberg and that lurking below the surface were many mental processes and "complexes" which could, and did, hijack our will. By far the most influential of these new doctors of the mind was Sigmund Freud.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br />Freud's theory was that sexual urges were so strong that they governed every aspect of our lives, from birth to death. He was able to reinterpret everything in terms of sexual urges acted on or repressed. In this view, repressed sexual urges simply become acted on unconsciously, causing aberrant behaviour. Freud shared the generally dim view that classical liberals have of humanity:<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">"Man is revealed as 'a savage beast to whom consideration towards his own kind is something alien.'" — <span style="font-size: x-small;">cited in Rifkin, J. (2009)&nbsp;<i>The Empathic Civilisation. </i>Polity Press.</span></blockquote>Freud's views on women were even more aggressively regressive than those of his English contemporaries. All these guys were certainly the products of their times, but there's only so much apologising for stupidity of people who are hailed as the leading intellectuals of their day. Freud was a fucking idiot whose puerile theories should have rung alarm bells for anyone paying the least bit of attention to humanity. But he lived in a time when abstract theories about people thrived in contradiction to the practice if empiricists observing nature.<br /><br />Despite the obvious lunacy of his "theories", Freud and his followers became incredibly influential on modern society. The language of psychoanalysis and psychology was co-opted by popular culture so that we now glibly speak of ego, the subconscious, neurosis, Oedipus complexes, and so on. We have no problem imagining emotions having an agency all of their own, so that when repressed they behave like wayward pixies and make us do and say naughty things.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The focus on subjectivity found a happy home in post-war France where philosophers also asserted the primacy of subjectivity and began an assault on all expressions of objectivity. This was not in the spirit of a scientific revolution, but more of a tearing down the idols of the bourgeoisie and destroying their authority. French philosophers attacked all forms of authority and all attempts to legitimate it. In some ways we can see this as a libertarian project with echos of the French Revolution, which saw the aristocracy guillotined in their hundreds. To the extent that it was a reaction to early 20th Century modernism, the new French movement could accurately be called "post-modern", though in my view this is something of a red herring.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Summing up the ever more complex history of ideas across the European and colonial world over a few centuries in such a short essay is quixotic at best. I'm highlighting just a few of the major features on the map and suggesting connections that might not be entirely obvious to all. The result is&nbsp;a sketch of a terrain from which the reader, drawing on their own detailed knowledge of history and philosophy, can imagine the background against which I will now paint a contrasting figure.&nbsp;</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Modern Views on Reason</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">It has been clear for at least fifty years that this is not how humans make decisions, is not how we think, is not how we reason, and that this is not how reason works. I've <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/search/label/Reason">written at length</a> on this subject, drawing on work by Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber in particular, so I don't want to go over it all again in detail. However, having listened to Antonio Damasio's podcast discussion with Sean Carroll, I might need to modify my presentation of this material, but I want to get this out and so I'll have to review it in the future.<br /><br />Suffice it to say that all liberals, espousing all forms of liberalism, have been completely wrong about the role that reason plays in our lives. Despite the classical view of reason being untenable, and widely known to be untenable, it is still the dominant view outside certain branches of academia. Economists, journalists, and activists all presume that humans are rational in their theories (and most add that we are self-interested, a stupid claim&nbsp;that I will deal with separately).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">What we now know, and seems obvious in retrospect, is that humans are capable of using reason in narrowly defined situations that don't typically include making economic and moral choices. We do not use reasoning to make choices at all; rather, we use reasoning to justify choices in retrospect; i.e., to produce&nbsp;<i>post hoc</i>&nbsp;reasons. We make choices using unconscious processes of inference that&nbsp;<i>in all cases</i>&nbsp;involve felt responses to knowledge that we possess. Emotions play a pivotal role in how we assess the salience of any given fact. So, presented with the same facts, and both agreeing that they are true, two people may come to entirely different decisions based on what they perceive (through felt sensations) as most salient amongst the facts.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The other time we use reasoning is in social situations when we are assessing the ideas of others. When making decisions and presenting options to others in this situation we do not use reason, we use other inferential processes. In this social setting it pays for each proponent of an idea to present the best case possible, meaning that confirmation bias (which is virtually universal in such situations) is a feature, not a bug.&nbsp;&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Michael Taft has quipped that "beliefs are emotions about ideas". And as Cordelia Fine puts it, emotions are physiological arousal combined with emotional thoughts. In other words, what we believe, and most of us believe we are a little more rational than the people around us, is&nbsp;<i>emotional</i>.&nbsp; Not in the Romantic sense, not elevating emotions to revealing the truth better than reason, but simply stating a fact. Emotions colour how we assess the&nbsp;<i>salience&nbsp;</i>of information, which we know from studying people with damage to their&nbsp;<a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2012/05/facts-and-feelings.html">ventromedial prefrontal cortex</a>. When we are unable to link information with the feelings that tell us how salient the information is, then we lose ability to make decisions.<br /><br /></div><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><div style="text-align: left;"><b>Free Will</b></div></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In this view, we can see that an individual's decisions are still important. However, it is also clear that contra-causal free will is irrelevant. An individual human cannot be considered apart from their social context, because we are social primates who live a social lifestyle. In fact, isolation can make us&nbsp;mentally and physically ill.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The question becomes, "Under what conditions to we have conscious choices and what is the extent of our ability to choose?" A social mammal cannot just decide, "Fuck it, I'm not sharing my food with anyone," because that isolates them and they die during the first general food shortage because no one will share with them. In a social group, refusal to share most likely brings immediate repercussions in the form of active punishment from the group. In chimps, for example, groups round on and beat up any member that displays overt selfishness. The selfish individual weakens the group.<br /><br />As urbanised humans we have a problem in that in our set-up selfish people can rapidly become so rich and powerful that we cannot easily punish them. And enough other selfish individuals are normalising and rewarding this behaviour that our disapproval and anger as a group don't seem to matter much. Classical liberalism was always about preventing the group from punishing individuals who display sociopathic levels of selfishness. By the way, <i>sociopathy </i>is defined as a pervasive and pronounced pattern of disregard for and deliberate violation of the rights of other people (viz&nbsp;<a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2019/05/on-liberty-and-liberalism.html">slavery, genocide, and expropriation</a>).&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">There are many different views on the question of free will in the light of modern science. Many argue that because determinism is seen to apply at some levels of reality it must apply at all. Determinists argue that there can be no freewill in any meaningful sense. Morality in this view is not even a subject because no one can be held culpable for actions they did not choose. Deterministas frequently cite experiments by Benjamin Libet, as I explained in&nbsp;<i><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2016/03/freewill-is-back-on-menu.html">Freewill is Back on the Menu</a></i> (11 March 2016); Libet's interpretation of his results was questioned by his colleagues at the time and has been quite thoroughly debunked now. Psychologists don't cite Libet, but many physicists still do - because of confirmation bias.<br /><br />Others, myself included, hold that while determinism does apply at some levels it does not apply at all and that this allows for some freedom of will for animals. This is called compatibilism.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">There are a dozen more variations on this question, but all of them call into question basic assumptions made by Enlightenment thinkers and particularly by liberals. If we call into question the very notion of freedom, then the ideology that deals with liberty loses all traction. What can liberty mean if no one is truly free?&nbsp;</div><br />In fact, I believe this issue is clouded by confusion surrounding the meaning of free will. Most people seem to take it to be synonymous with contra-causal free will. But we've already ruled out contra-causal free will as a useful idea. No one ever had contra-causal free will. <br /><br />At the very least, we can say that we experience ourselves making decisions. When called upon we formulate reasons for our actions. People around us hold us accountable for the decisions and the reasons we give for those decisions. But we are social animals whose behaviour is strongly influenced by our social milieu. So is there a better framework to discuss this? I think there is, and it emerges from the world of primatologist Frans de Waal.<br /><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>The Evolution of Morality</b></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Growing up we absorb a worldview—a complex web of beliefs (i.e., emotions) about the world and people and ourselves. We unconsciously absorb, through empathy, how others feel about the topics they are discussing and also about topics that are taboo. Many of us never question the basic assumptions we make because when we hear statements that agree with our belief we feel good about it and about ourselves. This is how we navigate the moral landscape.<br /><br />In the language of John Searle, rather than consciously following moral rules, we develop unconscious competencies that guide our actions to be within the rules most of the time. We have agency, but in a prosocial animal it is delimited by what contributes to the survival of the group because that is how social species survive. All social animals have a dual nature as individuals and members of groups.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">We also, mostly unconsciously, modify our behaviour all the time based on ongoing social feedback. As social animals we are attuned, through empathy, to the disposition of other members of our group. And we also keep track of the network reciprocity amongst our group. We know, and love to discuss, who is sleeping with whom, who is in debt, who likes/hates their job, who has kids and what they are doing. This all creates a sense of belonging which is essential to good mental health in social mammals. Of course the modern industrialised world has disrupted this pattern on an unprecedented scale and we're still not sure what the result of that will be. But we have a sneaking suspicion that it is tied to the rise in mental health problems we are seeing across the industrialised world.&nbsp;</div><br />The combination of empathy and reciprocity, which comes from the work on chimps and bonobos by Frans de Waal and his group, gives us the basis for the evolution of morality. The social lifestyle puts us in a situation were we know how other members of our group feel and we know the extent of our interrelationship with them: we know the extent of our obligations. From obligations come the idea of rights and duties. Thus, morality evolved as a deontological dimension to social life. And from this we can derive notions of virtue; virtue is primarily fulfilling or going beyond the requirements of obligation. Similar consequentialist accounts rely on an understanding of the expectations that come with obligation. And outcome is not good if it harms others, but this assumes an obligation not to harm.<br /><br />This framing of agency and decision making as part of being a social primate embedded in networks of mutual obligation gives us a much better sense of the kinds of decisions we have to make as social primates. Legacy concepts like free will and the classical view of reasoning seem to have little relevance here. We are both individuals and social. Choices are always emotional, always with reference to our milieu. We are not isolated, selfish, or rational. Indeed, "rational" really requires a completely new definition.<br /><br />As organisms we aim for homeostasis; i.e., to maintain our bodies within the limits that make continued life possible. Societies also have something like homeostasis, a kind of dynamic equilibrium, or set of chaotic oscillations through a range of possibilities consistent with the continued existence of the group. But now we scale the group up to millions of people crammed into tiny spaces. And this defies our evolutionary adaptations, very often leaving us to navigate by our wits rather than relying on our natural sociability.<br /><br />I want to finish this essay on reason with a word on those who seek to grab our attention and subvert our decision making processes.<br /><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Propaganda</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Many political activists are still fixated on putting the facts before the people and letting rational self-interest do its work. They haven't realised how humans make decisions. I find it difficult myself. In trying to persuade people that liberalism has run its course and that we need a new socio-political paradigm based on mutual obligations, I'm mainly using facts. Of course I'm trying also to construct a narrative, but it's mainly for other people who do like facts and who might be persuaded by a factual narrative.<br /><br />We already know that few liberals or neoliberals will be persuaded by the narrative I am relating here.&nbsp; A proper cult does not crumble at the first hint of criticism and liberalism is a couple of centuries old now. I feel the frustration of this. I feel that I want to break out of the faux formalism of essay writing and get someone excited about a new world through some creative story writing. I write non-fiction because I find it valuable in many ways.<br /><br />Those who have really internalised the reality that humans are&nbsp;<i>not&nbsp;</i>rational are the modern propaganda industries; i.e.. journalism, advertising, public relations; spin doctors, speech writers, press secretaries, copy writers, lobbyists, etc. These are the people who know how we really make decisions and how to exploit that for profit or to gain power.<br /><br />This is why the UK is doing a <i>volt-face </i>on Europe: through a targeted campaign of disinformation; using millions of profiles illegally obtained from Facebook to create illegally-funded attack ads on Facebook, the radical British nationalists hijacked the referendum and then exploited a very narrow majority of voters on the day (actually just a third of the electorate) to force us out of our most important international relationship, with our biggest trading partner (and the biggest single export market), voiding trade deals with every major trading bloc, and all for what? So a few British sociopaths could tell the rest of us what to do without interference from the sociopaths in the EU.<br /><br />And even with all of these facts in the public domain, the process carries on with, if anything, even greater momentum. It really is completely mad.<br /><br />The modern propaganda machine was helped by the sideways shift that psychologists took from psychotherapy to mass manipulation. They were led by Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud's nephew and student, who used knowledge gained from psychology to orchestrate a campaign of manipulation to break through the American taboo on women smoking in the 1920s. He thus doubled the profits of American tobacco and condemned millions of women to death from cancer, emphysema, and other diseases associated with smoking.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Why do the activists advocating for action on global warming and mass extinction have such a hard time getting their message across? At least partly because they erroneously believe it is simply a matter of putting the facts before the people and waiting for them to do the rational thing. But this has never worked, because reason does not work like this. We believe in such strategies for purely ideological reasons.<br /><br />Against us are massed the propaganda corps of a hundred industry groups who employ top psychology and business PhDs to work in think tanks and lobby groups to target law-makers with disinformation.<br /><br />Because we are working on out-of-date information we are extremely vulnerable to propaganda. Whole generations are now growing up saturated with propaganda.<br /><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Conclusion</b></div></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">We know that the classical account of reason is wrong.&nbsp; Evidence has been stacking up on this since the mid-1960s. I found reading Mercier and Sperber's <i>The Enigma of Reason </i>profoundly shifted my understanding of reasoning and rationality. But I don't think I've internalised it yet.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The classical account of reason is hard to shift partly because of the ways in which it is wrong. It is persuasive precisely because the false impression it creates is one that we want to believe - we <i>like</i> thinking of ourselves that way. The truth is much less glamorous, but worse we also have negative narratives about the truth. We feel strongly about reason and the supposed role that reason plays in our lives. And, for many of us, our aspiration to a cool, unemotional rationality still defines our identity. Many people, for example, admire Jordan Peterson because he is never emotional when under attack and he knows how to provoke emotional responses in other people. And in the classical paradigm this means he is rational and his emotional opponents are irrational. And because rationality is explicitly linked to morality, he appears to have the moral high-ground.&nbsp;</div><br />But look at this another way. Someone who is unemotional when attacked is generally speaking alienated from their emotions. If your train in martial arts you have to learn to suppress emotions in order to stay focussed and fight. Samurai undertook Zen meditation techniques the better stay calm in combat; to be more effective killers.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">We evolved emotions and the ability to read emotions in others to help us deal with intra-group conflicts. To conceal your emotional state gives you an advantage in a conflict. Being able to easily manipulate other people into expressing emotions, makes for a strong contrast. One is saying, "I am in control of myself and that other person is not in control of themselves". The emotional person is under the control of hostile forces.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In the classical view, reasoning, thoughts, are voluntary and under our control. We are free to the extent we can suppress our emotions and employ logic. Emotions by contrast are also called <i>passions</i>. A passion is something involuntary that overtakes you. Art depicting Jesus being crucified by the Romans, is often called "The Passion of Christ." In this view, allowing yourself to be overcome by emotion is a form of weakness. And part of this narrative, of course, is that women, who are freer with their emotional displays precisely because they do not view social interactions as combat, are weak. This is the patriarchal argument that is used to oppress women.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I grew up hating soccer because of the emotional reactions of English players to scoring a goal - they would become visibly elated, <i>hug </i>each other, and run about wildly. In the 1970s, when the game was still played by amateurs, my heroes, the New Zealand rugby team, would never&nbsp;<i>celebrate </i>scoring against the opposition. The goal scorer would simply turn around and quietly walk back to their position, along with teammates. Scoring was a team effort and no individual could or would take credit. Showing off, let alone rubbing the opposing team's face in it, was deeply frowned on. That was my ideal. Soccer players seemed effete and lacked humility or dignity. The British do like to get in your face when they win.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">On the other hand, men's uncontrolled rage, often towards women, is justified as a form of righteousness. As a man, one may not lose control and cry, for example, but one may lose control and punch someone who has offended you. There is a trendy term for this dynamic, but I don't use it, because we have enough problems without the additional stigma of labels.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Popular culture likes to imagine large external threats, be it aliens, zombies, gangs, or killer bees. And humans usually survive these potential catastrophes by combining our two strengths: individual genius and working together as a team. In the movies, someone figures out how to survive the crisis, they are charismatic enough to convince everyone to try it their way (perhaps after token resistance), and then everyone works together to implement the plan that liberates us from the threat.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">There is a reason for this trope. As smart social primates, this is how we survive: full stop. The smart ones amongst us come up with clever plans. The persuasive ones get everyone on board and organised. But then everyone pulls their weight. Except that in wild primates, the greater one's capacity as a leader, the more obligation one carries to the members who are led.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">However we came to the classical account of reason (and I suspect nefarious intent), we now know that is it wrong. A central pillar of liberalism is rotten and has to be replaced. Liberalism will have to change as a result. Liberty is certainly an admirable goal but is has been used to avoid obligations and responsibilities. For example, the narrative of liberty has been used to continue to pollute our air, water, and land because&nbsp; environmental legislation has been treated as an unjustified infringement on the free enterprise system. And yet, clearly, to poison the air I breathe or the water I drink is to deprive me of liberty.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The advisory body Public Health England told me in an email that they estimate between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths each year can be attributed to air pollution. Try to imagine that a group of insurgents are going around shooting 30,000 people per year and what the government response would be.&nbsp; In 2018, 272 people were killed by assailants wielding knives and there is an ongoing public outcry. But 30,000 deaths from air pollution hardly raises an eyebrow. This has to change, too.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Humans are not rational. We are <i>so </i>not rational. And this has nothing to do with making good or bad decisions (or how we define good and bad). We all need to take this on board and start rethinking morality, society, politics, economics, and pretty much everything else.&nbsp;</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;">~~oOo~~</div><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div></div>Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-37283601412930685102019-05-03T11:56:00.000+01:002019-05-10T21:14:06.823+01:00On Liberty and Liberalism<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div style="text-align: justify;">Perhaps the most beautiful and lasting contribution of the European Enlightenment has been the idea of individual liberty. It's hard to draw a distinct line, but let's say that before about 1700 almost no one was free. For example, in England, the King owned all the land and all the resources and just let people use them, mostly to build political alliances. Any of all of it could be taken away and given to someone else. You didn't work for a boss and you could not quit. You were owned by a Lord; if you quit you could be summarily killed.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In early medieval Japan, one king bankrupted the state building temples to ward off natural disasters. This meant that peasants faced heavy taxes and forced labour. The Grand Canal and most of the Great Wall in China were built with forced labour. If you were a medieval peasant then you did what you were told. There were peasant revolts from time to time, but usually they faced an army of well-armed and well-trained soldiers who were prepared to cut them down. On the other hand, peasants were themselves often forced into impromptu armies to fight the largely peasant armies of the neighbouring kingdom. A practice that continued long enough to give English the phrase "cannon fodder". </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In addition to this material slavery, the Church, especially the Catholic Church, imposed a kind of mental slavery on Europeans. Buddhists did the same across Asia. Michel Foucault writes germanely (if not well) on this subject in his book <i>Madness and Civilisation</i>. The Church used confession as a way of surveilling the minds of Christians and controlling their thoughts. It is not enough to be a physical subject of the king, one's very thoughts must be moulded to make one a mental subject as well. Religion very often characterises the human being as a beast which needs to be tamed and controlled. For the Abrahamic faiths it was a state of original sin that resulted from the story of Adam and Eve. Buddhists characterised our will, our desires, our very sense of self as being responsible for <i>all suffering</i>.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">This situation prevailed for most of human history. It probably emerged with the first city states and kingdoms. These early states concentrated power and wealth in the hands of leader who used it as they saw fit. The principle of hereditary power inevitably led to a preponderance of bad leaders and thence to attempts to redistribute power away from kings, away from royal families and, eventually, in our own time, to the people, although even in a "democracy" people (<i>demos</i>) have little say in state level decisions or the day to day governance. Usually all we get is one vote every few years and the rest of the time we just shout at the television.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The various political, economic, and moral ideologies that take liberty as their central idea are (sometimes confusingly) called <i>liberalism</i>. Despite the rise and fall of political parties with various names, liberalism has been the dominant ideology in Europe and its colonies since the 18th Century. Liberalism still faces competition from conservatism and socialism, but tends to come out ahead because the ideals of liberalism are internalised by the population. Anyone espousing liberalism sounds sensible to the majority, because we value the goals of liberalism: typically framed as rights and freedoms. Critiques of socialism and conservatism abound, but the ideology of liberalism is often transparent or presented as natural law.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">How did "liberal", which describes <i>über </i>right-wing economics (free markets, laissez faire), become synonymous with welfare and the left-wing? How is this related to <i>libertarianism</i>? What does the much abused term <i>neoliberal </i>mean? In this essay I will attempt to sketch the history of idea of liberalism and show how the various uses of the word are related.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Any relatively short essay inevitably over-generalises and truncates a subject which already fills a library of books. And, of course, I have an agenda in writing this essay and highlighting what seems most germane to that agenda. I make no pretence at neutrality; I think liberalism has made a valuable contribution but has become a dangerous cult. We need to think about our approach to civil society in light of modern science, but before we can do that we need to dismantle the current ideologies. I begin, therefore, with a relatively crude dissection. </div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Classical Liberalism</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">When did people start to rebel against the absolute authority of kings? Nobody really knows, but it probably coincides with the first king who was incompetent, insane, or immoral. Freedom from oppressive authority is one of the most basic definitions of liberty. This is what Isaiah Berlin termed "negative freedom". The assumption is that we are naturally free if left to our own devices.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">One of the iconic moments in this history of this idea of liberty is the signing of the Magna Carta. The barons of England made a coalition to extract promises of fairness and justice (for the barons, not their human chattels) from a despotic king who used his power in an arbitrary way.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">However, liberalism did not emerge as a coherent philosophy until the late 18th Century. Historians seem to agree that a few key figures gave liberalism its intellectual shape. Of course at any point in history there are thousands or millions of people involved in any movement. Liberalism was very much broader than a few individuals, it's just that for the purposes of writing history a movement can be summed up with reference to those few. And of course, liberalism is not a homogeneous movement by any means. The fact that is it used to label both right-wing economics and left-wing social policies should make this obvious.</div><br /><br /><b>Hobbes</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Historians often point to Thomas Hobbes' 1651 book <i>Leviathan</i> as the beginnings of classical liberalism as a political ideology, though Hobbes does not use the word "liberal" and favoured monarchism. Hobbes gains his place in the canon because he asks on what grounds a citizen owes allegiance to a sovereign. It is perhaps the first articulation of the citizen not being the property of the king.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In Hobbes' view, the natural state of men is war, of everyone against everyone.* In this "natural" state the life of man is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short". Only a powerful ruler, the eponymous Leviathan, can bring order to the lives of men and thus men enter into a <i>social contract </i>between ruler and ruled, or between state and citizen. The ruler rules by the consent of the ruled, and they consent because the alternative is war.</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">* On the use of "man" here, my task is not to rehabilitate these thinkers. They were, on the whole, sexists who thought of women as inferior (J. S. Mill is one exception to this). Where they speak only of "man", I will report this accurately as a nail in their coffin.</span> </div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">Hobbes lived through a turbulent period in history with the Thirty Years War (1618 – 1648) and the English Civil War (1642 – 1651). We could sum up the Civil War by saying that a weak ruler allowed his kingdom to fall apart and then a civilian army succeeded in overthrowing and beheading him. Conditions were exacerbated by rebellions in Scotland and Ireland and by opposition from the Scottish Churches. Thus conceivably this was an influence on Hobbes. However, the Thirty Years War, one of the most destructive and disruptive conflicts in history, was prosecuted by Europe's Leviathan kings, which seems to contradict his view that Leviathan brings stability. In fact most wars are fought by kings using their citizens as proxies.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Other early liberal thinkers, including Locke, Rousseau, and Kant, developed the idea of the social contract.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 – 1778), of course, wrote a great deal about the individual and their freedom, giving liberalism a rosy tinge of Romanticism. But he is seldom included in the main line of the development of liberalism. He saw our natural, i.e., free, state as that of the noble savage. In his view the social contract was the subjection of the individual will to the general will. This is an idea that is powerfully current in the UK today. Having won a 2% majority for leaving the EU in a referendum, Brexit campaigners repeatedly cite the "will of the people" and expect all to subject themselves to that will even when it is clear that opinion has shifted. Several of the main themes of liberalism are present in his work, but attention rightly focuses on another English philosopher as the father of liberal ideology.</div><br /><br /><b>John Locke</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Locke (1632 – 1704) came from minor gentry and was a notable Whig. He was educated in an elite school and Oxford University where he became a don. He served as physician to the Whig politician, Lord Ashley (1621 – 1683, aka the 1st Earl of Shaftesbury), one of the richest men in England. It is conventional to see the Liberal Party as emerging from the Whigs.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The Whigs were a party of aristocrats with commercial interests who wanted to be protected from the power of the Crown to appropriate their wealth and raise taxes (mainly to fight wars in Europe). Inevitably, "commercial interests" is in many cases a euphemism for the transatlantic slave trade. Lord Ashley was part of a cabal that dominated the African slave trade, though a later Earl of Shaftesbury would be a prominent abolitionist.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Having lost his patron, Locke spent some time in Holland, where sat out the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688, which saw William of Orange take the English crown. Even with a Protestant on the throne, paranoia about Catholic plots continued. On his return to England in 1690, Locke published the tracts that established his reputation and lasting legacy, namely the <i>Essay on Human Understanding</i> and the two <i>Treatises on Government</i>.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Locke, like Hobbes, was concerned primarily with negative freedom; we are assumed to naturally be free except when something (usually a king) deprives us of freedom. He also believed that men are equal and attacked theological arguments for preordained hierarchies such as the divine right of kings. He believed that there were natural laws ordained by God that even in our natural state men must be bound by. These natural laws were revealed by the application of <i>reason. </i>If liberty is the most beautiful theme of the enlightenment then reason is the most problematic (as anyone who has read <i>The Enigma of Reason</i> by Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber will understand). The natural laws gave rise to natural rights, such as the right to life, the right to liberty, and freedom of worship. Freedom of worship in particular came to be seen as the long term solution to the question of the incessant conflict between Catholics and Protestants.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In his <i>Treatises on Government</i> (1690), Locke argued for the liberty of individuals and that any encroachment on their liberty had to be justified. Justifiable encroachments on liberty are strictly limited to preventing activities that harm others. Like Hobbes (and unlike Rousseau), Locke believed that, unless coerced, men had an incorrigible tendency to infringe the natural rights of others and thus civil society was necessarily bound by a social contract. Locke argued that the role of the sovereign is to protect the person and property of individuals.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">This is a good place to make the distinction between liberalism and conservatism. Rousseau famously framed the problem of negative liberty as "Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains." Edmund Burke, the quintessential conservative would have replied, "<i>and a good thing too</i>". Liberals argued for the need to break those chains (though typically for a small subset of society) while conservatives were and are concerned with building social institutions to ensure the chains remained in place. Like Hobbes, conservatives see a society without a strong ruler (a father figure) as chaotic and unworkable. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Locke was profoundly influential on the founding fathers of the USA and many of his ideas about liberty are encapsulated in the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. One of the measures that they took was to carefully separate out the functions of government—executive, legislative, and judicial—and have them operate independently of each other as far as possible. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">There is an important point to be made about nascent and classical liberalism. Liberty is certainly the central issue, but none of the early liberals believed that it applied to everyone. And in these early days the exceptions were by far the majority of citizens. Liberty was not intended to apply to women, for example. Nor to anyone with dark skin. Nor did liberty pertain to the indigenous Americans who suffered genocide and expropriation. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Attitudes to slavery give us an important indicator for the evolution of liberalism. As note Locke's patron was a kingpin of the slave trade. Some of the founding fathers of the USA who wrote that "All men are created equal" were engaged in the slave trade and/or owned slaves. Thomas Jefferson railed against slavery but did not free the 600 he owned, allegedly because he <i>could not afford to </i>(with the implication that one white man going bankrupt was not worth the freedom of 600 Africans). He also thought that they should be trained in a trade before being freed so as not to be a burden on society. He managed to train and free just 6 men over his lifetime or about 1% of the slaves that he owned. Meanwhile, he also had children by one of his female slaves. Later, when slavery was abolished, slave owners were compensated for their loss, but slaves themselves received nothing in reparations. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Thus, when considering the history of the idea of liberty we always need to be attuned to whom liberty applied and did not apply. Of equal importance is the question of <i>who </i>was making such determinations about what constituted liberty: somehow these determinations always favoured the elite, the slave owners. Locke is part of the elite that wants to be free of oppression from the king, but who live by oppressing workers and slaves. Similarly in the USA, the genocide and expropriation of the original inhabitants was done <i>in the name of liberty</i>. I grew up watching Western movies in which the "Indians" were an oppressive force trying to prevent the settlers from being free. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Since Locke's time, the hereditary aristocracy has been largely replaced by industrialists at the ruling class: the <i>bourgeoisie </i>as Marx called them. Though this class also pass on wealth and influence along hereditary lines and use social connections to advance their own and exclude others. In the 19th Century, they represented a middle class between aristocrats and peasants, though "middle class" has taken on quite a different meaning now.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">If Locke provided the philosophical inspiration then it was Adam Smith who translated liberalism into economics and who writing marks the beginning of classical liberalism.</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>The Wealth of Nations</b></div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;"><div style="text-align: justify;">Throughout the late Medieval period and into the Renaissance the merchant classes developed an approach to economics that served only their interests. Mercantilists saw trade as a zero sum game in which each nation attempted to accumulate wealth by outdoing the others. This was partly why Europe kept erupting into large scale wars for centuries, culminating in WWII.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The publication of <i>The Wealth of Nations</i> by Adam Smith in 1776 was a turning point in modern history. Many of the ideas that underpin modern nation states and how they trade are first enunciated by Smith. He might be called the first <i>classical liberal, </i>and is still the darling of economic liberals (if only via his later interpreters).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The primary argument is for free trade as a <i>non-zero</i> sum game. If trade is free, Smith says, then "everybody" benefits, although as before we have to be alert to the exclusions that liberal intellectuals always made. Thus we could see Smith as extending Locke's arguments about liberty and encroachment on liberty to the economic sphere. Any encroachment on economic activity must be justified, and then only to prevent harm. And when he says that everyone benefits, he means not workers, but those engaged in trade. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Smith argues for a view of humanity as rational and concerned primarily with self-interest. In his thesis, if every merchant <i>rationally</i> pursues his own self interest (while avoiding harm to others), then the market will guide his actions towards the greater good. This is a crude version of the <i>so-called </i>"law of supply and demand" expanded to cover the whole economy. I will have a good deal more to say about this in the next essay. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">This view of economics takes a particular, quite abstract, view of humanity as rational and self-interested as well as primarily motivated by maximising their own benefit. This view of rationality is a feature of Enlightenment thinking about humanity. The modern versions of the theory of market economies also assume that we have perfect knowledge of the costs and benefits of all decisions and make rational decisions about what is best for us. In the economist's worldview everything is idealised with a particular slant. Unfortunately, as the field of economics progressed, that slant increasingly became whatever was required to produce simple mathematics.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Here we need to raise what now seems like an obvious question: had Smith actually <i>met </i>any people? Because it is obvious to any keen observer of humanity that we are seldom rational and that we are frequently not self-interested. We look after our ageing parents, for example, when it can hardly be in our economic interest to do so. If we were as coldly calculating as Smith makes out, for example, it would be in our interest to euthanize the elderly, the sooner to inherit their wealth before they squander it on extending lives of very poor quality. This question comes up again when we consider the other man with a claim to being the first classical liberal. </div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Bentham&nbsp;and the Mills</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Three other key liberal thinkers were Jeremy Bentham, his friend, James Mill, and especially Mill's son John Stuart Mill.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) was a child prodigy from a wealthy family. He was educated at an elite private school and Oxford University. It has been suggested that he was on the autistic spectrum, but I am deeply suspicious of such diagnoses long after the death of the individual. I've seen people diagnose me from my writing with psychopathologies&nbsp;that my psychiatrists entirely disagree with.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The name Bentham is synonymous with the philosophy of utilitarianism. In particular he conceived of man as governed by purely pleasure and pain. And from this he extrapolated a moral theory in which good could be understood as maximising pleasure, while evil maximises pain. The calculations involved in how much pleasure or pain was caused by any decision he called "hedonic calculus". Bentham dwelled on the sources of pleasure and categorised them according to intensity, duration, immediacy, and certainty of gratification.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">James Mill (1773–1836) was, unlike most of the other liberals, from a modest background, but still benefited from a good education. The elder Mill was a close friend of Bentham and a leading philosophical radical who believed in the power of education. He co-founded London's University College. His view was that men could be persuaded by argument to make rational assessments before acting. We can only assume that, like Smith, he never met many men.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">However, Bentham and Mill are both minor figures compared to J. S. Mill (1806–1873). Mill's influence is probably on a par with Adam Smith's and historians refer to him as the most influential English philosopher of the 19th Century. The importance of Mill's ideas about civil society in Britain cannot be overstated. In particular he unites Locke's liberalism and Bentham's utilitarianism.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Mill was educated at home by his father and Bentham, and he was kept isolated from other children other than his siblings. Like Bentham he was a prodigy and became well versed in many fields of knowledge at a very young age. As a non-conformist, Mill was barred from Oxbridge, but he attended lectures at University College and worked for the East India Company.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">J. S. Mill made important contributions to a number of fields, and of interest to other parts of my project/object is that, along with Auguste Comte, he was amongst the first generation of <i>emergentists</i>. In his <i>System of Logic</i> (1843) Mill described emergent phenomena that were greater than the sum of their parts.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">His book <i>On Liberty</i> (1859) extends Locke's ideas on liberty. Like Locke, he sees the role of the government as preventing individuals encroaching on each other's freedoms. However, Mill's justification for liberty is utilitarian along Benthamite lines. Freedom of speech, for example, allows for a plurality of opinions, which promotes debate and discussion on the best way forward and thus leads to the greatest good. An intellectual monoculture will stifle a society and cause it to stagnate, which is a cause of pain. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Unlike his predecessors, Mill rejects the idea of an explicit social contract, but he does recognise that in society we have mutual obligations. People living in a civil society are interdependent, which creates a problem for Mill. The idea, for example, that our actions can have no effect on those around us when we live in an interdependent society is difficult to defend. Everything we do has consequences for those around us. Arguably, any action that violates our mutual obligations is in some way harmful. This undermines the case for individualism. Where Mill was criticised, it was because he was overly vague on such questions. Drawing on modern understanding of human societies we can do much better, but I get ahead of myself.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In his <i>Utilitarianism </i>(1863), Mill revises and extends Bentham's ideas about Utilitarianism with a more sophisticated analysis of self-interest and pleasure. Where Bentham had been largely concerned with the quantity of pleasure, Mill introduced a qualitative distinction between higher and lower pleasures. Ultimately, utilitarianism aims for the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people, as Bentham put it. In Mill's understanding, moral terminology—e.g., "good", "evil", "duty", or "rights"—are subsumed into this scheme. Utilitarianism is a <i>moral </i>theory. Mill tries to argue that utilitarianism is "natural", i.e., that it emerges out of our social nature.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Mill was notably in favour of women's suffrage. The issue was becoming increasingly urgent in his day. Mill fell in love with, and eventually married, Harriet Taylor, who had a formidable intellect and was a vocal advocate of women's rights and she seems to have had a powerful (positive) influence on him. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">However, Mill's view on India and China was they had regressed into barbarism and were incapable of ruling themselves. He was in favour of the "benevolent despotism" of the British Empire, as long as it helped the unfortunate barbarians to progress. Although, of course, it was the British Empire which had destroyed their civilisations, particularly through the cultivation of opium by indentured labourers in India and through addiction to opium in China. We should not forget that the British fought two wars with China (1839–1842) and the Second Opium War (1856–1860) to retain the "right" to push opium on the Chinese. Prior to these wars, China has the largest economy in the world and was a net exporter to the world. Over the period of the opium wars their share of global GDP halved. The situation in India was similar. </div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Mill, like other classical liberals, appears to be blind to the contradictions inherent in their worldview. Liberty for all, where "all" meant "rich white men". The greatest good for the greatest number, not counting Chinese, Indians, or the first nation peoples in America. And so on. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">There were, of course, dozens of other people who made contributions to liberalism. In the figures mentioned we find the bare outlines of liberalism: individual liberty as the natural state of the elite, limited government combined with benevolent dictatorship of the elite; free trade for the mercantile class combined with servitude for workers; human beings as both rational and selfish. In general, the classical liberals were against democracy because ordinary people did not have the education required to understand human affairs, and they rightly intuited that the common people would want to limit the freedom of the elite to exploit them. However, they were also against wars of aggression since this impinged on trade and the liberty of the elite. </div><br /><br /><b>Spencer And Social Darwinism</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">There is one more influence from the mid-19th Century onwards that I wish to emphasise, since I see it as crucial to understanding neoliberalism. As I have emphasised, classical liberalism is closely tied to the expansion of the British Empire and to the rise of the Industrialists. Classical liberalism is the ideology which defends the right of the imperialist and the industrialist to engage in conquering and commerce (hand in hand) without interference, while justifying their dictatorship over those who are deemed incapable of exercising the rationality required for liberty (women, people of colour, indigenous peoples, and the working classes).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The new theory of evolution by natural selection proposed by Charles Darwin played into this imperialist narrative. "Natural" is a word that crops up a lot in the history of liberalism. Natural rights, for example. Natural laws, revealed by reason. And so on. So natural selection was always likely to attract the attention of liberals.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">It was Herbert Spencer (1820 – 1903) who worked the idea of natural selection into liberal ideology. Spencer is infamous for his summation of evolution as "survival of the fittest". In evolution theory this applies at the species level. However, it suited the liberal agenda to apply it to the individual and link it to the idea of a natural hierarchy in nature. And this, to my mind, is one of the ley manoeuvres of neoclassical liberalism or neoliberalism. Spencer confused the idea of evolution with the idea of social progress, producing the idea of social Darwinism. The elite were always on the lookout for justifications of their behaviour. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">By the time Spencer arrived on the scene the new liberalism had already begun to try to address the social catastrophe caused by classical liberalism. In a sense, in his denunciation of new liberalism and their interventions, Spencer may be counted the first neoliberal. For example, he opposed compulsory education, laws to regulate safety at work, tax funded libraries, and welfare reforms. For Spencer and the neoliberals, if people fall by the wayside, then they were not fit to survive and we are better off without them. Survival of the fittest, callously applied to individuals. Social inequality explained at the natural order of things. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Ayn Rand denies outside influences on her anti-altruistic "philosophy" of self interest, but the parallels between her denunciation of altruism and Spencer's social Darwinism are striking. Leading neoliberal Alan Greenspan was a direct disciple of Rand. And she continues to be an inspiration to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">It is this violent disregard for humanity, an existing tendency in liberalism made explicit and taken to the extreme, which marks out neoliberalism as distinction from classical liberalism. Neoliberals dropped any pretence of interest in or caring about human beings who are not part of the elite. If classical liberalism is an aberration then neoliberalism is a pathology.</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>From Whiggery to Liberalism via Radicalism</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;"><i>The American Revolutionary War</i> (1775–1783) resulted in the loss of the American colonies or the founding of a great empire depending on which side of the Atlantic you identify with. In fact, the war ended when the Whigs (proto-liberals) came to power in Britain and began to negotiate a ceasefire and peace. Liberty in the sense of negative freedom became a founding principle of new United States of America. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">However, as we have already seen there were significant exceptions to this liberty. Slavery persisted. And the genocide and expropriate of the First Nations people continued unabated. Women were not included. And as in Britain, democracy <i>was resisted</i>. It is not until the 20th Century that women get the vote and not until the 1960s that the Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King Jr. achieves equal status in the eyes of the law for African Americans. Nor has this legal and intellectual equality being internalised or realised. Women and people of colour still routinely experience discrimination, even in the land of the free. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Beginning in 1789, the French Revolution, which had adopted some ideas from liberal intellectuals, began to reshape the Francophone world. However, revolution quickly turned to terror and tyranny from which emerged the militarist state under Napoleon and a pan-European war. French liberalism went in a different direction and France was also strongly influenced by Marxism. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">While the French revolution was not repeated in Britain, it did give birth to the Radicals, a cross party grouping which pursued social reforms of a progressive nature. In particular, Radicals moved, with the backing of the working class Chartist movement, to enfranchise more men, culminating in a series of reform acts. Classical Liberals in the UK and the USA were typically reluctant to extend enfranchisement because they saw democracy as a direct threat to their autonomy. Likewise, conservatives resisted democracy. It's quite likely that Churchill was not joking when he referred to it as "the worst form of government". <br /><br />The radical influence split the Whigs and led to the formation of the Liberal Party in 1859. The Liberal party espoused the new liberal ideology rather than the older classical liberalism. They introduced the first welfare measures in the UK, although these were in the spirit not of collectivism, but of helping people to help themselves. Individualism remained a strong principle.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The radicals were amongst the first to pursue what Isaiah Berlin termed p<i>ositive freedom</i>. The lack of a voice in parliament inhibited the freedom of men and so they argued, successfully, for more men to have the vote. Later, progressive liberals would also argue that women should have the vote as well.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Meanwhile in the UK a combination of factors were coming together to kickstart the industrial revolution: technology in the form of steam powered machinery and energy in the form of coal combined to create vast wealth along with a social revolution. Britain, like most other nations, until that point had a largely rural population. But factories needed workers and the money they paid attracted people to the cities. At the same time the mechanisation of farming reduced the amount of labour required and forced people to consider other kinds of work.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;Although it became colonial, the British Empire was first and foremost a money making venture. And it was incredibly successful. Soon a section of British society had masses of surplus capital and they were looking for ways to invest it to make even more money. The built factories and merchant ships and founded one of the great trading empires. However, when they turned to colonialism, government subsidies helped many poor, landless labourers to migrate to the colonies (including many of my ancestors).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Any attempt to tell this story as a linear concatenation of causes falsifies the reality. The changes in Europe and the US that brought liberalism to prominence were complex and part of greater changes in society. And, indeed, liberalism is far from homogeneous. The range of political ideologies that have sheltered under the umbrella of <i>liberalism</i> is bewildering.</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>The Liberal Divide</b></div><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">When I set out to research liberalism it was partly because I experienced confusion over what the word meant. It especially seemed to mean different things in the UK and the USA. I was particularly puzzled by the term <i>neoliberal</i>, because at least according to one common usage (in the UK and US) neoliberalism is profoundly illiberal in that it has grossly undermined the freedom of workers, reducing their claim on the means of production and to the value created by it, and has resulted in swinging cuts to welfare. Emblematically, Neoliberals and libertarians have blocked liberal attempts to ensure that all Americans have access to health care. How can we understand this apparent contradiction?</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">As we have seen, however, there were two strands of liberalism from an early period. I tend to think of them as economic liberalism and social liberalism. Classical liberalism, which is currently quite popular due to being espoused by Jordan Peterson, is primarily associated with liberal economic ideas. The historical classical liberals were the rump of the Whigs and other wealthy businessmen, concerned to protect their economic interests from the government. Classical liberalism is generally held to have emerged in the early 19th Century forming around the ideas of Hobbes, Locke, Smith, Mill and their successors. Classical liberal was and is elitist, imperialist, sexist, and racist.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="text-align: left;">Classical liberalism is the economic philosophy of the wealthy seeking to protect their wealth. They are happy to rule society but not to share their wealth and power with it. They were mainly concerned with negative freedom.</span></div><br /><br /><b>New Liberals</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Classical liberalism ran different courses in the UK and the USA. In the UK, classical liberalism is tied to the emergence of the British Empire, while in the USA it is tied to the succession from that Empire and the consolidation of the states into a federal union. In the UK and Europe there was more concerted resistance to liberalism from socialists and communists on the left and conservatives in the centre-right. Anarchists played a role in Europe, mainly because they decided to demonstrate their contempt for leaders by assassinating them, inadvertently setting off World War One in the process.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The results of classical liberalism in Britain are graphically portrayed in the novels of Charles Dickens. Freedom amongst the bourgeoisie gave them an excellent standard of living that is still celebrated in BBC period dramas. What we see less of are the servitude, poverty, slums, disease, child labour, and early death that resulted from the Industrial Revolution. By the mid 19th Century, British society was in danger of collapsing under the influence of economic liberalism. The freedom of the elite creates a huge burden on the rest of society.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Although socialism and communism thrived under these conditions, and labour unions began to claw back some liberty for workers, many liberals were appalled by the world they had created. Liberals began to realise that if liberty was to mean anything then it had to extend to everyone. However, liberals remained committed to individualism. Unlike the left they did not see collectivism as the way to cure the ills of society. They approached the social problems caused by classical liberalism in terms of helping the poor to help themselves.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Liberalism was never simply a political or economic ideology. It was always a moral discourse as well. And part of that moral discourse included the idea that when rational people made good economic choices they prospered. In the liberal ideology, for someone to be poor meant they had made poor economic choices and were thus irrational and unfit to play a greater role in society. They completely overlooked the disadvantages of being born poor and not having access to the elite schools or the nepotism and cronyism of the elite social networks. In other words, classical liberals who were from the ruling classes completely neglected class and privilege in their social analysis.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Where classical liberals saw poverty as an indictment of the immorality of the poor, the new liberals began to see that the poor and working classes were in an impossible situation. Whereas the rich are born into liberty, the poor are born into servitude and lack the opportunities to apply themselves. It was the new liberals who concerned themselves with "social mobility" (still a phrase with a great deal of caché in British politics).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In the USA the political left has never had much traction. And classical liberalism (the right-wing of economics) ran on a lot longer, until the Great Depression. The lack of any real political left, of any true collectivism in the USA has skewed the political discourse. Roosevelt's <i>New Deal</i> is not a left-wing (collectivist) policy. It is a <i>new liberal </i>policy designed to mitigate the unequal economic opportunities individuals face as a result of circumstances beyond their control. The aim was equality of opportunity not, as with socialism, equality of outcome. In the absence of a genuine left-wing in US politics perceptions changed. Welfare liberals took the place of the left, though they are still right-wing by European standards. The new liberals are the "bleeding heart liberals".</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">So now we begin to see the two main ways the word is used. Classical liberalism or economic liberalism is the ideology of the entitled elite who are solely concerned with making a buck and keeping it. New liberalism or social liberalism wants to change social conditions so that all citizens have an equal opportunity. And as we have seen, classical liberalism combined with social Darwinism reacting against social liberalism gave rise to neoliberalism. In this view libertarians seek to take economic and social individualism to its logical conclusion: people living in isolation with no obligations. Libertarians tend to be utopian in outlook, suggesting that if they could only attain complete negative freedom they would live in the best of all possible worlds.&nbsp;</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Embracing and Hobbling Democracy</b></div><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">For liberals, democracy raised the spectre of another form of tyranny, the tyranny of the majority. Classical liberals were, on the whole, against democracy as a form of government, because of the threat that, outnumbered by the common man, the aristocrats and emerging industrialists would have their liberty restricted. However, it eventually became clear that democracy was unavoidable, partly because the tyranny of classical liberalism was so oppressive.&nbsp;&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In the post war period—a period of austerity and rebuilding for the UK and Europe and a period of unbridled expansion and prosperity in the USA—liberals turned more towards concern for positive freedom. Being born into poverty was now seen as a form of oppression to be removed. Equality of opportunity was the goal of the new liberals.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">At the same time, a burgeoning ecological awareness began to push for environmental standards. Unhappy about polluted air, water, food, and land some groups pushed for limits to be placed on industry. The UK was forced to pass a <i>Clean Air Act</i> in 1956 after coal smoke made the air in London unbreathable. Meanwhile, the provision of welfare—designed to help individuals to help themselves—led to higher taxes and to burgeoning governments. Keep in mind that the largest part of the welfare spent in the UK is pensions for the retired.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The growing role of government in the lives of citizens eventually led to a backlash from economic liberals (who thought of themselves as "conservative" by this stage). In 1971, <a href="http://moderndebtjubilee.blogspot.com/p/lewis-powell-memo.html">Lewis Powell wrote a memo</a> to the US Chamber of Commerce:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq">"No thoughtful person can question that the American economic system is under broad attack. This varies in scope, intensity, in the techniques employed, and in the level of visibility."</blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">In the sense that Powell and his colleagues in the Chamber of Commerce saw the free enterprise system as an institution that had to be preserved, they were conservative. But more than anything they were economic liberals who resented inference in their profit making. So what if they were poisoning the air and water and causing climate change? That was entirely secondary to their <i>right </i>to make a buck.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Powell made a series of recommendations, which in retrospect look like a manifesto for a social revolution (which is really not what conservatives do). Conservative businessmen should, said Powell, begin to buy up media outlets. They should endow university business departments and even found new business schools to teach conservative business <i>values </i>and ideas&nbsp;by which he meant undiluted classical liberalism. The value being the liberty of the elite and the key ideas being free markets, laissez faire, low taxation, welfare reforms, and small government. But furthermore they should start and generously fund foundations and think tanks to employ the graduates of these new business schools. They would help to articulate businessmen's ideas and combat arguments against them, and use their newly owned media as leverage against citizens who wanted clean air etc. The think tanks would also lobby politicians to prevent, weaken, or repeal legal measures which infringed on the freedoms of businessmen.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">And this is what businessmen did. Economic and social problems that emerged in the 1970s, not least of which were the oil shocks, propelled candidates into office on the promise of a neoclassical liberal economic program. At the same time a group of extreme libertarian economists seemed to be articulating similar ideas and articulating a reform program to dismantle the concessions of the new liberals to society.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Although neoliberalism was an existing term, it soon came to be used to describe the program of economic reform undertaken by leaders such as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. I sometimes call it the Alan Greenspan doctrine since he it was he who translated the ideology into policies. State assets were sold, often to foreigners; state enterprises were privatised, government let go the levers of power except for control of interest rates (aimed at controlling inflation) with the idea that markets would steer themselves. They ignored the increasing corruption that crept into virtually all of the large corporations who used their power to manipulate markets to their own ends, and usually to the detriment of everyone else.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The same problems that plagued classical liberalism recurred. Wealth became concentrated in the hands of an elite and... surprise, surprise, they promptly used that power in an oppressive manner. They undermined democracy and the liberty of citizens.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">One of the key neoliberal programs was the stripping away of regulations governing the finance industry that had been in place since the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression. Private sector debt expanded by orders of magnitude and fuelled a series of bubbles that regularly burst producing economics recessions. This debt ratcheted up to 500% of GDP in the UK just prior to the collapse of Lehman Brothers, which then threatened to take down the entire banking system of the world. In the UK £1.5 trillion (one year's GDP) was borrowed overnight to nationalise banks in order to stabilise the system.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">We know that J. P. Morgan, Bear Sterns, Goldman Sachs, and company acted recklessly and without regard for anything other than the profit of the elite. We know that many companies made money out of the subprime mortgage scam. We know that banks were manipulating interest rates. We know that they were laundering billions for organised crime groups and kleptocrats. We know, but because they have captured government, there has been very little we can do. Most of the dishonest people involved have not been punished and have walked away with fortunes.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Meanwhile the foundations and think tanks provided more and more lobbyists with PhDs in business and psychology. Each industry employed multiple lobbyists for each elected representative. We all remember the story of big tobacco being in denial about the health dangers of smoking and doing everything they could to prevent any government from curtailing their product or the profits they made. And this continued long after they were certain about the carcinogenic effects of smoking.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Today we see the same thing from automotive and oil companies. Internally they acknowledge the problem of climate change and their role in creating it, but externally they lobby to undermine the attempts to prevent climate change. We know for certain that ExxonMobil and Shell both knew that they were responsible for climate change but continued to publicly cast doubt on climate science and to weaken any environmental legislation. We know that car-makers falsified result of emissions tests. And so on. These are all symptoms of neoclassical liberalism.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">If this were not bad enough we began to see a revolving door between senior positions in government and executive positions and directorships in big business. Having spent a few years running interference for business in government, men would be rewarded with high paying private sector jobs. In the USA the senior staff of the Treasury, including the Secretary, would inevitably come from top Wall Street companies. Much the same thing happens around the world. Government who support business know that when they leave government they will become very rich for very little effort. They basically retire on an executive salary. Former Prime Minister of the UK, Tony Blair, earns millions in consulting fees (often from very dodgy nation states) and hides his income in an elaborate structure of shell companies and trusts so that he pays no tax. What an example to nation.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Companies used the lax legislative environment to buy up competitors and create monopolies or near monopolies. In media, only a handful of companies now own all the mainstream TV networks, all the newspapers, and all the publishing houses (including academic publishing) across the globe. Similarly in banking, supermarkets, the automotive, and electronics. There is a relentless consolidation of power and concentration of wealth, facilitated by governments around the world in exchange for generous private sector retirement packages. And along with this is the phenomenon of the bigger you are the less tax you pay. Amazon, to take one example, gets more in government subsidies to do business in the UK than is pays in taxes. It treats its workers like robots - timing their every moment, including bathroom breaks. These companies squeeze every last penny of profit out of citizens, workers, governments, and somehow never pay tax. They use our commercial infrastructure but make no contribution to it. Which puts more of a burden on citizens to cover the costs.&nbsp;</div><br />Classical liberalism is almost always narrow in its application. Neoliberals want business to be free to make profits at <i>any </i>cost to citizens. One of the main costs has been that although we have the illusion of "democracy" because we get to vote for a local representative, in fact, government is not run by the people for the people and never has been. Frank Zappa called government "the entertainment wing of the military-industrial complex." This seems more true every year.<br /><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Conclusion</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">There is no doubt that liberalism has made an enormous contribution to society. Many of the freedoms that we take for granted have come to us from the political activities associated with varieties of liberalism. Freedom of speech, of association, and of worship are all liberal values. Liberals are also, generally speaking, against wars of aggression. The project to link the previously adversarial nations of Europe together with networks of free trade, the free movement of capital and labour is essentially a liberal one. The whole idea of civil liberties we owe to liberalism.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">However, we should not be naïve about the nature of liberalism. It was, and in many ways still is, anti-democratic. Liberals don't want people to have power because they fear the tyranny of the majority. And the majority don't care about becoming rich and powerful. Most people just want a certain amount of security: a roof over their heads, food on the table, education and healthcare. Most people are willing to work hard for these; in fact, much harder than anyone should have to work in this day and age. That willingness is too easily exploited.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Liberalism was always about freedom for the elite to do what they like. The classical liberals did not consider most people capable of exercising freedom because they were not capable of exercising reason. In this they included all women, all Africans, all indigenous people everywhere. Not only did they deny liberty to these classes, they also practiced genocide and expropriation. And what is more they did it in the name of liberty! And we should be outraged by this. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">We should be outraged by the way that neoliberals have reorganised society to promote the accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of a few white men. We should be outraged at the continued, if more subtle, denial of liberty to women, people of colour, indigenous peoples. We should, like the anarchist geographer, Dr Simon Springer, be saying "Fuck neoliberalism". Not being polite about it, but honoring the righteous anger at the rhetoric of freedom being used to enslave us.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">One of the most troubling trends that follows in the decades of neoliberal abuses of power and office is the rise of fascism: ultranationalist, racist, authoritarian groups which make the same offer to citizens as the fascists of the 1930s did. The elite do not care about you, they say, but we will protect your interests against those of the elite. And plenty of citizens, tired of barely scraping a living, of feeling out of control, tired of watching the excesses of the seemingly untouchable elite, become receptive to the message of fascism.<br /><br />We already know that economic liberalism is a failure. Given their liberty, the elite always misuse it to oppress others. That neoliberalism is now making fascism look attractive again ought to be a warning sign that something is terribly wrong.<br /><br />But of course the single biggest indictment of neoliberalism is the failure to acknowledge the impact that all that industry has on the ecology of the planet. Under neoliberalism we have instituted a mass extinction of plant and animal species and created a genuine existential threat to civilisation that can only be compared to the Black Death in Europe when one third of the population died.<br /><br />In my next essay I will look at some of the reasons that liberalism goes as wrong as it does, particularly in how it understands human beings and human societies. And I will ponder what politics might look like in a world that acknowledged the truth.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: center;">~~oOo~~</div><br /><br /><blockquote class="tr_bq"><b>Note: 8 May 2019</b>. There is a good article by George Monbiot from 2016 on the modern manifestations of liberalism: <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/15/neoliberalism-ideology-problem-george-monbiot?fbclid=IwAR3s04IZkvNLU9UU_qsDwuGftNJ3szeZC4XBzpB--wMH-fRZ_ACnVc8D11I">Neoliberalism:&nbsp;</a><span style="color: #0000ee;"><u>the ideology at the root of all our problems.</u></span>&nbsp;He covers Hayek and Friedman. Brilliant Hayek quote shows that he was in fact a classical, anti-democratic, liberal:&nbsp;“my personal preference leans toward a liberal dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism”.</blockquote><br /><br /></div></div>Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-41955901630507841982019-04-24T12:37:00.000+01:002019-05-13T15:43:17.594+01:00My Political Compass<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div style="text-align: justify;">As with other recent writing, this is an idea that is going to be a long read drawn out over several essays. In this essay, to start with, I want to talk about political vocabulary and how impoverished it has become, about how we can no longer describe the politics of our time with the vocabulary of another.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">One of the central themes of my writing for some years now has been to emphasise the social and prosocial nature of humanity;&nbsp; we live in groups and are adapted to and oriented towards our group in positive ways. I think I probably owe this to Lynn Margulis as much as anyone. It was reading her books that made me think about evolution in terms of symbiosis, cooperation, and communities. This was augmented by the work of Robin Dunbar on human social groups, by Jane Goodall's book <i>In the Shadow of Man</i> on the chimps at Gombe Stream National Park and, most recently, by Frans de Waal's work on emotions and social behaviour in primates.&nbsp;What all of these scientists have in common is that they highlight the social and prosocial aspects of social primates. They also see humans as part of a continuum of social mammals.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I'm explicitly a fan of the Enlightenment, but I think the Enlightenment has also left us with a toxic legacy. We could sum this up in a single idea that <i>human individuals are selfish</i>. By this we mean that humans primarily, overridingly, pursue their individual interests without reference to family or community. This idea emerges from multiple sources, but generally speaking it has been the mainstream view since the time of Jeremy Bentham (1748 - 1832), Adam Smith &nbsp;(1723-1790), and the next generation of British intellectuals such as John Stuart Mill (1806 – 1873). We also have to keep in mind&nbsp;the role of religious narratives which depict humanity as "fallen". People are no good.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">The idea of a flawed and innately bad humanity has been part of the European psyche for at least 1500 years. However, scientists who study humans tell us that this characterisation is not even wrong. It is orthogonal to reality. Humans are certainly <i>capable </i>of acting selfishly and people who do seem to wield a disproportionate amount of power in the world, but what science shows is that we are fundamentally generous, empathic, and prosocial. There is a simple fact to keep in mind. We are social mammals. Like other social animals we evolved to live in small communities tied together by strong ties of mutual obligation forged from empathy and reciprocity.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">The other toxic legacy is that <i>men are rational</i>. Although this idea has now expanded to include women, it's apparent that it has not yet been fully internalised as women are routinely discriminated against. People with dark skin also were (and sometimes still are) thought of as being incapable of rationality. This idea of rationality is tied, in Liberalism, to the exercise of moral judgement and to notions of free will. And again this view is orthogonal to reality. The Enlightenment thinkers completely misunderstood reason, reasoning, and rationality. They misunderstood decision making. They misunderstood the idea of free will.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">I absolutely reject these exclusions. The exclusion of classes of people from the right to liberty is the most obvious flaw of Liberalism, because in itself it is irrational. It's quite obvious that with equal opportunities most differences that are related to gender or skin tone disappear. Liberties ought to be universal, not dependent on luck or hereditary privilege.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I wish to question, to examine, to ultimately reject and replace the whole current basis for how the children of the Enlightenment understand themselves. Crazy? Probably. Underqualified? Certainly. No one cares what I think? On the whole, sure. So why bother?</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I can think and write and not much else. Sometimes things seem so clear and also so <i>important </i>that I cannot help but sit down at my computer, push through the pain, and write it all down. I'm not famous or influential and never will be. But I look at what public intellectuals who have the attention of the worlds are writing and, on one hand, I'm frustrated by the poor standards of their thinking and on the other I just feel that most of the time they are wrong. I think I can do better, so I have to try.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I will start with talking about the political language of the day. So many of the terms we use have become pejorative in the mouths of those who hold opposing views: liberal, conservative, left, right, socialist, neoliberal, and so on. I just sort of realised one day that I understood some of what was going on but that I could understand most of the words being used. There was a serious disconnect. For example, I was struck early on in my political awakening by the fact there is nothing very liberal about Neoliberalism. But this reflected a poor understanding of Liberalism. Neoliberalism is in fact Neoclassical <i>Liberalism</i>. It is liberal through and through. And so this series of essays is me trying to sort out what I think in terms that make better sense than what I read in the newspapers or hear in public discourse.<br /><br />I didn't really start paying close attention to politics until I moved to the UK and discovered the far-right Conservative party had taken power and with that they had a good deal of control over my life and used it in a punitive way.&nbsp;</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Finding my Political Compass</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;"><i><a href="https://www.politicalcompass.org/">Political Compass</a></i>&nbsp;is a very significant resource for understanding ourselves and how our worldviews work. If you have not done their <a href="https://www.politicalcompass.org/test">test </a>and got your result, then I highly recommend that you stop reading now and do so. It will help.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The folks at PC became dissatisfied with the traditional division of politics into left and right. It seemed to lack nuance. The traditional right was conservative and patrician (centralising and controlling) while the traditional left was progressive and paternalistic (centralising and controlling). But this leaves out many coherent alternative political positions and ignores the obvious similarities between the traditions.</div><br /><div><div style="text-align: justify;">For example, anarchism has long been a political philosophy which espouses voluntary, decentralised, collectivism. The best the traditional left/right divide can do is say that this is <i>far left </i>but the most communist states in reality are highly controlling if not actually totalitarian. We can't accurately say that anarchism, socialism, and communism are all varieties of the same type of political philosophy. But the groups we call left-wing don't have much in common; and if some of the left are concerned with liberty and some with control then "left" seems to have lost any meaning.&nbsp;</div></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">On the other end of the scale the mainstream political parties of most countries espouse free markets but increasingly surveil their citizens and curtail civil liberties. The UK has the highest rate of installation of CCTV cameras in the world. If you commit a crime anywhere, chances are you are on Candid Camera. But libertarians, especially the extreme kinds that we find in the finance industry, are also of the right. Meanwhile NeoNazi groups are called <i>far right</i>. But the Nazis combined a certain amount of privatisation with a centralised state, which really makes them economic centrists. I don't mean to be insensitive, but the Nazis also nationalised the wealth of certain citizens. Which is what we think of as a hard left economic policy. What do NeoNazis and Alan Greenspan have in common?&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">You will see out there on the internet the argument that National Socialism is a form of socialism. But this is only true to the extent that the Democratic Republic of North Korea is democratic. By "socialism", Hitler meant that the individual should subjugate themselves to the state. This was an idea he got from German Idealist philosophers. And if they would not subjugate themselves, then the state would happily do violence to them. But then all states use violence in some form.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">So PC decided that we need at least two axes. On the horizontal axis we have economic policy. On the left is the highly centralised, planned economy. On the right the laissez-faire economy with small government and free trade. On the vertical axis we have social policies. At the bottom is the atomised society in which the individual makes all their own decisions and at the top the authoritarian society in which the state makes all our decisions for us. It looks like this diagram from the PC website:</div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-f2h53VOMFLw/XLrXp5VeVyI/AAAAAAAAI6Y/RWCKuOSnZZ0Rhi6RmwFSIMYJC_evbVZVgCLcBGAs/s1600/axeswithnames%2B%25281%2529.gif" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="500" data-original-width="500" height="320" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-f2h53VOMFLw/XLrXp5VeVyI/AAAAAAAAI6Y/RWCKuOSnZZ0Rhi6RmwFSIMYJC_evbVZVgCLcBGAs/s320/axeswithnames%2B%25281%2529.gif" width="320" /></a></div><div style="text-align: justify;">I'm not entirely in agreement with the labels here, so let me outline how I would label the diagram. But first let me define some terms:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><ul><li style="text-align: justify;"><i style="font-style: italic;">authoritarianism</i>&nbsp;is a form of government in which the executive has very strong powers, though there is still a constitution and an elected parliament. Civil liberties are often curtailed. An example would be the USA in Donald Trump's presidency.&nbsp;</li></ul><ul><li style="text-align: justify;"><i>dictatorship&nbsp;</i>in which the executive rules directly. There may be a parliament but it has few powers. Civil liberties are usually suppressed.&nbsp;</li></ul><ul><li style="text-align: justify;"><i>Absolutism&nbsp;</i>which involves a hereditary ruler with unlimited power. An example being North Korea under Kim Jong-un.</li></ul></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">I'll go around the diagram giving examples of representative ideas and those who held or promoted them.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">At top-left we have Stalin, a left-wing authoritarian. Soviet Russia was a highly centralised state, with&nbsp;state ownership of more or less everything, and a centrally planned economy, that denied civil liberties and terrorised its own citizens. Stalin did not have unlimited powers, but neither the deputies nor the army could stop him doing what he wanted. North Korea is really off the chart here because it is beyond authoritarian and into absolutist territory.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">At top centre are the Nazis. Under Hitler some state industries were privatised (right-wing), he professed a desire that Germany be self-sufficient (left-wing) and tariffs were imposed on imports (left-wing). He also created a centralised state (left-wing). So despite the popular narratives about the Nazis, they were economic centrists, preferring a mix of policies from the left and right. Where Hitler was extreme was in authoritarianism. He saw "socialism" as people serving the needs of the state. And of course he turned Germany into a war machine. Hitler was a centrist-authoritarian. I don't mean to be histrionic, but this is also where we would place the current US President, although I think the USA is moderately less authoritarian as the legislative and judicial branches of government (not to mention his own staffers) are acting to curtail Trump's attempts to exercise absolute power (as the Founding Fathers hoped they would).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">And at the top-right are right-wing authoritarians, who advocate a decentralised state or free market economy where no one tells business to stop polluting and causing climate change that will kill millions, but millions of people are put in jail for smoking a little weed. Control of the economy was more or less abandoned by the government except for attempts to control the money supply (monetarism). Thatcher and Reagan are the classic examples. Sometimes also called NeoConservatism, although since Thatcher undertook a massive program of reform she's not really a conservative by the conventional definition. Under these regimes, public assets were sold off in the UK; most public enterprises were privatised, except for some parts of education and the National Health System (which continues to be so wildly popular that no politician can afford to be openly against it); and labour unions were prevented from being effective by isolating them from each other and placing limitations on actions they could take. The classic right-wing strategy is divide and conquer.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">On the far-right centre we have the current UK government which wants free markets for business, allows same-sex marriage, but locks people up for using drugs, and sees introducing choices for consumers as an ideal. A choice of schools and health care, for example, is the justification for the creeping privatisation of education and health (which even Thatcher did not consider). Some civil liberties have been extended, such as same-sex marriage and civil partnerships. but generally liberty has been curtailed. For example, police have new and extensive stop and search powers as well as some very extensive powers under terrorism laws.&nbsp;&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">At the bottom left is what most people associate with libertarianism, i.e., the right-wing libertarians. In this view, the government cannot make economic policy, this is left to the markets; nor can they impose on citizens civil liberties. If we have government at all then it is limited to roles such as organising the defence forces. This is a theoretical position really only held by a few extremist economists such as Milton Friedman, some survivalists, and homegrown white-supremacist terrorists such as the mongrel Australian who shot and killed 50 people in Christchurch, New Zealand. Bitcoin and other so-called crypto-currencies are a manifestation of this ideology and mainly used for buying goods and services that are illegal via the dark web. This corner is very difficult to distinguish from anarchism.</div><br />I will return to the link between libertarianism and white supremacists in the future.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The bottom centre is a mixed state that I cannot think a real world example of. It would be a situation in which the government leaves decisions to individuals but pursues some centralised functions. The trouble is that centralisation of functions tends to mean that the government dictates access to those functions and thus moves north of libertarianism. In practice...&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The bottom left hand corner is where I would place anarchism as a socio-political theory: left-wing libertarians or Libertarian socialists. Voluntary collectivism, all decisions made by individuals or at least at a local level. By the way, we think of anarchy as "chaos" because early European Anarchists decided that assassinating heads of state would be a good way to demonstrate their rejection of the politics of the day. One of them managed, more or less by accident, to shoot Archduke Franz Ferdinand and set off World War I.&nbsp;</div><br />And finally at the far-left middle is communism in which government is imposed, but it is collectivist and workers own the means of production. This is close to what Marx envisaged, but again I don't think there are examples of this in practice, at least not on a state scale.<br /><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Politics in Real Life</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In real life there are few political parties or governments that are at the extremes, though some individual politicians stake out more marginal positions. I want to illustrate this with examples from the UK and USA. The diagrams below represent how Political Compass understood the political positions at recent elections. The first shows UK political parties at the time of the 2017 election.&nbsp;</div><br /><div><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-vo1JDz42sxU/XLrcojjYZ6I/AAAAAAAAI6k/v89Yzio7MrII3ZHB7fUeng-7Dz0gkES3QCLcBGAs/s1600/uk2017.png" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" data-original-height="400" data-original-width="400" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-vo1JDz42sxU/XLrcojjYZ6I/AAAAAAAAI6k/v89Yzio7MrII3ZHB7fUeng-7Dz0gkES3QCLcBGAs/s1600/uk2017.png" /></a><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In the UK, the Conservative Party (Tories) are on the far-right (~8.5/10). Within the Tories are some very far right MPs who advocate neoclassical liberalism: free market economy but with corporations having the rights of individuals.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">UKIP, a party formed on the premise of dragging the UK out of Europe and often characterised as right-wing, is <i>to the left</i> of the Conservative Party (~7.5/10). The German <i>Alternative für Deutschland</i> party is often characterised as far-right but, in fact, <a href="https://www.politicalcompass.org/germany2017">in another diagram</a>, we see that like the Nazi's who inspre them, the AfD are economically center-right. Their extremism is in their Nationalism and Xenophobia, which is not covered by this diagram at all. These are nothing to do with the political right. If you look at definitions of fascism, then Mao's China, supposedly on the far-left, easily qualifies.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Because we don't distinguish right-wing economics (free markets, small government, etc) from nationalism or authoritarianism, we cannot have a sensible discussion about the politics of our day.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Between ca 1997-2010 the UK Labour party, an avowedly socialist party, took an dramatic lurch to the right economically and tried to combine both liberal economics (free markets and low taxation) and liberal social policies (government helping hands). <br /><br />The result of Neoliberalism and the deregulation of the finance industry, which no one really talks about, was the largest accumulation of private sector debt in history. Private debt soared to 500% of GDP. Then the subprime mortgage scam hit the fan and all that debt suddenly started defaulting, leaving the banks with cashflow problems and facing bankruptcy. Government stepped in and spent £1.5 trillion (= 100% of GDP) nationalising three banks so that the whole finance sector did not collapse. Something similar happened all over the world, even where countries that had had very low government debt before 2007, like Spain, suddenly had to borrow vast amounts. Then, high government debt was blamed for the problem in a bizarre a <i>post hoc fallacy</i>. What happened was that we turned finance into a free market with no controls or oversight and it rapidly descended into criminal activity on a vast scale. Some investigations are still pending because prosecutors don't have the resources.<br /><br />When I get more into the history of liberalism in future essays, we will see that this modern breakdown caused by so-called "free markets" was entirely predictable. We have been here before.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Note that the Green Party are only 3.5 left - we'd have to say center-left moderate-libertarian. And that mainly because they want to impose environmental controls on business to stop them polluting the air, water, and land with toxic and carcinogenic compounds that kill and maim hundreds of thousands of people each year. Tens of thousands die from air pollution in the UK alone. If 10 people die from a new party drug there are outraged editorials across the press. Cities with illegal and dangerous levels of air pollution seem killing 90-100 people every day seem to be fine.</div><br />Now look at the USA at the time of the 2016 election:</div><br /><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-f2y8gaDG1Rk/XLrcqXG2O6I/AAAAAAAAI6o/kI-NnTEjCzIEyJWxQ9xPSIQcbmmxHMT7ACLcBGAs/s1600/us2016.png" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" data-original-height="400" data-original-width="400" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-f2y8gaDG1Rk/XLrcqXG2O6I/AAAAAAAAI6o/kI-NnTEjCzIEyJWxQ9xPSIQcbmmxHMT7ACLcBGAs/s1600/us2016.png" /></a><br />Corruption allegations notwithstanding, there are some striking things here. Firstly, Hillary Clinton is clearly <i>to the right</i> of Donald Trump. That's right, Clinton was more right-wing than Trump. Clinton is, like most presidents in recent times, a Neoliberal. Trump was moderately right wing, but since the election he has lurched violently to the left by introducing protectionism, a classic hard left policy. This is why we place him with Hitler - he's another centre-right authoritarian.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In terms of this discussion the other thing that distinguishes the two candidates is that Trump is significantly more authoritarian than Clinton. Trump wanted government to have more say over people's lives and to take decisions away from them.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">But the criticism that you hear of Clinton was that she was a leftist or "a liberal". Ironically, she is only a liberal in the economic sense of being in favour of free markets. Socially she is still an authoritarian. I sometimes see people saying that the left have a lot to answer for in the USA. But there have never been any leftists in the White House in modern times. Bill Clinton campaigned center-right, but then adopted Alan Greenspan as his Secretary of the Treasury. Greenspan was famously a direct disciples of the dangerous extremist Ayn Rand who advocated self-interest above all. She made Adam Smith look like a bleeding heart liberal.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Of course Bernie Sanders does describe himself as a socialist, which you would think puts him on the left of the midline. But as PC say:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">"It remains a mystery to us why Sanders chose to describe himself — incorrectly — as a socialist, and in America of all countries. His position is that of a mainstream social democrat... In this most paradox-packed electoral circus, some of Trump’s professed economic positions are actually closer to Bernie’s than to Hillary’s."&nbsp;</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">And in the end, Sanders endorsed Clinton, the most right-wing candidate on the ballet. The US Green Party is a left of centre moderately libertarian group. The Greens are more libertarian than either the Republicans or the Democrats. As with the UK their "leftness" is mainly because want to stop degradation of the environment. Pollution can be seen to restrict an individual's constitutional right to life, for example, since it kills people. So it could well be seen as a libertarian issue. But Americans vote for the polluters and howl if anyone tries to stop them polluting.&nbsp;</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Buddhist Politics?</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">We sometimes see trendy academics and intellectuals touting something they call "Buddhist Economics". To me this is completely bogus. Firstly, when you read these tracts they contain almost no economic thinking and what economic thinking they do manage all seems to happen on the micro-level. It's all about consuming less and thinking small. It's not about macroeconomics. They have nothing to say about fiscal or monetary policy. They don't have a position on whether to aim for full employment or low inflation. They do not advocate a particular role for central banks or have a theory of money creation. In short, they know almost nothing about political economics and have no contribution to make to the subject.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">There is an element of gaslighting about this focus on consumerism.&nbsp;Oil companies, especially, have tried to promote this idea that climate change is caused by consumerism and that it's up to individuals to change their habits. It draws attention away from the real culprits in climate change. The world currently burns 93 million barrels of oil <i>per day</i>&nbsp;and that figure goes up day by day. But 80% of greenhouse gases are from industry and government. And, anyway, they have arranged it so that the alternatives are much more expensive and then driven down wages so that we cannot afford to change.&nbsp;</div><div><br /></div><div><div style="text-align: justify;">This focus on the individual is characteristic of liberalism. Socialists seek collectivist solutions to social ills. I want to tackle this at some point, but it's a huge subject. Here I just want to make a few remarks about what Buddhism or Buddhists might contribute to this discussion.&nbsp;</div></div><div><br /></div><div><div style="text-align: justify;">I have noted many times now that when we look at nominally Buddhist countries they mostly seem to have abhorrent forms of government. They lean towards dictatorship and militarism. They have nothing to teach anyone about&nbsp; democracy, for example. There are two social models that pervade Buddhist ideologies: firstly, the guru/chela relationship which is a master/servant situation. This can hardly be appropriate in the modern world. Indeed, I don't know anyone who takes this seriously on a personal level, let alone as a guide to politics.&nbsp;</div></div><div><br /></div><div><div style="text-align: justify;">And then there is the monastic Sangha. In practice, the Sangha ought to work on consensus, with everyone having a say, but with the acknowledgement of a hierarchy of experience. This seems like an admirable aim. But in practice these Buddhist religious organisations are deeply hierarchical, oppressive towards women and minorities, exclusive and elitist, and a burden on the people. Monks are parasites nine times out of ten. That figure drops amongst "Western" monks. Still, they are, on the whole, deeply conservative religieux who promote surveillance on the thoughts and emotions as the way to promote good society. I deal with this more in the next essay.</div><br />So I don't see that Buddhism in its traditional forms has much to offer. Where Buddhists make individual contributions that break this mould, what they talk about, as long since observed by David Chapman, is the post-war social democratic consensus with some Green politics thrown in (Buddhists are Bernie Sanders - about the same age as well). Buddhists don't have a political position of their own. That said, I have seen Buddhist advocate all kinds of political&nbsp; positions from left to right and top to bottom. As with most things, there isn't a coherent Buddhist politics because Buddhism is not a coherent worldview: it is a highly pluralistic set of worldviews which are frequently mutually exclusive.&nbsp;</div><div><br /></div><div><br /></div><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Conclusion</b></div><div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I should note that I agree that consumerism is a bad thing. But it can't be solved by individuals, at least not alone. There is a vast system dedicated to creating and sustaining consumerism and to deal with it we have to change that system.&nbsp;</div></div><div><br /></div><div><div style="text-align: justify;">In order to change the system we have to first understand the worldview behind it. We have to understand and, at least to some extent, to empathise with that worldview. We at least have to understand why it appeals to so many people when it is so obviously harmful to them. This is also my approach to understanding religion and the persistence of supernatural beliefs.<br /><br />In fact, this apparent paradox of adopting beliefs that seem broadly harmful leads us into the heart of the matter. We are expected to be rational in the classical sense, but we are not. <i>No one is</i>. That view of humanity, which has stood for millennia, is fundamentally wrong and yet it is a cornerstone of our worldview. Trying to understand how we <i>actually </i>make decisions and choices is very helpful in trying to rebuild the cathedral of self-knowledge on the species level. This has been a major theme in my writing over the last ten years.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Similarly, consumerism is not an isolated phenomenon. It accompanies the continuing atomisation of society and the breakdown of communities and support mechanism. As social animals we now routinely live in isolation with just a small group of friends, but surrounded by thousands or millions or strangers to whom we have no social connection and feel no social obligation. Can there be a social contract under these conditions?&nbsp;Without a sense of belonging a social primate suffers an unbearable pain and this is just one reason that nationalism keeps coming up.&nbsp;</div></div><div><br /></div><div><div style="text-align: justify;">A small group of people, over all recorded time there are probably only a few hundred of them, have exploited humanity's weaknesses, primarily through the maxim of <i>divide and conquer</i>. And they have duly conquered us. The really vile trick is to make us believe that it is in our best interests to be conquered and remain subjugated.&nbsp;</div></div><div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">To this end I'm thinking a lot about Liberalism at the moment -- when I'm not watching the <a href="https://rebellion.earth/">Extinction Rebellion</a> in London and around the world. I agree with both their aims and their methods. But they also highlight, for me at least, a deeper failure of our intelligentsia to help us understand the world and our place in it. Scientists provide useful facts but fail to adequately contextualise them and show how they affect our belief systems; while philosophers seem mainly concerned with picayune details of abstractions and trying to undermine the very idea of objectivity.&nbsp;</div></div><div><br /></div><div><div style="text-align: center;">~~oOo~~</div><br /><br /><br /></div></div>Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-76799293780754850962019-01-18T11:39:00.000+00:002019-01-18T13:54:29.424+00:00Against Karma: Modern Buddhism<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div style="text-align: justify;">This is the concluding part of a long essay making a Buddhist case against traditional karma views. <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2019/01/against-karma.html">Part 1, <i>Against Karma</i></a>, set the scene by reiterating some points I've made before about karma and the just world fallacy. <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2019/01/against-karma-suffering-and-justice.html">Part 2, <i>Against Karma: Suffering and Justice</i></a>, explored the role of suffering in the just world fallacy. In this part, I conclude with some very incomplete ideas about how we make a good society, a summary of the main points, and some concluding remarks.<br /><br />In my view, no suffering is <i>ever </i>deserved. It might be a direct result of some evil or ignorant action, but still, I have experienced a great deal of suffering and I don't think anyone deserves it. Moreover, I don't believe that it helps people to be more moral in the first place, or the that moral debts are satisfactorily repaid by the infliction of suffering (and nor does anyone else, since criminals are always treated with prejudice). I cannot think of any circumstances in which inflicting suffering is justified. I don't see any suffering as "earned".</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">And I don't say this as a saint. I have harmed people in the past and probably will again. Sometimes I have set out to do harm. But I am ready to admit that I was wrong to do so. I do believe that it is immoral to harm others or, indeed, to harm any sentient being, or the environment, generally. I have made a lifelong commitment to doing better and recognise the need for constant work in this area. Part of my reason for being in a Buddhist Order is to make common cause with people who feel the same way (although this has gotten complicated lately).&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Minimising harm is the urgent task of every human on the planet. I think most of us get it, but we define our group narrowly and only apply the principle locally. We need to expand our sense of identity to take in a broader picture. But there may be limits to how far some people can go with this. Nationalism as a response to insecurity and high levels of immigration is no great surprise. It may well be that globalisation is a good thing, but the reactions we are seeing to it suggest that, at best, it has been poorly managed. The UK going through the self-mutilation of Brexit is a sign that something has gone very wrong with the post WWII European project. But I don't see any sign of soul-searching going on. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I do not believe in karma because I do not believe that suffering restores justice; all suffering is unjust and there is no just world to balance it out. We can certainly cause ourselves to suffer, but I cannot see that any greater purpose is served by this. Fairness and justice, to the extent they exist at all, are emergent properties of human social interactions. </div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Of course, most people still think in terms of in-groups and hierarchies of exclusion; they put a higher or lower value on the lives of others depending on how closely related that they are. This is unlikely to stop because we evolved for it. We are social, hierarchical primates, and have an intuitive sense of what works (whether it does or not). But we are also capable of transcending our biological and social conditioning. And here <i>modern </i>Buddhism offers us some very useful tools for pursuing a better life: mindfulness, devotion, critical thinking, scepticism, positive emotion, meditation, and community.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I emphasise <em>modern</em> Buddhism because in order to continue to refine Buddhism we have to change it. I would say that we have to root out the presupposition that some suffering is deserved. We have to align what we say to what we do: we are interventionists in the world with the aim of reducing suffering. So let's not espouse doctrines that say "it will all work out in the afterlife" because that is counterproductive. Our approach is far more dynamic than this: we believe that we must take urgent action, whether or not we are enlightened, to reduce harm and increase well being. That's why we have public centres and teach meditation and Buddhism (though I think we do the latter all wrong).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">And, above all, we have to communicate our ideas and values to other people in ways that will motivate to move in the same direction. Not necessarily to join <i>our </i>community, but to help form a confederation of smaller, loosely aligned communities which aim to reduce suffering. We have more in common with Amnesty International or Greenpeace than we do with Christianity or Islam (which is partly why I am bored by comparative religion). On the other hand, the folks who go out on cold winter nights offering hot tea and sandwiches to the homeless tend to be Christians rather than Buddhists. Anyone who is acting to reduce suffering is on the side I want to be on. The Triratna movement in India is more of a social movement with religious features and there is our model - the poor and downtrodden empowered to uplift themselves through education, equality, and fraternity.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Sometimes people are determined to make others suffer or are indifferent to their suffering. And we need a moral code that explains when and how we can intervene and what kinds of steps we can take. And counter-intuitively this may include inflicting harm. A policeman who shoots dead a suicide bomber before they can set off their explosive to kill and maim many others has clearly done the right thing and we need to adopt a moral code which can handle this situation. We also need to have ways of preventing, say, a capitalist who makes excessive profit at the expense of the security and safety of workers. We must see to it that <i>everyone </i>is housed, clothed, and fed. Work need not grind anyone into the ground for minimum wage. Industry must not harm the air we breath, the water we drink, or the soil we grow our food in! None of this is rocket science. We mainly just need to consider empathy and reciprocity.<br /><br />If we want members of our society to behave themselves and contribute then we have to make it worth their while<i>.</i> The fact that some members of society chose lives of crime, instead, tells us that we are not making law abiding attractive enough. If obeying the law is oppressive or leads to unequal hardship, then we should expect a lot of law breaking. <br /><br />In the west we tend to be quite hard hearted about the law. There is no obvious reward for being law abiding, it's just the minimum we expect. However, we set society up so that there is inequality and some people can't get by, even if they are working. If there is reciprocity then law abiding citizens need to know that they are going to be looked after as recompense for keeping to the rules.<br /><br />So let's give people incentives. For example, housing should always be cheap - speculators should not be allowed to force up the cost of housing. One household, one house: no companies, no foreign investors, just people living in houses. Of course it has to be viable, so the housing can't be free. But in the UK landlords who rent houses can afford to pay 10% of the rent to a company to manage it for them and it is still one of the most profitable investments. We could just decide, no: houses are for people to live in.<br /><br />The amount of wealth in the world is easily enough to provide for the needs of every living person. Easily. We need not have poverty or hunger. All it takes is for people to change their minds about who is deserving of what.<br /><br />Our views about fairness, justice, and the role of suffering are just beliefs. "Belief is an emotion about an idea" (<a href="https://twitter.com/OortCloudAtlas/status/993968622442692609">Michael Taft</a>). If we feel differently, then our beliefs can change. Usually, it takes a personal connection to change someone's mind. Just bombarding people with facts is not enough.<br /><br />In Part 2 of this essay I made the point that work is less secure nowadays and that this creates anxiety. To illustrate how we think about things, many people feel aggrieved that the government gives out-of-work people money. They may believe that such payments are undeserved. They may cite an example of someone who typifies this undeserving person or they may just believe what the media says: that the unemployed are lazy and feckless (<a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20170108123038/http://www.pieria.co.uk/articles/mercantilism_six_centuries_of_vilifying_the_poor">repeating a 600 year old lie</a>). <br /><br />Most of the unemployed people I have met in many years of <i>being </i>unemployed want to work; they feel anxious about not being able to provide for their family, the insecurity of handouts, and the stigma of unemployment. They are bored from having nothing to do. I think one has to connect with them on a human level. It is all too easy to demonise people based on superficial judgements. But we know what this looks like writ large because we had the 20th Century. If we don't treat people as people it makes us less human, and on a societal scale can be monstrous: e.g., the British Empire.<br /><br />Of course, ideally, the state would provide meaningful work and pay high wages for shit jobs to make them more attractive. Lately, government has decided to stay out of providing work and shit jobs offer shit pay. Should the person who carts off your dirty garbage in all weather be paid 10% of the salary of the manager who sits at a desk all day pushing (clean) paper around or 1000%? Who is more essential? What about the people who teach your kids at school and university or who care for you in a hospital? Why are they paid poorly compared to chief executives? Hint: the reason that CEOs are well paid is that they get more work for lower pay from fewer people, thus maximising shareholder returns. It just so happens that the people who make employment laws are all major shareholders in companies, often because they inherited their money.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Key points</b></div><ol>Where "we" is humans in general, </ol><ol><li>We are social and hierarchical primates</li><li>We evolved empathy and reciprocity</li><li>Morality emerged from the obligations and expectations created by 1. and 2.</li><li>Fairness is an appropriate response to obligations and expectations</li><li>Justice is the restoration of a situation of fairness</li><li>We tolerate what would otherwise be called bad behaviour in response to unfairness, because</li><li>We believe "suffering creates justice".</li><li>We perceive ourselves as having different obligations to and expectations of ingroup and outgroup people</li><li>Our definition of ingroup can be very flexible and expansive, if we feel secure</li><li>Most cultures see immorality as creating a debt and </li><li>Moral debts are paid in suffering and thus</li><li>Suffering is in some sense earned or deserved and restores fairness and is just</li><li>But there is evident injustice and undeserved suffering, so</li><li>Religions invoke the afterlife as the place where one suffers in order to restore justice.</li><li>Belief is an emotion about an idea, and both can change through personal connections.&nbsp;</li></ol><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Conclusions</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In traditional Buddhism the idea that suffering is deserved is encapsulated in the doctrine of karma. The doctrine says that present suffering is a result of past actions (with some debate as to the extent of this). It also says that our future experience is dependent on our present mental states. Buddhism demonises emotions since these are what lead, ultimately, to suffering (except in Tantra where they turned this on its head and embrace emotions). </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">By contrast, I believe that no suffering is earned or deserved. Even those who cause themselves harm through being misguided or careless don't <i>deserve </i>to suffer, because their suffering does not make things fair. It's not fair that mistakes or ignorance cause suffering, but more suffering does not improve the situation in any way. There is no justice in the mistaken or ignorant person suffering because of their mistake or lack of knowledge. Sometimes pain will help us learn to avoid the action that caused us pain, but if the route to learning is blocked then again, that is not fair or just.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The idea of a just world is pernicious because it inevitably blames humans for everything that goes wrong, when the fact is that sometimes shit just happens and no one understands why. There is no fairness and justice apart from how we treat each other. It's nothing to do with abstract principles or the supernatural. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Further, I believe that emotions, including so called negative emotions, are natural and helpful. Anger and fear protect us. Desire gets us our basic necessities. Love bonds us to the people who help keep us alive. And so on. Demonising these is unhelpful, but so is the idolisation of them in Romanticism. Emotions are just states of physiological arousal mediated by the autonomic nervous system in response to certain types of stimuli which can be internal (e.g., hunger) or external (i.e., a predator). They are typically accompanied by a style of thinking that gives the emotion its special flavour. Arousal plus happy thoughts is joy whereas arousal plus fearful thoughts is anxiety; and so on. Still, I can't help thinking that if we allowed ourselves to experience emotions more and theorised about them less we'd be better off.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I believe that some of us are able to have a radical transformation of perception so that it is not so self-referential. But not all of us. For most people life is never going to involve that radical transformation so there is no point in selling it as a panacea to all ills or as something everyone can attain. I suspect more people could attain it than current do, but the world is not fair so most people don't have the opportunity. Also, the techniques required are still embedded in contexts which make them inaccessible to the majority - i.e., in religions that require people to take on beliefs and obligations that are unattractive to the majority.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Karma as it is taught by Buddhists is a false picture of the world that clouds the issue and makes the possibility of radical transformation considerably less accessible. Traditional Buddhism ignores the way things really are in favour of a fantasy that is fundamentally unfair and unjust. As modern Buddhists, we&nbsp;could do something about this by exemplifying the change we seek and by telling new stories about the way things are in 2019. Which personal liberation is desirable, modern Buddhism needs to be politically engaged and seeking change on a societal level to make life better for everyone. I'm a fan of the various <a href="https://b.3cdn.net/nefoundation/8f737ea195fe56db2f_xbm6ihwb1.pdf">Green New Deal</a> initiatives. The idea is taking hold in the US amongst progressives, but dates back to a group convened in the UK in 2007.<br /><br />Mind you, as I watch the politics of the English-speaking world descend into a morass of pettiness and stupidity, I cannot help but wonder if we have left it a little too late to pay attention to the bigger issues.<br /><br />I don't doubt that traditional Buddhism, complete with monks pretending that they live in medieval India or Tibet, will continue to be a draw card. And modern Buddhism will always have a relationship with the tradition. But this modern-tradition distinction is, to some extent, false. All Buddhism practiced today is modern, it's just that some Buddhists are convinced that pretending to represent some earlier phase of Buddhism makes them more authentic. And, of course, with monks a lot of it is tied up with issues of identity and status. It might be better to use distinctions like conservative and progressive; or authoritarian and libertarian.<br /><br />I suppose if pressed I would say that I am a green libertarian socialist Buddhist, not an anarchist or a communist, but in favour of mutual aid between willing participants in society and an economy which rewards industry and innovation. Also in favour of a government that puts people and the environment first ahead of profit and that redistributes wealth fairly. Some profit is fair enough, just don't forget who adds the value to the raw materials through their labour! Basically, I grew up in New Zealand in 60s and 70s and there was a lot about it that was good. <br /><br />But more than this. Look at any movie in which a group of people are threatened by some external force. All humans succeed by having two advantages: individuals with great ideas, and groups of people who work together to make their ideas a reality. We need both and to reward both. Buddhism, no less than society, or all of humanity, fighting off an alien invasion! One of my favourite thinkers, René Jules Dubos, said "Think globally, act locally". I might add, "think individually, act in concert."<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;">~~oOo~~</div><div><br /></div></div></div>Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-86960835198288124982019-01-11T09:20:00.003+00:002019-01-17T01:32:03.686+00:00Against Karma: Suffering and Justice<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div style="text-align: justify;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Nkr9aMLP1PY/XDhfnzAMgII/AAAAAAAAIJo/8zz8jqa3Qw8x907CEpuoR9mRvrFDrLWeQCLcBGAs/s1600/whip4.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="975" data-original-width="1280" height="151" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Nkr9aMLP1PY/XDhfnzAMgII/AAAAAAAAIJo/8zz8jqa3Qw8x907CEpuoR9mRvrFDrLWeQCLcBGAs/s200/whip4.jpg" width="200" /></a></div>The central issue of Buddhism is <i>dukkha</i>, variously translated as suffering, dissatisfaction, misery, stress, etc. <i>Dukkha</i> and its antonym (<i>sukkha</i>) are used in subtly different ways in different contexts. For example, Sue Hamilton (2001) has shown, in one sense&nbsp;<i>dukkha</i> is synonymous with unenlightened experience. That is to say that we don't have an experience that is qualified by the presence or absence of <i>dukkha</i>, rather unenlightened experience itself <i><strong>is</strong> dukkha</i>. The first noble truth is just this: that sense experience does not satisfy our longings (whatever they are). The second noble truth informs us that the unsatisfactory nature of experience has an origin (<i>samudaya</i>) and that this origin is our own craving for it (<i>taṇha</i>). The pursuit of experience is not the way to happiness.<br /><br />On the other hand, in the context of <i>vedanā</i>, experience can also be parsed as <i>sukha </i>or <i>dukkha</i>, meaning here, "agreeable" and "disagreeable". Finally,&nbsp;<i>sukha </i>and <i>dukkha</i> can be metonyms for <i>nibbāna </i>and <i>saṃsāra</i>. As we find in Dhammapada 203:<br /><table style="margin-left: 20px;"><tbody><tr><td style="padding: 10px;"><i>jighacchāparamā rogā</i>,<br /><i>saṅkāraparamā dukhā</i>;*<br /><i>etaṃ ñatvā yathābhūtaṃ</i>,<br /><i>nibbānaṃ paramaṃ sukhaṃ</i>.</td><td style="padding: 10px;">Hunger is the worst disease,<br />Constructs are the worst misery;<br />Knowing this, just as it is,<br />Extinction is the greatest happiness.</td></tr></tbody></table><blockquote class="tr_bq"><span style="font-size: x-small;">*note that <i>dukkhā </i>is spelled <i>dukhā </i>to fit the metre of the verse.</span></blockquote>There is a presupposition in the Buddhist discussion of suffering. It is, of course, a self-evident fact that there is suffering. This is not something special that only Buddhists have noticed. More generally the problem of evil (or the question of <i>why </i>there is suffering) has been discussed by humans for as long as we have been capable of abstract thought. There is suffering. And it has a cause. That cause is <i>us</i>, i.e.,&nbsp;<i>we cause our own suffering</i>. This is not unique to Buddhism, either. The Christian myth of the Garden of Eden blames humans for their suffering; they could not follow a simple prohibition and thus their God turned against them. In that story, the only responsible adult present is Yahweh. If anyone should be punished, it's him. In our myths, humans like to blame ourselves for our own suffering.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">I know that some people are horrified by the suggestion that Buddhists are "blaming the victim". I am certainly in that camp. But what I'm getting at is that "we cause our own suffering" is a presupposition of the received Buddhist tradition. I'm not endorsing this view, I'm stating it as baldly and as simply as possible in order to get to an important point. It raises questions I will try to address in a later essay. Why did we evolve in such a way as to consistently cause ourselves misery?&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Let's soften it a little and restate the idea in a slightly more subtle way: Buddhists believe that (at least some, if not all) suffering is the natural outcome of conscious choices we make. Karma is the theory that the suffering we experience is inevitable, appropriate, and timely. The idea is that if we could anticipate the consequences we would not act. And since it is our own mental states that determine the outcome, we can introspect before any action and exercise restraint to prevent any bad consequences.<br /><br />On one hand, rebirth is the main consequence of <i>karma</i> and we end rebirth by not doing <i>karma</i>. On the other hand, we keep doing actions (with rebirth as consequence) until we purify our minds of evil intent through religious exercises. As Richard Gombrich has shown (2009), Jains had the first half of this equation but indiscriminately saw all actions as contributing to rebirth. Brahmins had the second half but equated karma (and escape from rebirth) with correct performance of rituals. Buddhism combines them to make a new hybrid religion. By equating karma with intention (<i>cetanā</i>)<i>&nbsp;</i>and characterising it as good or evil, Buddhists counteracted the worst aspects of Jainism (extreme austerities, lack of discernment with respect to good and evil actions). And by making the individual's willed actions the focus they disrupted the priestly hegemony and expensive rituals of Brahmanism. The key feature of Buddhism, unlike other Indian religions, is that it does not treat the cessation of sense experience in religious exercises as absolute being (<i>jīva</i>, <i>ātman</i>, <i>brahman</i>, <i>puriṣa</i>, etc). However, the explanation of this new syncretic religion proved to be very difficult. The early iterations were deprecated because of inconsistencies. But none of the later iterations quite managed to be fully consistent, either. At worst, Buddhism is solipsistic sophistry; the worst being Nāgārjuna and his "nothing goes" approach.<br /><br />Coming back to the focus on suffering, most Buddhists seem to go further and argue that this reaction of action and consequence is what Buddhist justice looks like. Broadly speaking, karma is what supplies the "just" in just world or the "moral" in the moral universe. In other words, the suffering that we experience is only what we would expect in a just world. It is just what happens when our previous life was ruled by greed and hatred, even though we don't have any strong connection to that life (no memories that would enable us to conceptually connect consequence to action). We have to presume that our suffering is appropriate, which leaves some of us wondering what kind of monster we were in our last life to deserve this one.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">To distil the idea down its essence: <i>suffering is the instrument of justice</i>.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Again, this is not peculiar to Buddhism. This is the presupposition behind all just world myths. The just world is just because bad behaviour leads to suffering (eventually). In Buddhism, a<span style="text-align: justify;">n evil action [miraculously] produces suffering; a good action&nbsp;</span>[miraculously] produces pleasure. More specifically, an evil life is [miraculously] rewarded with rebirth in a world of suffering; a good life is [miraculously] rewarded with rebirth in a world of pleasure. A <i>saintly </i>or <i>holy </i>life is [miraculously] rewarded with the end of rebirth so as to preclude any future suffering. Somehow, the universe just delivers the right result, at the right time, to the right person, every time.<br /><br />This is sometimes written about as though it is like a law of nature. The thing with laws of nature is that they have to be consistent with all the other laws of nature. A "law of nature" that involves supernatural forces or entities, is not a law of nature. It's a miracle. Karma is a miracle, not a law of nature. Indeed, it doesn't even fit with other Buddhist stories about the world, let alone with laws of nature. This brings us to a feature of knowledge seeking in the ancient world: analogical reasoning.<br /><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Argument from Analogy</b></div></div><div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Many of the arguments for this view that suffering is the instrument of justice take the form of analogies. A classic Buddhist analogy is that allowing yourself to be angry is like picking up a lump of burning coal to fling at your enemy. We understand this analogy. Few of us get to adulthood without a few minor burns. Burns are very painful, partly because we have special nerves for burning pain. Signals from pain nerves are turned into subjective burning sensations by our brain. So we all know and understand burning sensations. The analogy is saying that when acting from anger we create the conditions for our own future suffering in the same way that taking hold of hot coal burns us.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">With all arguments from analogy, we need to pause and consider how apt they really are. Metaphorically, anger burns. When we feel angry, we get red-faced, steamed-up, hot-tempered; we burn with rage, erupt, boil over,&nbsp; scald, etc. And if this happens it can easily tip over into violence, if only into violent words. Physiologically, anger activates our evolved autonomic arousal response to a threat and helps us on the fight side of the fight-or-flight-or-freeze triangle of threat responses. Anger might just put off a threatening predator or competitor because they know they will have to fight us. Anger makes us look scary. As a precursor to violence, anger warns aggressors that they risk injury. Anger marshals our physiological resources to defend ourselves and our loved ones from danger.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">As a species, we are highly attuned to reciprocity. If someone is angry with me and threatens violence (all anger is a threat of violence) then I reciprocate with my own fight-flight-freeze response either to warn the assailant that it's not worth their while to fight me, or to better enable me to escape, or to avoid detection (depending on which path I take). And note that violence need not amount to the loss of self-control. Sometimes violence is very deliberate and directed. Whether physically or psychologically, we set out to hurt and we do it in the most direct way we can think of.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">With burns there's a feedback loop; the pain of being burned rapidly teaches us to avoid flames and hot things. We learn how to test for heat before picking up potentially hot items. The same is not true for anger because we evolved to get angry whenever we are threatened as part of our suite of survival mechanisms. Anger marshals the body's resources for life or death action. Metaphors aside, the feedback is different from experiencing burning pain.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">If I go around just being angry all the time, then people will want to fight me or avoid me. However, for this to happen I'd have to both perceive myself to be under threat and my social group not working to provide me with safety and security. So anyone who is angry all the time is already in a dysfunctional situation. The anger is not a cause of suffering; it is a symptom that results from the situation. This is not the same as being burned by a flame at all. Acting from anger is nothing like picking up a burning coal to fling at your enemy. Of course, it can rebound on us, but that very much depends on who the anger is directed at. If my group and I get angry at someone who is trying to hurt us and we work together to drive them off, then we are not harmed by that. We are protected and brought closer together.<br /><br />All analogies have their limitations. This analogy which sounds OK at face value is, on closer inspection, simply false. In fact, behaviour is very much influenced by environment and social convention and is much less about individual psychology. Disruptive behaviour is like pain. It tells the community that something is wrong, that some vital need is going unmet.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: center;"><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Security</b></div></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">In 2018 there was a spate of knife injuries in London and many people have been expressing opinions about what bad people these criminals must be. No one is asking the obvious question: why do young men in some parts of London suddenly feel insecure enough that they would start carrying a knife. Anyone carrying a weapon is much more likely to be injured or die. Just a few years ago stabbings were significantly less common. We also know that, in stark contrast to my days at university in the 1980s, that today's students are demanding that the institutions <i>protect </i>them by not inviting provocative speakers and not allowing challenging topics in lectures. Well-heeled university students don't resort to carrying knives, but they also feel less secure than teenagers did two generations ago. What has changed in the environment to make young people feel less secure?&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">One thing is that work is much less secure than it was a generation ago. Work pays less in comparison to costs - the cost of housing has increased outrageously. Work is often on a fixed term contract or a zero hours contract (where you have to work if offered hours, but no work is guaranteed). Over my working life employers have radically reduced the quality of working life, the rewards for loyalty, and the ability of workers to make common cause to demand better treatment. Working conditions have steadily eroded as a result of Neoliberals seeing the cost of labour as an overhead that soaks up profits. And they see profits&nbsp;as rightfully belonging to shareholders. In the UK many people working full-time don't earn enough to live on.<br /><br />The solution has been to offer state handouts rather than reforming wages. At the same time, the government is pursuing a low taxation fiscal policy; more tax money is being spent propping up high rents because the market-driven alternative would be thousands of homeless families. No one thinks this is a reason to revisit the policy of allowing foreign speculators to force up the price of homes at 5-10 times the rate of inflation or the policy that allows businesses to pay wages below a subsistence level. This can only be perceived as a threat to life by those who work for a living. It might not be an acute threat, but it is a chronic threat. Children may not be working, but they live in families affected by the insecurity of work and wages.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Add the threat of internal terrorism and external war, combined with economic threats (massive indebtedness of nations and business sectors) and yes, the average citizen feels less secure than they did. If they pay attention then they may feel less secure for other reasons also, such as climate change or pollution. </div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Social problems have social causes and require social remedies. The idea that an individual is responsible for everything that happens in their life is just bunk. Individualism is an idea that allows the rich and powerful to justify abdicating from their obligations to society at the same time as exploiting people and common resources for their own profit. Individualism makes the poor and oppressed much weaker and leaves them with little or no access to common resources. And it leaves the middle feeling constantly insecure about what they have. Individualism, the cult of the individual, is one of the most pernicious ideas ever entertained by humanity. We evolved to live in groups.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br />Why should individual suffering be highlighted? In a situation where a person's very thoughts and choices are (at least partly, but likely mainly) determined by their social environment, why should the focus of a just world theory be on individual psychology? That is not fair. Of course, every now and then some bright spark can rise above their circumstances and shine as a star. Think of Dr B. R. Ambedkar, born an untouchable outcaste but died with a PhD from the London School of Economics and having helped to write the modern Indian constitution! But look at the vast majority of his people, the Mahar caste, and they are still downtrodden, still oppressed, and still poor today. And in fact, even Ambedkar was given opportunities because of the British Army's policy of recruiting Dalits and because of a wealthy Sikh man who wanted to eradicate caste.<br /><br />Most of us <i>do not </i>rise above our circumstances. We <i>are </i>our circumstances. We have obligations to and from our group. We have responsibility to and for our group. This is not an argument for so-called "collective karma"; rather, I'm arguing that karma as a concept is inadequate to the task of thinking about morality in real life (as opposed to the fantasy world most religieux live in) precisely because human life is collective in almost every aspect.<br /><br />Let's return to the central thesis of this essay by looking at how we actually pursue justice.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: center;"><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Suffering as an Instrument of (In)Justice </b></div></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Take a look at the justice system of any nation on earth, including all the nominally Buddhist nations. What happens to people convicted of crimes? They are punished, both in the short-term and the long term.<br /><br />In the short term, we inflict harm on criminals; we isolate them from friends and family, deprive them of basic freedoms and rights. In other words, we violate the basic constituents of a deontological morality. And note that prison is a punishment that fully takes into account our social nature; it isolates us from our group, forces us to live amongst strangers, pushes us down into an inferior social position. This is how you torture a social mammal.<br /><br />Sometimes prisons are designed to be humiliating and degrading, while sometimes they are that way because of indifference or banal reasons like lack of resources. Britain's prisons are often overcrowded because governments have decided to imprison more people and for longer but haven't expanded the capacity of prisons to take account of this. Crowding is stressful for social primates, especially with strangers. Overcrowding leads to stress and conflict, and sometimes to violence and riots. Although by the standards of, say, Thailand, the UK prison system is pretty well off. The more we dehumanise people on the inside, the more alienated they are when they get out.<br /><br />What is the theme of almost all prison-based dramas? The establishment of a society within a society with two options: the redemption of those concerned through friendship and finding ways to hold on to their humanity or suffering under a violent autocracy that may or may not be subverted.<br /><br />In the longer term, we deny criminals certain types of work, the ability to travel, and we force them to confess their crime repeatedly, i.e., every time they apply for a job, rent a house, interact with the government, and so on. There is no question of making a mistake and paying for it. Once a crim, always a crim.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">We behave towards criminals in ways that we would never sanction for ordinary citizens. We treat criminals as less than human. We not only judge them deserving of suffering, we actually stand in line to inflict it on them. And again this is just as true in nominally Buddhist countries as in nominally Christian countries. The savagery of "justice" in Islamic countries is equalled by officially atheist China. So religion cannot be blamed, although I think it is a factor in defining in-group/out-group dynamics. It is often worse to sin against God than it is to sin against a fellow human so that the punishment for blasphemy can be particularly savage. But it's all a matter of degree. Some prisons in the US and UK are every bit as savage as those in less economically developed countries. There have been repeated scandals about the conditions in our prisons at the moment, especially in the private sector. Private sector prisons are a special kind of hell.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">The presupposition behind all of this is that <i>suffering creates justice</i>. Or in other words, moral debts are paid in the currency of suffering: immediate and ongoing. And yet it is all too obvious that prison doesn't provide a deterrent or restore the balance of justice. It certainly creates more suffering, but the rationale for making people suffer is bizarre and sickening when you start to think about it.<br /><br />The Scandinavians lead the way in the humane treatment of criminals and have much lower recidivism rates as a result. They have a much more cohesive society but it has been forced upon them. The government actively interfered in people's lives for decades to create the conditions for the modern Scandinavia. Still, the presupposition that guilt demands punishment is so strong in most places, that "justice" is relentless and merciless at inflicting suffering.<br /><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Karma In Real Life</b></div></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Because I'm a member of a religious Order, I know a lot of religious people. And I would guess that most people I know say that they believe in some form of karma (although some of them define karma in ways having nothing in common with traditional Buddhist karma doctrines). In other words, they believe in the just world fallacy that justice will be restored (usually in the afterlife).<br /><br />The natural consequence of such a belief ought to be a profound relaxation about injustice. They ought to be laid back about transgressions to the point of fatalism. Jesus said to his followers that if someone was to strike them on the face, that they should turn to give the assailant another target to punch, i.e., "turn the other cheek". Buddhists have an even more extreme version: In our moral stories, the Buddha says that even if robbers were to seize you and cut you apart with a wooden saw, if you had a single negative thought you would not be his disciple. "Vengeance is mine," sayeth the Lord, and all that.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">The Triratna Buddhist Order is currently having a crisis because a senior member stands accused of some gross misconduct. The process of "safeguarding" we have adopted from the surrounding British culture has meant that no details have or ever will emerge about the nature of the offence. In the past, we were accused of not dealing with transgressions honestly and in the open so we voluntarily looked at how other groups deal with them and adopted the best practice model with little modification. In this case, it ironically means suppressing all knowledge of the misconduct outside of a tiny group to hide the identity of the accuser (at their request). The deliberating panel included a retired judge (and another outsider), which is meant to reassure outsiders as to the fairness of the procedure.<br /><br />So now we have the situation where a loved and valued member of our community has been suspended from the Order for an indeterminate period (he thinks it will be at least two years) because they have been accused of something grossly unethical (though apparently <i>not </i>illegal) by someone who will remain forever anonymous. This is apparently what justice looks like in the world of UK religious groups nowadays. The process and outcome contradict my sense of what is just and fair and has made me question my continued involvement in the Order. This has nothing to do with karma and I have pointed out that we should now make clear that as an Order we do not believe in karma. I'm not hopeful.<br /><br />Despite what they <i>say </i>they believe, no one I know is laid back about injustice. We all want to get involved, to pre-empt karma, to <i>take control </i>of situations and steer them towards the outcome we think best. Most people believe that justice is only served by such active intervention. And we all believe that we are acting for the good; that our motives are above question when it comes to our well-intentioned interventions. The many different recensions of the <i>Vinaya</i> also take this approach. Thousands of rules of conduct were created, often for quite trivial reasons, complete with prescribed punishments including expulsion from the <i>saṅgha</i>.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">I'm not saying that interventionism is unreasonable. We do need to intervene to ensure work is fairly paid and safe. We do need to act to ameliorate climate change. What I'm saying is that this is hypocritical if at the same time one insists on professing to believe in karma or God or any other just world myth. You either believe things will turn out alright, or you get involved.<br /><br />In my view, suffering is not an instrument of justice. No one deserves to suffer. Even people who, from ignorance or malice, hurt others do not deserve to suffer. Suffering does not resolve situations of tension or unhurt someone who has been hurt. Making a guilty person suffer achieves <i>nothing</i>. Taking satisfaction from inflicting suffering on another person is sick. So no, I don't believe in a myth which organises and enacts this on a cosmic scale. Karma is an idea. It's a human desire to be well treated by our fellow humans and to have good fortune in the world projected onto the universe. Believing in karma is no better than believing in God. However, it is understandable that ancient people would come up with an idea like this to try to explain why things go wrong in our lives: bad faith from humans and bad luck in the world.<br /><br />This begs the question: what is the alternative. I will make some comments on this in the next instalment.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: center;">~~oOo~~</div></div>Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-59788480154908519602019-01-04T10:07:00.001+00:002019-01-05T03:20:27.577+00:00Against Karma<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div style="text-align: justify;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-jqaxTpkoEEY/XC8ejXbJhSI/AAAAAAAAII4/oX8-KruyFM8Rqay_5oSUQybymbS6MVnEgCLcBGAs/s1600/e9837159aeae1a00552b5a0b72e47296.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="904" data-original-width="650" height="200" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-jqaxTpkoEEY/XC8ejXbJhSI/AAAAAAAAII4/oX8-KruyFM8Rqay_5oSUQybymbS6MVnEgCLcBGAs/s200/e9837159aeae1a00552b5a0b72e47296.jpg" width="143" /></a></div>I have been revising an article on the problem of action at a temporal distance for publication and thinking again about karma. This has involved rehearsing my understanding of what karma represents and the internal conflicts that karma has caused in Buddhism. The last 2000 years have seen a constant stream of apologetics for different, mutually exclusive, traditional views on karma. There have been many attempts to reconcile karma with dependent arising, for example. More recently, attempts are being made to reconcile karma with naturalism, humanism, and other modernist worldviews. For 2000 years intellectuals have been tacitly admitting that <i>there is something wrong with the doctrine of karma, </i>with all of them treating it as a good idea that needs to be rescued.<br /><br />In this three-part essay, I take the opposite approach. I argue that that karma is a bad idea. Karma fails to explain what it is supposed to explain. Karma cannot be reconciled with or integrated into other worldviews, except as a floating signifier for whatever morality happens to be popular. Worse, it is based on a fundamentally flawed idea about suffering. It is the latter that is the premise of this essay. I begin with an overview of karma in terms of the just world fallacy and, in the process, highlight an aspect of the central problem: the idea that suffering can be deserved.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Karma is the Buddhist myth of a just world. The just world myth is foundational in most religions. The myth says that everyone gets what they deserve, eventually. The final caveat has to be added because any observer of human life can see that few people, if any, get what they deserve in this life. Evil flourishes. Some argue that the world is getting better (Steven Pinker) or is at least not as bad as we think (Hans Rosling). But endless economic growth is a fantasy on a finite planet and even the status quo won't be sustainable if the climate becomes steadily warmer. And everything I've seen says that it will.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The evident unfairness of life, or at least of most lives, has forced religieux to link the myth of the just world to another ubiquitous religious myth: the afterlife. Typically, the religious will admit that life is not fair, that there are many injustices and often no obvious way to tip the scales towards justice. How does one find justice for the thousands of sexually abused children or the millions of refugees? What can we possibly do to make those ruined lives <i>un</i>-ruined. We may ameliorate their suffering and we may make efforts to prevent future abuse, but some wrongs cannot be made right in retrospect. So the religious argues that justice will be found in the afterlife.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">My favourite image of afterlife justice is from the <i>Egyptian Book of the Dead</i>. I've quoted it many times so I won't dwell on it here - see the image below. The key feature is that justice is literally represented as a set of scales, with the deceased's heart on one side and a symbol of the law on the other.</div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-2ebpflz6eXw/XCdj35lpnlI/AAAAAAAAIIA/FKty8ICSedAV6EwAXrhY7pj9PrOXL6bgACLcBGAs/s1600/bookdead2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="368" data-original-width="634" height="230" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-2ebpflz6eXw/XCdj35lpnlI/AAAAAAAAIIA/FKty8ICSedAV6EwAXrhY7pj9PrOXL6bgACLcBGAs/s400/bookdead2.jpg" width="500" /></a></div><br />I have also mentioned many times that George Lakoff has described how morality is very often framed as a <a href="http://www.wwcd.org/issues/Lakoff.html">bookkeeping or accounting exercise</a>&nbsp;(balancing the books). More recently, using <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2016/11/the-evolution-of-morality-introduction.html">ideas from the work of primatologist Frans de Waal</a>, I have tried to make the case for the evolution of morality from the basic competencies and exigencies of social lifestyles. Social mammals evolved to face natural selection as a group. A herd of impala allow the weakest members to be picked off by lions. A group of chimps, led by the alpha male, will band together to fight off a hungry leopard. In a fight between one leopard and one chimp, the leopard will win every time. But in the fight between one leopard and five or six determined male chimps (each three or four times as strong as an average human), the leopard stands little chance. There is still a chance that a chimp will be injured, but the male chimps share the risks amongst themselves and they share the benefits amongst the whole troop. Such efforts are coordinated by females in bonobos. The abilities needed to coordinate group actions and make the social lifestyle viable lead naturally to morality (ways of behaving) and ethics (principles for thinking about morality) in humans.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Social living attunes individuals to reciprocity. You stand with me against the leopard and I have an obligation to stand with you. You share some food with me and I am obligated to share with you. You groom me and I groom you. Literally, you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. Social living creates obligations to other group members. It usually also creates expectations of how each group member will behave and social mechanisms to reward and punish conformity and nonconformity. In both chimps and humans, this can be as crude as a beating or as subtle as a shared yawn.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">In addition, we have the capacity for empathy, if only at the level of emotional contagion: I know what other members of my group are feeling because I have the capacity to mirror external signals of disposition allowing me to model their emotions and thus to actually&nbsp;<i>feel</i> them. I know how you feel when we defeat the leopard. I know how you feel when you eat your favourite food. I know how you feel when you stub your toe. Your happiness is my happiness, your pain is my pain.&nbsp;And vice versa.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">So social animals are bound together by mutual awareness and concern, by mutual obligations and expectations and the mechanisms that grow up to police them. If we look at a society in terms of cybernetics, we can say that its members have evolved to be empathetic, cooperative, and generous and that each of these must be in positive feedback loops for groups (and therefore individuals) to survive. We must also evolve to be intolerant of individualism and selfishness. The present mania for individualism and selfishness is very strange and I can only conclude detrimental to our continued survival. Of course, we have to recognise outstanding contributions, but humanity only thrives when it works together.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">This way of looking at the social norms that give rise to morality comes under the heading of deontology. Our obligations to the group are defined by what is required for a social animal to survive and thrive. In turn, this defines what counts as a virtue: for example, the virtuous group member puts the group first, they behave in ways that are consistent with the survival of the group as a whole. Heroes put their lives on the line for others.<br /><br />Another way of looking at morality is to emphasise the consequences of actions; still, in order for this to be an accurate picture, it has to be framed in social terms. The consequences for one's group are most obviously what make an individual action a question of morality. Consequentialism cannot be defined in the abstract, but must take into account the obligations and expectations of the group, and the consequences for everyone concerned. Therefore, although virtue ethics and consequentialism are useful ways of approaching morality, deontology is what makes sense of them.<br /><br />Particularism argues that there are no ethical principles and that actions each have to be assessed individually, but again this is done with respect to norms that emerge from social obligations and expectations. It can be useful to talk about morality in different ways, but if we want to understand how morality evolved and how it functions in real societies then deontology is the place to start. It is a measure of humanity's alienation from its own nature that we often place oppressive or even intolerable burdens of obligation and expectation on members: untouchability in India, foot-binding in China, genital mutilation in Africa, class in Britain, modern slavery, and so on. Social systems that are oppressive to their members weaken the long-term viability of any society because social animals always resist unfairness and injustice.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Fairness is when everyone reciprocates at the appropriate level. And this may involve some hierarchical adjustments. In chimps, the alpha male has a much higher level of obligation to the group. It's a tough job because one has to intervene in all the conflicts, console all the injured parties, lead the charge on all the leopards, and so on. In most cases the alpha has a coalition of supporters to whom he has more obligation. He must groom them more, without neglecting the rest of the group. He shares his mates, his food, and intervenes in their conflicts. A selfish alpha cannot and does not last long. Again, this raises many questions about the modern world. With great power or wealth comes great obligation to society and in this light, I think we can guess which class of people make the strongest arguments for individual liberty.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I've argued that social animals must tilt towards generosity. This is because reciprocity is a feedback loop. If I am generous, you will respond by giving. If I withhold, then you will withhold. Reciprocity can only work if each member of the group has a preference for giving over withholding, however slight. Frans de Waal is critical of what he calls "veneer theories of morality", i.e., those views in which morality is an overlay of civility on a fundamentally selfish personality. Not only is this not the case, but it cannot be the case. A selfish social animal is an oxymoron because of social feedback. In evolutionary terms, a species of selfish individuals would simply die out because they need each other to help them survive. Fundamentally, all social mammals are by definition&nbsp;<i>generous</i>, extinct, or rapidly becoming extinct. Social mammals have individual needs and are capable of selfishness, but they are adapted <i>by evolution</i> to place the needs of the group ahead of their own by some margin, however small.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In the past, I've used John Searle's ideas about background capabilities to argue that such behaviour is not simple rule following. As we grow and absorb the conventions of our group, we develop dispositions that limit our behaviour so that it falls within the norms of the group most of the time. As a group we have ways of dealing with people who stray: from gentle reminders to summary execution and everything in between. This is a very important point that I will return to.</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>The Quality of Justice</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The idea of justice emerges naturally from the idea of fairness. Justice is the process of responding to unfairness with an attempt to restore the harmony of the group. One of Frans de Waal's most famous experiments involves researchers treating two capuchin monkeys unfairly. The monkeys instantly recognise the unfairness and respond unequivocally. When both are rewarded with cucumber they will perform a simple task indefinitely. But the first time that one gets a grape and the other is still offered cucumber, the other gets angry and flings the cucumber back at the researcher. A second ago the monkey was happy to perform the task for cucumber, now it will forgo <i>any </i>reward rather than accept an unfair situation.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">De Waal shows a video of this during a <a href="https://www.ted.com/talks/frans_de_waal_do_animals_have_morals?language=en">TED talk</a> and the audience of several hundred people erupt into spontaneous laughter when the monkey throws a tantrum over unfairness. The emotional resonance is instantaneous and universal. We all know that feeling and what's more,&nbsp;<i>we are on the side of the cucumber monkey</i>. Even though throwing things at someone is a violent act, our sympathies are with the monkey treated unfairly and we instantly know that pelting the researcher with cucumber is fair enough (and possibly good). We don't have to sit and work through the implications. We have an unequivocal emotional response to seeing unfairness.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">This is a very important insight. When there is unfairness or injustice, then a contract is broken (the idea of a social contract is associated with Jean-Jacques Rousseau but in reality is very much older). It is not that reciprocity stops. What happens is that when the monkey perceives that their reward is unfair, the reciprocity principle opens the door to behaviour that in any other context would be considered unfair. For example, if the monkey were just in a bad mood and throwing food at the researcher with no obvious motivation, we would not sympathise with it. If we perceived a consistent attempt to harm the researcher then something would flip and our sympathies would be with the researcher. We know unfairness. But the important point is that we empathise <i>with a monkey </i>who clearly also recognises unfairness and acts in ways that are situationally appropriate. We know how that monkey feels and we tolerate its bad behaviour in this situation because the researcher started it.<br /><br />In accounting terms, we frame reciprocity as a debt. Good behaviour creates a debt that has to be repaid in good behaviour; while bad behaviour creates a debt that can be repaid in bad behaviour that would not otherwise be tolerated. Paying one monkey a higher reward for the same task is unfair and as soon as we perceive this we are willing to tolerate inflicting harm on the researcher. They have <i>earned </i>their punishment. This "earning" of punishment and/or suffering is close to the key question I am concerned with, i.e., "How is suffering <i>earned</i>?"</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">For most of human history and in most cultures, killing a member of your social group is seen as wrong. In evolutionary terms, you weaken the group and reduce the survival chances of everyone. And in most societies, most of the time, the debt of a life had to be repaid by a life. Murderers have been routinely put to death. We cannot tolerate a group member who is willing to kill one of us. And note that by killing a murderer we further reduce our numbers and weaken ourselves, but the consensus is that this is the lesser of two evils. Murder within a group irreparably breaks the social contract. But note that killing an outgroup member, such as a slave or an enemy, does not have the same weight. In those (many) societies which kept slaves, killing one of them was never on the same level as killing a member of society. In fact, slaves were treated like livestock and reparations reflected this.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Even more striking, a soldier returning from battles with an enemy of the group is <i>praised</i> in proportion to the number of enemies he has killed. In trying to improve public perception of the deeply unpopular and incomprehensible Vietnam War,&nbsp;efficiency guru Alain Enthoven used the "body count" as a measure of how <i>well </i>the war was going. Despite not winning in any conventional sense such as occupying new territory, gaining access to new sources of wealth, or neutralising an enemy (China, in this case), the Americans were able to tout the number of dead Vietnamese as a <i>measure of success</i>. Thinking about this is nauseating, but even now we still report numbers of casualties as a measure of the "success" of war and a measure of the <i>severity </i>of a natural disaster or accident.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">To say that killing is immoral is to vastly over simplify things. In most human societies, placing all killing on the same level would be seen as irrational. In one case we may create a debt that can only be repaid with our own death. In another the more people we kill, the more our group owe a debt <i>to us</i>. Both represent justice according to the norms of most modern societies. Often the same people clamour for civilian murderers to be killed as argue that we should show more gratitude to soldiers who murder our enemies. There is no contradiction in this precisely because those people do not value all human lives equally. When it comes down to it, this is the way all social primates think.<br /><br />As humans we can conceive of an ideal in which all human lives have equal value and some individuals do seem to embody this idea. But this idea has never taken hold in a more general way even, and this is important, even in nominally Buddhist societies.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">So morality is always defined with respect to a group; with respect to <i>my </i>group. People are not equal and the fundamental split we all have is ingroup/outgroup in which very different obligations and expectations may apply. Killing might be the very worst and the very best thing one can do. It emerges from this that we consider some people to have earned their suffering.<br /><br />Having set the scene, I will to return to karma in the next part and burrow deeper into the presuppositions which underpin the just world fallacy.</div><div style="text-align: center;"><br /><br /></div><div style="text-align: center;">~~oOo~~</div><br /><br />For a more detailed account of the evolution of morality see my trilogy on the subject,<br /><ul><li><a href="http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/the-evolution-of-morality-introduction.html">Introduction and Deontology</a></li><li><a href="http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/the-evolution-of-morality-two-pillars.html">Two Pillars of Morality - Reciprocity</a></li><li><a href="http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/the-evolution-of-morality-two-pillars.html">Two Pillars of Morality - Empathy</a></li></ul><div><br />See also<br /><br />Frans de Waal's 2011 TED Talk. <a href="https://www.ted.com/talks/frans_de_waal_do_animals_have_morals?language=en">Do Animals Have Morals?</a>&nbsp;(For much more detail see his book the&nbsp;<i>The bonobo and the Atheist</i>).&nbsp;</div><div><br /></div><div>George Lakoff's 1995 essay <a href="http://www.wwcd.org/issues/Lakoff.html">Metaphor, Morality, and Politics, Or, Why Conservatives Have Left Liberals In the Dust</a>.</div></div>Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-5069770174529819652018-12-28T10:37:00.001+00:002018-12-28T16:49:11.654+00:00What is the Point of Dependent Arising?<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-XDI0NhEE5bY/XCX863WM6zI/AAAAAAAAIHc/zkfbX2tuYDQ-hogLWw1pnt4NyWDB4sMuwCLcBGAs/s1600/nospin_1-lg.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="855" data-original-width="887" height="192" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-XDI0NhEE5bY/XCX863WM6zI/AAAAAAAAIHc/zkfbX2tuYDQ-hogLWw1pnt4NyWDB4sMuwCLcBGAs/s200/nospin_1-lg.jpg" width="200" /></a></div>In the first two parts of this essay I showed that a close reading of the Pāli texts associated with the doctrine of <i>paṭicca-samuppāda</i>&nbsp;contradicts the received tradition. The <i>imasmim sati</i> formula says that the condition must be present for the duration of the effect, which contradicts all modern accounts (though it does fit the defunct Sarvāstivāda). Despite the traditional association, this is not the conditionality of the <i>nidānas;</i> rather, it is that of the <i>upanisās </i>(or Spiral Path), a lesser-known doctrine that is well attested in Pāli and Chinese.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">All of this ought to have been obvious, but Buddhism as a religion generates powerful cognitive biases against seeing things as they are. Instead, we are encouraged to see things the way that religious leaders tell us they ought to be. We are taught that Buddhism offers insights into reality, or even the ultimate nature of reality, but it really does not. To some extent this is the standard cognitive bias generated by expectations, but magnified by the emotive atmosphere of religious observance. Where others are expressing devotion and making sacrifices, we are more likely to be swept along by emotional contagion (cf. <i><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2010/02/martyrs-maketh-religion.html">Martyrs Maketh the Religion</a></i>.&nbsp;05 February 2010).&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">The kind of contradiction explored in this essay is so common that we can say that it is the norm. The doctrines of the Pāli texts are frequently so faulty that later Buddhists abandoned them altogether. This is partially hidden because they retained the jargon of Buddhism, simply redefining words to give the illusion of continuity. Technical terms like "<i>nidāna</i>" provide a figleaf of authenticity and legitimacy and allow those seeking leverage to reference the "Pāli Canon" but, in fact, no one teaches what is in the suttas. And why would they teach ideas that don't make sense? What we teach is someone's attempt to make sense of the early teachings. This is not wrong per se, but it is deceptively presented as ancient wisdom, when often it is just modern liberal humanism.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">In the final part of this essay I'll apply my principle hermeneutic—<i>Buddhism is experience</i>—to the idea of dependent arising. I've already shown that it doesn't make sense as metaphysics and now I'll try to show that it&nbsp;makes some sense as a kind of epistemology.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: center;"><b>A Third Way</b></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">If <i>paṭicca-samuppāda </i>is a failure as metaphysics, does it have any application? In the year 2000, Sue Hamilton argued that the doctrines in the Pāli <i>suttas </i>are concerned with experience rather than with reality. Since that time other scholars have picked up on this idea and I have made it one of the central tenets of my approach to Buddhism. There is, in fact, a third textual approach to dependent arising that corresponds to this experiential approach. This third way is found, for example, in two adjacent suttas in the <i>Nidānasaṃyutta</i>, i.e., SN 12.43 and SN 12.44 (they are also repeated verbatim at SN 35.106 and 35.107). There is a pericope here that crops up regularly and forms the core of the idea. I'll call it the <i>tiṇṇaṃ saṅgati </i>formula.</div></div><blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;"><i>Cakkhuñca paṭicca rūpe ca uppajjati cakkhuviññāṇaṃ. Tiṇṇaṃ saṅgati phasso. Phassapaccayā vedanā; vedanāpaccayā taṇhā</i>. (SN ii.72)&nbsp;</div></blockquote><blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">Dependent on the eye and form eye-cognition arises. The conjunction of the three is contact. From the condition of contact feeling exists, from the condition of feeling, craving exists.&nbsp;</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">The texts say that the same is true for all the sense modalities (<i>indriya</i>): eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind. Each of the sense modalities has its object (S.&nbsp;<i>ālambana; </i>P.&nbsp;<i>ārammaṇa</i>): forms, sounds, smells, tastes, tactiles, <em>dhammas</em>. The meeting of sense object and sense faculty gives rise to its own kind of cognition or <i>viññāṇa </i>(S. <i>vijñāṇa</i>). Note that <i>ālambhana </i>means "seized, grasped"; Pāli uses the Sanskrit spelling of <i>indriya </i>(we expect <i>indiya</i>); and <i>viññāṇa</i> does not mean "consciousness" (and never does).&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The sense faculties are also sometimes referred to as the <i>saḷāyatana </i>"six spheres", but this term later comes to refer to the six sense faculties along with their objects. Another important later category is the eighteen <i>dhātus</i>, which is the twelve <i>āyatanas</i> plus their respective <i>viññāṇa</i>.&nbsp;</div><blockquote class="tr_bq">6 <i>indriya </i>+ 6 <i>ārammaṇa </i>= 12 <i>āyatana</i>&nbsp;</blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq">12 <i>āyatana </i>+ 6 <i>viññāṇa </i>= 18 <i>dhātu</i>&nbsp;</blockquote>These categories become important in the development of <i>dharma </i>theory and form the basis of many Abhidharma lists. However, in the texts in question, the later categories have yet to be imposed.<i><br /></i><br /> <div style="text-align: justify;"><i>Tiṇṇaṃ saṅgati </i>is Pāli for "conjunction of the three", where <i>saṅgati </i>comes from <i>saṃ√gam</i> meaning "going together, meeting, conjunction".&nbsp; Rather than one condition giving rise to one effect, we have a combination of three conditions giving rise to <i>vedanā. </i>We can summarise the <i>tiṇṇaṃ saṅgati</i> by substituting the general terms:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><i>indriyañ ca paṭicca ārammaṇañ ca uppajjati indriya-viññāṇaṃ.</i>&nbsp;</blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq">On the basis of sense faculty and sense object, sense cognition arises.&nbsp;</blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">It is only when all three are present that contact (<i>phassa</i>) occurs and on this basis <i>vedanā</i>&nbsp;and then <i>taṇha</i> arise. According to SN 12:43 this is the origin of <i>dukkha </i>and according to SN 12:44 exactly the same process is the origin of <i>loka</i>. From this and other texts we know that the Pāli authors considered the two terms to be synonymous. However, this equation appears to be have been lost sight of and&nbsp; disappeared from Buddhist teaching until it was rediscovered by Sue Hamilton in 2000.<br /><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Cessation</b></div></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Then the text asks about the cessation of <i>dukkha/</i><i>loka</i>. The cessation passage repeats the pericope on how <i>dukkha </i>and <i>loka </i>come into being, but it then continues with the standard <i>nidāna </i>sequence:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq" style="text-align: justify;"><i>Tassāyeva taṇhāya asesavirāganirodhā upādānanirodho; upādānanirodhā bhava-nirodho; bhavanirodhā jātinirodho; jātinirodhā jarāmaraṇaṃ sokaparidevadukkha-domanassupāyāsā nirujjhanti. Evam etassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa nirodho hoti</i>. (SN ii.72)</blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">From the remainderless absence of passion and cessation (of that craving; there is cessation of the fuel [of becoming]). From the cessation of the fuel, there is the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming, there is the cessation of birth; from the cessation of birth, aging and death, of remorse, sorrow, misery, depression, and despair cease. Just this is the cessation of the whole [blazing] mass of experience.&nbsp;</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">I've translated this in line with Richard Gombrich's (2009) idea that it ties in with the general use of metaphors of fire for the mind. Compare especially the <i>Āditti Sutta</i> (SN 35.28) and an early essay of mine,&nbsp;<a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2009/05/everything-is-on-fire.html"><i>Everything Is On Fire</i></a>. There are two problems to point out with this:<br /><br />The first problem is that in this view we think of craving (<i>taṇha</i>) as the fuel (<i>upādana</i>) for becoming (<i>bhava</i>). However, the fuel for becoming is here abstracted out as a separate item from craving. Here craving is the condition of the fuel, and the fuel is the condition for becoming. It suggests that we look to the applied meaning of <i>upādāna</i>, i.e., "clinging". Thus, craving gives rise to clinging, and it is the clinging rather than craving per se that fuels becoming. Indeed, we sometimes read that <i>vedanā</i> is simply a <i>vipāka</i>. Depending how we view karma there are a range of views on <i>vipāka</i>. 1. There is nothing we can do about it (Dhp 127). 2. All we can do is mitigate the impact of the <i>vipāka </i>(cf <i>Loṇapala Sutta </i>AN 3.99). 3. We can ameliorate the <i>vipāka </i>through religious practices so that it does not ripen. 4. We can eliminate all evil karma at the root through religious practices. Either way <em>vedanā</em> arises as a result of past actions and is not under our direct control (even in those views which allow us to eliminate evil karma)</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The second problem is that becoming (<i>bhava</i>) is abstracted out of birth (<i>jāti</i>). The traditional explanations of the <i>nidānas </i>overlay <i>bhava </i>with a more complex doctrine involving "the rebirth producing kamma-process" (<i>kammabhava</i>) and the actual "rebirth process" (<i>upapattibhava</i>). It doesn't make sense to consider rebirth in the abstract as the underlying condition for the physical act of birth.<br /><br />In tracing our way along the <i>nidānas </i>we lurch from abstractions like ignorance, to the subjective experience of cognition, to the concreteness of the body and sense organs, to the senses operating to produce subjective experience, into the realm of abstract ideas, and then back into the concrete world of birth and death. This is not a coherent series.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">One can see how the three lifetimes interpretation emerged. Having birth be the effect of experience (<i>saḷāyatana → phassa&nbsp;</i><i>→</i><i>&nbsp;vedanā&nbsp;</i><i>→&nbsp;</i><i>upādāna&nbsp;</i><i>→&nbsp;</i><i>bhava&nbsp;→</i>) makes no sense because one has to already have been born in order to have experiences. In other words, experience presupposes a body and therefore <i>birth</i>.&nbsp;It is difficult to see how this series would work otherwise, although the three lifetimes model is still problematic for reasons given in Part II.<br /><br />Note also that a literal reading of the <i>nidānas </i>combined with ideas from elsewhere, especially misreading the opening verses of the <i><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2008/08/dhammapada-verses-1-2.html">Dhammapada</a></i>, leads many Buddhists to conclude that "mind creates matter". In the twelve <i>nidānas</i>, <i>viññāna</i> is the condition for <i>nāmarūpa</i>, literally name and appearance. Even in the three lifetimes model, this pairing is part of the present rebirth process (<i>upapatti-bhava</i>). In order for there to be human "consciousness", there has to be a human body. One can, of course, in traditional views, become a disembodied spirit. But as far as human beings are concerned, one cannot have consciousness without a body and vice versa. This is also the conclusion of the <i>Mahānidāna Sutta</i> (DN 15) which presents <i>viññāṇa </i>and <i>nāmarūpa </i>conditioning each other (<i>nāmarūpapaccayā viññāṇaṃ, viññāṇapaccayā nāmarūpaṃ </i>DN II.56). As Frank Sinatra said, "you can't have one without the other." Note also that the <i>Mahānidāna Sutta </i>labours the point about eliminating all forms of birth (anywhere in any way by anyone) in order to eliminate death. The goal of Buddhism is to entirely eliminate sentient life on earth in order to prevent suffering.<br /><br />Even in this third approach to dependent arising the <i>nidāna </i>sequence is not coherent. It is a mix of different kinds of entities and events.&nbsp;</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>The World of Experience</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I've already mentioned that in SN 12:43 and SN 12:44 <i>loka </i>and <i>dukkha </i>are synonymous. A close look at the word&nbsp;<i>loka</i>&nbsp;reveals that in this context it means "the world of experience" (Jayarava 2010). Sue Hamilton (2000) explains that <i>dukkha </i>is not descriptive:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">"...<i>dukkha </i>is not descriptive of the world in which we have our experience: it is not descriptive of everything that we <i>perceive out there</i> and then react to. Rather, it <i>is</i> our experience. (2000: 82; emphasis in the original)</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">Our experiential world is created by the operation of <i>khandhas</i>. As Hamilton puts it, <i>dukkha</i>, <i>khandha</i>, and <i>loka </i>all refer to experience:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">"... all three terms refer in effect to the way one's experience (<i>dukkha</i>), the apparatus of which is one's <i>khandhas</i>, is one's world (<i>loka</i>). (2000: 205).</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">This tells us that we can think of dependent arising in terms of giving rise to one's experiential world. That is, not to "the world" in a metaphysical sense, but to "one's world" in an epistemic or phenomenological sense. The American Theravādin monk and translator, Bodhi, made a similar point about the world at around the same time as Sue Hamilton:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">“The world with which the Buddha’s teaching is principally concerned is ‘the world of experience,’ and even the objective world is of interest only to the extent that it serves as that necessary external condition for experience.” (Bodhi 2000: 394, n.182)</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">Some years ago I would have called this world "psychological", but I have come around to the idea that one's world is a social phenomenon as much as it is a psychological one. The social side of cognition&nbsp;is completely absent from traditional Buddhism and largely absent from modern Buddhism. The important point is that it seems likely that the authors of the Pāli actually had this epistemic approach in mind. The metaphysical application was an after-thought.<br /><br />The Bodhi quote also introduces the idea that the Pāli authors might have entertained a duality between a subjective and an objective world, with a clear focus on the subjective. This was precisely the idea that I was expanding on in my previous essay on Perennial Philosophy. This is how the early Buddhists thought, though their views were quite undeveloped and poorly expressed.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">We can unequivocally say that, from the point of view of a self-aware individual, the world of experience appears to come in two varieties: objective experiences which relate to a mind-independent world (reality) and subjective experiences which relate to the workings of the mind itself (experience). The two varieties are not the result of any ontological dualism, but merely because the apparatus of experience presents these two kinds of experience to our awareness: one which is directly based on physical senses and one which is only indirectly based on the senses, if at all, but is more reflective of our reactions to experience (both affective and cognitive). The fundamental mistake we all make is to assume that, because there are two main kinds of experience, the world must be divided into two types of existence. One does not follow from the other. This becomes clearer if we compare the information from the different physical senses. Light and sound, for example, are two very different phenomena, but we now know that they are manifestations of one reality at two very different scales.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">It becomes apparent, to every neuro-typical four-year-old, that we are not the only self-aware being, but that other beings (human and animal) have minds that are unique but also like our own mind. We are not alone and we can compare notes. Thomas Nagel's argument that there is "something that it is like to be a bat" (viewing the world via sonar) is true, but it downplays the fact that we evolved to understand what it is like to be another person. We have a highly developed innate ability to feel what other sentient beings feel and to understand the world from their point of view. All social mammals have some capacity for doing this. When we understand other animals in this way, it is not simply projection or anthropomorphising, but <i>recognition</i>. Our pet's mind may be smaller and limited in scope, but it is a mind and comprehensible. And it can go the other way, domestic animals can understand and respond appropriately humans to some extent.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Our experience of the world is shaped by our social environment, our sensory apparatus, our cognitive equipment, and a number of other factors. Discovering how any of this relates to reality is a matter of painstakingly separating subjective from objective by taking and comparing notes. The path to such knowledge has not been straight but we have built up a highly accurate and precise picture of how our everyday reality works. And it has nothing to do with Buddhist theories of dependent arising.&nbsp;</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>The Epistemic Reading is More Authentic</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The history of Buddhism Studies is littered with the detritus of naive attempts to reconstruct the "original Buddhism". It is almost always a mistake to assume that we can get back to Buddhism before it is presented in early Buddhists texts, even though it is apparent that the early texts represent a rather advanced stage of development. We can only get so far in reconstructing history from texts when there is no corroborating evidence from elsewhere. We can see a progression in the Canon: some texts have a more epistemic approach and some a more metaphysical approach. And we know that there is a general trend toward exploring metaphysics amongst Buddhists that does not fully manifest until really quite late in the development of Buddhism, i.e., well into the Common Era. Thus we expect an epistemic approach to be more prominent in early texts. <br /><br />The texts were composed over several centuries and we have no way, at present, of stratifying most of them. It is a matter of relative rather than absolute chronology. Also, we do not, and cannot, say anything about what the Buddha taught or thought. We just do not know how these texts relate to the legendary figure of the Buddha.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The idea of&nbsp;<i>paṭicca-samuppāda</i> makes a certain amount of sense in the context of epistemology, but it comes unstuck when pressed into service as metaphysics. In other words, when applied to the context that history suggests is the earlier, we are able to use the doctrine to make a certain amount of sense. On the other hand, when Buddhists tried to use the doctrine as metaphysics we can see that they had to make many adjustments, some of which effectively repudiated the original idea and replaced it with something novel. The more metaphysics became a concern, the less like the doctrines in the early texts Buddhism became. Many later forms, such as the medieval Japanese and Tibetan schools (Zen, Shin, Gelug) bear almost no relationship to the doctrines of the early texts.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Thus, we may argue that the epistemic reading is more authentic, provided that we do not overlay it with a modern epistemology. The idea that Buddhism makes a contribution to the understanding of reality, or the nature of reality, i.e., to ontology or metaphysics, is not authentic, in the sense that such claims are inconsistent with the earliest forms of Buddhism that we have access to. And this becomes increasingly obvious. Buddhism addresses the subjective, epistemic, phenomenological, <i>experiential </i>world; that part of the world which is an internally-generated virtual model; what Thomas Metzinger has called the Virtual Self Model. In this domain Buddhism retains some sense and usefulness. Still, this is not an easy adjustment for anyone used to thinking that they are on the trail of ultimate reality via Buddhism. I tried to show that, in terms of ideas and methods, that Buddhism is strongly connected with subjectivity. I know that many Buddhists will remain unconvinced by this, but it is true nonetheless. If our age tells us anything it is that "truth" and "belief" are often unrelated.</div><br /><div style="text-align: center;">~~oOo~~<br />&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Bibliography</b></div><br /><div class="hang">Bodhi 2000. <i>The Connected Discourses of the Buddha</i>. Wisdom.</div><br /><div class="hang">Hamilton, Sue. (2000). <i>Early Buddhism: A New Approach</i>. London: Routledge.</div><br /><div class="hang">Jayarava (2010). "Is Paṭicca-samuppāda a Theory of Everything?". http://www.jayarava.org/writing/paticca-samuppada-theory-of-everything.pdf</div><br /></div>Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-31834110887993956002018-12-21T10:47:00.000+00:002018-12-21T16:13:43.670+00:00Dependent Arising: Nidānas<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div style="text-align: justify;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-X41aw9gL8S0/XBtdxWIibqI/AAAAAAAAIG4/jphU4IGRI5MwtWyu4-WnbWF2g3Zgwgm5ACLcBGAs/s1600/vatican.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="641" data-original-width="626" height="200" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-X41aw9gL8S0/XBtdxWIibqI/AAAAAAAAIG4/jphU4IGRI5MwtWyu4-WnbWF2g3Zgwgm5ACLcBGAs/s200/vatican.jpg" width="195" /></a></div>In Part I, I began with a detailed grammatical analysis of the traditional Pāli <i>paṭicca-samuppāda</i> formula. I showed that it tells us that the presence of the condition is required for the duration of the effect. The only traditional Buddhist view compatible with this criterion was Sarvāstivāda. And, to be clear, this means that modern teachings on dependent arising are inconsistent with the formula. Also, this entailed a particular view of time: it has to be linear and infinite in the past. Now, in Part II, I will continue by looking at the traditional connection of <i>paṭicca-samuppāda</i> to the concept of <i>nidāna </i>"basis". Although this is not as easy as it sounds.<br /><br />Given that all Buddhists these days use the 12 link <i>nidāna </i>model, there are a surprising number and range of variations in the early Buddhist texts and disagreements between the various recensions. See the accompanying <a href="http://www.jayarava.org/texts/nidana-seqences.jpeg">diagram</a> for a visual representation of the main variations.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: right; margin-left: 1em; text-align: right;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.jayarava.org/texts/nidana-seqences.jpeg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" data-original-height="251" data-original-width="300" height="167" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-bnTG4hiZEeE/XBDf8PbFZRI/AAAAAAAAIFg/6tH3si2Du0ErdTozyeT69XoBdirqfjKJwCLcBGAs/s200/nidana-sequences-300.jpeg" width="200" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">click to embiggen</td></tr></tbody></table>Not included in the diagram are the numerous versions of the standard links that leave out the early links. A number of suttas have standard links but begin at the six senses (e.g., SN 12:24) or even at clinging (e.g., SN 22.80). The existence of these shorter links led Austrian Indologist (and Nazi), Erich Frauwallner to the conclusion that the sequence must have originally been two shorter sequences that got mashed together (cited in Bucknell 1999). The list might also have started off short and expanded with time.<br /><br />Meanwhile, Polish Indologist, Joanna Jurewicz (2000), has proposed that the <i>nidānas </i>might have emerged as a parody or even polemic of Vedic cosmogony, an idea that Richard Gombrich (2009: 133 ff) has enthusiastically supported.<br /><br />In addition to these obvious major variations, Rod Bucknell (1999) has noted many minor variations that are not visible to the casual reader. The different lineages of Pāli texts (i.e., Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, etc) are often at odds, with some leaving links out and some adding them. Also, there are several examples where two variant suttas in Pāli are represented by a single text in the Chinese <i>Āgama </i>translations, which Bucknell says this indicates a variation emerging in Pāli. However, we cannot rule out that either the Sarvāstivādin redactor or the Chinese Translator tidied up the <i>Āgama </i>versions by removing minor variants, just as a modern editor might do (see, e.g., Bodhi 2000 p.586).<br /><br />The much vaunted unity of the early Buddhist Canon has been imposed on a riot of different teachings by one or more anonymous systematizers. I don't see this as a problem, per se; it is true of all Canons that they are constructed from less systematic raw material. Of course, one might argue that these are all variations on the theme and that the theme itself constitutes the unity. In response I would point to the inconsistencies between the themes: karma does not gel with dependent arising. If they are the product of one mind, then that person was, at best, an unsystematic thinker.<br /><br />In the standard view, the texts were passed on orally with high fidelity until being written down. In fact, the fidelity must have been very low, judging by the written canon. Given the internal suggestions of the texts themselves it is likely that they were passed on orally in a wide range of dialects and only standardised at the time of being written down.<br /><br />If anything, the Pāli Canon feels more like the work of a committee of people. The idea that the different <i>nikāyas </i>form a single collection must be relatively late and specific to the Theravādins. There is no evidence that other sects viewed them as such. The <i>Āgama </i>equivalents were separately translated into Chinese. The Pāli Canon is a compromise. Where conflicts could not be resolved, two or more versions of texts were included. The Sarvāstivādins, as evidenced in their Canon of early texts that survive in Chinese, were both less divided and more systematic, despite working from similar raw material.<br /><br />This is all worth keeping in mind when we reflect on the nature of the early Buddhist doctrines. However, for the porpoises of this essay I will look at just two of the many variations from this mess. The familiar twelve <i>nidānas </i>and another model that will be familiar to some, the <i>upanisās </i>also known as the Spiral Path.</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Nidānas</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In this section, I'm going to outline the implications of obligatory presence for our understanding of dependent arising applied to the <i>nidānas</i>.<br /><br />The twelve&nbsp;<i>nidānas </i>are usually seen as an application of the principle set out in <i>paṭicca-samuppāda</i>. Eviatar Shulman has argued that, actually, the formula applies specifically, and only, to the <i>nidānas</i>. In 2010, I outlined his argument in an essay called <i><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2010/12/general-theory-of-conditionality.html">A General Theory of Conditionality?</a> </i>At that time, I tended to disagree, but I have come around to his way of thinking. As far as the Pāli suttas are concerned, <i>paṭicca-samuppāda</i> is the <i>nidānas</i>, though the <i>nidānas </i>frequently occur without the formula.&nbsp;It does not appear to be the case that the former is a general principle and the latter one application amongst many. However, <i>nidāna </i>models also exist that appear unrelated to <i>paṭicca-samuppāda, </i>per se. So we may be looking at an uneven composite that developed at the same time as the texts. </div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">First, we may say that the circularity argument from Part I is a blow for the three lifetimes conception of dependent arising. The requirement of presence means that all such arguments are topologically identical to the case where an event is the condition for itself. Any form of cyclic conditionality has only two outcomes: everything always exists or nothing ever exists. As I notated it in Part I, any circularity in which the presence of the condition is a requirement for the presence of the effect logically reduces to: <span style="text-align: justify;">(A if A) and (¬A if ¬A). </span>If we accept that conditions must be present, then we have to accept linear time with an infinite past or an eternally existent condition at the start of time. The universe may have spatial epicycles of creation and destruction, but time itself must be linear. A phenomenon cannot appear in its own past as a condition. A way around this would be to argue that the <i>nidānas </i>are <i>categories </i>of phenomena rather than a specific phenomenon: each instance is unique, but together they form a class of similar phenomena. Whether this rescues the three lifetimes interpretation is moot, but I want to move on because delving into the theory of categories would take me too far from my topic.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The traditional depiction of the <i>nidānas </i>around the outside of the "wheel of time" (<i>kālacakra</i>) is not a workable model of the <i>nidānas</i>. They are not a loop because conditional loops are forbidden by the requirement for presence. Also, death is not the condition for ignorance. If you look at how the teaching is presented in the texts, it's not presented as a loop, either. The cycle is birth and death. The rest of it is an attempt to explain what happens during a life to drive the constant recycling into new lives. Compare the important version of this doctrine in the <i>Mahānidāna Sutta</i> (DN 15), for example, which only has 10 links (I leave this as an exercise for the reader). Arguably, for the unawakened, ignorance is a constant presence rather than something newly arising from moment to moment (I will look at the implications of this shortly).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Presence is problematic for the <i>nidāna </i>model. Take cognition (<i>viññāna</i>) as a <i>nidāna.</i> The <i>imasmim sati</i> formula says that cognition must be present all the time for the rest of the string of conditions to occur. And not only does this not work, it is evidently not the intended meaning of the <i>nidāna</i>. There are obviously times, when we are asleep, for example, when we do not cognise anything.<br /><br />If we work through the logic, the condition for cognition is karmic volitions (<i>saṅkhārā</i>)<i> </i>which are arguably present, and the condition for karmic volitions, i.e., ignorance (<i>aviijā</i>)<i> </i>definitely is present. Ignorance is a constant for the unawakened; it must be, or they would be awakened. and it must persist for many lifetimes. If ignorance is present then, according to the formula, karmic volitions must also be present, and cognition must follow. Except that we know there are times when cognition is not present even when ignorance is. So the <i>nidāna</i> chain is constructed on a model which does not have a requirement for presence, or indeed which has a requirement for non-presence some of the time.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Things get even worse at the other end of the chain. If birth (<i>jāti</i>) is the condition for aging and death (<i>jarā-maraṇa</i>) then it cannot make any sense at all to require presence. Birth is an event, and not a short lived event, but one which takes place over an appreciable and often considerable time. Labour can last for a day or more. But if the presence of birth is the condition for the presence of aging and death, the death would be instantaneous for every new born. Again, presence here is counter-indicated and some other form of conditionality is required. If birth is the condition for death then we hope to delay it by as long as possible, but the average in the developed world is around 75. Also surely birth is not that significant compared to conception. Iron Age India only had vague and inaccurate conceptions of conception so they could not have come to this conclusion.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The consequence of this is that, whatever tradition and scholars tell us, the <i>paṭicca-samuppāda</i> formula emphatically does not <i>logically</i> apply to the <i>nidānas</i>. Indeed, a further analysis would reveal that more than one kind of conditionality is required to make sense of the <i>nidānas </i>and several schemes involving multiple types of condition were concocted by the different <i>Abhidharmakāras</i>. For example, Theravādins teach about the twenty-four different kinds of conditionality that their Abhidhamma speculates have to exist to make it all happen. Sarvāstivādins got by with just four. But most of the time the nature of the conditionality is unspecified, which allows us to have a more intuitive but less precise account of conditionality.<br /><br />We do not teach the&nbsp;<i>nidānas&nbsp;</i>with the requirement for presence despite the clear implication of the <i>paṭicca-samuppāda</i> formula. There is nothing wrong with teaching a story about conditionality that we think works, if the alternative is one that we know doesn't work. But it seems disingenuous to promote this as something the Buddha taught. The whole concept is rather dubious, anyway, as we cannot even say if the Buddha was a historical figure. Even if we stipulate this much, however, it is clear that the early versions of the doctrine are incoherent and later Buddhists disagreed on how to fix this. What we now teach has no connection with the Buddha, it is "Buddhist" pragmatically because it is something that Buddhists say, not because it was something the Buddha said.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">This is all bizarre enough, but there is a related, though largely neglected early Buddhist doctrine which is a much better fit for <i>paṭicca-samuppāda</i>, i.e., that also requires the presence of the condition.</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>The Spiral Path</b></div><br /><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: right; margin-left: 1em; text-align: right;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.jayarava.org/texts/upanisa-sequence.jpeg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" data-original-height="334" data-original-width="300" height="200" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-UAKY5vBuk94/XBtMuEVKQ1I/AAAAAAAAIGs/si-DJuJGQ-8cZ1JOo2ImbQ0-8HPwNvPDQCLcBGAs/s200/upanisa-sequences-300.jpeg" width="179" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.jayarava.org/texts/upanisa-sequence.jpeg">click to embiggen</a></td></tr></tbody></table><div style="text-align: justify;">The lesser known model of conditionality was rediscovered by Carolyn Rhys Davids while she was editing and helping to translate the <i>Saṃyutta Nikāya</i> for the Pali Text Society. The idea was taken up by Sangharakshita but has never really gained much traction outside of the Triratna Buddhist Order, where it is an important doctrine. Both Ayya Khema (1991) and Bodhi (1980) wrote about it but just the once each, and some time ago now. Sangharakshita called it the "spiral path" (though in his teaching it is not a spiral, but a helix). The <i>Nettiparakaraṇa</i>, an early Pāli commentary included in the Canon, refers to it as&nbsp;<i>lokuttara paṭicca-samuppāda</i> which Bodhi translated as "Transcendental Dependent Arising". Other terms such as "progressive <i>nidānas</i>" have been used. As <i>nidāna </i>"basis"&nbsp;is used to refer to the <i>paṭicca-samuppāda links</i>, I have suggested that the spiral path be referred to as the <i>upanisā</i> "preconditions".<br /><br />The PED is unsure about whether to derive the word <i>upanisā </i>from <i>upa-ni-√sad</i>, in which case it would be the same as Vedic <i>upaniṣad</i>, or from <i>upa-ni-√śri </i>(P. <i>upanissayati</i>), in which case we would have to see the word as an abbreviated form of the gerund&nbsp;<i>upanissāya </i>"depending on, by means of". Given how the word is used in the <i>upanisā </i>doctrine, the latter is far more likely. Compare BHS&nbsp;<i>upaniśritya. </i>In the Chinese <i>Samyuktāgama </i>(SA 495) the word is translated&nbsp;所依 (T 1: 2.129a11), which is commonly used for Sanskrit terms such as <i>āśraya </i>and <i>niśraya </i>(<i>ā√śri</i> and <i>ni√śri</i> respectively) both meaning a "basis" or "foundation".<br /><br />The <i>upanisā</i> doctrine occurs in about 40 suttas, whereas the <i>imasmim sati</i> formula occurs just 13 times, and the two are never related in Pāli. The scattered references were collected into one section of the Sarvāstivāda <i>Madhyama Āgama,</i> which is preserved in Chinese (see my <a href="http://www.jayarava.org/texts/Chinese%20Spiral%20Path%20Texts.pdf">draft translations of MĀ 42-55,</a>&nbsp;Taishō 1: 26 §5).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In the spiral path, the <i>upanisās</i> are cumulative, with earlier conditions needing to be present, and thus&nbsp; it is consistent with the <i>paṭicca-samuppāda</i> formula. Although existing explorations of the doctrine have focused on the <i>Upanisā Sutta </i>(SN 12:23 ≈ MĀ 55), my view is that the suttas at the beginning of the Chapter of Tens/Elevens in the <i>Aṅguttara Nikāya</i> are the template.</div><ul><li>Kimatthiya Sutta (AN 10.1 = AN 11.1 ≈ MĀ 42)</li><li>Cetanākaraṇīya Sutta (AN 10.2 = AN 11.2 ≈ MĀ 43)</li><li>Paṭhama-upanisā Sutta (AN 10.3 = AN 11.3 ≈ MĀ 44, 47)</li><li>Dutiya-upanisā Sutta (AN 10.4 = AN 11.4 ≈ MĀ 48)</li><li>Tatiya-upanisā Sutta (AN 10.5 = AN 11.5 ≈ MĀ 43)</li></ul><div style="text-align: justify;">Seen in the light of the broad range of other spiral path texts, the <i>Upanisā Sutta </i>is an oddball, albeit an interesting one since it is the only text that attempts to join the <i>nidānas </i>with the <i>upanisā</i>. The usual <i>nidāna </i>sequence is listed to birth, which is followed by <i>dukkha</i>, then the <i>upanisā </i>sequence beginning with faith (<i>saddha</i>). However, this is a very problematic conjunction. Linking faith to suffering as a condition is <i>prima facie</i> strange but more so when one realises that the usual condition for faith is hearing the Buddha preach. Explanations for this conjunction typically add three extra steps in the process of linking the two. Even in the Triratna Order, where we actively teach the&nbsp;<i>upanisā </i>doctrine,&nbsp;we do not utilise the text as it stands. Instead, we use Sangharakshita's revision. Whether it even makes sense to combine the two models at all is doubtful.</div><div><br />The pattern from AN 10.2 begins like this:<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">The virtuous one, monks, endowed with virtue, need not form an intention ‘may my conscience be clear.’ It is natural (<i>dhammatā</i>) for the virtuous one endowed with virtue to have a clear conscience. Having a clear conscience, there is no need for an act of will ‘may I feel joy.’ Joy naturally arises in those who have a clear conscience. </div></blockquote>The dynamic is illustrated in the <i>Upanisā Sutta</i> and several of the <i>Madhyama-Āgama </i>texts with a simile:</div><div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">"Just as, when the gods pour down rain over the mountains, water flows down the mountainside, filling up the branches of the crevices and gullies; having filled the crevices and gullies, small lakes and the great lakes are filled; the great lakes being filled, the small rivers fill up; the small rivers fill up the large rivers, and the large rivers fill up the great ocean."</div></blockquote>&nbsp;Again, this is consistent with the continued presence of the condition giving rise to the effect and not with the sequences of the <i>nidāna</i> doctrine.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">As I showed in my first published article on the subject (2013), the <i>upanisā </i>doctrine is a more elaborate version of the threefold path of conduct, concentration, and insight (<i>sīla</i>, <i>samādhi</i>, and <i>paññā</i>). The factors leading up to <i>pāmojja </i>constitute what we usually call "morality", but which are more about creating the conditions for meditation, rather than being a good person or following group norms. Hence, I would now say that "conduct" is a better translation than "morality" or "ethics", both of which are too broad in this context. The stage of conduct involves accustoming oneself to reduced sensory stimulation through restricting one's exposure to sense objects. It is characterised by restraint and renunciation. This is supposed to lead to a general mood of uplift and happiness (<i>pāmojja</i>) which is the prerequisite for meditation.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Having crossed the threshold of <i>pāmojja </i>as one becomes concentrated in meditation (and here we can infer that <i>jhāna</i> meditation is intended) one passes through a series of phases of increasingly refined experience, with less reference to external sense objects. This is not the place to argue about the general applicability of the model (I have my doubts) but we can say that at least this doctrine is consistent with the doctrine of <i>paṭicca-samuppāda,</i>&nbsp;although the Buddhist tradition seems to have kept apart the two doctrines that do make sense together, and to have largely forgotten the <i>upanisā</i> doctrine (or at best to have let it fall out of use).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">What's more, it is apparent that the <i>upanisā </i>list aligns with the <em>bojjhaṅga</em> or "factors of awakening" list. For a graphic representation of this see my <a href="http://www.jayarava.org/texts/paticcasamuppada-pali-english-version5-4.jpeg">big dependent arising diagram</a>.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The conclusion of this section is that the dynamic in the <i>paṭicca-samuppāda</i>, which requires the presence of the condition, is not the dynamic of the <i>nidānas</i>. In fact, the requirement for continued presence is incompatible with the <i>nidāna </i>model. And this despite Shulman's observation that the wording suggests that Buddhist authors saw the <i>nidānas </i>as spelling out in detail the principle of the formula. By a strange twist, the requirement of presence is exactly what we find in the neglected and sidelined <i>upanisā</i> doctrine. The two are not linked in surviving texts (Theravāda or Sarvāstivāda) except the <i>Upanisā Sutta</i>, which cobbles the two together end to end and this could not possibly work (and is not used in practice). </div></div><div><br /></div><div><div style="text-align: justify;">This shows, I think, that the received texts have been quite heavily and ineptly edited to favour an interpretation of doctrine that does not make sense, despite there being a combination that did make sense. This suggests that religious ideology has trumped common sense. It also shows that what appears to be unity to some people, is not apparent on closer inspection.&nbsp;</div></div><div><br /></div><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Alternatives?</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">There is still one issue with the Spiral Path model to deal with. As before, the problem is explaining cessation. The conditions for rebirth are present and are the reason that we are continually reborn. In order to eliminate rebirth we have to eliminate the conditions for rebirth. But if presence is the norm, then this would involve an infinite regress: conditions must be present and the past must be infinite. In order to wholly eliminate rebirth we would have to go back to the base condition for rebirth, which is the existence of the universe that allows for rebirth. With infinite time we could never get to the beginning of the sequence to remove that ultimate cause. And thus rebirth could never cease because the preconditions for rebirth would always be present. This paradox tells us there is something wrong with the model.<br /><br />Could&nbsp;it be that we have it all wrong and that the formula expresses a different dynamic? Is is more like a cue hitting a snooker ball? Or a line of dominoes? A seed growing into a tree?</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Let's take the first idea. As a general approach it suggests that the condition gives the effect a "push" that enables the effect to be present in the absence of the condition. But if the effect can be present in the absence of its condition, then it is the condition for its own presence and we have explored this scenario in detail already. Alternatively, we may argue that the condition bequeaths a temporary quality of momentum to the effect. But what is the condition for the continued presence of this momentum? Nothing can be unconditioned except <i>nirvāṇa </i>(and perhaps space, <i>ākāśa</i>). Clearly, at the outset, the presence of momentum is due to the condition itself. But the momentum has to be an effect of the condition and dependent arising says that when the condition ceases the effect ceases. So there is no way for the condition to pass on anything to the effect by way of momentum if the condition is not present. The requirement for presence cannot be subverted by adding extra steps, because if any effect can outlive its conditions, under any circumstances, then it has become a condition for its own presence.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In the line of dominoes analogy, the suggestion is that the condition changes its state in such a way as to force the effect to change its state in the same way, creating a cascade. The problem is that at the outset a line of dominoes are all present and are simply knocked over. They don't cease to be present once they have fallen over. So at the beginning and the end we have dominoes. There is no help from this analogy, although this is similar to the Sarvāstivāda view of constant presence combined with a changing state of activity.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">A traditional image that is sometimes use to try to illustrate dependent arising is the seed sprouting and turning into a tree - continuous change. This is an argument from analogy which is not an explanation. But let's consider it. What is the condition for the seed to sprout? We may say that it must grow in soil (a complex mix of organic and inorganic elements) and at a minimum be watered. What happens to the soil once the seed sprouts? Nothing much. It has to continue to be present. Similarly, water must be continually present in some form or the plant dries out and dies. One might argue that this analogy is considerably worse that others we have considered. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I cannot think of any other situation in which we take dependent arising at face value and arrive at a workable solution. The only logical conclusion is the <i>sarva-asti-vāda</i>. Conditions all exist all of the time because if they did not everything would cease. Indeed, if any past condition ceased then all of the downstream effects related to it would instantaneously also cease. Of course, this is not what we see when we look at the world. Rather, we see phenomena arising and ceasing.<br /><br />Usually Buddhists take what they see to be what they are supposed to see and assert that this is what dependent arising shows. Clearly, this is not what the formula of dependent arising says. Rather, it says a condition must be present for the entire duration of an effect. We do not teach dependent arising according to canonical accounts, but substitute what seems intuitively correct to us. And if we are allowed to do this with our supposedly central doctrine, then what changes are we not licenced to make?<br /><br />Contrarily, if we insist that the canonical account is the Buddha's verbatim teaching, then we have to admit that the Buddha screwed up his most distinctive teaching or those who attempted to preserve his teachings were hopelessly confused by the time they came to be written down. Either way it seriously undermines the case for the supposed authenticity of the early Buddhist teachings.<br /><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div></div><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Conclusion</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">It seems to me that the people who promote dependent arising as a metaphysical truth have really not thought deeply enough about it. Even taking dependent arising on its own terms we end up at the <i>sarvāstivāda </i>position that all past conditions must still exist. This is not a position I advocate, it is simply the <i>inescapable </i>logical conclusion of dependent arising as stated in the <i>imasmiṃ sati</i> formula. This was, in fact, a hugely popular approach in classical Buddhism in India and in China. The Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma books are all preserved in Chinese. While every Buddhist (presumably) accepts some form of conditionality doctrine, no living Buddhist actually holds this view.<br /><br />The <i>imasmim sati </i>formula does not describe the conditionality of the <i>nidāna</i> doctrine, which is not, in any case, a single kind of conditionality. On the other hand, the formula does describe the <i>upanisā</i> doctrine, which can be seen as extending the threefold path (conduct, meditation, wisdom) and as consistent with the <i>bojjhaṅga</i>&nbsp;doctrine as well. It's just that the formula and <i>upanisā </i>doctrine are never linked in early Buddhist texts. No traditional school continues to promote the <i>upanisā</i> doctrine and its importance has largely been lost sight of.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Modern Buddhists may wish to argue that conditionality is not linear but that everything conditions everything else. Certainly this is a common Buddhist assertion. It has the disadvantage of gaining no support whatever from early Buddhist texts. However, many innovations in doctrine emerged over time to fix exactly this kind of problem, so this disadvantage is not fatal. Does it get us out of the bind? It does not, since, if everything is a condition for everything else, then this reduces to events or entities being the condition for their own existence. And again, this is not what we see when we observe conditionality: we <i>see </i>arising and ceasing. Any explanation we pose must at the very least allow for arising and ceasing. We see multiple conditions, but not infinite conditions.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Should we be surprised that an Iron Age religious doctrine doesn't stand scrutiny? Hardly. I cannot think of a contemporary idea from anywhere in the world which has survived contact with modernity. Outside of academia no one gets excited by Plato and claims that he discovered the nature of reality. Platonic Idealism is trotted out to confuse philosophy undergraduates, but plays no great role in how modern intellectuals think about the world. Equally, no one in Britain thinks that our lives are controlled by the whims of Tiu, Woden, Thor, and Frigga any more. It's not credible to keep arguing that outdated theories tell us about the nature of reality.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">What is really worrying is how much of academia is involved in trying, for example, to reconcile karma with modernity. I'd like to do some research on this, at some point. As an interim measure I think all believers in Buddhism should declare a conflict of interest with writing about Buddhism so that readers can be alert to unexamined assumptions. Editors should make it clear when someone is writing as an apologist or theologian rather than a scholar. I think I'll start adding a disclaimer to all my articles from now on.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">So far, I have tried to avoid any argument rooted in modernity; even the logic I refer to is of a similar age to the doctrines themselves, if from another culture. I've tried to show that Buddhism is fundamentally incoherent on its own terms: the logical conclusions are avoided in favour of intuitive conclusions. Of course, it is much worse when we consider Buddhism in the light of modern philosophy and science. The painful thing is that we have a very useful practical approach that seems to benefit people; we just don't have a coherent explanation of what we are doing or why.<br /><br />In the final instalment, I revisit the argument that our problem is treating doctrine as metaphysics and&nbsp; that the solution is to shift the discussion to epistemics. Buddhism has a veneer of respectability as metaphysics but it is thin and getting thinner. The modern world is going to figure us out at some point, so we Buddhists need to get ahead of the curve in order to survive. We have nothing coherent to say about the nature of reality, but the same statements read as commentary on our paradigm make more sense and are sometimes compatible with modern knowledge. For the long term survival of Buddhism as a meaningful cultural movement, we need to come to terms with this issue.</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;">~~oOo~~</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Bibliography</b></div><br /><div class="hang">Bodhi. 1980 Transcendental Dependent Arising: a Translation and Exposition of the Upanisa Sutta.(The Wheel Publication no.277/278.) Buddhist Publication Society. Online: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/wheel277.html</div><br /><div class="hang">Bodhi. 2000. The Connected Discourses of the Buddha : a Translation of the Saṃyutta Nikāya. Boston : Wisdom Publications.</div><br /><div class="hang">Bucknell, Roderick S. 1999. "Conditioned Arising Evolves: Variation and Change in the Textual Accounts of the Paṭicca-samuppāda Doctrine." <i><a href="https://journals.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/index.php/jiabs/article/viewFile/8891/2798">JIABS</a> </i>22 (2) 1999: 311-342. </div><br />Gombrich, Richard. 2009. <i>What The Buddha Thought</i>. London: Equinox.<br /><br /><div class="hang">Jayarava. 2012. <i>Chinese Spiral Path Texts from the Madhyāgama. Draft Translations</i>. Sept 2012.</div><br /><div class="hang">Jayarava. 2013. "The Spiral Path or <i>Lokuttara Paṭiccasamuppāda</i>." <i><a href="http://www.jayarava.org/texts/the-spiral-path.pdf">Western Buddhist Review</a></i> 6: 1–34.</div><br /><div class="hang">Jayatilleke, K. N. 1963. <i>Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge</i>. Motilal Banarsidass, 2010.</div><br /><div class="hang">Jurewicz, Joanna. 2000. "Playing with Fire: The pratītyasamutpāda from the perspective of Vedic thought." <i>Journal of the Pali Text Society</i> 26 (2000) pp. 77 – 103. </div><br /><div class="hang">Khema, Ayya. 1991&nbsp;<i>When the Iron Eagle Flies</i>. Penguin.</div></div>Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-64519662183569307832018-12-14T10:45:00.002+00:002018-12-15T15:21:22.250+00:00Dependent Arising: Presence And Time<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div style="text-align: justify;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-UKOsyfQQbLo/XBOGuuKbfJI/AAAAAAAAIF4/uOy02xZtXD8KVm-_f4vD8rGXMC894M4HwCLcBGAs/s1600/s109.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="854" data-original-width="640" height="200" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-UKOsyfQQbLo/XBOGuuKbfJI/AAAAAAAAIF4/uOy02xZtXD8KVm-_f4vD8rGXMC894M4HwCLcBGAs/s200/s109.jpg" width="149" /></a></div>We can think of the following essay as a coda to my critique of the <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2018/11/reframing-perennial-philosophy-part-i.html">Perennial Philosophy</a> since dependent arising is often presented as a singular universal metaphysical truth. In this essay I will begin by stipulating that <i>paṭicca-samuppāda</i> is a metaphysical doctrine and then proceed to draw out the implications of this premise.<br /><br />The first task is to establish exactly what <i>paṭicca-samuppāda</i> says, using the standard methods of philology: analysing the grammar, syntax, and lexemes of the sentences. With a clear understanding of what the traditional formula says, we can try to understand what it means. I will show how the effect and condition relate under <i>paṭicca-samuppāda. </i>In addition,<i> </i>Buddhists were forced to accept a particular account of time and I will show why it had to be that account and no other. By the end of Part I, we will have a pretty good idea of how <i>paṭicca-samuppāda </i>performs as metaphysics.<br /><br />If anyone thinks this is an elementary exercise and that we can hardly learn anything new about this most famous of all Buddhist doctrines at this late stage, let me assure them that in this case I learned something new or I wouldn't be writing about it. Most of what we learn about Buddhism in the present is only loosely correlated to the ancient texts and in this case there are major discrepancies.<br /><br />In Part II, I will take the usual step and discuss <i>paṭicca-samuppāda</i> in terms of the <i>nidānas</i> (or bases) and what is often called the Spiral Path or <i>upanisās</i>. In particular, I will show, contrary to the received wisdom, that it is inconsistent with the <i>nidānas</i>, that the two describe very different kinds of conditionality. Unexpectedly, <i>paṭicca-samuppāda</i> turns out to be exactly consistent with the conditionality described in the <i>upanisās</i>. This is a major new observation.<br /><br />Finally, in Part III, I will return to the issue of metaphysics and argue that <i>paṭicca-samuppāda</i> has nothing to do with metaphysics, but was employed as a description of subjective experience arising and passing away. Attempts to make it a metaphysical doctrine resulted in the kind of nonsense epitomised by Nāgārjuna's <i>Mūlamadhyamaka-kārikā</i>. Relieved of the necessity to make sense on the level of metaphysics, we are in a better position to see what the early Buddhists were getting at.<br /><br />Let us begin at the beginning: </div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Dependent Arising</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The classic formulation of <i>paṭicca-samuppāda</i> (Skt. <i>pratītya-samutpāda</i>) can be found in the four phrases found scattered through the <i>Nikāyas</i>:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><i>imasmiṃ sati idaṃ hoti<br />imass' uppādā idaṃ uppajjati<br />imasmiṃ asati idaṃ na hoti<br />imassa nirodhā idaṃ nirujjhati</i></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">Since there is no regular pattern of metre we cannot think of these as verses. This is prose and, since each phrase has its own finite verb and there are no conjunctions, we can say that they are grammatical; four separate sentences, presented on separate lines to aid discussion. The formula occurs just a few times in Pāli: MN i.263, ii.32, iii.63; SN ii.28, 65, 70, 78, 79, 95, 96, v.388; AN v.184; Ud 1, 2.<br /><br />The usual Sanskrit version is:<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq"><i>yaduta asmin satīdaṃ bhavaty asyotpadād idam utpadyate | </i><i>yaduta asmin asatīdaṃ na bhavaty asya nirodhād idaṃ nirudhyate ||</i></blockquote>Although in Sanskrit this often be abbreviated to just the first two sentences. And in Chinese the phrase is typically:<br /><br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 此有故彼有、此生故彼生、此無故彼無、此滅故彼滅。<br /><br />For reference, the&nbsp;verbs here are 有 "being", 生 "arising", 無 "non-being", and 滅 "ceasing". And Chinese does not have the rich grammar of the Indic languages so the structure is the same in each of the four phrases. It comes out sounding like something from the 道德經 <i>Dàodé Jīng</i> and this may not have been an accident since Daoism was a strong influence on Chinese Buddhism.<br /><br />However, we will stick with a grammatical analysis of the Pāli. The two phrases <i>imasmiṃ sati idaṃ hoti </i>and <i>imasmiṃ asati idaṃ na hoti </i>use a locative absolute construction with present participles to indicate the relationship between the conditioning factor (<i>paccaya</i>) and the conditioned factor (<i>vipāka</i>). This kind of construction is used to indicate an action that is <i>simultaneous </i>with the main action of the verb. The main clause is <i>idaṃ hoti</i> "this is". The deictic pronoun <i>idaṃ </i>is used for an object present to the speaker and <i>hoti </i>is a dialectical variant on the verb <i>bhavati </i>(√<i>bhū)</i> "to be, become". The dynamic sense of "becoming" is probably better since it parallels <i>uppajjati </i>(<i>ud√pad</i>)<i> </i>"arising", though the difference in this case is minimal. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The "absolute" clause is <i>imasmiṃ sati </i>or<i> </i><i>imasmiṃ asati</i>. The (irregularly formed) present participle <i>sata</i> is from the verb <i>atthi</i> (√<i>as</i>) and is in the locative case, while the pronoun is from the same base as <i>idaṃ </i>and also declined as locative. The meaning is: "this exists", but the locative absolute construction makes it "when this exists" or "while this exists"; and negatively "while this does not exist". Note that the deictic pronoun<b> </b>is used for both condition and effect; i.e., both are present to the speaker. However, if we translated literally it would be ambiguous, so most translators substitute this/that for this/this.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">With this in mind I read these sentences as, “while the condition exists, the effect comes into existence” and “while the condition does not exist the effect doesn’t come into existence.” or more briefly: "This being, that becomes" and "This not being, that doesn't become".</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The phrases <i>imass’ uppādā idaṃ uppajjati </i>and <i>imassa nirodhā idaṃ nirujjhati </i>combine an action noun (<i>uppāda</i>, <i>nirodha</i>) in the ablative of cause with a present indicative verb from the same root (<i>ud√pad</i>, <i>ni√rudh</i>). These mean: “from the arising of this [condition], that [effect] arises” and “from the cessation of this [condition], that [effect] ceases.” </div><br />So the sentences may be translated as:<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">This being, that becomes.<br />From the arising of this, that arises.<br />This not being, that doesn't become.<br />From the ceasing of this, that ceases. </blockquote>or:<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">While the condition exists, the effect exists.<br />From the arising of this condition, this effect arises.<br />While the condition does not exist the effect doesn’t exist.<br />From the cessation of this condition, this effect ceases.</blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">This reading is supported by the influential Sri Lankan Buddhist writer, Kulatissa Jayatilleke, who expresses the relation as "Whenever A is present, B is present ..and... whenever A is absent, B is absent." (1963: 449). He notes that Buddhaghosa also saw it this way in the <i>Visuddhimagga</i>:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><i>uppajjamāno ca saha samā ca uppajjati na ekekato no pi ahetuto ti sampanno</i> (Vsm 521)</blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq">"Arisen (<i>sampanno</i>)" means arising together and arising equally, not one at a time and not for no reason. </blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">There is not a lot of discussion about this, but my understanding is that the condition is both necessary and sufficient for the arising of the effect. The necessity part must be true, but the sufficiency is debatable. Conditionality might be underspecified and, indeed, in one way of talking about conditionality, multiple conditions are required to give rise to the effect (see Part III). We may ask if, in this standard case, the necessary condition could be present and not give rise to the effect? My reading of the formula is that this could not happen. Therefore the condition is sufficient. I deduced from Jayatilleke's translation and exposition that he also takes this to be the case.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">To labour the point, the condition must be present for the <i>entire duration</i> of the effect, and as soon as it is not present, then the effect ceases. To put it another way, we could say that the effect and condition must <i>coexist. </i>This is one way to understand the world <i>samuppāda</i>, although more literally it means "co-arising".<br /><br />Now that we know what the formula says and why, we can begin to explore the implications: </div><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>The Logic of Presence</b></div><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">The early Buddhist theory of conditionality says that an effect can only arise when the appropriate condition is <i>present </i>and that it must cease when the condition is absent; and thus we can say that the condition must be present for the entire duration of the effect. Note that Buddhaghosa himself has described arising as <i>na ekekato </i>"<i>not </i>one at a time" or "not from itself".<br /><br />The doctrine of momentariness (focused on mental events) asserts that events can only happen one in each moment of time (the one <i>citta </i>rule). Under the conditions of momentariness, a condition can never coexist with its effect and therefore no effect can <i>ever </i>arise. Dependent arising simply does not work under these conditions. So the doctrine of momentariness fails, on its own terms, to explain karma (or anything). This puts the one <i>citta </i>rule in the spotlight, because this rule vitiates any attempt to link consequences to actions via dependent arising since it requires the two to always coexist (<i>samuppāda</i>).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">There is a further profound consequence of the necessity for the coexistence implied by the <i>paṭicca-samuppāda</i> formula. Let us say that we have a number of events that (co)exist in conditioned relations as defined by dependent arising. We can call them a precondition, a condition, an effect, and an aftereffect (<i>upanisā</i>, <i>paccaya</i>, <i>vipāka</i>, and <i>anuvipāka</i>).<br /><br />Each one is the basis (<i>nidāna</i>) for the arising of the next. If the precondition exists, then the condition arises. Once the condition arises, then the effect will arise, and the aftereffect will follow. And, of course, the system is not closed, but open-ended.<br /><br />Let us say that the condition ceases, the effect immediately ceases, and thus the aftereffect also ceases. There is no backwards conditionality, so the cessation of the condition does not affect the precondition. This is good news for soteriology because if we can destroy the precondition then the whole edifice comes down. In Buddhism, ignorance (<i>avijjā</i>) is said to be the precondition for the whole miserable mess (<i>kevala dukkhakkhanda</i>), i.e., of rebirth, sentience, and suffering. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Another way to look at this is to begin with an event and trace back the conditions. Let us say that we observe the aftereffect and we analyse the conditions for that. We know that if the aftereffect exists, then the effect must exist <i>at the same time</i>. But if the effect exists, then the condition must exist, and if the condition exists then the precondition must exist. And so on. So if the aftereffect exists (i.e., if we perceive it) then all the preceding conditions must also exist <i>at the same time</i>.<br /><br /></div><div style="margin-left: 50px;"><table><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: left;">...<br />precondition<br />condition<br />effect<br />aftereffect<br />...</td><td style="text-align: right;"><br />→ → → → →<br />→ → → →<br />→ → →<br />→ →<br /><br /></td></tr></tbody></table></div><br /><div>In logic notation, ≡ stands for <i>if and only if</i>, thus the logic of this relation is:<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;">aftereffect ≡ (effect ≡ (condition ≡ precondition))</div><div><br /></div>We can generalise this as: For any system with N elements: <br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-SylEDTKqSpQ/XBOBDA1yx0I/AAAAAAAAIFs/PtlfSoZbHRAvrvs8xMG26wsIEjlkE5dPwCLcBGAs/s1600/sum.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="119" data-original-width="193" height="77" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-SylEDTKqSpQ/XBOBDA1yx0I/AAAAAAAAIFs/PtlfSoZbHRAvrvs8xMG26wsIEjlkE5dPwCLcBGAs/s200/sum.png" width="120" /></a></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In order for anything to exist now, all the conditions for it must be in place stretching back in time. And at any point in the future, this must always be true. This was effectively the view of the Sarvāstivādins, although their process of inference was slightly different; they arrived at the same conclusion: in order to be consistent with <i>paṭicca-samuppāda </i>we are forced to conclude that everything exists all the time. See also my essay: <i><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2014/05/sarvastivada-approach-to-problem-of.html">Sarvāstivāda Approach to the Problem of Action at a Temporal Distance</a></i> (02 May 2014). </div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br />There is a further problem here. This is a workable explanation of existence or becoming, but how could anything cease under these conditions? In order for something that is present to cease, the condition would have to ceased, and the condition for the condition, right back to infinity. But if all the conditions right back to infinity cease, then it would seem that all conditions whatever must cease. Thus if anything ceases than everything ceases. Though, of course, this is not what we experience, so it must be wrong.<br /><br />One way around this would be to argue for a distinct thread of conditions for every phenomenon. However, in order for something new to arise, the conditions would have to stretch right back to infinity. In fact, if we follow the logic of <i>paṭicca-samuppāda, </i>nothing can come into existence and nothing can come out of existence. And since this is not the universe we observe, even on a superficial level, then something is wrong with our theory. Dependent arising does not describe the world at all. It cannot be thought of as a metaphysical theory.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">We also need to consider the implications of <i>paṭicca-samuppāda </i>for how Buddhists understood time: </div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Time</b></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">The precondition cannot be the condition for itself. Any event that is the condition for itself can only be always existent or always nonexistent. If it presently exists and is the necessary and sufficient condition for its own existence, then the condition is present and it must continue to exist forever. If it presently does not exist, then the condition does not exist for it to come into existence and never will.</div></div><br />There are only a limited number of scenarios that can explain the situation:<br /><ol><li>Time is linear and infinite towards the past. There is an infinite and constantly expanding stream of conditions which allow the present to exist.</li><li>Time is linear and finite in the past. This would lead to a first condition which must always exist for anything at all to exist. </li><li>Time is circular. This reduces to the case of an event being the cause for itself.</li></ol><div style="text-align: justify;">To clarify the problem with circular time. If a condition occurs in its own timeline, then it becomes a condition for itself. In the simplest case, two events A and B condition each other A ⇄ B. A conditions B, which conditions A. If we take an arbitrary slice of this stream and lay it out flat, we would see a series of conditional relations:<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;">→ A → B <span style="text-align: right;"><span style="text-align: center;">→</span> A </span><span style="text-align: right;"><span style="text-align: center;">→</span> B </span><span style="text-align: right;"><span style="text-align: center;">→</span> </span></div><div style="text-align: center;"><span style="text-align: right;"></span><br /><div style="text-align: left;"><span style="text-align: right;">If we spell this out:</span></div></div><div><ul><li>If A is present then B is present and then A is present... </li><li>If A is not present then B is not present and then A is not present ...</li><li>In other words, If A is present then A is present; if A is not present , then A is not present . </li><li>If A is not present, the only way for it to be present is if B is present, but B can only be present if A is present. Therefore A is never present. </li><li>If A is present, then the only way for it to cease is if B ceases. But the condition for B is A which is present, thus A is present. Therefore A is always present. </li></ul><div>In logic notation, for any system A,B where the relation is dependent on presence:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq">A ⇒ B • B ⇒ A<br />¬A ⇒ ¬B • ¬B ⇒ ¬A<br />∴ A ⇒ A • ¬A ⇒ ¬A </blockquote>which is equivalent to:<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">(A if A) and (¬A if ¬A)</blockquote><div>If B stands for a relation such as (P ⇒ Q) then we can see that for any arbitrarily long chain of similar relations, circular conditionality with obligatory presence logically reduces to: (A if A) and (¬A if ¬A). </div><div><br /></div></div>Traditionally, Buddhists opted for the idea that time was linear and infinite towards the past, but they combined this with epicycles of evolution (<i>samvaṭṭati</i>) and devolution (<i>vivaṭṭati</i>). Strictly speaking, it would not matter if the universe were spatially finite, or had a finite future, but under dependent arising time must be infinite in the past to avoid an eternally existing first condition.<br /><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Summary of Part I</b></div><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div>The <i>paṭicca-samuppāda </i>formula describes a dynamic in which the condition must be present for the effect to arise and the effect ceases when the condition ceases. It says that the condition must be present for the entire duration of the effect. It has always said this, so if you learned something different then, I'm sorry, but your teacher misled you. Historically, only the Sarvāstivāda understanding of conditionality<i> </i>is consistent with <i>paṭicca-samuppāda. </i><br /><br />The requirement for presence means that the condition must be present for the effect to arise; and it means that the condition for the condition must also be present. And so on back through time. To avoid an eternal initial cause, Buddhists have to adopt a worldview in which time is infinite in the past. To avoid having conditionality collapse into something being a condition for itself, time must be linear, although within this linear time, Buddhists accepted the Vedic myth of epicycles of evolution and devolution. However, having explained presence this way, we struggle to explain ceasing.<br /><br />I am sticking to the internal logic of <em>paṭicca-samuppāda</em> in this essay, but I cannot help but point out that early Buddhists were wrong on two counts: time is continuous rather than discrete; and time is finite in the past. As far as I can see <i>paṭicca-samuppāda </i>explains nothing on its own terms and it explains nothing on modern terms.<br /><br />This concludes Part I. Part II will look at the relationship of <i>paṭicca-samuppada</i> to the concepts of <i>nidāna</i> and <i>upanisā.</i><br /><br /><br /></div><div style="text-align: center;">~~oOo~~<br /><br /><b><br /></b> <b>Bibliography</b></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><div style="text-align: left;">Jayatilleke, K. N. (1963). <i>Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge</i>. Motilal Banarsidass, 2010. </div></div></div></div>Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-88143730792148889672018-12-07T11:27:00.000+00:002018-12-11T08:26:49.120+00:00Reframing the Perennial Philosophy. Part III: Applications<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div style="text-align: justify;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-bP74xIwEswI/XAohfifFxkI/AAAAAAAAIFE/D8MTjfqAslAWWHO59TRHQ5NkKKse1_bjQCLcBGAs/s1600/main-qimg-c56cf5ac978d1033e68c602a6c8981ab.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="800" data-original-width="600" height="200" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-bP74xIwEswI/XAohfifFxkI/AAAAAAAAIFE/D8MTjfqAslAWWHO59TRHQ5NkKKse1_bjQCLcBGAs/s200/main-qimg-c56cf5ac978d1033e68c602a6c8981ab.jpg" width="150" /></a></div>In this three-part essay, I've argued against the idea of a single, overarching metaphysical truth as conceived in the Perennial Philosophy. I characterised it as an eclectic and syncretic form of religiosity that eschews the organised part of religion. At the heart of Perennial Philosophy lies the matter-spirit duality that has retarded progress in thinking about religion, religiosity, and religious experiences. And this duality is itself based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the distinction between epistemology and ontology: i.e., mistaking experience for reality. The single metaphysical truth is not the conclusion of Perennial Philosophy, it is the intuitive <i>premise </i>on which it is based. Religious experiences merely confirm this intuition. This is not to say that people do not have experiences that are outside the usual range of waking awareness. Altered experiences are relatively common. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In order to better place these kinds of experience in a naturalist setting, I introduced the idea of a spectrum with pure subjectivity at one end and pure objectivity at the other. Religious experiences, in the Perennialist understanding, point to some form of pure objectivity, but I began to suggest that they are more like pure subjectivity.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In Part III, I will try to show how we can make sense of, and find value in, altered experiences without accepting the premises of either traditional religion or of modernist forms of religiosity. I will argue that Buddhism employs methods that involve increasing subjectivity. Thus, any knowledge gained is not concerned with the nature of reality, but with the nature of experience. And, crucially, that this form of knowledge is useful and valuable to anyone who attains it.</div><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Meditation</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">There are so many different approaches to meditation that any generalisation is bound to fall short. I'm going to say that the paradigm for meditation is sitting still, eyes closed, focusing on some aspect of experience (aka an <i>ālambhana</i> or object of meditation). Of course, some people prefer to meditate walking, with eyes open, or with no particular focus. Generalisations always admit to exceptions and are thus limited in scope. For the moment I want to work within this limited scope in order to make the subject manageable for an essay. So when I refer to "meditation" below, I am referring to this paradigm.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In meditation then, we withdraw our attention from the sensory world. As we focus our attention on the object it appears to expand to fill up our awareness. The sensory world appears, from our point of view, to fade away. By this I mean, in Buddhist terms, that deprived of contact (<i>sparśa</i>) the mental objects (<i>dharmas</i>) associated with objects don't arise. One may pass through a threshold so that this minimal experience becomes stable. The object remains present in our minds without distraction, but the experience may be accompanied by quite intense physical/emotional resonances: traditionally called rapture (<i>prīti</i>) and bliss (<i>sukha</i>). Whatever we call this threshold or the experience of stability, with practice we can cross over and sustain it more or less at will.<br /><br />Going deeper, all bodily sensations fade away leaving us in a state of profound equanimity that is traditionally referred to as <i>samādhi</i>, a word that I understand to mean "integration" (the word has a more general sense as well, but I will use it in this specific sense of profound integration). Our usual awareness flits constantly from object to object, accompanied by conscious perceptions, reactions toward or away, urges to act, and associative thinking. <i>Samādhi</i> is characterised by awareness being one-pointed (<i>ekodibhāva</i>). Generally speaking, in this state there is no awareness of the world or of our body. It is a happy and contented state to be in.<br /><br />One of the interesting side-effects of a lengthy period of <i>samādhi </i>can be a subsequent lack of motivation to do anything; a kind of lassitude with respect to the world. Normally we feel all kinds of competing desires and want to do all kinds of things as a result. Such desires may be attenuated by <i>samādhi</i>. In the absence of desires, there is no motivation. Even usually powerful urges like hunger might not have much effect for a while after a lengthy period of <em>samādhi</em>. </div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">The fading away of the world raises an old question. What happens to the world when we do not perceive it? Before going anywhere with this we need to address a prior question: what is meant by the world here? In a number of discourses, the Pali suttas discuss the idea of ending the world without going anywhere (I studied these discourses in my unpublished essay <a href="http://www.jayarava.org/writing/paticca-samuppada-theory-of-everything.pdf"><i>Is Paticca-samuppāda a Theory of Everything</i></a>). It turns out that by "world" (<i>loka</i>) we can mean three things in Sanskrit and Pali:<br /><ol><li>the world as everything that exists; </li><li>the world as a metonym for the people in the world; and </li><li>the world as it is represented by our minds. </li></ol>And when the Pali texts are talking about bringing the world to an end, they are using the third definition. So the question in a Buddhist context is more precisely this: what happens to perceptions of the world when we do not perceive the world? The answer is nothing <i>happens</i>. Percepts simply fail to arise. When we are not in contact with an object, then no perceptions of that object will be presented to our minds. We will not be aware of that object. This is an <i>epistemological </i>point. It speaks to what we <i>know</i>. It says nothing whatever about the existence or non-existence of the object. Indeed, the <i>Kaccānagotta Sutta</i> (SN 12:15) explicitly says that in this context, existence and non-existence don't apply.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Incidentally, we can also say that nothing happens to the world in the more general sense as well. Contrary to popular belief, the world does not depend on our attention, at least this is what mainstream physicists tell us. <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2014/07/buddhism-and-observer-effect-in-quantum.html">Consciousness plays no role in the universe</a>. If one person sitting in a hall of 100 people enters <i>samādhi</i>, the world carries on for the 99 who are not in <i>samādhi</i>. Meditation is localised. Your meditation does not affect my experience (in the moment). </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Where does this put us on the subjective/objective spectrum? Simply closing our eyes cuts off visual perception of the world and pulls us back from shared experience. Absorbed in the object of meditation with no sensory cognitions, we enter states of increasing <i>subjectivity</i>. Not pure subjectivity perhaps, but there is very little overlap and perhaps nothing that fits in the middle ground. In meditation, as described, we lean <i>toward </i>the subjective pole of experience and <i>away from </i>the objective pole. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Imagine that a skilled meditator enters a stable state of withdrawal, but they go deeper, until passing through more and more subtle thresholds, they find themselves in a state where no sensory cognitions arise and no mental cognitions arise. Experience as we generally understand this term has stopped for that person. There are no sense impressions reaching their conscious minds at all and no thoughts about anything. Unlike states of sleep or anaesthesia, they are still aware. When there are no longer any objects registering the sense of being a subject, i.e., the experience of selfhood, itself tends to fade away. There are no physical sensations registering, so there is no way to orient themselves in spacetime. There is awareness but it is not intentional, i.e., not directed at anything, because nothing is presenting itself to awareness.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">We might call this state, following the Pali suttas, "emptiness" (<i>suññatā</i>). Nothing from the objective world impinges on awareness in emptiness, there is not even a sense of subject/object duality. So one has gone over to the subjective pole as far as one can go; this is pure subjectivity, or as close to it as one can get. And it is as far from pure objectivity as one can get. It is precisely from this experience of pure subjectivity that we are asked to believe, as Buddhists, that knowledge of the true nature of reality emerges.<br /><br />It is true that having been in emptiness, one's perceptions may change, sometimes permanently. One of the most common changes that people notice is an absence of self-referential thinking. Sometimes this is referred to as being egoless.<br /></div><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Egolessness</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">There is a circular discussion that I've been having with a colleague for a couple of years now. He reports that he has no sense of self. His world is just a field of experience and there is no sense of ownership or a special perspective on the field. He goes further and states unequivocally that arising and passing away no longer characterises his field of experience. I am fortunate enough to have a couple of other people with whom I can compare notes on this. Doing so with one of them, he pauses, introspects for a few seconds, and then offers, "Yes, it can <i>seem </i>like that".</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">As far as I can tell, both colleagues are enlightened in the traditional sense. And there are a bunch of other people around who are credibly enlightened. Or something very like it (I'm not much interested in the traditional definitions or quibbles over them). Their stories differ in some respects and coalesce at others. But here we run into problems. What seems to happen with the awakened is that after awakening they confirm the accuracy of the doctrine they learned before awakening. So in the case of, say, a Vedanta practitioner like Gary Weber, he confirms absolute being (<i>brahman </i>as described in the Upaniṣads). This means that the world is completely deterministic and events just unfold as preordained. There is no such thing as free-will. But awakened Buddhists confirm something completely different: there is no absolute being, the world is largely deterministic but there is a chink through which we can escape <i>because </i>we have some freedom of will. Theists who experience awakening confirm that they have experienced communion with God or been in God's presence. Mystics that they have experienced the ineffable. And so on.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">At a stretch, one may extract something common from all these accounts so that they appear to confirm the Perennial Philosophy. This is simple confirmation bias. The fact is that when you look at the accounts they are all different. Their methods push them towards the subjective pole and any knowledge they gain is more or less purely subjective. Just like a meditating Buddhist. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">People who claim to have no ego or no first-person perspective find it difficult to acknowledge that whatever events or changes that have occurred are subjective. They still have a pair of eyes that receive photons and a brain that turns electrochemical signals into an experience. And the experience they have is just their experience and no one else's. I have previously used John Searle's example of nutrition obtained from food. When we eat food we absorb nutrients from it and these are not available to other people. If the Buddha has lunch, Ānanda does not feel full.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">If an egoless person<i> </i>perceives, say, a red apple, that perception is not mine. It is not <i>yours.</i> It is not <i>everybody's </i>experience. And it is not <i>nobody's </i>experience. It is an experience that <i>one person </i>is experiencing. It is <i>their </i>experience. It is therefore <i>subjective</i>. Whatever they say about <i>how </i>they perceive experience or themselves, the experiences that awakened people have are still particular to one individual. They are still only accessible to the individual whose sense organs are creating the signals to the brain. It does not matter how the individual conceptualises and communicates about it. If you genuinely don't perceive a subject in your field of experience then this will not be an easy argument to get your head around. If you mistake the subjective for the objective, if you argue, for example, that the pure subjectivity of emptiness is actually pure objectivity, then your understanding of this situation will be compromised. Which may be why the awakened appear to be so bad at philosophy, on the whole.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In some conversations I've had, I have pointed out that the egoless person is still able to have a conversation. They know <i>who </i>is speaking and can parse heard sentences into meaning (which requires temporal sequences of sounds being processed into language). They know that the ideas in their head as a result of hearing someone speak are not the same as the ideas that come from their own thought processes. Thus, you can ask them "how's it going?" and they reliably convey information about their own state of well-being and do not try to answer from some other point of view. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">To "parse" a sentence is literally to state the parts of speech for each word. It comes from the French plural of "part". But we can use the term generally for any process by which we sort information into categories in order to make sense of it. For example, in every two-way conversation the participants have to accurately parse all utterances into "I said" and "the other said". In other words, we have to keep track of who said what. There is simply no way around this. If a person is able to converse successfully, then they are, minimally, parsing the utterances into their own and the other persons. They have to parse the concepts and the grammar of the utterance. Then they have to construct some kind of appropriate utterance in response.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">I'm reminded of John Searle's idea of background capabilities. Although societies have rules and we do have to learn them, becoming a competent citizen (or whatever) requires that we internalise the rules. In Searle's language, we develop dispositions for action that largely conform to the rules without having to consciously reference the rules. I cover this in the 5th of 5 essays about Searle's ideas on social reality: <i><a href="http://norms%20without%20conscious%20rule%20following.%20social%20reality%20%28v%29/">Norms Without Conscious Rule Following</a></i> (28 Oct 2016). </div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Some Other Accounts of Emptiness</b></div><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">When I was learning Sanskrit, one of the texts I read in class was the <i>Sāṃkhyakārikā </i> (SK), a sūtra style text composed ca. 350-450 CE and attributed to Īśvarakṛṣṇa. This outlines what is called a dualistic worldview: the duality is between <i>puruṣa </i>and <i>prakṛti. Puruṣa </i>is the eternal, passive conscious observer while <i>prakṛti </i>is the ephemeral active phenomenal world. The usual state of affairs is that consciousness is caught up in the play of phenomena and treats them as real. Thus, people do not see the true nature of phenomena or their own true nature. However, through religious practices one can roll back the phenomenal world until <i>prakṛti</i> is in the quiescent state called <i>pradhāna </i>"first". At this point, <i>puruṣa</i> is no longer assailed by phenomena and one's true, eternal nature can be realised.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Anyone attuned to the language of modern Buddhism ought to hear the resonances here. A lot of us talk about Buddhism in Sāṃkhya terms. And no one questions this or asks how the Sāṃkhya vocabulary made its way into Buddhist discourse. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I suggest that what Īśvarakṛṣṇa called <i>pradhāna</i> is the same as, or at least equivalent to, <i>śūnyatā</i>. Meditation techniques were widely known and practised across India in the first millennium BCE. There are hints that formless meditations were widespread, for example, in the stories about the Buddha's early career in the <i>Ariyapariyesanā Sutta </i>(MN 26). It seems that some techniques were shared across different sects. Both <i>pradhāna </i>and <i>śūnyatā </i>are described as states in which the practitioner becomes a passive observer of a quiescent state in which no phenomena are arising or ceasing, a state in which all sense of orientation in spacetime is lost, giving one a sense of timelessness (no beginning or end). These are classic "mystical" or "religious" experiences. </div><br />Another parallel to this can be found in the <i>Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad</i> 1.4.9. In Olivelle's translation (15)<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">In the beginning this world (<i>idaṃ sarvaṃ</i>) was only Brahman, and it knew itself (<i>ātman</i>), thinking "I am Brahman" (<i>ahaṃ brahman</i>). As a result it became the Whole (<i>idaṃ sarvaṃ</i>). Among the gods, likewise, whosoever realizes this, only they become the Whole. It was the same also among the seers and among humans... This is true even now. if a man knows 'I am Brahman' in this way he becomes this whole world. Not even the gods are able to prevent it, for he becomes their very self (<i>ātman</i>). So when a man venerates another deity, thinking, "he is one, and I am another", he does not understand. </div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">The Vedanta interpretation of this suggests that awakening is merging with Brahman, where Brahman is conceived of (<i>a priori</i>) as absolute being. There are various expressions of this, <i>ahaṃ brahamaṃ,</i> "I am Brahman"; <i>tat tvaṃ asi, </i>"You are it"; and so on. Brahman is said to have three characteristics: <i>saccidānanda;</i> i.e., being (<i>sat</i>), awareness (<i>cit</i>), and bliss (<i>ānanda</i>). The last is particularly resonant with Buddhist descriptions of cessation or emptiness, although the very idea of Brahman is criticised in the early Buddhist canon, especially the <i>Tevijjā Sutta</i> (DN 13).</div><br />This suggests that we need to take a fresh look at certain types of altered experience.<br /><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Altered Experiences</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Although the term "mystical experience" is in widespread use, to my mind the term suggests acceptance of certain premises that I think are up for discussion. I will, therefore, refer to "altered experiences" as an attempt at something more neutral. Altered experiences come in a great deal of variety and not all of them overlap with the idea of mystical experiences. In trying to tabulate them researchers have come up with various related qualities that might apply to altered experiences. There are 100 different qualities in the <i>States of Consciousness Questionnaire</i>, but many researchers now used a revised <i>Mystical Experience Questionnaire </i>with 30 items drawn from the 100. The qualities are grouped into categories like internal unity, external unity, ineffability, transcendence of space and time.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">One of the prominent target qualities is interpreting the experience as "ultimate reality". This highlights the deeply problematic nature of the idea of altered experiences. Our approaches to them are interpretative. Both experience and interpretation are ontologically subjective, so there is no easy way to probe these. If someone tells us they experienced "ultimate reality" we cannot easily know what they mean by that. One would have to do extensive research into the way a person thinks about reality to really know what they meant by reality in the first place, let alone what ultimate reality might mean for them. Ironically, the very concept of ultimate reality is highly subjective. And interestingly, ultimate reality appears to be different for different people, which tells us at least that whatever the experience is, it is not ultimate.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The hyperreal sense that one has of these types of experience is a quality of the experience. And we have to emphasise that this is not a shared experience, so the hyperreality of the experience places it at the subjectivity end of the spectrum: hyperreality is an illusion. There are two main occasions for altered experience: in a religious context, which usually involves indoctrination and heightened expectation; and in drug taking in which a drug molecule interferes with the normal working of the brain, often by suppressing the operation of centres which coordinate information. Expectation is highly influential on how we interpret what we perceive and can even directly affect what we perceive. The illusion of hyperreality is simply that, an illusion. It is certainly an altered state of consciousness, but if anything it is <i>less </i>real. Some will argue that it is more real because it seems more meaningful. But meaning is not intrinsic to experiences, meaning is subjective. We <i>make </i>meaning.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">And think about it. If I take some psychedelic drug and my perceptions of the world change, do your perceptions change? No. They don't. The drug is ingested and works by a molecule interfering with the activity of the brain either as agonist or antagonist. And when the molecule is metabolised then the effects wear off. Ultimate reality can't wear off.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Some of the experiences are framed in mystic terms when they needn't be. For example, if you lose your sense of orientation in space and time, because you have lost out awareness of the reference points that make this possible, you have not, as the questionnaire suggests "transcended space and time". You just lost your awareness of them. No one ever transcends space and time in any real sense. You may <i>think </i>you are transcending space, but no one around you can tell what is happening in your head at that moment. So the feeling of losing track of spatial boundaries and orientation is just that <i>losing track</i>. As freaky as this experience may be, no transcending takes place.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">It is entirely possible that someone might transcend their sense of self or their attachment to certain types of experiences. Subjectivity can be transcended, but objectivity can only be lost track of. There are a whole raft of ways of saying that you find it difficult to communicate your experience afterwards. But this can hardly be surprising if you lose awareness of cognitive processes in the altered state. In Thomas Nagel's terms, there is nothing that it is like to be in a state of emptiness.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Another prominent target property is a sense of connectedness or oneness. Why is this so prominent and why does it feel so meaningful? The boundaries of selfhood are obviously part of a brain-generated self-model (a la Thomas Metzinger) and they can break down under a variety of circumstances, some of which are not at all mystical. I've often cited the example of Jill Bolte Taylor's account of her stroke. It's a very moving account of the beauty she experienced as those boundaries dissolved. On the other hand, she was having a major stroke and it took her eight years to rehabilitate. Another reference to connectedness that I've often cited comes from Ariel Glucklich's book <i>The End of Magic. </i> He describes our basic state of well-being as involving a sense of interconnectedness. That sense can break down due to illness and what the Tantric healers of Varanasi try to do is revive that sense of connectedness.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">With respect to a sense of connectedness, we may also reference Frans de Waal and his work on the dynamics of primate groups. As social primates, we are bound to our social group by empathy and reciprocity. Feeling "connected" is something that all social primates spend a lot of time on. About a third of wild primates' time is spent in mutual grooming. As Robin Dunbar has shown, humans have found more efficient ways to achieve cohesion in large groups where one to one grooming would take up far too much time (we also have to forage and sleep). In traditional societies we do this through communal singing, dancing, telling stories, and shared ordeals. Modern urban societies tend to rely on ersatz versions of these. As a young man, the euphoria of being part of a dense crowd at a rock concert, singing along and dancing was one of my favourite experiences.* The social lifestyle requires a heightened ability to feel connected with other members of the group. That we can isolate and over-clock this quality is hardly surprising.<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq"><span style="font-size: x-small;">* Speaking of which, I note with sadness the passing of Pete Shelley of Buzzcocks, who were the best live band I ever saw. </span></blockquote></div><div style="text-align: justify;">There is something about human brains that allows us to have these kinds of experiences. We don't yet know what it is, but we have some interesting clues. For example, we know that certain types of task cause the sense of self to "shut down". The inhibition of ego is a built-in function. </div><blockquote class="tr_bq">“The regions of the brain involved in introspection and sensory perception are completely segregated, although well connected,” says Goldberg, “and when the brain needs to divert all its resources to carry out a difficult task, the self-related cortex is inhibited.” (Vince 2006)</blockquote>This is presumably also related to the phenomenon known as <i>flow</i>, first noted by the magnificently named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.<br /><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Perennial Epistemology</b></div><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">The Perennial Philosophy is an argument about metaphysics, i.e., about existence and truth. What I have tried to show is that this presentation is orthogonal to reality. What mystics experience is not ultimate reality, but pure subjectivity, albeit with a quality of hyperreality. There is no doubt that this experience has attractive features, despite the fact that it tends to make for confused philosophy. It's not even true that altered experiences all have the same flavour. There are at least 30 different flavours of altered experience, perhaps as many as a hundred.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">No matter what games they play with language, the awakened individual is still just one person having experiences. Awakening is one person's experience, even if they don't perceive themselves as a person. Given this and the methods used to attain this state, there is no possibility of a purely objective truth emerging from it. Yes, there are some common features of the experience itself. The commonality is not widely shared and is still not the middle ground, but towards the subjective pole.</div><br />If there is a workable Perennial Philosophy then it points to a variety of epistemic patterns rather than a single metaphysical truth. Perception is an activity of the brain and it can be disrupted in different ways to give a range of altered experiences characterised by as many as a 100 different properties in several categories.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">One of the tendencies for those who have altered experiences is to see them in isolation. In a long conversation about insight with Vessantara he described the "Aha" moment and how it leads one to think along the lines of "this is it!". Without further practice, for example, one can become fixated on a particular interpretation of emptiness. If one keeps practising, then one reaches another "Aha" moment and realises that one's previous insight has been superseded. That was not it, but this, now, <i>this </i>is it. If one keeps practising then the same thing happens. Again and again. Until one realises that despite all the "Aha" moments there doesn't seem to be a definitive "this is it". The process simply keeps unfolding and one learns to relax about it and not to take the conclusions too seriously.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">So, in effect, there is no one truth that is pointed to, except that whatever you believe to be the truth, turns out not to be, from another point of view. Perhaps this is why the mental state of emptiness came to symbolise a more general truth for Buddhists.</div><br />Even if we stipulate, for the sake of argument, that there is one metaphysical truth, no one ever seems to experience it; or everyone experiences it differently. Those who claim to have experienced the ultimate truth are, in fact, just stuck in their current phase of awakening and making a mistake. The mistake is primarily an epistemological mistake; it is a misinterpretation of an experience that is towards the pure subjective pole. The secondary mistake is to extrapolate an ontology from this mistaken view and the technical term for this is <i>prapañca</i>.<br /><br />As I understand the Buddhist project, the idea is to suspend judgement and just pay attention to what we happen to be experiencing (without getting hung up on the past or the future). And, at the same time, to deliberately pursue experiences far towards the pole of subjectivity. The idea seems to be that we are supposed to turn this into a definite view, because repeated insights tend to deconstruct any views that develop about past experiences. There is nothing in this about the nature of reality or theories about the nature of reality. There is no metaphysical truth. We are not spiritual beings.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;">We are human beings, having human experiences. No more, no less. </div><br /><div style="text-align: center;">~~oOo~~<br /><br /><br /><strong>Bibliography</strong></div><br />Vince, Gaia. (2006) Watching the brain ‘switch off’ self-awareness. <i><a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn9019-watching-the-brain-switch-off-self-awareness/">New Scientist</a></i>. 9 April 2006<br />Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-19871524702145243822018-11-30T09:31:00.000+00:002018-12-02T16:14:28.787+00:00Reframing the Perennial Philosophy. Part II: A Spectrum of Experience <div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on">In Part I of this essay I concluded that the Perennial Philosophy "ignores historical processes, fails to adequately distinguish epistemology and ontology, and asserts an untenable matter-spirit dualism." It is the second of these points that I wish to pursue in Part II. In particular, I will pick apart the claim of a metaphysical truth. Before I can do this, I need to introduce a way of thinking about experience that clearly distinguishes subjectivity and objectivity.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In<span style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;the following diagram, I depict a model world with just four people. The field of experience of a person is represented by a coloured circle.&nbsp;</span></div><span style="text-align: justify;"><br /></span><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="text-align: justify;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7IzIGE5ImFM/W7xbjgobsmI/AAAAAAAAH7Q/sQZPuRPS2Kkqsqixs37ieLcnaVTZRxdpACLcBGAs/s1600/spectrum-r-l.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="352" data-original-width="1600" height="87" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7IzIGE5ImFM/W7xbjgobsmI/AAAAAAAAH7Q/sQZPuRPS2Kkqsqixs37ieLcnaVTZRxdpACLcBGAs/s400/spectrum-r-l.jpg" width="400" /></a></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="text-align: justify;"><br /><span style="text-align: justify;"><br /></span></span>&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: justify;"><span style="text-align: justify;">The fields of experience may overlap with all others, with some others, or not all. It is assumed that people are able to communicate about their experience to about the same extent as their fields of experience overlap, because communication is a kind of shared experiential. I will present this as a general model of experience but also use it as a way of highlighting certain qualities of particular experiences.</span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: justify;"><span style="text-align: justify;"><br /><span style="text-align: justify;">Keep in mind that this is a simplified model created for rhetorical purposes. It does not perfectly represent a real person's field of experience. I will use the model to make analogies, but there are limitations.&nbsp;</span></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: justify;"><span style="text-align: justify;"><br /><span style="text-align: justify;">A general point is that most e</span>xperiences are <i>intentional</i>. In philosophy of mind, intentionality refers to the quality of "aboutness". So we think about our day, or see an object, or feel happy to see our friend. Experience is structured by this&nbsp;<i>epistemic&nbsp;</i>subject/object distinction (later I will posit that this must also be true of the awakened). The structure is reflected in universal features of language. All human languages enable us to identify objects and processes using nouns and verbs, and specifically to identify agents and patients (who is doing what to whom).&nbsp;</span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: justify;">Note that subjectivity, as I am using the word, is not the same as ego or self-referential thoughts. Subjectivity is a point of view forced on us by the architecture of our bodymind. No one else can see through my eyes. And even the awakened still only see through their own pair (I don't take stories of ESP literally). One may have an egoless subjectivity, because subjectivity, as I am using the term, refers to all kinds of experience. By contrast I take objectivity to apply to any and all facts that are true without reference to our experience of them. In the normal scheme of things, all knowledge has an irreducible component of subjectivity, and it is really only collectively that we can infer objective knowledge, since comparing notes enables us to eliminate qualities that are only apparent to us.<span style="text-align: justify;"><br /></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="text-align: justify;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ryIPXIFkySg/W7xhlL0R8OI/AAAAAAAAH7c/FZ97UUv1JvEp0Roli--YqCF2gLxhRPZsgCLcBGAs/s1600/subjective.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="519" data-original-width="605" height="100" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ryIPXIFkySg/W7xhlL0R8OI/AAAAAAAAH7c/FZ97UUv1JvEp0Roli--YqCF2gLxhRPZsgCLcBGAs/s200/subjective.jpg" /></a></span></div><span style="text-align: justify;"><b>1. Pure Subjectivity&nbsp;</b><br /></span><br /><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="text-align: justify;">On the far left of the diagram, we see four fields of experience that do not overlap at all. These are four people in contact with four separate parts of the world, perhaps on different continents, and with no overlap of their sensory fields. In this artificial world, each person has only their own perceptions and while they can compare notes on experience, there is no apparent commonality and thus no possibility of agreement. It is as if they live in different worlds.</span></div><span style="text-align: justify;"><br /><span style="text-align: justify;">If this is a single experience, then all four people disagree on the nature of what happened. No two descriptions share any features.</span></span><br /><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="text-align: justify;"><br /></span><span style="text-align: justify;">An important class of experiences falls into this category, i.e., experiences where the object is apparent to us, but not to anyone else. Examples include, my private thoughts, or hallucinations (on which, see also my essay <i><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2015/04/realities.html">Realities</a></i>).</span></div><span style="text-align: justify;"><br /> <span style="text-align: justify;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HGjTi9DiY3A/W7xhs8-O6GI/AAAAAAAAH7g/J_RU9iRKH2E_BFpyEURlO6PJlFE--mT1QCLcBGAs/s1600/partial%2Bsub.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="519" data-original-width="438" height="100" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HGjTi9DiY3A/W7xhs8-O6GI/AAAAAAAAH7g/J_RU9iRKH2E_BFpyEURlO6PJlFE--mT1QCLcBGAs/s200/partial%2Bsub.jpg" /></a></span></span><br /><span style="text-align: justify;"><b style="text-align: justify;">2. Mixed Subjectivity</b><br /></span><br /><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="text-align: justify;">In the second left position, some of the fields of experience overlap. When they compare notes neighbours can find come commonality, but there is still nothing&nbsp; that they can all agree on. There is no general sense of a shared experience. While red may agree to some extent with blue, and to some extent with yellow, blue and yellow have no common ground. As far as blue and yellow are concerned they are experiencing entirely different worlds.<span style="text-align: justify;"><br /></span></span><br /><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="text-align: justify;"><span style="text-align: justify;">With respect to a single experience we might say that some of the accounts partially overlap, but the opinions expressed about the experience are still largely unrelated to what others are saying.</span></span><br /><br /><span style="text-align: justify;"><span style="text-align: justify;">As with pure subjectivity, there is no common point of reference.&nbsp;</span></span></div><span style="text-align: justify;"><span style="text-align: justify;"> <br /></span></span><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="text-align: justify;"><span style="text-align: justify;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-oD-hisJ2qsQ/W7xh02bzS6I/AAAAAAAAH7o/Fd_u0zrnBMA5hbU1xP1aBnRIpTX15OELwCLcBGAs/s1600/partial%2Bobj.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="519" data-original-width="385" height="100" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-oD-hisJ2qsQ/W7xh02bzS6I/AAAAAAAAH7o/Fd_u0zrnBMA5hbU1xP1aBnRIpTX15OELwCLcBGAs/s200/partial%2Bobj.jpg" /></a></span></span></div><span style="text-align: justify;"><span style="text-align: justify;"><b style="text-align: justify;">3. Middle Ground</b><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In the middle all the experiential fields overlap to some extent. For the first time, there are some experiences that all four people in this world share. Note also that there is considerably more overlap generally. As well as all four sharing experiences, there are some experiences shared by three, but not the fourth. About one third of their experiences are available only to them.</div><br /><span style="text-align: justify;">For the first time, the four are able to agree on some details of a single experience. They will all agree that they experienced something similar, though they may still disagree on many details. We see here the beginning of objectivity, because comparing notes allows each observer to identify the aspects of the experience that are subjective and eliminate them from their account. However, a good deal of uncertainty remains for any knowledge inferred about the object.</span><br /><br /> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-T9-BFF2z9tM/W7xjGPEULuI/AAAAAAAAH70/S4xqGUmYnbocnJiJ-WWTVtxGpjLZL3stgCLcBGAs/s1600/obj.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="519" data-original-width="319" height="100" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-T9-BFF2z9tM/W7xjGPEULuI/AAAAAAAAH70/S4xqGUmYnbocnJiJ-WWTVtxGpjLZL3stgCLcBGAs/s320/obj.jpg" /></a></div><span style="text-align: justify;">4.&nbsp;</span><b style="text-align: justify;">Mixed Objectivity</b><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In this state there is substantial overlap between all the experiential fields. About half of any given person's field of experience overlaps with all the others and less than a quarter is private to any one person.</div><div style="text-align: justify;">The four are now largely in agreement on the core features of a shared experience, though they may still have their own opinions about it. In these cases, observers are able to infer knowledge about the object of experience with a high degree of confidence and begin to formulate descriptive and predictive theories about how objects behave to levels of accuracy and precision that are limited by their ability to measure.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-AXMlpdOqY5Q/W7xkvvsB5JI/AAAAAAAAH8A/lSzsBBHlGU0GyjBSwMiqnjENiW2sLP-1wCLcBGAs/s1600/pure%2Bobj.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="519" data-original-width="242" height="100" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-AXMlpdOqY5Q/W7xkvvsB5JI/AAAAAAAAH8A/lSzsBBHlGU0GyjBSwMiqnjENiW2sLP-1wCLcBGAs/s200/pure%2Bobj.jpg" /></a></div><b style="text-align: justify;">5. Pure Objectivity</b><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">At this end of the spectrum, the sensory fields of each of the four completely overlaps with the others. Nothing about the experience is private or hidden from the others. Of course this never occurs in nature because we all have our own views and thoughts that are inaccessible to others. But in discussing the perennial philosophy we need this extreme because it encompasses the category of absolute truth or pure objectivity.<br />&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;">This is the one experience that everyone has in exactly the same way and that cannot be distinguished between them. Every detail is perfectly aligned. Any knowledge about this kind of experience is entirely shared by anyone who has the experience: the observer has perfect knowledge of the object and completely understands everything about it and they know that the others know. In other words, this is what a metaphysical truth would be like.<br /><br /></div><div style="text-align: center;"><b>General Comments</b><br /><strong></strong>&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;">This, then, is the model and how it works on two levels: the general level of the extent to which experience is shared (from not at all to completely) and the level of agreement amongst people about a specific experience. I hope it is obvious that most of our experiences are in the middle ground. We share experiences to some degree with the people around us, but most of the people are&nbsp;<i>not&nbsp;</i>around us, so our sensory fields do not overlap. With respect to any given shared experience we can usually agree on the core features and some of the details, though there is always room for subjective, not to say idiosyncratic, conclusions and opinions.</div><div style="text-align: justify;">For example, if I lean over the fence and ask my neighbour how the weather is and they say it's cloudy and raining, when I am experiencing clear skies sunshine, I will intuit that one of us us out of touch with reality, or they are feigning it for some rhetorical purpose, perhaps humour.</div><div style="text-align: justify;">If I am sharing a meal with someone who likes searingly hot chili and is very much enjoying it, but I dislike the burning sensation, then we are having the same experience but interpreting it differently. There's overlap, but it's slight.</div><div style="text-align: justify;">What can seem to be pure objectivity can still be wrong. For example, for thousands of years, people have watched sunsets. Their body tells them that they are at rest via multiple sensory channels (kinesthetic, proprioceptive, vestibular, visual, visceral). If I am at rest and there is perceptible movement of an object, then the only logical conclusion is that the object is moving. However, in the case of the sun, we know this is wrong. The fact is that we are moving relative to the sun, but the acceleration is so small that it does not register on our senses, giving us a false impression. I have called this&nbsp;<i>the sunset illusion</i>. We still talk about the sun "setting" even though we know that it does not because it&nbsp;<i>feels&nbsp;</i>right.&nbsp; There are many other kinds of sensory illusions, as well. These are oddities of how our senses work and how the brain interprets signals from nerves and presents a picture to awareness. Such illusions are important to keep in mind when thinking about metaphysical truth, because, obviously, such a truth could not fall into this category.<br /><br />Similarly, what can seem to be pure subjectivity can still have an objective component. Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean that they are not out to get you. Sometimes people will insist that we can't know how they feel, but of course we can. Emotions are universal and we do know how things feel. What we cannot replicate are the thought patterns that accompany emotions. Emotions themselves are relatively simple and can be boiled down to about seven or eight basic moods. And they are highly contagious precisely because we are empathetic: we literally experience the emotions of others. And empathy is universal in social mammals.<br /><br />In practice, our individual knowledge of the world is always coloured by the physical nature of our senses and the architecture of our brains. Pure objectivity is never attained under normal circumstances. Mystics argue that it can be obtained under extraordinary circumstances and Perennial Philosophy rests on this claim.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br />If there is a single overriding metaphysical truth, then in principle at least, it must fit my definition of pure objectivity, and to experience it would be to have 100% overlap with everyone else who experiences it. All descriptions and definitions of it would be <i>identical </i>because experiencing it would not involve any subjectivity. Indeed, the complete agreement on the truth could be seen as the defining feature of the Perennial Philosophy. Proponents assert that religieux completely agree on a core of common beliefs and that all religions point to (if they do not actually teach) this single absolute truth or Truth.<br /><br />In my view, however, this is an impression created by a biased and highly selective reading of religion and mysticism. The supposed common core of beliefs is more like a collection of vague statements of values expressed in woolly terms. I have already pointed to a better explanation based on the necessary characteristics of social mammals: empathy and reciprocity. The social lifestyle requires these. As the social lifestyle becomes more sophisticated and groups grow larger, these two qualities lead to mores and to morals. Once we can think abstractly about our mores, we discover morality and we can begin to tease out ethical principles. Without the evolutionary argument for commonality, we tend to look to explain it by appealing to some external agent, such as metaphysical truth. Having a better explanation helps, but it does not eliminate the bad explanation. This requires a different strategy.&nbsp;</div></span></span><br /></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="text-align: justify;">The proposition I will defend is that all human experience occurs on this spectrum (or something analogous to it). Some philosophers of mind will counter that all experience is entirely subjective and inaccessible to others. But if this were true we'd never agree on anything. And on some things we find an extraordinary degree of agreement. Ask anyone at all, anywhere on the planet, about gravity and they will describe something similar because the experience of having weight is more or less the same for everyone. Put anyone in microgravity and they will struggle to orient themselves, and their physiology will change. Gravity is an objective fact and the only uncertainty about it is in the tooth-fairy agnosticism category (aka philosophy). We might explain things in different ways, but the phenomenology is so similar as to be beyond coincidence. We all know the experience of weight.</span><br /><br />How the spectrum applies and the point of it wi<span style="text-align: justify;">ll become clearer if I outline the examples that made me think of it. I will do this in part III.&nbsp;</span>At the heart of my criticism of the Perennial Philosophy is a rejection of the idea that we can arrive at a purely objective state or the knowledge that pertains to it, via purely subjective methods or experiences. Indeed, this seems to me to be self-evidently false.&nbsp;</div><br /><div><span style="text-align: justify;"><br /></span></div><div style="text-align: center;"><span style="text-align: justify;">~~oOo~~</span></div></div>Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-47729980159575977112018-11-23T11:08:00.000+00:002018-11-23T16:07:16.022+00:00Reframing the Perennial Philosophy. Part I<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div style="text-align: justify;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-zcRGKH2Uf_I/W_e5wPrL3wI/AAAAAAAAH_w/-wHccOQziWgAERndWqe4FBQ0f2WRoap7wCLcBGAs/s1600/drop_of_water_water_drip_close_blue-1264920.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="803" data-original-width="800" height="200" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-zcRGKH2Uf_I/W_e5wPrL3wI/AAAAAAAAH_w/-wHccOQziWgAERndWqe4FBQ0f2WRoap7wCLcBGAs/s200/drop_of_water_water_drip_close_blue-1264920.jpg" width="198" /></a></div>In this essay (in several parts) I will deconstruct the so-called Perennial Philosophy and present an argument that we have, in effect, been looking at it through the wrong end of the telescope, at altered experiences. Rather than a single metaphysical truth, there are, in fact, a range of epistemic facets and <i>subjective</i> phenomena that point to common features of the human brain and human societies. In effect, God is made in man's image. However, I will argue that we are not constrained to accept the narratives of mysticism on their own terms. We can choose a different framework and find meaning and value in the absence of the articles of faith that drive the Perennial Philosophy.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Returning to the telescope metaphor, it can be entertaining to look through the wrong end, but the revolution in knowledge comes when we look through the right end. Distant objects are brought virtually closer, enabling us to discern with greater accuracy the features of the world around us.<br /><br />I begin, in Part I, by critiquing the premise of the Perennial Philosophy as a form of eclectic and syncretic religiosity based on perennial misunderstandings. In part II, I will propose that experience forms a spectrum&nbsp;along an axis defined by two poles: subjectivity and objectivity. I've been wary of these terms in the past, but I think we can employ them here to good effect. The spectrum will provide us with a unifying construct or hermeneutic with which we can understand different approaches to religiosity. In Part III, I will apply this hermeneutic to subjects of interest to Buddhists: meditation, egolessness, and mystical experiences. I try to show that a purely subjective method cannot lead to ontologically objective facts. However, the experiences that arise in the process of pursuing these methods, can help us draw inferences about the human brain and human societies.<br /><br />We can sum this up as "We are human beings having human experiences. Nothing more, nothing less."&nbsp;</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>The Perennial Philosophy</b></div></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The Western roots of the Perennial Philosophy are often traced to the Renaissance and the renewed interest in Neoplatonism and alchemy at that time. The central idea is that there is a single metaphysical truth to which all religions and mystical traditions point: "The One" of Neoplatonism. The term <i>philosophia perennis</i> seems to have been coined by Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716).<br /><br />Of course, this project is helped when the main religions that intellectuals have to examine are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. All of these emerged from Semitic cultures and thus share not only ideas, attitudes, and practices, but have considerable overlap in their holy books and even, to some extent, recognise each other's prophets. The God of all three is essentially the same god (El) under different names. Additionally, they were all influenced by Zoroastrianism, particularly in adopting the combination of one god and one prophet.<br /><br />Perennialism got a boost in the 18th Century when Westerners began to explore Indian religions. The Vedantic abstract, absolute being, or&nbsp;<i>Brahman,&nbsp;</i>seemed to be much the same thing as the abstract, absolute being,&nbsp;the One, of Neoplatonism. Looking at summaries of Neoplatonic ideas, they look suspiciously like Vedanta and some scholars have suggested a real influence which seems <i>prima facie</i> plausible.<br /><br />Unlike European Christianity, the religions of India have always been very open to ideas, attitudes, and practices from other religions. There has long been a general attitude of eclecticism in Indian religions. Islam and Christianity have both taken root in India, but are not Indian religions. For example, Vedic and chthonic gods appear in the early Buddhist texts, while Śiva appears in several later texts. In the Vaiṣṇa religion, the Buddha is an <i>avatāra </i>of Viṣṇu, while Vedanta is influenced by classical Buddhism. The eclecticism and syncretism of Tantra is even more pronounced. While such observations and the terms "eclecticism" and "syncretism" carry negative connotations in Abrahamic religious contexts (and thus in Europe and its colonies), we have to see them as <i>virtues&nbsp;</i>of Indian religion.<br /><br />Some Europeans, being blind to historical processes in the evolution of religion, especially the lateral transfer of ideas, and primed by Neoplatonism, saw similarities as&nbsp;confirmation the idea that all religions point to a single metaphysical truth. Once the idea took root, then all kinds of cognitive biases kicked in to make it seem increasingly likely.<br /><br />This is the problem that we face again and again in trying to understand religion. Theologians seek supernatural explanations;&nbsp;they do scholarship to confirm their faith, rather than to discover the truth. Buddhism Studies has the same problem. We know the outcome of this method because we know the articles of faith from which it sets out. If anyone adopts the axiom that all religions point to the same truth, they filter the evidence to highlight anything which supports this view and to eliminate any contradiction. The exact shape of the articles of faith is of secondary importance in this process. Belief persists for reasons unrelated to the external forms of religion. For example, in a previous essay, I adapted Justin L Barrett's argument about why people believe in God, to a Buddhist context by applying it to <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2015/08/why-are-karma-and-rebirth-still.html">karma and rebirth</a> (the twin myths of the afterlife and the just world).<br /><br />As well as commitments to the supernatural, to an afterlife, and to a just world fallacy, humans also have a strong desire to discover unity in diversity, convergence on a single entity, event, or cause; a single overarching truth; the nature of reality; a prime mover; a first cause; a creator god, and so on. The problem is that, as with technical standards, there have always been many singular absolute truths to choose from.<br /><br />Like many subjects in the modern philosophy of religion, the Perennial Philosophy really begins with a horrified reaction to the notion of a mechanistic universe that emerged in the early days of the scientific revolution, but throws the baby out with the bath water. This reaction took slightly different forms in different places: English Romantic poets, German Idealist philosophers, and American Transcendentalists. All contributed to shaping the Perennial Philosophy.<br /><br /><br /><i>Framing</i><br /><br />It is because of the Transcendentalists,&nbsp;in particular, that we discuss "spirituality" as a distinct subject. Before the Transcendentalists, and particularly Emerson, the word "spiritual" really only applied to the church. But now we all have a "spiritual dimension". And hence the&nbsp;French Idealist philosopher and Jesuit priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin could assert in the 1960s:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq">"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience."</blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">This could be straight from the mouth of Vivekananda or Ramakrishna. It fully embraces Cartesian mind-body dualism, but in metaphorical terms is framed more as a matter-spirit dualism. On the cognitive metaphors and entailments of this kind of dualism see an earlier essay of mine&nbsp;<i><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2013/04/metaphors-and-materialism.html">Metaphors and Materialism</a></i>. (26 April 2013). We can sum up the kinds of metaphorical language used by citing pairs of terms that describe each substance:<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">Matter is: cold, dead, inanimate, fixed, passive, low, below, dull, opaque, dark, heavy, dense, viscous, illusory, material, limited, finite, mundane&nbsp;</blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq">Spirit is: warm, alive, animated, changing, active, high, above, bright, translucent, luminous, light, airy, fluid, real, immaterial, unlimited, infinite, transcendental</blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq">Matter is associated with the earth, the nadir; with the body, with physical laws, with death and the non-living&nbsp;</blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq">Spirit is associated with the sky, the zenith; with the mind, with mental agency, with life and the afterlife</blockquote>Religion and religiosity employ these dual cognitive metaphors unconsciously and it shapes the attitudes of religieux. Heaven is above and Hell below. Matter is all about constraint and suffering whereas spirit is about liberation and bliss. And it leads a hatred of the body and bodily functions, a rejection of the material world, and this life. And by contrast a love of the immaterial and imaginary and a longing for the afterlife (in which everything has the qualities of spirit).<br /><br />Rene Descartes (1596-1650) was around near the beginning of the mechanistic universe idea. It made a lot of sense and he could not simply ignore it. But he was constrained in his acceptance by a desire to leave open the door for God. And he did this by formalising an intuition that almost everyone has, what we now call mind-body dualism. Yes, he said, matter does follow a mechanistic pattern, but spirit remains free from this and the acme of spirit is God. Even with the decline of mechanistic thinking, it was clear that matter was far from inanimate and that the supernatural realm of spirit had nowhere to hide. The line between chemistry and biology became thinner and then disappeared, leaving Vitalism (the theory that spirit animates matter) completely discredited amongst intellectuals. Folk Vitalism, along with folk Dualism continue to flourish amongst ordinary people.<br /><br />I cited Teilhard de Chardin earlier. What he intends to say is that we are not "mere matter" attaining the qualities it supposedly lacks from the ground up, but that we are spirits trapped in physical bodies.&nbsp; Such virtues as we have come from wholly from spirit. In this dualistic view, spirit is the animating substance—<a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2014/06/spiritual-i-lifes-breath.html">the life's breath</a>—that brings life to dead matter. Matter can never have the qualities of spirit, and where those properties are present, then the conclusion is that spirit must be present. Human life is seen, egocentrically, as the paradigm for where matter and spirit overlap. Animals (literally, "that which breathes") have considerably less spirit.<br /><br />In the essay on <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2013/04/metaphors-and-materialism.html">matter-spirit dualism</a>, I pointed out that as a chemist, I saw matter as typically having most of the attributes of spirit: light, colour, energy, etc. Chemistry consists partly in studying these qualities and partly in persuading different atoms to interact and form new compounds. I grew up around volcanoes and they also force one to think about matter rather differently: hot, active, high, light, fluid, and so on. The matter-spirit dualism is dependent on seeing stone as the prototype for matter - dull, grey, cold (to touch), inanimate, hard; very like a corpse in <i>rigor mortis </i>(though if we only waited a few days, we would find that a corpse continues to change as life at a different scale recycles the components of the body). In effect, the dualist has to be ignorant, or to deliberately blind themselves to the animated qualities of matter. Some dualists attribute those qualities in matter to the presence of spirit everywhere (a theory called Panpsychism).<br /><br />The monist view is that there is only one kind of stuff in the universe. Mind and matter might be epistemically different, but not ontologically. As John Searle pointed out, the usual definition of "materialism" accepts a dualistic split of the world into matter and spirit, and then proceeds to define one as real and the other as unreal. This is not monism, this is just lopsided dualism. Most of the critiques of materialism that I have seen take this straw man approach.<br /><br />Monism proper does not accept a matter-spirit ontological distinction <i>at all</i>. Therefore, a monist cannot reduce one to the other (since that is still lopsided dualism). The qualities that we would like to separate are, in fact, found everywhere. All light is a perturbation in the electromagnetic field, it is not a quality of spirit. If we see light it is because photons are hitting our retina. If we experience light in the absence of this it because the visual centres of the brain are active on their own and we are hallucinating. Meaning comes from interpretation and we are not constrained to interpret experience according to any paradigm.<br /><br />But these metaphysical observations are complicated by epistemic distinctions that pervade our experience as a result of our different sensory modes. For example, we perceive mechanical vibrations differently than we perceive vibrations in the electromagnetic field. We might conclude, as the ancients did, that light and sound are two different things. But on examination we realise that the different perceptions are due to senses tuned to respond to vibrations at very different scales. In other words, the major difference in our perceptions of light and sound are epistemic, not ontic. Light and sound do not point to two different substances, but to the different behaviour of one substance at different scales. And our perceptions themselves, according to monists, are not because of two substances (mind and body) but are due to two modes of perceptions: perceptions are stimuli represented in the brain coming into relationship with our virtual self-model. Thoughts in the form "I see you" are representations rather than realities, even though there may well be real entities corresponding to "I" and "you" (by which I mean two <i>organisms</i>).<br /><br />The legacy language matter-spirit dualism still has a strong influence on how we discuss such subjects and it is all too easy to mistake the epistemic use of terms such as "mind", "body", or even "I" as indicating an ontological commitment that was not intended. Since the epistemic/ontic distinction is seldom made clear (or clear enough), confusion about what monism says is rife. The continued popularity of ideas like the Perennial Philosophy is partly dependent on this philosophical and linguistic confusion. Professional philosophers have no vested interest in clearing things up. Their job is to undermine certainty by producing alternative explanations whether or not it is helpful to do so. The nature of intellectual discussion unconstrained by evidence allows for this to continue indefinitely, even in the face of our complete understand the physics of everyday experience. What philosophers don't seem to realise is that you can win the argument and still be wrong.<br /><br /><br /><i>Huxley</i><br /><br />Perennialism is part of a trend that included Theosophy. They were both eclectic and syncretic approaches to religiosity that drew especially on Vedanta. They both suggested the possibility of a rational religiosity opposing it to irrational religion. The idea of a rational alternative to religion is a theme of religiosity in Europe and to some extent America from the mid-19th Century onwards. This is because of the inroads made by science. Darwin's <i>On the Origin of Species</i> was published in 1859 and has come to represent a broader seachange amongst English speaking intellectuals. Edwin Arnold's epic poem about the life of the Buddha, <i>The Light of Asia</i>, became a bestseller just 20 years later, even though in the early 19th Century Buddhism was roundly denounced as a heathen religion.<br /><br />The publication of Aldous Huxley's book <i>The Perennial Philosophy</i> in 1945 took the subject to a much wider audience. The novelist's book has the characteristic eclecticism and syncretism of other expositions on the subject and was particularly inspired by his reading of Neo-Vedanta, a form of Hinduism which itself incorporated ideas from the Perennial Philosophy. Again, the unacknowledged lateral transfer of ideas contributes to the impression of a deeper unity that would be better categorised as syncretism.<br /><br />Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) was the grandson of Thomas Huxley, the infamous champion of evolution who coined the phrase "survival of the fittest". He was educated at Eton, the elite private school, and attended Oxford University (at that time also an elite private institution), and was&nbsp;from that generation who saw Europe almost destroyed by two all-out wars that killed millions of people and consumed vast amounts of resources for no obvious benefit. In WWII both sides specifically targeted civilians, killing hundreds of thousands of non-combatants. He himself could not fight due to his poor eyesight.&nbsp;Traditional forms of authority were falling apart, the Church had lost its relevance, and the sun was setting on the age of European Empires. The various churches continue to struggle to be relevant on many fronts: the discrediting of the supernatural by science, the scandal of widespread sexual abuse of children by priests, the failure to treat women and men as equals, the failure to accept a spectrum of sexuality as valid, and so on. Huxley was known as a social satirist, but soon descended into writing dystopian novels beginning with <i>Brave New World</i> in 1932. The <i>Perennial Philosophy </i>thus&nbsp;strikes a rather optimistic note in his oeuvre.<br /><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">The desire for diverse religions and traditions to be unified under one rubric reaches an apex with the theology of Ken Wilber, termed "Integral Theory". And it is not an unworthy goal. After all, the divisions of religion are implicated in many intractable conflicts around the globe. On the other hand, pinning the blame on religion is often a false flag operation for what are effectively economic or political wars. However, Perennialism and the desire for human unity is not a purely Western phenomenon.&nbsp;From time to time, new dispensations which unify and supersede existing religious traditions have emerged in many different places. I've mentioned Neo-Vedanta. We could add Sikhism and Bahá'í. Note that early Buddhism is not perennialist. It does assert the Four Noble Truths, but it also asserts that all other religions are mistaken about them. The Buddha of the early Buddhist stories does not suffer fools or contrary views gladly. On the other hand, many modern Buddhists are also Perennialists.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Perennial Philosophy has leaked from its container and contaminated the groundwater of popular culture. Common tropes like "all is one", "everything happens for a reason", "what goes around, comes around" may also have roots in specific religious traditions, but they were popularised by Perennialism. New Age approaches to religion seem less popular now than 20 years ago, but they were a manifestation of the same impulse to a unified religiosity without religion. There was a vast reservoir of people who felt the need to be healed. Too little was made of this, I think: the profound alienation of modern life, especially since the rise of Neolibertarian/Mercantilism, creates distress and disease that can't be treated by doctors. What is lost is a sense of connection to people and the world around us. Regaining that without knowing that it is missing is difficult. The current generation have moved on from the need for healing, to the need for <i>protection </i>from harm. This is especially true in America where mass school shootings are now an almost daily occurrence. University students now routinely deplatform speakers, demand trigger warnings, and so on. I find it quite understandable that they do not feel safe, but it is a shame that it has manifested as a closing of their minds.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /><br /><i>Twin claims</i><br /><br />Thanissaro makes an interesting point about the claims of Perennialism actually having two parts:<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">Perennial philosophers base their thinking on two claims. The first is a fact-claim: All the great religious traditions of the world share a common core of beliefs. The second is a value-claim: The commonality of these beliefs is proof that they are true. (<span style="font-size: x-small;">Thanissaro. "Perennial Issues" <i><a href="https://www.buddhistinquiry.org/article/perennial-issues-2/">Insight Journal</a></i>. Summer 2010</span>).&nbsp;</blockquote>I'm not entirely convinced about the distinction between as "fact-claim" and a "value-claim". Both of Thanissaro's claims are truth claims, one is based in an article of faith, the other on a deduction from the article of faith. Though there are two of them. This kind of reasoning is quite common and I want to briefly discuss two parallels.<br /><br />Carl Jung makes a similar truth claim when he asserts the existence of the "collective unconscious". Myths around the world share a number of common themes and symbols. Jung sees mythic symbolism as common with dream symbolism and both as emerging from the unconscious mind. He reasoned, without a shred of evidence, that if there are collective symbols then there must be a collective unconscious in which these symbols reside (btw this is very similar to the reasoning that underpins the Yogācāra version of karma doctrine). However, in his book <i><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2013/12/origins-of-worlds-mythologies.html">The Origins of the World's Mythologies</a></i>, Michael Witzel has shown that if we look at the evidence more broadly there is a more plausible explanation. A relatively small group of story-telling people left Africa and populated the world beginning around 100,000 years ago.&nbsp; They had a common core of myths, the story arc which they bequeathed to every human culture. Witzel's book represents the first comprehensive statement of a theory that is still in the progress of emerging. It is a rational explanation for something which previously only had an irrational explanation. Similarly, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson's explanation of image schemas and how they influence thought via cognitive metaphors also explains why all humans have symbols in common. Our worldview is profoundly shaped by how our bodies interact with the world and how our brains present information to awareness.<br /><br />The other example that comes to mind is the idea of universal values. Although the subject is a minefield, humans do seem to share a common set of values. These manifest in religion as common moral rules and ethical principles. For example, killing an in-group member is universally a bad thing under ordinary circumstances. For the killer, it creates an obligation or debt to the group (and especially to the family of the one killed) that must be (re)paid. Explaining this commonality in terms of an overarching metaphysical truth never satisfies. But it is not our only option. As I explored in my essays on <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2016/11/the-evolution-of-morality-introduction.html">the evolution of morality</a>, all social mammals have two things in common, the ability to experience empathy and to practice reciprocity. Frans de Waal has argued that these two qualities are all that is needed to show how morality evolved in human beings and why it takes the form that it does. Morality, in the sense of having group norms, is universal in social mammals and at the same time specific to the group (and partly dependent on their environment). The basic principles that give social mammals a successful evolutionary strategy are the common core of morality and ethics. As Charles Darwin said:<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">"...the moral sense is fundamentally identical with the social instincts; and in the case of the lower animals is would be absurd to speak of these instincts as having been developed from selfishness, or for the happiness of the community. They have, however, certainly been developed for the general good of the community." (<span style="font-size: x-small;">Charles Darwin. <i>The Descent of Man</i>, 1871</span>).&nbsp;</blockquote>Because of our common evolutionary history, all humans have recognisable forms of morality. And we can recognise something similar in other mammals, especially in those that are most similar to us, the chimps and bonobos. This is not a top-down morality imposed by a metaphysical truth or a god, but an emergent property of organisms living a social lifestyle that ensures their survival. Morality is naturally selected for. For example, a truly selfish species would soon die out because a social lifestyle requires individuals to put the group first more often than not. Any species where members put their own needs first would not benefit from a social lifestyle and would evolve a more solitary lifestyle (as some mammals do) or die out.<br /><br />The common core of beliefs is an article of faith for Perennialists, but is it true in the way that they want it to be? That is to say, is it the result of an overarching metaphysical truth? In fact, this seems quite unlikely to be the case.<br /><br /><br /><i>A Common Core?</i><br /><br />I've already pointed out that a good deal of religious commonality is down to the unacknowledged lateral transfer of ideas, attitudes, and practices between different religions. Vedanta was influenced by Buddhism (and vice versa), and in turn influenced Neoplatonism, which influenced modern Christianity, which shared common roots with Judaism and Islam (variants on the same religion), which came full circle and influenced Neo-Vedanta.<br /><br />However, focussing on the similarities also obscures the vast differences. As a Buddhist, I argue that there is no god, no soul, no creation, no prophet, and no messiah. These are innocent enough mistakes to make for premodern people. But they are not real and maintaining such beliefs when we know better is reprehensible for followers and dishonest of priests. As far as the core beliefs of Buddhism go, I have nothing important in common with Christians, Muslims, or Jews (to the extent that I understand these theist religions), beyond a human commitment to morality which fits the pattern described above; i.e., that is an emergent property of a social lifestyle.<br /><br />I know, however, that a Buddhist who is also a rationalist and naturalist is rare. Many people who profess Buddhism, in fact, have a prior commitment to matter-spirit dualism. This opens the door to seeming commonality with other religions if only because the framing of matter-spirit duality entails certain core beliefs. Some of my colleagues in the Triratna Buddhist Order are very definitely in the Dualist camp. Most of the Buddhists I meet on the internet are very definitely Dualists, including those who assert some form of non-dualism.<br /><br />This matter-spirit Dualism, framed using similar cognitive metaphors and image schemas necessarily takes the same form everywhere. If one is inclined to believe in metaphysical truths, then here is the obvious candidate. However, I would say that matter-spirit dualism is something that we impose on experience. It is not imposed on us by reality. In other words, this is not a metaphysical truth in the sense that is implied by the Perennial Philosophy.<br /><br />Even if the facts are in evidence, the conclusions we draw are highly dependent on how we think. Axioms, for example, are inevitably reproduced by a process of deduction. Explanations that do not resort to magical thinking or mind-body dualism or any of the other faults that go with the Perennial Philosophy are generally better in the sense of providing more accuracy and precision. Where we do not yet have an explanation, it is better to admit we don't know than to make something up.<br /><br />However, the example of the common core of empathy and reciprocity makes this discussion more complex because in these two qualities of social primate group interactions we do have something like a common core. We can easily see how a species with these minimal qualities might evolve a moral culture alongside its genetic evolution, if that meant living in ever larger groups, surrounded by and having to deal with strangers most of the time.<br /><br />Moral rules do vary from group to group, even family to family within a large society, but the form that moral rules take emerges from a common background so there are similarities. For example, because it is based on reciprocity, morality is often framed as an accounting exercise (on this subject, I highly recommend George Lakoff's essay: <a href="http://www.wwcd.org/issues/Lakoff.html">Metaphor, Morality, and Politics</a>). The classic religious image of an afterlife reckoning is the one from the Egyptian Book of the Dead (which I have mentioned many times before). In the image, Anubis is weighing the soul of the scribe, Ani, in a large balance. On the other side is an ostrich feather representing the law. Of course, Ani is armed with spells to make his soul lighter, but the principle is that one who has lived in accordance with the law (the moral norms of Egyptian society of the day) will have a light soul and will ascend to the realm of the gods ruled over by Osiris. Anyone with a heavy soul will be devoured by a hybrid animal monster. The idea, as with all such stories, is to encourage the living toward normative behaviour with a carrot and stick approach.<br /><br />Thus the common ideas of God as absolute being, the human messenger who conveys the message, and the apparently similar moral rules can all be explained in ways that do not involve the supernatural at all, let alone a single metaphysical truth. But, and this is important, there <i>are </i>commonalities. There are shared ideas and qualities that give the impression of a common core of beliefs. These do not prove Perennialism; on the contrary, they show that Perennialism is simply a mistake as a result of not seeing enough of the picture and/or not seeing it clearly enough. Our commonalities are evolutionary rather than supernatural. Evolution emerges not as a single metaphysical truth, but as an embodied paradigm that explains how humans come to have common qualities both at the genetic (including phenotypic) and social levels.<br /><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Conclusion</b></div><br />Perennial Philosophy is simply bad philosophy. It ignores historical processes and evolutionary processes, it fails to adequately distinguish epistemology and ontology, and it asserts an untenable matter-spirit dualism. The supposed metaphysical truth that religions point to can be explained as confirmation bias. Calling such a belief system a "philosophy" bestows a veneer of respectability and rationality&nbsp;on a form of modernist religiosity at a time when organised religion is widely viewed negatively. It is ironic that Perennial Philosophy is quite individualistic given the central proposition.<br /><br />That said, philosophy generally seems far too open to speculation in the absence of evidence and to be burdened by tooth-fairy agnosticism. Philosophy is all about prolonging arguments by introducing hypothetical objections to <i>everything</i>. It almost always assumes a solipsistic point of view. I have been talking with a friend about the trolley problem, for example, and as classically posed it eliminates the social context.&nbsp; In fact, morality is irreducibly social. If we are weighing up moral choices we may ask questions like:<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">Who will see me act?<br />Who will know about my choice and who might find out?<br />How will my peers react to my decision?</blockquote>Moral philosophers try to eliminate such considerations and leave a human being making decisions in isolation. Some of us may think of such considerations as themselves immoral, but this would be a distortion based on an idealisation that is far from the reality of being a social primate: we are moral&nbsp; precisely because we are social, because we can empathise and understand reciprocity. Furthermore, we acknowledge that social isolation is detrimental to both mental and physical health and think of solitary confinement as a cruel punishment. Quite a lot of moral philosophy seems to be based on these kinds of false assumptions about the social nature of humanity. Contrast this with the idea of Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber that <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2017/08/rationality.html">reasoning is a group activity</a> (explaining why individuals do poorly at solo reasoning tasks).<br /><br />A pragmatic approach to knowledge, grounded in empiricism, and which takes account of the social nature of knowledge is more empowering for human beings. We can always change our minds, but mostly we need to get on with our lives using the best heuristics we have. Of course, we cannot agree on what the best course of action is a lot of the time. In any rational consideration of reality, this would undermine the Perennial Philosophy. However, because of matter-spirit dualism, it leads us to think of humans as evil, which is extremely counterproductive.<br /><br />The subject I have not yet touched on is that some kinds of experience seem to support the bad theory of a single metaphysical truth, especially the so-called "mystical" experiences. These cannot be ignored, but again, we don't have to accept how Perennialists frame the discussion. In order to reframe the discussion, in the next part of the essay I will introduce a simplified model with characteristics that illustrate my approach. This aims to show that the supposed metaphysical truth of the Perennial Philosophy sits at one end of a spectrum and the methods used to try to realise that truth all point to the other. Then, in Part III, I will explore the example of meditation and how it moves us away from objectivity towards pure subjectivity. The goal we pursue in meditation is not reality or the discovery of the nature of reality. Instead, we pursue an understanding of the nature of sensory and cognitive experience and, in fact, the cessation of experience is the highest attainment of these methods.</div><br /><div style="text-align: center;">~~oOo~~</div><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div></div>Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-32886991101363562862018-11-02T12:09:00.003+00:002018-11-04T07:33:25.351+00:00Buddhism, Bodhisatvas, and the End of Rebirth<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div style="border: 2px solid rgb(237, 110, 0); color: #ed6e00; float: left; margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px; padding: 10px; text-align: center; width: 150px;">This essay is dedicated to the memory of<br />Urgyen Sangharakshita (1925-2018)<br /><img src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-_9-FtsUsqG0/W9ssejfQjCI/AAAAAAAAH-A/Pv9u7PlA6QA5vpgjJTfsISFqH-yV6_sxgCLcBGAs/s200/campaign-photo-web-square.jpg" width="120" /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">There is a pernicious trend in Buddhist historiography. It is the attempt to smooth out inconsistencies and present Buddhism as far more coherent and unified than it ever was in practice. A prominent manifestation of this is the idea that there really is no difference between the so-called "arahant ideal" and the so-called "bodhisatva ideal". While I'm sure that those who take this approach are sincere in their belief that playing down the differences is a worthy cause, it obscures the reasons the new idea emerged in the first place. Those reasons are intrinsically interesting.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In the last 20 years we have discovered a great deal more about the early Mahāyāna than was previously known. A great summary and assessment can be found in a pair of articles by David Drewes (2010a and 2010b). We now know, for example, that what we call Mahāyāna was actually a rather disparate group of ideas that took centuries to converge. It emerged in monasteries, in all likelihood alongside mainstream Buddhism (though, of course, Mahāyāna became the mainstream, eventually).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">By about 200 BCE all Buddhists were starting to reject the early Buddhist&nbsp; doctrines and to quietly rewrite or replace them. In my article on karma (Attwood 2014), for example, I traced the rejection of the idea that karma is inescapable. Later Indian Buddhists did not accept this constraint (<i>niyāma</i>) and modified the doctrine of karma to allow for the consequences of actions to be avoided. One mostly did this using religious practices, especially ritualised confession, though later simply chanting a mantra was thought to literally eliminate all evil karma.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I've shown in previous blog essays that all Buddhists found the sutta version of dependent arising wanting and rewrote it, especially where it appeared to interfere with the working of karma; i.e., where dependent arising says that consequences cannot outlive the conditions for their existence. When this ceases, that ceases.</div><br /><br /><b>Awakening as the End of Rebirth</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">It is repeatedly and frequently stated across the Pāli texts, that awakening is tantamount to the cessation of or the liberation from rebirth. "I will not be born again" is something that arahants frequently exclaim upon awakening. In the <i>Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta</i> (SN 56.11), often referred to as "the first sermon", the Buddha concludes his account of his awakening by saying:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;"><i>ñāṇañca pana me dassanaṃ udapādi akuppā me cetovimutti. ayam antimā jāti. natthi 'dāni punabbhavo ti</i>. (SN v.423)</div></blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">This knowledge and vision arose for me: "My liberation of mind is unshakeable. This is my last birth. Now rebirth doesn't exist."</div></blockquote>A more common refrain, heard across the Nikāyas is this one:<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;"><i>khīṇā jāti, vusitaṃ brahmacariyaṃ, kataṃ karaṇīyaṃ, nāparaṃ itthattāyā ti</i></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Birth is ended; the religious life is fulfilled; the task is completed; I'll never be reborn.</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">No doubt there are variations on these as well, but there is no need to search them out. It is clearly understood that awakening is synonymous with the end of rebirth. So whatever else happens to a <i>tathāgata</i> after death, they are not reborn. And the reason for this is found in the <i>nidāna </i>formulation of dependent arising. For example, in <i>Dasabala Sutta</i> (SN 12:21), “from ignorance as a condition, there is volition” (<i>avijjāpaccayā saṅkhārā</i>), from volition as a condition, there is discrimination (<i>saṅkhārapaccayā viññāṇaṃ</i>)” and so on, up to, “from the condition of birth, there is aging and death” (<i>jātipaccayā jarāmaraṇaṃ</i>), which is said, in this case, to be the origin of the whole mass of suffering (<i>evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa samudayo hoti</i>)” (SN ii.28). In the suttas (re-)birth is synonymous with <i>dukkha</i>. To be born, even as a deva, is to suffer. To end suffering one must be completely extinguished (<i>pari-nibbāṇa</i>). Thus the <i>tathāgata </i>is never coming back and that is the way it must be or awakening is not an escape from suffering.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">This escape was cause for celebration in the early days of Buddhism. The Buddha was the first man to escape suffering, by escaping rebirth. And in this myth the Buddha shares some features with Yama. We think of <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2015/03/yama-and-hell.html">Yama as the King of Hell</a> (<i>naraya</i>), but as I showed in my essay on him, he is not a god, but rather a Brahmanical culture hero. Yama's claim to fame is that he was the first man to find his way to the ancestors in the sky (<i>svarga</i>) after death, i.e., to the <i>pitṛloka</i> or "world of the fathers". Yama opened the door to a <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2011/06/taxonomy-of-afterlife-beliefs.html">cyclic afterlife</a>. This is significant, because no other Indo-European culture has a cyclic eschatology (Plato's speculations aside, the Athenian afterlife was not generally cyclic). A cyclic afterlife appears to be a regional feature of cultures in the sub-continent.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The myth of Yama shows the Vedic speaking people adopting this eschatology into their mythos. To be more precise, it shows the Vedic patriarchy adopting the myth - we have no idea how women were placed in this scheme because they are not mentioned. The <i>Vedas </i>are the literature of a group of men who barely gave a thought to women. The <i>Bṛhadāranyaka Upaniṣad</i> is antinomian for many reasons, not least because it shows some women claiming and receiving equal status with the leading male protagonist.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The Buddha is hailed in Buddhist mythology as opening the doors to the deathless by none other than Brahmā, the creator god of the Brahmins of the late Vedic period. The doors to the deathless are open and the Buddha left hundreds, if not thousands of followers behind who were also liberated from rebirth. Many of them had their own students numbering in the thousands. The presence of the Buddha was not necessary while living arahants were able to teach those with "but a little dust in their eyes". Buddhism ought to have prospered on this model. But it did not. And we have no good accounts of why.</div><br /><b></b><br /><b>The Collapse of Early Buddhism</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">What is seldom if ever acknowledged is that the Buddhism of the Pāli suttas did not last. It did not do what was needed for the societies in which it persisted. It was once thought that the Mahāyāna was a radical departure from monasticism introduced by lay Buddhists. But this has been put to rest. Mahāyāna grew out of the the monastery. In the early Mahāyāna sūtras the term bodhisatva&nbsp;is applied to full-time, hardcore meditation practitioners aiming at awakening. And this shows that awakening was still seen as a potential, if hard won goal. Amongst the mainstream sects the interest was in the analysis of mental events and theorising about how they contributed to bondage or liberation. Many schools were primarily focussed on <i>śāstras </i>or commentaries which attempted to make something coherent from the dog's breakfast of the <i>Nikāyas</i>. Before the advent of Protestant Buddhism in the 18th and 19th Centuries, all Buddhist sects were primarily focussed on <i>śāstra </i>rather than <i>sūtra</i>; even those sects which advertised themselves as being focussed on <i>sūtras </i>(like the Lotus Sutra sects) still relied on commentaries.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The received tradition was sometimes simply rejected, but more often than not the commentaries present themselves as essentializing the Dharma. By this I mean they present a coherent, and therefore highly partial, account as the whole of the Dharma. What the Buddha (is reported to have)&nbsp;<i>said </i>becomes less important than what he <i>meant</i>,&nbsp; and many people were happy to tell the world what he meant. The rise of the <i>śāstra literature&nbsp;</i>meant that the confusion, incoherent, contradictions, and conflicts of the early Buddhist texts were set aside in favour of a unified view. The problem was that there were at least a dozen different unified views by the beginning of the Common Era.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The Theravāda often collude with naive scholars in pretending to represent early Buddhism. They don't. Modern Theravāda is just that, <i>modern</i>. As with all the other sects, Theravādin monks for many centuries mostly studied Abhidhamma commentaries when they studied at all - even when they spent their lives copying out Pāli texts. They had given up on meditation and they have given up on awakening. As Peter Masefield outlines in his book <i>Divine Revelation in Pali Buddhism </i>(1995), the view had arisen (despite considerable literary evidence to the contrary) that the presence of a Buddha was required for people to awaken. A Buddha was special in being self-awakened (so to speak), but everyone else needed the physical presence of a Buddha. After the Buddha's death, Masefield argues, no more arahants were liberated. Monks did memorise suttas, but they were chanted as magic spells at ceremonies and rites.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Against this we have to weigh the fact that many of the prominent modern Western Theravādin bhikkhus are connected to Thai and Burmese traditions that re-invented meditation in the 18th and 19th Centuries. These monks have long believed that their reinvented tradition maps onto what is found in the suttas preserved in Sri Lanka (though the <i>bhikkhu </i>lineage of that country died out and had to be re-established from Burma <i>twice</i>).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">This situation of revised and essentialised teachings was still apparently unsatisfactory to Mahāyānists. There is no normative account of why this was so. However, I can offer my own explanation for this. I think it all begins with the absence of the Buddha.&nbsp;</div><b></b><br /><b></b><br /><b>The Absent Buddha</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The arguments I outline below derive from reverse engineering. By looking at the form that innovations take we can get an idea of what problem they were trying to solve. And there is a common thread to many of these innovations. And it is the problem of the absence of the Buddha. It was in this context that new figures began to emerge in the Buddhist imagination as replacement Buddhas, but designed without his "flaws" in mind. Because when Mahāyāna sūtras disparage the arahants, the real target is the father-figure who left and never returned.&nbsp;</div><br /><br /><i>Pure Land</i><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Consider the Pure Land schools. The earliest Pure Land Sūtra featured Buddha Akṣobhya in his Pure Land Abhirati. As Jan Nattier (2000) has shown, getting into Abhirati was hard work. Then came Amitābha living in Sukhāvati and he made it easy. The two <i>Sukhāvativyūha Sūtras </i>introduced the idea that one only need call his name in devotion and he'll meet you at death and guide you to Sukhāvati where everything was arranged to perfection (according the patriarchy of the day).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Take a step back and consider the form of this doctrinal innovation. It is predicated on the idea that Śākyamuni is dead and not coming back, and that the next Buddha Maitreya is not going to arrive for some billions of years. We are on our own. Part of the problem is that early Buddhists instituted a rule that there could only be one Buddha in any world at a time. The cultural evolution of the world followed a set pattern. The <i>Buddhadharma </i>had to flourish and die out before a new Buddha could be born to rediscover the <i>Buddhadharma </i>from scratch, since this is a defining feature of a Buddha. The main effect of this invented doctrine is that it raises the prestige of the so-called historical Buddha to its zenith.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I showed, in my article on karma, that raising the prestige of the Buddha was a central concern for Buddhists. Over time, the Buddha became more magical and powerful until he was effectively a god. The prototypical event for this observation was the meeting with Ajatasattu. In the Pāli versions the king is doomed by his patricide. But in the later Mahāyāna retelling, the king is saved from his own evil karma by meeting the Buddha. The mere presence of the Buddha purifies him of patricide - one of the five unforgivable karmas that result in immediate rebirth in Hell.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The unforeseen consequence of gradually raising the prestige of the Buddha is that it began to appear to make awakening in his absence impossible. And his absence was an established fact. The authors of the Pure Land texts, some of the earliest Mahāyāna texts, simply invented parallel universes with immortal Buddhas who could arrange for us to jump the tracks and be reborn in this alternate universe - the apotheosis of the Buddha. While Akṣobhya was a task-master, Amitābha was a soft touch. He only required your devotion. We know the metaphysics of this set up. Amitābha is a god, pure and simple. Sukhāvati is Heaven. We are sinners who can only be saved via the intervention of an external agency (or "other power") not touched by the sin of the world.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Pure Land became one of the leading forms of Buddhism in the world and remains in that position some 2000 years later. The reasons for its popularity are not hard to fathom. It is an undemanding form of Buddhism, most of the work is done for you by an magical immortal father figure, in the afterlife. He just wants you to love him and most of us love our Daddy (or want to).&nbsp;</div><br /><br /><i>The Evolution of the Bodhisatva</i><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">It's too early I think to have a proper history of the bodhisatva since we are really just getting used to the new information about their true relevance in early Mahāyāna. But we can take a similar reverse engineering approach to the mature concept of bodhisatvas like Mañjuśrī, Vajrapāṇi, or Avaklokiteśvara. The most important feature of the mature concept of the bodhisatva is that they are enlightened but <i>take rebirth</i>.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Why do we need the awakened to come back? On one hand the answer is obvious. We want our loved ones to come back to us. The Vedic speakers were entranced by the aboriginal Indian idea that after death one would be reborn amongst one's ancestors just as many Westerners are in love with the idea of people "coming back". We have an incurable nostalgia for the dead. We want to see them alive and well again. Belief in an afterlife has been linked to burying bodies with grave goods, the practice of which is arguably as old as modern humans, if not older (though the first undisputed evidence dates from around 40,000 years ago).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">On the other hand, it speaks to a deep seated insecurity. Living teachers simply did not create the required confidence in the Buddhist population of India. And this can have two main causes. Firstly, the standard of teaching may have declined, leaving students doubting the efficacy of their practice regimes. Secondly, and I think more likely, is that the placing the Buddha on a pedestal to raise his prestige had a detrimental effect on Buddhist communities. The higher the Buddha got, the lower human teachers were and the closer relatively to their human students.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">This problem is not particular to India or Buddhism. When you raise the goal of religion to the zenith and talk about it in absolutist terms; when the goal is perfection, then no human being can ever come close. In fact, even if most teachers are fantastic, the one who goes bad seems to taint all of them. In this process, the goal becomes unreachable and any attainments that humans do achieve are down played by comparison to perfection; while imperfects that show up confirm suspicions.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">So yes, we do see arahants being talked down to and mocked in degrading fashion in some Mahāyāna sūtras. Perhaps this is not because they are not awakened; they are arahants, after all, and thus very much awakened. Perhaps it is because they fall short of some imaginary perfection that has been set up in opposition to mere human awakening. That is to say, it is not because people were falsely claiming to be arahants as is sometimes suggested, but that Mahāyānists allowed themselves to be fooled into thinking that perfection was attainable on some level, just not by human beings. Mahāyāna is delusional in the way that all theology is delusional. It sets up an impossibly high standard, insists on judging people (harshly) by that standard, and in the absence of any human exemplars, transfers its devotional feelings onto imaginary magical beings.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The result is the classic <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2013/04/metaphors-and-materialism.html">matter/spirit duality</a>.&nbsp;&nbsp;I have discussed this in some detail in the past, analysing the metaphors involved and showing how they form an interlocking set of ideas that self-reinforce (like a cybernetic feedback loop). I also extended this in a series of essays on the idea of "spiritual" looking at the language and power relations involved in organisations which frame themselves as "spiritual" (see Bibliography). This duality has powerfully shaped all religions which tend to favour the (imaginary) spirit side of the equation.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In some forms of Buddhism, this duality contrasts the bodhisatvas as pure beings made of light with dirty humans made of shit. For example, Śāntideva goes on an extended rage about the disgusting human body in his celebrated work on Mahāyāna, the <i>Bodhicaryāvatāra</i>. It covers two pages in the definitive translation by&nbsp;Skilton and Crosby. The language is harsh and hate-filled. Buddhists attempt to excuse the tirade as a skilful means (<i>upaya</i>) but to me it is inexcusable; the epitome of unskillfulness. It is born out of a deep-seated hatred based on a matter-spirit duality.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><br /><i>Other Approaches</i><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I think these two examples demonstrate the principle. We might also cite <i>tathāgatagarbha </i>doctrine, as a way of making the Buddha present in his absence. Or the passage from early on in the Golden Light Sutra in which the Buddha is proclaimed to be immortal (he only appeared to die). Or the idea of everything being interpenetrated by the <i>dharmakāya</i>, the true form of the Buddha, magically above change and decay (i.e., permanent). Or the idea that one can imagine oneself to be a Buddha already and magically transform oneself into a Buddha in reality (while avoiding delusions of grandeur and other mental problems).<br /><br />We also know that around the same time the first images of the Buddha appear in Gandhara and Mathura. In the 2nd century BCE, the Greco-Bactrian kingdom of Gandhara had been conquered by a group of pastoralists known by their Chinese ethnonym&nbsp;月氏 Yuèzhī. They appear to have had caucasian features (judging by portraits on coins) and to have spoken an Iranian language. However they also adopted many local norms as well, including, possibly, the Buddhist religion. The resulting Kushan Empire was a melting post of Persian, Greek, Yuezhi, and Indian ideas, attitudes, and practices. Perhaps it was coming into contact with theism (Zoroastrianism) that made the Buddhists in that region aware that the absence of the Buddha was problematic? In any case it was amidst this milieu that images of the Buddha as a man were first made.&nbsp;</div><br />Having identified the pattern we can see how it makes sense of a range of innovations over time.<br /><br /><br /><b>Presence</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Everywhere Buddhists demand the presence of the Buddha or they resign themselves to despair and give up on awakening (as the Theravādins did before they reinvented meditation). And this is no accident. Where do we find a principle of required presence in Buddhism? We find it precisely in the doctrine of dependent arising. The idea was initially to describe the arising of suffering in the presence of sense experience. And it does an OK job of this for an Iron Age idea. But before long Buddhists began to treat it as a theory of everything. It is as though a Freudian were to argue that the world is structured into world-ego, world-id, and world-super ego, and that cosmic sex is the driving force of every process in the universe. For all I know there are Freudians who think like this, but I bet they have never tried to rewrite the equations of classical mechanics to show how sex is the basic force in the universe.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Once you take dependent arising to be a theory of everything then it is only logical that awakening requires the presence of an awakened teacher. Because without the necessary condition, the effect cannot arise. But the underlying condition for all awakening in Buddhist mythology is the Buddha. If this is so then the presence of a Buddha is a requirement for a world in which there is awakening.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">We don't know how the argument went because the Mahāyānists did not show their working. They might have reasoned that since there are awakened people then a Buddha must be present somehow, and since that Buddha is not physically present he must be present in some other form: corporeal in a parallel universe, or incorporeal in ours. Or they might have reasoned from the physical absence of the universe combined with a desire that awakening were possible again, believing that it currently was not.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">However, this way of thinking also misunderstands awakening. No matter how many different ways we say it, Buddhists always end up thinking of extinction as something; or as arising. Cessation is the right word. The point is that sensory experience stops when we withdraw from attention from it. Trivially, if I am focussed on writing, the outside world fades from my mind. And, more profoundly, when we use concentration techniques to bring about the complete cessation of sensory experience, aka emptiness. The use of emptiness as a metaphor was about the worst road Buddhists could have taken. It was a disastrous philosophical blunder because it led to Buddhists thinking of emptiness in metaphysical terms rather than as the simple absence of sense experience.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Absence of sense experience is essential to awakening. And yet we made Buddhism all about the presence of the Buddha. The former is <i>Buddhadharma</i>, the second is mere religion (and no better than any other religion which invokes the presence of a father figure).&nbsp;</div><br /><b></b><br /><b>Conclusion</b><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Arguments, scholarly, religious, or increasingly both, that seek to minimize the distinction between arahant and bodhisatva, however sincere in their motivation, damage our understanding of the history of ideas in Buddhism. Such approaches actively prevent us from asking interesting questions about why Buddhism changed and if we never ask the questions, we never answer them. Whether or not the new ideas were totally novel or evolutions is of course interesting. And yes, we can often find precursors in the Pāli texts; texts that were composed and edited over centuries that <i>overlapped</i> with the emergence of the new doctrines.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">We scholars, especially, have to resist the urge to bowdlerise our presentations of the history of ideas in Buddhism. However, Buddhists can also benefit from an interest in the actual history of our religion. We cannot understand a cultural phenomenon (or really a set of phenomena) if we refuse to see anything that sits outside normative accounts. To be sure, the real story is complex and convoluted. It does not fit neatly into a six week university teaching block. But it is worth telling nonetheless.</div><br />Let's face it, what makes history interesting is <i>conflict</i>. Without it, history is boring. Pretending that there was no conflict in Buddhist history is a gross mistake. Sure, religions all present significant figures as saints, but so what? This is not interesting at all, because people are not saints. The fact that all Buddhists repudiated the teachings that had been ascribed to the Buddha is perhaps the most interesting fact about Buddhism. But no one ever says that this is what happened. The least interesting story—the hagiographical version—dominates both academy and temple. Yawn. The story is trite, tedious, and simply untrue. The telling of it tendentious and smacks of insecurity. All too often it is the rhetoric of persuasion rather than the rhetoric of truth.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">We&nbsp;have to be willing to see change ("everything changes") and to ask why things change. Cultures and doctrines change for reasons and it only seems reasonable to enquire as to those reasons. Buddhism is not special in this regard. We need to be willing to face up to the fact that the Buddha died and is not coming back.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Sadly, my teacher Sangharakshita died this week, aged 93. He had a good life, all things considered: he was a good friend to hundreds of people and he inspired hundreds of thousands of people to practice the <i>Buddhadharma </i>(our movement operates in India where social movements happen on vast scales).&nbsp;I'm not suggesting that he was a saint, but on balance he did a great deal of good and most people who met him were glad of it. He was loved. But he's gone and he's not coming back. As I loved him, so I mourn, but I'm not interested in fantasies of his reincarnation and return. I don't want false comfort. The Triratna Buddhist Order is well placed to carry on providing a context for practising the <i>Buddhadharma </i>that combines a good deal of tradition with some conscious modernism. We could do better, but Sangharakshita gave us a robust organisation. Succession is long settled and nothing much will change now that his suffering is ended. Now is the time for practice.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><blockquote class="tr_bq" style="text-align: justify;"><div style="text-align: center;"><i>vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā</i></div><div style="text-align: center;">All experience is perishable; sensual sobriety is the way to succeed.</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: center;">(the supposed last words of the Buddha. DN ii.156)&nbsp;</div><br /><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;">~~oOo~~</div><br /><br /><b>Bibliography</b><br /><ul><li><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2009/01/body-in-buddhism.html">The Body in Buddhism</a>. 02 January 2009</li><li><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2013/12/evolution-trees-and-braids.html">Evolution: Trees and Braids</a>. 27 December 2013</li><li><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2013/04/metaphors-and-materialism.html">Metaphors and Materialism</a>.&nbsp;26 April 2013</li><li><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2014/06/spiritual-i-lifes-breath.html">Spiritual I: The Life's Breath</a>.&nbsp;06 June 2014</li><li><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2014/06/spiritual-ii-frames.html">Spiritual II: Frames</a>. 13 June 2014</li><li><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2014/06/spiritual-iii-demesnes-of-power.html">Spiritual III: Demesnes of Power</a>. 20 June 2014.</li><li><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2011/06/taxonomy-of-afterlife-beliefs.html">A Taxonomy of Afterlife Beliefs</a>. 17 June 2011</li><li><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2015/03/yama-and-hell.html">Yama and Hell</a>. 13 March 2015</li></ul><br /><div class="hang">Attwood, Jayarava. 2014. Escaping the Inescapable: Changes in Buddhist Karma. <i><a href="http://blogs.dickinson.edu/buddhistethics/2014/06/04/changes-in-buddhist-karma">Journal of Buddhist Ethics</a></i>, 21, 503-535.</div><br /><div class="hang">David Drewes. 2010a. Early Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism I: Recent Scholarship. Religion Compass 4/2: 55-65. DOI:10.1111/j.1749-8171.2009.00195.x https://www.academia.edu/9226456/Early_Indian_Mahayana_Buddhism_I_Recent_scholarship</div><br /><div class="hang">David Drewes. 2010b. Early Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism II: New Perspectives. Religion Compass 4/2: 66-74. DOI:10.1111/j.1749-8171.2009.00193.x https://www.academia.edu/9226471/Early_Indian_Mahayana_Buddhism_II_New_perspectives</div><br /><div class="hang">Masefield, Peter. 1995.&nbsp;<i>Divine Revelation in Pali Buddhism.&nbsp;</i>Paul &amp; Co Pub<br />Consortium.</div><br /><div class="hang">Nattier, Jan. 2000. "The Realm of Aksobhya: A Missing Piece in the History of Pure Land Buddhism". <i>Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies</i> 23 (1), 71–102.</div><br /><div class="hang">Skilton, A and Crosby, K. 2008. <i>The Bodhicaryāvatāra</i>.&nbsp;Oxford University Press</div></div>Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-23250280069984999522018-10-05T10:39:00.002+01:002018-10-08T15:31:18.833+01:00Quantum Bullshit<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-9JSHx_2Gzac/W7XxBfZPzMI/AAAAAAAAH5M/hvB5CubgHbkAmvvnQbDt4cHZ0X9oBnY3wCLcBGAs/s1600/Frankfurt-Harry.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="360" data-original-width="292" height="200" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-9JSHx_2Gzac/W7XxBfZPzMI/AAAAAAAAH5M/hvB5CubgHbkAmvvnQbDt4cHZ0X9oBnY3wCLcBGAs/s200/Frankfurt-Harry.jpg" width="161" /></a></div><div style="text-align: justify;">I was appalled recently to see that a senior professor of Buddhism Studies—whose work on Chinese Buddhist texts I much admire—had fallen into the trap of trying to compare some concept from Buddhist philosophy to what he calls "quantum mechanics". Unfortunately, as seems almost inevitable in these cases, the account the Professor gives of quantum mechanics is a hippy version of the Copenhagen interpretation proposed by Werner Heisenberg back in the 1920s. In a further irony, this same Professor has been a vocal critic of the secularisation and commercialisation of Buddhist mindfulness practices. The same problems that he identifies in that case would seem to apply to his own misappropriation of quantum mechanics.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">As I've said many times, whenever someone connected with Buddhism uses the word "quantum" we can safely substitute the word "bullshit". My use of the term "bullshit" is technical and based on the work of Princeton philosopher <a href="https://philosophy.princeton.edu/content/harry-frankfurt">Harry Frankfurt</a> (image left). I use "bullshit" to refer to a particular rhetorical phenomenon. Here is the anonymous summary from Wikipedia, which I think sums up Frankfurt's arguments about bullshit precisely and concisely:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">“Bullshit is rhetoric without regard for truth. The liar cares about the truth and attempts to hide it; the bullshitter doesn't care if what they say is true or false; only whether or not their listener is persuaded.”</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">What I am suggesting is that Buddhists who refer to quantum mechanics are not, in fact, concerned with truth, at all. A liar knows the truth and deliberately misleads. The bullshitter may or may not know or tell the truth, but they don't care either way. Their assertions about quantum mechanics may even be true, but this is incidental. The idea is to persuade you of a proposition which may take several forms but roughly speaking it amounts to:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">If you sit still and withdraw attention from your sensorium, another more real world is revealed to you. </div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">Certain Buddhists argue that a specific man sitting under a specific tree ca 450 BCE, while ignoring his sensorium, saw such a reality (Though he neglected to mention this). And then this thesis is extended with the proposition:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">The reality that one "sees" when one's eyes are closed is very like the descriptions (though not the mathematics) of quantum mechanics. </div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">I imagine that these statements strike most scientists as obviously false. The first hint we had of a quantum world was in 1905 when Einstein formalised the observation that energy associated with atoms comes in discrete packets, which he called "quanta" (from the Latin with the sense "a portion"; though, literally, "how much?"). Even this nanoscale world, which we struggle to imagine, is established by observation, not by non-observation. Equally, there is no sign in early Buddhist texts that the authors had any interest in reality, let alone ultimate reality. They didn't even have a word that corresponds to "reality". They did talk a lot about the psychology of perception and about the cessation of perception in meditation, within the context of a lot of Iron Age mythology. Given that there is no prima facie resemblance between science and Buddhism whatever, we might well ask why the subject keeps coming up.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I think this desire to positively compare Buddhism to quantum mechanics is a form of "virtue signalling". By attempting to align Buddhist with science, the highest form of knowledge in the modern world, we hope to take a ride on the coat-tails of scientists. This is still the Victorian project of presenting the religion of Buddhism as a "rational" alternative to Christianity. Generally speaking, Buddhists are as irrational as any other religieux, it's just that one of the irrational things Buddhists believe is that they are super-rational.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Had it merely been another misguided Buddhism Studies professor, I might have let it go with some pointed comments on social media. Around the same time, I happened to watch a 2016 lecture by Sean Carroll on YouTube called, <a href="https://youtu.be/LFgwHbvihWg"><i>Extracting the Universe from the Wave Function</i></a>. Then I watched a more recent version of the same lecture from 2018 delivered at the <a href="https://weblectures.leidenuniv.nl/Mediasite/Play/42902985cb704ca78a2a7932fe9aa8481d?catalog=ff76670c7a934b6ab12d7af2615d241c21&amp;playFrom=1445&amp;autoStart=true">Ehrenfest Colloquium</a>. The emphasis is different in the two forums and I found that watching both was useful. Both lectures address the philosophy of quantum mechanics, but in a more rigorous way than is popular amongst Buddhists. Sean thinks the Copenhagen interpretation is "<i>terrible</i>" and he convinced me that he is right about this. The value of the lectures is that one can get the outlines of an alternative philosophy of quantum mechanics and with it some decisive critiques of the Copenhagen interpretation. Sean is one of the leading science communicators of our time and does a very good job of explaining this complex subject at the philosophical level.</div><br /><br /><b>What is Quantum Mechanics?</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">It is perhaps easiest to contrast quantum mechanics with classical mechanics. Classical mechanics involves a state in phase space (described by the position and momentum of all the elements) and then some equations of motion, such as Newton's laws, which describe how the system evolves over time (in which the concept of causation plays no part). Phase space has 6<i>n</i> dimensions, where <i>n</i> is the number of elements in the state. Laplace pointed out that given perfect knowledge of such a state at a given time, one could apply the equations of motion to know the state of the system at any time (past or future). </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Quantum mechanics also minimally involves two things. A state is described by a Hilbert Space, the set of all possible quantum states, i.e., the set of all wave functions, Ψ(x). It is not yet agreed whether the Hilbert Space for our universe has an infinite or merely a very large number of dimensions. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">For the STEM people, there's a useful brief <a href="https://youtu.be/zASzj4DkZXY">summary of Hilbert spaces here</a>. If you want an image of what a Hilbert Space is like, then it might be compared to the library in the short story <i><a href="http://www.arts.ucsb.edu/faculty/reese/classes/artistsbooks/The%20Library%20of%20Babel.pdf">The Library of Babel</a></i>, by Jorge Luis Borges. (Hat-tip to my friend Amṛtasukha for this comparison).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Mathematically, a Hilbert Space is a generalisation of vector spaces which satisfy certain conditions, so that they can be used to describe a geometry (more on this later). One thing to watch out for is that mathematicians describe Hilbert Spaces (plural). Physicists only ever deal with the quantum Hilbert Space of all possible wavefunctions and have slipped into the habit talking about "Hilbert Space" in the singular. Sean Carroll frequently reifies "Hilbert Space" in this way. Once we agree that we are talking about the space defined by all possible wave functions, then it is a useful shorthand. We don't have to consider any other Hilbert Spaces. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The second requirement is an equation that tells us how the wave functions in Hilbert Space evolve over time. And this is Schrödinger's <i>wave equation</i>. There are different ways of writing this equation. Here is one of the common ways:</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-M1H85HJUMqw/W6ObhVrlcbI/AAAAAAAAHu8/TYID88pmfyYBdJ3ikA8qv_hlaMU_F4mlACLcBGAs/s1600/schrodinger-wave-equation-science-photo-library.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="183" data-original-width="512" height="71" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-M1H85HJUMqw/W6ObhVrlcbI/AAAAAAAAHu8/TYID88pmfyYBdJ3ikA8qv_hlaMU_F4mlACLcBGAs/s200/schrodinger-wave-equation-science-photo-library.jpg" width="200" /></a></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The equation is a distillation of some much more complex formulas and concepts that take a few years of study to understand. Here, <i>i</i> is the imaginary unit (defined as i<sup>2</sup> = -1), <i>ħ</i> is the reduced Planck constant (<i>h/2π</i>). The expression <i>δ/δt</i> represents change over time. Ψ represents the state of the system as a vector in Hilbert Space -- specifying a vector in a space with infinite dimensions presents some interesting problems. <i>Ĥ</i> is the all important Hamiltonian operator which represents the total energy of the system. And note that this is a non-relativistic formulation.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">We owe this formalisation of quantum theory to the fact that John von Neumann studied mathematics with David Hilbert in the early 20th Century. Hilbert was, at the time, trying to provide physics with a more rigorous approach to mathematics. In 1915, he invited Einstein to lecture on Relativity at Göttingen University and the two of them, in parallel, recast gravity in terms of field equations (Hilbert credited Einstein so no dispute arose between them). In 1926, Von Neumann showed that the two most promising approaches to quantum mechanics—Werner Heisenberg's matrix mechanics and Erwin Schrödinger's wave equation—could be better understood in relation to a Hilbert Space.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">[I'm not sure, but this may the first time a Buddhist has ever given even an <i>overview </i>of the maths in an essay about Buddhism and quantum mechanics.] </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">By applying the Born Rule (i.e., finding the square of the Wave Function) we can find the probability that any given particle will be found in some location at any given time. A common solution to the wave equation is a map of probabilities. For example, the probability plot for an electron in a resting state hydrogen atom looks like this (where shading represents the range probability and the black in the middle is the nucleus). And btw this is a 2D representation of what in 3D is a hollow sphere. </div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-N7yoF44Yw84/W6Oe2jMQyDI/AAAAAAAAHvI/h2EGNppl5rku-xQvSYlFtmQobbYnMdjewCLcBGAs/s1600/hydrogen.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="291" data-original-width="292" height="198" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-N7yoF44Yw84/W6Oe2jMQyDI/AAAAAAAAHvI/h2EGNppl5rku-xQvSYlFtmQobbYnMdjewCLcBGAs/s200/hydrogen.jpg" width="200" /></a></div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">If we give the electron more energy, the probably map changes in predictable ways. An electron bound to an atom behaves a bit like a harmonic oscillator. A good example of a harmonic oscillator is a guitar string. If you pluck a guitar string you get a complex waveform made from the fundamental mode plus harmonics. The fundamental mode gives a note its perceived pitch, while the particular mixture of harmonics is experienced as the timbre of the note. The fundamental mode has two fixed points at the ends where there is zero vibration, and a maximum in the centre. The next mode, the 2nd harmonic takes more energy to produce and the string vibrates with three minima and two maxima - the pitch is an octave above the fundamental. </div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-EpKy5CxRg4c/W7XYJ7kF7BI/AAAAAAAAH5A/VXQOE_ie2MgBzyrD7tQMv6cCz1yKaQL5QCLcBGAs/s1600/main-qimg-38d629df3568f7889989ef32baa399a9.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="526" data-original-width="602" height="279" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-EpKy5CxRg4c/W7XYJ7kF7BI/AAAAAAAAH5A/VXQOE_ie2MgBzyrD7tQMv6cCz1yKaQL5QCLcBGAs/s320/main-qimg-38d629df3568f7889989ef32baa399a9.png" width="320" /></a></div><br />Using the fleshy parts of the fingers placed at minima points, it is possible to dampen extraneous vibrations on a guitar string and pick out the harmonics. Such notes have a very different timbre to regular notes. An electron bound to an atom also has "harmonics", though the vibrational modes are three dimensional. One of the striking experimental confirmations of this comes if we split sunlight up into a rainbow, we observe dark patches corresponding to electrons absorbing photons of a precise energy and becoming "excited". One of the first confirmations of quantum mechanics was that Schrödinger was able to accurately predict the absorption lines for a hydrogen atom using it.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-1wDIYcL6W3c/W7GspOv0lgI/AAAAAAAAH3k/ig6cIon1VyQULFxeVtc2f3C2Ymvi8VtGQCLcBGAs/s1600/spectrum.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1000" data-original-width="1500" height="213" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-1wDIYcL6W3c/W7GspOv0lgI/AAAAAAAAH3k/ig6cIon1VyQULFxeVtc2f3C2Ymvi8VtGQCLcBGAs/s320/spectrum.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">And on the other hand, after we excite electrons in, say, a sodium atom, they return to their resting state by emitting photons of a precise frequency (in the yellow part of the visible spectrum) giving sodium lamps their characteristic monochromatic quality. The colour of light absorbed or emitted by atoms allows us to use light to detect them in spectral analysis or spectroscopy. For example, infrared light is good for highlighting molecular bonds; while green-blue visible and ultraviolet light are good for identifying individual elements (and note there are more dark patches towards the blue end of the spectrum). </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The wave function applied to the electron in an atom gives us a map of probabilities for finding the electron at some point. We don't know where the electron is at any time unless it undergoes some kind of physical interaction that conveys location information (some interactions won't convey any location information). This is one way of defining the so-called the <i>Measurement Problem</i>. </div><div style="text-align: justify;"><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: right; text-align: right;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-V5p53Vhydic/W6S7OHmfwGI/AAAAAAAAHwo/v2CEfDlaHUsWeNST7Gj6TPsBJskufKbxQCLcBGAs/s1600/ball.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" data-original-height="285" data-original-width="380" height="150" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-V5p53Vhydic/W6S7OHmfwGI/AAAAAAAAHwo/v2CEfDlaHUsWeNST7Gj6TPsBJskufKbxQCLcBGAs/s200/ball.jpg" width="200" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">rugby ball</td></tr></tbody></table></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I have a new analogy for this. Imagine a black rugby ball on a black field, in the dark. You are walking around on the field, and you know where you are from a GPS app on your phone, but you cannot see anything. The only way to find the ball is to run around blindly until you kick it. At the moment you kick the ball the GPS app tells you precisely where the ball <i>was </i>at that moment. But kicking the ball also sends it careering off and you don't know where it ends up.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Now, Buddhists get hung up on the idea that somehow the observer has to be conscious, that somehow consciousness (whatever that word means!) is involved in determining how the world evolves in some real sense. As Sean Carroll, says in his recent book <i>The Big Picture</i>:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">“...almost no modern physicists think that 'consciousness' has anything whatsoever to do with quantum mechanics. There are an iconoclastic few who do, but it's a tiny minority, unrepresentative of the mainstream” (p.166). </div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">The likes of Fritjof Capra have misled some into thinking that the very vague notion of consciousness plays a role in the measurement problem. As far as the mainstream of quantum mechanics is concerned, consciousness plays no part whatsoever in quantum mechanics. And even those who think it does have provided no formalism for this. There is no mathematical expression for "consciousness", "observer", or "observation". All of these concepts are completely nebulous and out of place around the wave equation, which predicts the behaviour of electrons at a level of accuracy that exceeds the accuracy of our measurements. In practice, our experiments produce data that matches prediction to 10 decimal places or more. Quantum mechanics is the most accurate and precise theory ever produced. "Consciousness" is the least well-defined concept in the history of concepts. "Observation" is not even defined. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In the image of the black rugby ball on a black field in the dark, we don't know where the ball is until we kick it. However, a ball and a field are classical. In the maths of quantum mechanics, we have no information about the location of the ball until we physically interact with it. Indeed, it appears from the maths that it's not physically in one place until information about location is extracted from the system through a physical interaction. And by this we mean, not a conscious observer, but something like bouncing some radiation off the electron. It's as though every time you take a step there is a possibility of the ball being there and you kicking it, and at some point, it is there and you kick it. But until that moment, the ball is (somehow) smeared across the whole field all at once.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Put another way, every time we take a step there is some probability that the ball is there and we kick it, and there is some probability that the ball is not there and we do not kick it. But as we step around, we don't experience a probability, and we never experience a ball spread out over all locations. Whenever we interact with the system we experience the ball as being at our location or at some specific other location. Accounting for this is at the heart of different interpretations of quantum mechanics.</div><br /><br /><b>Copenhagen </b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">What every undergraduate physics student learns is the Copenhagen Interpretation of the measurement problem. In this view, the ball is literally (i.e., in reality) everywhere at once and only adopts a location at the time of "measurement" (although measurement is never defined). This is called <i>superposition </i>- literally "one thing on top of another". Superposition is a natural outcome of the Wave Equation; there are huge problems with the Copenhagen interpretation of how mathematical superposition relates to reality. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Firstly, as Schrödinger pointed out with his famous <i>gedanken</i> (thought) experiment involving a cat, this leads to some very counterintuitive conclusions. In my analogy, just before we take a step, the rugby ball is <i>both </i>present and absent. In this view, somehow by stepping into the space, we make the ball "choose" to be present or absent. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Worse, the Copenhagen Interpretation assumes that the observer is somehow <i>outside </i>the system, then interacts with it, extracting information, and then at the end is once again separate from the system. In other words, the observer behaves like a <i>classic </i>object while the system being observed is quantum, then classical, then quantum. Hugh Everett pointed out that this assumption of Copenhagen is simply false. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In fact, when we pick up the cat to put it in the box, we cannot avoid becoming entangled with it. What does this mean? Using the ball analogy if we kick the ball and know its location at one point in time then we become linked to the ball, even though in my analogy we don't know where it is <i>now</i>. If someone else now kicks it, then we instantaneously know where the ball was when it was kicked a second time, wherever we happen to be on the field. It's as though we get a GPS reading from the other person sent directly to our phone. If there are two entangled electrons on either side of the universe and we measure one of them and find that it has spin "up", then we also know with 100% certainty that at that same moment in time, the other electron has spin "down". This effect has been experimentally demonstrated so we are forced to accept it until a better explanation comes along. Thus, in Schrödinger's <i>gedanken </i>experiment, we always know from instant to instant what state the cat is in (this is also counter-intuitive, but strictly in keeping with the metaphor as Schrödinger outlined it).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">As you move about the world during your day, you become quantum entangled with every object you physically interact with. Or electrons in atoms that make up your body become entangled with electrons in the objects you see, taste, touch, etc. Although Copenhagen assumes a cut off (sometimes called Heisenberg's cut) between the quantum world and the classical world, Hugh Everett pointed out that this assumption is nonsense. There may well be a scale on which classical descriptions are more efficient ways of describing the world, but if one atom is quantum, and two atoms are, and three, then there is, in fact, no number of atoms that are not quantum, even if their bulk behaviour is different than their individual behaviour. In other words, the emergent behaviour of macro objects notwithstanding, all the individual atoms in our bodies are obeying quantum mechanics <i>at all times</i>. There is no, and can be no, ontological cut off between quantum and classical, even if there is an epistemological cutoff. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In terms of Copenhagen, the argument is that wave function describes a probability of the ball being somewhere on the field and that before it is kicked it is literally everywhere at once. At the time of kicking the ball (i.e., measurement) the wave function "collapses" and the ball manifests at a single definite location and you kick it. But the collapse of the wave function is a mathematical fudge. In fact, it says that before you look at an electron it is quantum, but when you look at it, it becomes classical. Then when you stop looking it becomes quantum again. This is nonsense. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In Schrödinger's cat-in-the-box analogy, as we put the cat in the box, we become entangled with the cat; the cat interacts with the box becoming entangled with it; and so on. How does an observer ever stand outside a system in ignorance and then interact with it to gain knowledge? The answer is that, where quantum mechanics applies, we cannot. The system is cat, box, <i>and observer. </i>There is <i>no such thing </i>as an observer outside the system. But it is even worse because we cannot stop at the observer. The observer interacts with their environment over a period of years before placing the cat in the box. And both cat and box have histories as well. So the system is the cat, the box, the observer, and the entire universe. And there is no way to get outside this system. It's not a matter of <i>whether </i>we (as macro objects) are quantum entangled, but <i>to what degree </i>we are quantum entangled. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">This is a non-trivial objection because entanglement is ubiquitous. We can, in theory, speak of a single electron orbiting a single nucleus, but in reality all particles are interacting with all other particles. One can give a good approximation, and some interactions will be very weak and therefore can be neglected for most purposes but, in general, the parts of quantum systems are quantum entangled. Carroll argues that there are <i>no such things</i> as classical objects. There are scale thresholds above which classical descriptions start to be more efficient computationally than quantum descriptions, but the world itself is never classical; it is always quantum. There is no other option. We are made of atoms and atoms are not classical objects.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Carroll and his group have been working on trying to extract spacetime from the wave function. And this is based on an idea related to entanglement. Since 99.99% of spacetime is "empty" they ignore matter and energy for the moment. The apparently empty spacetime is, in fact, just the quantum fields in a resting state. There is never nothing. But let's call it empty spacetime. One can define a region of spacetime in terms of a subset of Hilbert Space. And if you take any region of empty spacetime, then it can be shown to experience some degree of entanglement with all the other regions nearby. In fact, the degree of entanglement is proportional to the distance. What Carroll has suggested is that we turn this on its head and define distance as a function of quantum entanglement between regions of spacetime. Spacetime would then be an emergent property of the wave function. They have not got a mathematical solution to the wave equation which achieves this, but it is an elegant philosophical overview and shows early promise. Indeed, in a much simplified theoretical universe (with its own specific Hilbert Space, but in which Schrödinger's wave equation applies), they managed to show that the degree of entanglement of a region of spacetime determined its geometry in a way that was consistent with general relativity. In other words, if the maths works out they have shown how to extract quantum gravity from just Hilbert Space and the wavefunction. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Other questions arise from this critique of Copenhagen. What is an "event"? What is an "observation"? The problem for Buddhists is that we assume that it has something to do with "consciousness" and that "consciousness" has something to do with Buddhism. The first is certainly not true, while the second is almost certainly not true depending on how we define consciousness. And defining consciousness is something that is even less consensual than interpreting the measurement problem. There are as many definitions as there are philosophers of mind. How can something so ill-defined be central to a science that is all about well-defined concepts?</div><br /><br /><b>More on Interpretations</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In 2013, <a href="https://arxiv.org/abs/1301.1069">some researchers</a> quizzed physicists at a conference about their preferred interpretation of the measurement problem. This gave rise to what Sean Carroll called <i><a href="http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2013/01/17/the-most-embarrassing-graph-in-modern-physics/">The Most Embarrassing Graph in Modern Physics</a></i>:</div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-R13m_iXiB10/W6OvtBqi8BI/AAAAAAAAHvU/9UdOXNNoZL8Y0ID6L_r8l6erikX13XRNwCLcBGAs/s1600/qmpoll.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="598" data-original-width="509" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-R13m_iXiB10/W6OvtBqi8BI/AAAAAAAAHvU/9UdOXNNoZL8Y0ID6L_r8l6erikX13XRNwCLcBGAs/s1600/qmpoll.jpg" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Sean Carroll <a href="http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2013/01/17/the-most-embarrassing-graph-in-modern-physics/">comments</a>:</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">&nbsp;</div>I’ll go out on a limb to suggest that the results of this poll should be very embarrassing to physicists. Not, I hasten to add, because Copenhagen came in first, although that’s also a perspective I might want to defend (I think Copenhagen is completely ill-defined, and shouldn’t be the favorite anything of any thoughtful person). The embarrassing thing is that we don’t have agreement.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Just 42% of those surveyed preferred Copenhagen - the account of quantum mechanics they all learned as undergraduates. Mind you, Carroll's preferred interpretation, Everett, got even less at 18%. However, it may be more embarrassing than it looks, because there are <a href="https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qm-decoherence/#EveInt"><i>multiple </i>Everettian interpretations</a>. And note that several existing interpretations had no supporters amongst those surveyed (the survey was not representative of the field). </div><br />In Carroll's account, Copenhagen has fatal flaws because it makes unsupportable assumptions. So what about the alternatives? I found Carroll's explanation of the Everett interpretation in this lecture quite interesting and compelling. It has the virtue of being parsimonious. <br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Just like other interpretations, Everett began with Hilbert Space and the Wave Equation. But he stopped there. There are no special rules for observers as classical objects because there are no classical objects (just classical descriptions). In this view, the rugby ball still both exists and does not exist, but instead of the wave function collapsing, the interaction between the ball, the field, the observer, and <i>the world </i>cause "decoherence". If there are two possible outcomes — ball present at this location, ball somewhere else — then both happen, but decoherence means that we only ever see one of them . The other possibility also occurs, but it is as though the world has branched into two worlds: one in which the ball is present and we kick it, and one in which it is somewhere else and we do not kick it. And it turns out that having split in this way there is no way for the two worlds to interact ever again. The two outcomes are orthogonal in Hilbert Space.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">While this sounds counterintuitive, Carroll argues that the many worlds are already present in the Hilbert Space and all the other interpretations have to introduce extra rules to make those other worlds disappear. And in the case of Copenhagen, the extra rules are incoherent. Everett sounds plausible enough in itself, but given the number of particles in the universe and how many interactions there are over time, the number of worlds must be vast beyond imagining. And that is deeply counter-intuitive. However, being counter-intuitive is not an argument against a theory of quantum mechanics. Physics at this scale is always going to be counterintuitive because it's not like the world on the scale we can sense. And at this point, it will be useful to review some of the problems associated with differences in scale. </div><br /><br /><b>Scale (again)</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I've written about scale before. It is such an important idea and so many of our misconceptions about the world at scales beyond those our senses register are because we cannot imagine very small or very large scales.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">We understand our world as classical. That's what we evolved for. Modern humans have been around for roughly between 400,000 and 200,000 years. But we discovered that there are scales much smaller than we can experience with our senses only about 400 years ago with the development of the microscope. As our understanding progressed we began to see evidence of the world on smaller and smaller scales. Each time we had to adjust our notions of the universe. At the same time telescopes revealed a very much larger universe than we had ever imagined.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Quantum mechanics developed from Einstein's articles in 1905 and was formalised mathematically in the 1920s. It has never been intuitive and it is so very far from our experience that is unlikely ever to be intuitive.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Humans with good eyesight can see objects at around 0.1 mm or 100 µm. A human hair is about 20-200 µm. A small human cell like a sperm might be 10 µm, and not visible; while a large fat cell might be 100 µm and be visible (just). A water molecule is about 0.0003 µm or 0.3 nanometres (nm = 10<sup><span style="font-size: xx-small;">-9</span></sup> m). But at this level, the physical dimensions of an object become problematic because the location in space is governed by quantum mechanics and is a <i>probability</i>. Indeed, the idea of the water molecule as an "object" is problematic. The classical description of the world breaks down at this scale. The average radius of a hydrogen atom at rest is calculated to be about 25 picometres or 25x10<sup><span style="font-size: xx-small;">-12</span></sup> m, but we've already seen that the location of the electron circling the hydrogen nucleus is a probability distribution. We define the radius in terms of an arbitrary cut off in <i>probability</i>. The estimated radius of an electron is less than 10<span style="font-size: xx-small;"><sup>−18</sup> </span>m (though estimates vary <i>wildly</i>). And we have to specify a resting state atom, because in a state of excitation the electron probability map is a different shape. It hardly makes sense to think of the electron as having a fixed radius or even as being an object at all. An electron might best be thought of as a perturbation in the electromagnetic field.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The thing is that, as we scale down, we still think of things in terms of classical descriptions and we don't understand when classical stops applying. We cannot help but think in terms of objects, when, in fact, below the micron scale this gradually makes less and less sense. Given that everything we experience is on the macro scale, nothing beyond this scale will ever be intuitive. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">As Sean Carroll says, the many worlds are inherent in Hilbert Space. Other theories have to work out how to eliminate all of the others in order to leave the one that we observe. Copenhagen argues for something called "collapse of the wave function". Why would a wave function collapse when you looked at it? Why would looking at something cause it to behave differently? What happened in the universe before there were observers? Everett argued that this is an artefact of thinking of the world in classical terms. He argued that, in effect, there<i> is no classical world</i>, there is only a quantum world. Subatomic particles are just manifestations of Hilbert Space and the Wave Equation. The world might <i>appear </i>to be classical on some scales, but this is just an appearance. The world is fundamentally quantum, all the time, and on all scales. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Thinking in these terms leads to new approaches to old problems. For example, most physicists are convinced that gravity must be quantised like other forces. Traditional approaches have followed the methods of Einstein. Einstein took the Newtonian formulation of physical laws and transformed them into relativity. Many physicists take a classical expression of gravity and attempt to reformulate it in quantum terms - leading to string theory and other problematic approaches. Carroll argues that this is unlikely to work because it is unlikely that nature begins with a classical world and then quantises it. Nature has to be quantum from the outset and thus Everett was on right track. And, if this is true, then the only approach that will succeed in describing quantum gravity will need to start with quantum theory and show how gravity emerges from it. As I say, Carroll and his team have an elegant philosophical framework for this and some promising preliminary results. The mathematics is still difficult, but they don't have the horrendous and possibly insurmountable problems of, say, string theory. </div><br />Note: for an interesting visualisation the range of scales, see <i><a href="http://htwins.net/scale2/">The Scale of the Universe</a></i>.<br /><br /><br /><b>Conclusion</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Quantum mechanics is a theory of how subatomic particles behave. It minimally involves a Hilbert Space of all possible wave functions and the Schrödinger wave equation describing how these evolve over time. Buddhism is a complex socio-religious phenomenon in which people behave in a wide variety of ways that have yet to be described with any accuracy. It's possible that there is a Hilbert Space of all possible social functions and an equation which describes how it evolves over time, but we don't have it yet!</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Buddhists try to adopt quantum mechanics, or to talk about quantum mechanics, as a form of virtue signalling -- "we really are rational despite appearances", or legitimising. They either claim actual consistency between Buddhism and quantum mechanics; or they claim some kind of metaphorical similarity, usually based on the fallacy that the measurement problem requires a conscious observer. And this is patently false in both cases. It's not even that Buddhists have a superficial grasp of quantum mechanics, but that they have a wrong grasp of it or, in fact, that they have grasped something masquerading as quantum mechanics that is not quantum mechanics. None of the Buddhists I've seen talking or writing about quantum mechanics mention Hilbert Spaces, for example. I'm guessing that none of them could even begin to explain what a vector is let alone a Hilbert Space. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I've yet to see a Buddhist write about anything other than the Copenhagen interpretation. I presume because it is only the Copenhagen interpretation that is capable of being shoehorned into a narrative that suits our rhetorical purposes; I don't see any advantage to Buddhists in the Everett interpretation, for example. Buddhists read — in whacky books for whacky people — that the "observer" must be a conscious mind. Since this suits their rhetorical purposes they do not follow up and thus never discover that the idea is discredited. No one ever stops to wonder what the statement means, because if they did they'd see that it's meaningless. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Thus, Buddhists who use quantum mechanics to make Buddhism look more interesting are not concerned with the truth. They do not read widely on the subject, but simply adopt the minority view that chimes with their preconceptions and use this as a lever. For example, I cannot ever recall such rhetoric ever making clear that the cat-in-the-box thought experiment was proposed by Schrödinger to <i>discredit </i>the Copenhagen interpretation. It is presented as the opposite. Again, there is a lack of regard for the truth. Nor do Buddhists ever present criticisms of the Copenhagen interpretations such as those that emerge from Everett's interpretation. Other criticisms are available.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">And this disregard for the truth combined with a concerted attempt to persuade an audience of some arbitrary argument is classic bullshit (as described by Harry Frankfurt). Buddhists who write about quantum mechanics are, on the whole, bullshitters. They are not concerned with the nature of reality, they are concerned with <i>status</i>, especially the kind of status derived from being a keeper of secret knowledge. It's past time to call out the bullshitters. They only hurt Buddhism by continuing to peddle bullshit. The irony is that the truth of Buddhism is far more interesting than the bullshit; it's just much harder to leverage for status or wealth.</div><br /><div style="text-align: center;">~~oOo~~</div><br /><br />Frankfurt, Harry G. <a href="https://amzn.to/2PWPEzv"><i>On Bullshit.</i></a> Princeton University Press.<br /><br />For those concerned about the flood of bullshit there is an online University of Washington course <a href="https://callingbullshit.org/videos.html"><i>Calling Bullshit</i></a>.<br /><br />If you have a urge to learn some <i>real </i>physics (as opposed to the bullshit Buddhist physics) then see Leonard Susskind's lecture series <a href="http://theoreticalminimum.com/courses"><i>The Theoretical Minimum</i></a>. This aims to teach you only what you need to know to understand and even do physics (no extraneous mathematics or concepts). </div>Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-81573688255751289642018-09-28T09:03:00.000+01:002018-09-29T05:52:28.527+01:00Edward Conze: A Study in Contradiction<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><blockquote class="tr_bq" style="text-align: center;">I wrote this introduction to Edward Conze for my book on the <i>Heart Sutra</i>.&nbsp;</blockquote><br /><div style="text-align: justify;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Y9OhKz_a4F8/W6yMdMj2jII/AAAAAAAAH0w/jA_n7Adar0IzoJgRdihC0jHpX3tKKH0lwCLcBGAs/s1600/conze2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="379" data-original-width="267" height="200" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Y9OhKz_a4F8/W6yMdMj2jII/AAAAAAAAH0w/jA_n7Adar0IzoJgRdihC0jHpX3tKKH0lwCLcBGAs/s200/conze2.jpg" width="140" /></a></div>No introduction to the Prajñāpāramitā would be complete without some reference to the eccentric German scholar, Eberhart Julius Dietrich Conze (1904–1979), aka Dr Edward Conze. I think this is particularly important because his reputation is rather inflated. There is no doubt that he was a gifted linguist and a pioneer of studying the Prajñāpāramitā texts, but he was also a snob, a racist, and a misogynist. People who are in no position to judge still rave about what a great scholar he was, but much of his scholarship is tainted by poor attention to detail and infected his peculiar personal religion. Since I am in the business of revising the history of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>, I may as well put Dr Conze into some perspective as well.</div><div dir="ltr" trbidi="on"><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The key historical source for Conze’s life is his own <i>Memoires of a Modern Gnostic</i>&nbsp;(1979 I &amp; II), written at the behest of Jan Willem de Jong (see Wiles 2018). The <i>Memoires </i>were published in two parts, the first being more biographic, the second his impressions of politics, people, and places. Conze wrote a third part, in which he gave frank opinions of certain people and included comments from parts I and II considered libellous by his lawyer. Despite persistent rumours to the contrary, as far as I can tell Muriel Conze destroyed part III and no copies remain. Which is probably just as well judging by parts I and II. Some years ago I asked Sangharakshita about the rumour that he had a copy and he definitely does not.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Jan Nattier (2003) noted several principles for extracting historical information from normative texts such as Buddhist sutras, one of which was the <i>principle of embarrassment</i>. This states that if something is included in a text which reflects poorly on the author, then it is likely to be true, for few authors set out to darken their own reputations. A great deal of what Conze says of himself reflects poorly on him and social changes in the last 10-15 years have not improved the outlook. Indeed some admissions approved by his lawyer in 1979, would very likely see him arrested in 2018.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Conze is a difficult figure to pin down. His own mother apparently said of him, “He himself is nothing at all, just a bundle of contradictions” (Conze 1979: I 29), though elsewhere it is apparent that their relationship was difficult. Reading the <i>Memoires</i> we meet a man who has many of the prejudices we might expect of someone with his privileged background, but who is nevertheless an avowed Communist and denounces his own class. He hates warmongering but is constantly engaged in personal conflicts, and harbours animosities based on perceived weaknesses and faults in others. He declares his own genius, but is, for all that, a rather sloppy editor and translator (something he admits); he is an industrious worker, but a rather lazy intellectual. He can say things like “Ever since the radio was introduced in the early twenties, I have hated it with all my heart and all my soul” (I 103), then a few pages later casually mention something of importance that he heard on the radio (I 113). </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Conze was an intellectual who rejected science as a “bag of tricks” and instead embraced the anti-intellectual pursuits of astrology and mysticism. His “life-long acceptance of magic... has not been so much due to theoretical considerations as to the early acquired intuitive certainty that beyond, or behind, the veil of the deceptive sensory appearances, there lies a reality of magical, or occult, forces” (I 32).&nbsp; This classic matter-spirit dualism, to go with his elitist, social dualism, is key to understanding his exegesis of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>. Even though he appears to adopt a language of non-dualism: his realm of non-dualism lies beyond this one. His is very much a dualistic non-dualism, with a Platonic/Romantic distrust of his senses.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Above all, in writing this, I want to correct the bias with which Conze is presented to the public. The picture of the mega-star scholar toiling selflessly to bring the Dharma to the people is contradicted by his own account of himself. For one thing, he made it clear that he despised the common people. “Speaking of ‘hoi polloi’, it has always been a cornerstone of my beliefs that there are two qualitatively distinct kinds of people... ‘the Noble ones’ and ‘the foolish common people’... the elite and the canaille” (I 52). The word <i>canaille</i> literally means “a pack of dogs”. Of course, this kind of bigotry, along with overt racism, was instilled into people of his social background from an early age and it would have been remarkable if he had risen above it; though this does not excuse it or make it any more palatable. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">At times Conze seems to have something of a Messiah complex. For example, when he says, “From early times onwards it has been my conviction that I have come from a higher realm... and that I was sent to the Western barbarians so as to soften their hearts by teaching them the Holy Prajñāpāramitā" (I 55). And yet he had no tolerance at all for people he considered his social inferiors, let alone for "barbarians". A messiah who hated the people he had been sent to save.</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Early Life</b></div><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: right; margin-left: 1em; text-align: right;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><br /><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-f_HESECHOLg/W6n92JQ7o-I/AAAAAAAAHzY/hyRLYmvps10ksCk5vsbaOgfWnrHIFQXnACLcBGAs/s1600/ernst%2Band%2Badele%2Bclose.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" data-original-height="743" data-original-width="902" height="164" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-f_HESECHOLg/W6n92JQ7o-I/AAAAAAAAHzY/hyRLYmvps10ksCk5vsbaOgfWnrHIFQXnACLcBGAs/s200/ernst%2Band%2Badele%2Bclose.jpg" width="200" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: xx-small;">Adelle&nbsp;Köttgen &amp; Ernst Conze<br />Date unknown. <a href="https://www.ebay.de/itm/Koenigsteele-Wattenscheid-Ernst-Conze-Adele-geb-Koettgen-aus-Langenberg-KAB-/362439475202?oid=153108635734">Family photo from Ebay</a></span></td></tr></tbody></table><div style="text-align: justify;"><br />Edward Conze was, as he admits, a man of his class and age (1979 I iv). In other words, he was an early 20th Century, German bourgeoisie. The Conze family owned textile manufacturing plants in the small, but wealthy town of Langenberg, in Northern Germany near the Ruhr Valley (2016: xvii).&nbsp; His mother's family,&nbsp; the&nbsp; Köttgen's were also "textile barons" (Heine 2016: xvii). Conze describes the 1903 marriage of his parents, Dr Ernst Conze (1872–1935) and Adele Louise Charlotte&nbsp;Köttgen (1882–1962) as, "a marriage between two factories" (I 1).&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Ernst Conze studied law at Bonn University (gaining a doctorate) then joined the&nbsp;<i>Auswärtigen Amt</i> (Foreign Office), where he served in Berlin and Antwerp, before being posted to Britain as a Vice Consul. Eberhart was born in London, in 1904. However, the family soon returned to Langenberg where Ernst became a magistrate in Wipperfürth and Cologne. He became District Court Director in Düsseldorf, and from 1924 to 1934, he held the office of President of the <i>Reich Disciplinary Chamber</i>&nbsp;(<i><a href="http://www.unter-der-muren.de/kulturlexikon.pdf">Langenberger Kulturlexikon</a></i> 2009: 262). Adele was a painter of some talent, even exhibiting her work in 1930 (<i>Langenberger Kulturlexikon</i>&nbsp;2009: 875). In old age, Adele converted to Catholicism and moved to a monastery near Heidelberg.&nbsp;&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Eberhart's paternal grandfather, Gottfried Conze, was deeply involved in the monarchist politics of the German Empire under Wilhelm II and in "the Protestant Church" (Lutheran?). One of his great-grandfathers, Gustav Köttgen, was part of the nascent Communist movement in the mid-1800s. Frederick Engels came from the same region and a similar background and Conze claimed some familial relation to him (though it is not clear how they were related).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">His parent’s marriage was unhappy and he did not have a good relationship with his mother (I 4). He notes that she had great potential but was forced into the life of a small-town <i>hausfrau</i> with no prospect of escape. She was bored and bitter and since young Eberhart leaned towards his father, she included him in the enmity she felt for Ernst Conze. His younger brother, Wolf (b. 1906), however, was the object of her affections. This seems to have affected Conze's relations with women generally.&nbsp;Accused of grooming a young woman in one of his classes he complains that it is ridiculous because she is blond and he does not even like blonds but prefers women who look like his mother.<br /><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Despite the nationality of his parents, being born in London entitled Conze to British Citizenship. Both his parents were Anglophiles as well as Anglophones. When he visited England in 1924 he renewed his citizenship and thus, when he fell afoul of the Nazis, he was able to escape to Britain.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Conze's attitude toward the <i>National Socialist Workers Party </i>or "the Nazis" is instructive. Fundamentally, Conze resented authority, but more so when he perceived power to be wielded by people he considered socially or intellectually inferior to himself.&nbsp; He described Hitler as someone literally possessed by demonic forces but he also says that Hitler "illustrates the danger of allowing the lower middle classes to exercise power" (I 9). Hitler was not one of the social elite and thus lacked the upbringing and education to fit him for leadership (I 11). Indeed, it is likely that the mocking epithet "Nazi" reflects the same social prejudice, since it was a German shortening of Ignatius. The German bourgeoisie of that time would often tell jokes in which the butt was a Bavarian peasant named Nazi (Forsyth 112-3).&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Conze claims to have hated the Nazis, though he shared some of their views on race and democracy. He was deeply prejudiced against Africans and people of Africa heritage; e.g., “In due course [Notting Hill Gate] was finished off by the blacks, who slowly moved down from Paddington Station” (I 64). He writes about being "driven out of Notting Hill by the blacks” (I 102), but also notes, “My further comments on the negrification [sic] of Notting Hill Gate manifestly contravene the <i>Race Relations Act </i>of June 1977. They are therefore removed to Part III” (I 65). Dr Conze's bowdlerised remarks passed in 1979 but would be considered hate speech now.&nbsp;Even when he writes positively of Jewish people, he cannot help but use racial labels in essentialist ways. That someone is "a Jew" or "Jewess", for example, is always made clear, whereas he does not insist on referring to, say, Tucci, as "Italian" or de Jong as "Dutch".&nbsp;It is a curious fact that the mainstream were at the time, and are now, all too willing to overlook Conze’s overt racism.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Conze recounts that his first contact with Buddhism was aged thirteen when he read an account of Buddhism by Lafcadio Hearn (I 6). His interest in Buddhism continued through his university days. Shortly after gaining his PhD, he was introduced to Theosophy and astrology by Prof. Verweyen (I 9). Later on, he says that “the Conze family had always harboured a number of Theosophists though they were usually of the Rudolf Steiner persuasion.” (I 31) As a child, an aunt gave him a copy of Annie Besant’s translation and explanation of the <i>Bhagavadgītā</i>: “I was terribly excited by it” (I 31). In 1939 he also became a convert to astrology. He writes:</div><blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">“Astrology has set me inwardly free from the claims a technological society can make on my allegiance. It has convinced me that Science, its basic, ingredient, has little cognitive value, but is rather a bag of tricks invented by God-defying people to make life increasingly unbearable on Earth and finally to destroy it” (I 32). </div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">We should keep in mind that Conze was 10 when World War I broke out and 14 when it ended, through his teens and early 20s he must have been acutely aware of the impact of the war and the crushing burden of reparations. He lived through, though does not mention, Germany's brief period of hyperinflation. Combined with his background and what we know about his parents, we can imagine why Eberhart saw the world in apocalyptic terms. Another sign of the contradictions at work in Conze is that just four pages later in his <i>Memoires</i> he writes that:</div><blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">“In the [1935 book] ‘Scientific Method of Thinking’ I spelled this out for practical Englishmen by saying that mankind was doomed unless [it] could apply to the ordering of Society the same kind of Scientific Methods which had led to all these discoveries in the Natural Sciences and that dialectical materialism provided that method” (I 36).</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">The idea that dialectical materialism might be in any way related to the scientific method demonstrates that, like many anti-intellectuals, Conze is almost entirely innocent of any knowledge of the subject that he hated. In any case, astrology and Theosophy were to influence his views far more than science throughout his life and were only reinforced by his contact with the well-known Japanese Theosophist, D. T. Suzuki.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">As a young man, Conze had an intellectual infatuation with Communism. In 1932 he published his magnum opus, <i>The Principle of Contradiction</i>. The book is concerned with the philosophy of dialectical materialism rather than the practical or economic aspects of Marxism. Conze has said of the book, "In fact it contains all my later ideas without exception" (1975: ix). This is a telling statement. Conze already knew what he thought about everything before he approached Buddhist texts more seriously. Subsequently, his method was to look for and find confirmation of his views in those texts. Anyone who adopts this approach is bound to succeed.<br /><br />His anti-authoritarian attitudes led him to help organise political activities, particularly once the Nazis rose to prominence and then power. Conze' communist affiliations in Germany and Britain later caused his application to work in the USA to be declined. Curiously, for a Communist, Conze appears to have nothing good to say about the working classes. The best we can say is that working class people seem to avoid his direct gaze and disapprobation. Judging by the <i>Memoires</i>, the point of Communism was to bring down the ruling elite, destroy the modern world, and take us back to the pre-industrial society; it was not to hand the means of production to the workers. Speaking of his visit to Spain in 1936 he says "In rural Spain I caught a glimpse of pre-Industrial man and I realized how much we have lost." (I 19).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Despite apparently being a Marxist, Conze appears to have no sympathy for class struggle, let alone class warfare. He was unembarrassed about dividing society into the elite and the dogs, to call himself a member of the elite, and to suppose that the elite ought to be in charge. We can only imagine what Marx would have made of this bourgeois attitude. Conze's was more the intellectual communism of the unhappy rich boy trying to get back at the parents who did not love him, than the practical communism of an oppressed worker seeking a fairer world. But he does not see this. In a classic case of psychological projection, describing English communists, Conze writes: "Most came from Public Schools and harboured obscure resentments about their parents, headmasters and the [Officer Training Corp]." (I 21).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Most relevant to the history of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>, young Eberhart showed early promise as a linguist, claiming that by twenty-four, he knew fourteen languages (I 4). Heine (2016) suggests that these included German, English, Latin, Ancient Greek, French, Spanish, Russian, Norwegian, Sanskrit and Pāli. His family's wealth allowed him to pursue a university education in a desultory fashion, moving around half a dozen different universities until he found a teacher to his liking. He describes himself as "rebellious", but I suspect he simply felt superior to his teachers. Being unwilling to put up with anyone he judged inferior and having more or less unlimited funds, he simply moved on. Surprisingly, given his approach, he completed a PhD in philosophy at the University of Cologne in 1928 (aged twenty-four).&nbsp;His post-graduate studies saw him continue the pattern of moving around.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">He moved to Britain in 1933, largely to escape the Nazis. His stories about this vary. Early in the <i>Memoires</i>, he says he was warned by Nazis to flee in a rather bland encounter over the flying of a flag from his balcony, but later (I 40, n.1) he recalls being chased by the Gestapo and hiding from them in a mental hospital. There are many times in the <i>Memoires</i> where he seems unsure about whether to be humble or to brag and ends up humblebragging. In his introduction to the recent reprint of Conze's <i>Principle of Contradiction,&nbsp;</i>Holgar Heine (2016) suggests that, in fact, it was the public burning of most of the copies of the first German edition of this book by Nazis soon after it was published that led Conze to leave Germany.<br /><br />We can only presume that it was around this time that Eberhart became Edward because he does not say. Conze had a variety of jobs during and after the war, supporting himself by teaching evening classes in German, psychology, and philosophy. Later, some bequests made him financially independent. The one permanent academic position he was offered was in the USA and the government there saw him as an undesirable alien because of his past as a Communist and his unwillingness to cooperate with them on exposing other communists. He saw the immigration officials as inferior and thus toyed with them for his own amusement, but it backfired on him. For a time Conze continued to be interested in left-wing politics and he made connections in the British Labour party, particularly with Ellen Wilkinson. Together, the two wrote anti-fascist pamphlets and two short books.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">On fleeing Germany, Conze had married his partner, Dorothea Finkelstein, as much as anything to prevent her from being sent back to Germany and certain death because she was Jewish. This marriage of convenience (at least as far as Conze was concerned) did not last long; they separated soon after the war, briefly reconciled, but then Conze embarked on a series of affairs with his students that he took little or no trouble to hide. In the <i>Memoires</i>, he recounts, over several pages in small type, sexually assaulting a female student as though it were an amusing anecdote (II 116-118). On reflection he says:</div><blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">“I did not want a wife at all, but a servant who would look after me while I was doing my scholarly work. If it had not been for the servant shortage which set in after 1918, I would never have had any motive to marry at all” (I 31). </div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">Conze and Dorothea were eventually divorced in 1962. Conze had met Muriel Green, who was to become his second wife, some years earlier in 1948. The two lived together as a married couple and Muriel changed her name to Conze by deed poll. However, their marital status occasionally caused problems for him, as it was unusual, even scandalous, at the time. Conze credits Muriel with providing the material stability that enabled him to continue his work. He was apparently incapable of any domestic task. However, before he met Muriel, Conze went through a crisis.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">A visit to Spain in 1936 left him feeling disillusioned</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">"From the very start I saw clearly that a huge senseless tragedy was shaping itself, that many people (two million by the end) would be killed for nothing whatever and that few would gain anything from all this turmoil."</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">His comments on the situation in Spain led to a series of vituperous clashes with members of the British Labour Party, who were, to be fair, at that time under the influence of the Soviet Union. Conze says that he abandoned leftist politics at this point, but one imagines that he jumped before he was pushed. Already averse to many aspects of industrialised, "urban civilisation", Conze was now thoroughly disillusioned with the left, with modern democracy and secularism (I 26-7). Aged 35, he found that he was at an impasse. In short, he had a mid-life crisis. In his memoriam for Suzuki, he says:</div><blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">“My political faith had collapsed under the impact of Stalinism and of what I had observed in Spain, my marriage had failed, my job seemed distinctly bleak, I had even started to consult psychoanalysts, and there seemed nothing left that I could live for.” (Conze 1967)</div></blockquote><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Midlife Crisis</b></div><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: right; margin-left: 1em;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-hALJv8ieNBM/W6yMpOHTP0I/AAAAAAAAH00/m7JablF02X8N9bmZrgK-g7YTxxvIPr0nQCLcBGAs/s1600/conze%2Bsuzuki.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" data-original-height="333" data-original-width="333" height="200" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-hALJv8ieNBM/W6yMpOHTP0I/AAAAAAAAH00/m7JablF02X8N9bmZrgK-g7YTxxvIPr0nQCLcBGAs/s200/conze%2Bsuzuki.jpg" width="200" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Conze &amp; Suzuki</td></tr></tbody></table>It was at this point that Conze turned to religion, specifically to Buddhism. He credits this to his acquaintance with three men: D. T. Suzuki, Har Dayal, and Graham Howe. Of these three, Suzuki seems to have been the strongest influence. Zsebenyi (2004) suggests that it was reading Suzuki’s <i>Essays in Zen Buddhism</i> that helped Conze to see a way forward.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Suzuki’s wife, Beatrice Lane, was a major figure in the Theosophical world.&nbsp;While he retained his ties with Zen Buddhism, Suzuki frequently&nbsp;presents Zen in metaphysical terms borrowed from Theosophy. It seems to have been Suzuki who introduced the vocabulary of “the Absolute” and “the Transcendental” into Buddhism. Given Conze's existing preconceptions about the world, we can imagine how this mystical absolutism might have appealed to him. Indeed, it led to a radical change in lifestyle for a period.</div><blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">Under the impulse of D. T. Suzuki’s message I then withdrew into a private wood belonging to a Quaker friend of mine in the New Forest, and practised as much meditation as can be practised in this evil age. (1967)</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">This was the wood called Sandy Balls, located near Godshill Village, in the New Forest, Hampshire. The owner, Aubrey Westlake, warned him that the hut was unheated and none had dared to over-winter there, but Conze, determined to live an ascetic life, did so. He joined an irregular community of Tolstoyan Christian Communists, eccentrics, and gypsies. The local villagers apparently decided that Conze was a spy and reported him to the police. When this failed to produce the desired result, they tried to set fire to the wood. This was during WWII which Conze avoided serving in on medical grounds but also as a Buddhist conscientious objector.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Conze applied himself to meditation, probably using Buddhaghosa's <i>Visuddhimagga</i> as a guide. As a result, he says, that he “experienced a great elation of spirit” (I 45). Living an ascetic life left Conze with the symptoms of malnutrition, such as chronic diarrhoea and degeneration of the gums leading to the loss of all his teeth (I 47). His description suggests that he had scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency common amongst sailors before 1747 when James Lind described the efficacy of citrus fruit in preventing the disease. The combination of malnutrition, cold (“very cold indeed” I 46), sleep deprivation, and long periods of meditation probably contributed to the delusions he apparently experienced: “Unbidden, several psychic faculties came my way” (I 46). A great deal has been written about the effects this kind of punitive ascetic lifestyle can have on religious experiences. On top of this, Conze was already firmly convinced of a matter-spirit dualism that would have dominated how he interpreted any interesting experiences that he might have had. Such strong convictions can only be confirmed in the mind of the believer.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Conze does not say how long this period was, though it only takes about four weeks for the first symptoms of scurvy to appear. After an unspecified time, he was inclined to stop: “I also felt that I had gained as much insight as I could bear in my present body or realise in our present social circumstances” (I 47). No doubt the physical suffering caused by this lifestyle would have been difficult to bear; malnutrition causes extremely unpleasant symptoms. In the introduction to <i>Further Buddhist Studies,&nbsp;</i>he relates,<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">"Thereafter I decided to adopt an indirect approach and thus between 1946 and 1968 remained content to edit and expound the ancient Sanskrit texts of the <i>philosophia perennis</i>."</blockquote>Note here the reference (in Latin) to the idea of the <i>Perennial Philosophy</i>. This is the idea that all the worlds religions share a single metaphysical truth and all traditions aim to realise that truth. This view was popularised in Britain by Aldous Huxley and the Theosophists. Conze seems to have been a fervent believer in this view.<br /><br />At about the same time as the deterioration of his health due to malnutrition was making his retreat untenable, his first wife, Dorothea, asked him to move back in with her for the sake of their daughter. So he moved to Oxford and was assigned a job in the Ministry of Agriculture. This led him back into the world of academia. </div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Scholarship</b></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div>Living in Oxford, with an undemanding job, gave Conze time to study and access to research materials in the Bodleian Library and the India Institute. He took Sanskrit lessons from Prof Burrow and met F. W. Thomas, with whom he collaborated on a translation of a Sanskrit Jain text. Academic connections led to further literary ventures and, after 1945, to invitations to teach abroad, including in Germany. Summing up the factors that enabled him to become a Buddhist scholar he cites:</div><blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">“…unusual innate intellectual ability is only part of the story. I have also had the good fortune to be able to devote my entire life to continuous and almost unbroken studying and have kept up my one-man monastery through thick and thin” (I 51).</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">In fact, Conze lived with his wife, who he apparently saw as his servant, and this is hardly a "one-man monastery". He has already admitted that he eschewed meditation after the disaster of his retreat in the New Forest. Conze was no monk.<br /><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Lacking a permanent academic post, he made his living teaching evening classes in psychology and philosophy. He might have had a position in the USA, but his past as a Communist prevented him from ever being more than a temporary visitor in that country. And even then immigration officials and his attitude towards them made travel there difficult for him.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Conze produced some general books on Buddhism as well as editing and contributing to an anthology of Buddhist texts. This was at a time when books about Buddhism in English were still uncommon, and most of the books that did exist betrayed the misconceptions of the early European scholars. As such the books were well received and two, <i>Buddhist Scriptures</i> and are <i>Buddhism: Its Essence and Development</i>, are still in print (if only in cheap Indian editions). While Conze's work was an advance on what came before, his idiosyncratic take on Buddhism meant that he often simply substituted one set of misconceptions for another. This was partially corrected by the appearance of more genuine books about Buddhism, but Conze was so influential that his views altered the narratives of Buddhism in the West.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Despite his personal animus towards so many people -&nbsp;his wife referred to him as "the old man who hated everyone" -&nbsp;Conze had a number of productive collaborations, for example, with Jan de Jong, Giuseppe Tucci, I. B. Horner, and Lew Lancaster. For D. T. Suzuki he expressed “unlimited admiration, little short of idolatry” (I 78). However, D. T. Suzuki is also a problematic figure. McMahan singles Suzuki out as a Romantic Modernist:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">"In his discussion of humanity and nature, Suzuki takes Zen literature out of its social, ritual, and ethical contexts and reframes it in terms of a language of metaphysics derived from German Romantic idealism, English Romanticism, and American Transcendentalism" (McMahan 2008: 125).</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">John McRae has pointed out that Suzuki's approach is frequently <i>incomprehensible</i>. "[His] most cherished methodology seems to have been to describe some aspect of Zen as beyond ordinary explanation, then offer a suitably incomprehensible story or two by way of illustration" (McRae 2003: 74). Conze adopted a similar strategy in his exegesis of Prajñāpāramitā. As far as Conze was concerned, the literature pointed to a perennial Truth beyond the comprehension of most people. It is the scripture of a spiritual elite of which, again, he believes himself to be a member.<br /><br />Given his other comments, we can presume that Conze saw a confirmation of his own views in Suzuki's ravings about Prajñāpāramitā, especially in Suzuki's rejection of logic. I also think Conze realised that this was a field in which he would never be inferior to anyone because there was no competition at the time. With his typical German energy and industry, he could easily and quickly dominate the empty field of Prajñāpāramitā Studies and never have to answer to an inferior mind again. His obscurantist approach allowed him to exclude would-be critics simply by affirming contradictions like "A = Not A". How does one argue with a man who insists that logic and rationality play no part in the Truth? What's more, he could assert that as a <i>meditator</i>, he had special knowledge (I think few people realised the brief extent of his experiment with meditation or that the principal outcome was not insight, but scurvy and derangement). Conze was the tailor who made the Emperor's new clothes, according to a design by Suzuki. The crowds of scholars and Buddhists who knew no better simply went along with it (and largely still do).&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Conze set himself the task of translating all of the Prajñāpāramitā texts into English. In a number of cases, as with the <i>Heart Sutra</i>, this also involved editing the Sanskrit texts. Conze wrote a long essay outlining the extent and history of the Prajñāpāramitā literature (1960) and published a lexicon which was intended to be expanded into a dictionary of Prajñāpāramitā (1967b). These now circulate as pdf files and despite their many flaws have not yet been superseded.<br /><br />Surprisingly little subsequent work has been done in this field since Conze. At least some of this reluctance must be because Conze made the subject seem unattractive to rationally minded students of Buddhism. The very qualities that made him the king of Prajñāpāramitā may well have ensured that there was little interest in following his example.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I will make some specific comments on his approach to the <i>Heart Sutra</i> below, but can here cite comments by Harrison &amp; Watanabe about Conze's work on the <i>Vajracchedikā</i>. Rather than creating a critical edition, Conze takes an unsystematically eclectic approach to the text.&nbsp; It is based mainly on Müller's edition but occasionally he changed the wording, conflating the various manuscript sources arbitrarily. He does not list the differences between his witnesses exhaustively (2006).</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">"Nevertheless, most subsequent translations and studies have relied on Conze's edition, and philosophical questions have also been addressed on the less than solid foundation it provides. <i>Here lies a major problem</i>" (Harrison &amp; Watanabe 2006: 92; My emphasis).</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">In the notes on his translation of the Gilgit and Afghan manuscripts of <i>Vajracchedikā</i>, Harrison (2006) shows that the major problem involves the negations. Conze takes a metaphysical approach to these, whereas Harrison shows that they were probably intended as an epistemic observation: see my essay <i><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2013/11/the-use-of-negation-in-vajracchedika.html">The Use of Negation in Vajracchedikā</a></i>. Similar problems attend Conze's other translations. His work is unsystematic and directed toward confirming his idiosyncratic, Theosophy-inspired, anti-intellectual personal religion. As he admits:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">“I am constitutionally incapable of registering meaningless details correctly (that is the price of being an intuition type). Even when reading proofs I miss most of the misprints, because I automatically read, not what is there, but what <i>ought to be there</i>. In addition, both my interest and my training in grammar leave much to be desired…” (I 92)</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">Unfortunately, the details that Conze misses are not “meaningless” but have quite major implications for how we understand the text. In the case of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>, his mistakes garbled two passages. Curiously enough, so little scrutiny did his work receive&nbsp;that these mistakes went unnoticed for almost seventy years. Such was his mystique and the expectation of nonsense that he created. Note that reading what <i>ought to be there</i> is exactly the method that I ascribed to Conze above. I believe this unconscious bias operated on many levels. Conze pursued confirmation of his beliefs and found it.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Similarly, Conze’s translation of the&nbsp;<i>Large Sutra</i>&nbsp;is randomly eclectic. He does not rely on a single edition, but chops and changes, drawing first from this and then that source without any clear boundaries. He acknowledges that some will find this method “questionable” (1975: x) which is an understatement. On the other hand, almost none of the research agenda he sets out in his introduction has been followed up. Again, he did a lot of work himself, but only a handful of scholars continue his work. As he says, the translation [of the <i>Large Sutra</i>] is a continuation of his work on the&nbsp;<i>Abhisamayālaṅkāra</i>; a text “so elliptic and cryptic that a translation was considered impossible” (I 68-9). Now that we have a good edition (Kimura 2010) of the Nepalese manuscripts that he describes as “often unbelievably careless and corrupt” and a good facsimile edition of the Gilgit&nbsp;<i>Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikā</i>&nbsp;(Karashima et al 2016), we can judge Conze’s methods quite accurately. It is often difficult to match his text to the available Sanskrit texts because his primary orientation was to the&nbsp;<i>Abhisamayālaṅkāra</i>&nbsp;rather than the text itself. As we will see this results in a whole other layer of confusion as regards the <i>Heart Sutra</i>.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Such issues will seldom surface for the average reader since they mainly read translations by popular religious figures. These people often don't bother to learn Sanskrit but simply paraphrase Conze and offer a few etymologies of varying accuracy. On the whole, religious translators have been oblivious to problems in source texts and simply gloss over any difficult passages as though they make sense. However, if there are problems with the source text, the translation is unlikely to be better. Dealing with Conze’s translations reveals him to be one of the most quixotic and idiosyncratic of Buddhist translators. Indeed, Paul Griffiths (1981) singles Conze out as the foremost practitioner of “Buddhist Hybrid English”, in which a translation uses mainly English vocabulary but is presented with Sanskrit syntax. In Conze's case, the choice of vocabulary&nbsp;<span style="font-family: &quot;times ext roman&quot; , serif; font-size: 12pt; line-height: 115%;">often boggles the mind as well</span>. Harrison brings this out in the introduction to his translation of <i>Vajracchedikā</i>.</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">"I has been a long cherished ambition of mine to make a translation of a Mahāyāna sūtra in which nobody courses in anything, speaks thus, or produces a single thought... although we have thoughts, think them, entertain them, although thoughts arise and occur to us, we never 'produce' them. Linguistic oddities such as this are best avoided" (Harrison 2006: 136).</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">Although Harrison does not say so, <i>all</i> of these examples of linguistic oddities are drawn from Conze's oeuvre. Conze was a great mangler of the English language. With Conze, we must constantly be on the alert not just for awkward translations but also for <i>erroneous</i> translations. Conze frequently allows his metaphysical imagination to inform his translations – very many verbs seem to mean “exist” in his vocabulary when very few of them mean that in Sanskrit. Being concerned, as he is, most of the time, with absolute being, he tends to torture his translations so that they appear to share his obsession. It took me many years to realise that Conze had fundamentally misunderstood the Prajñāpāramitā.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In his chronology of Prajñāpāramitā, Conze lumped the <i>Vajracchedikā </i>and <i>Heart Sutra </i>together as a period of contraction in Prajñāpāramitā texts ca 400 CE. This idea cuts across the trend of all Mahāyāna texts to expand over time. We now know that the <i>Vajracchedikā</i> is likely very much earlier and in fact follows the usual trend of expanding as it goes. The <i>Heart Sutra,</i>&nbsp;by contrast, was composed in China as a&nbsp;抄經 <i>chāo jīng&nbsp;</i>or digest text, ca. 645-661 CE.&nbsp; The earliest Prajñāpāramitā text was probably the one that evolved into the <i>Aṣṭasāhasrikā</i>, although the <i>Vajracchedikā</i> is likely to have been another Prakrit text of a similar vintage from a different area (one with less easy access to the Silk Road). Unfortunately, Conze's chronology of Prajñāpāramitā is still in use.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">No scholar has since approached Mahāyāna Buddhism with quite the enthusiasm and industry of Conze. However, industry and enthusiasm in the absence of proper discipline or guiding principles simply run amok. The great shame is that so much of what he did needs to be done over but, at the same time, there seems to be little interest in Prajñāpāramitā in academia. Mysticism is not as sexy as it once was and the mainstream is focussed on the more rational aspects of Buddhism. A handful of scholars struggle away, year after year, to bring Prajñāpāramitā into the light, but the heavy burden of Conze makes that difficult.&nbsp;</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Heart Sutra</b></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div>Conze first published a translation of the Sanskrit <i>Heart Sutra</i> in the journal of the Buddhist Society, <i>The Middle Way</i> in 1946 (see 1948: 51). His Sanskrit edition appeared in the <i>Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society</i> in 1948. This was subsequently revised in 1967. The edition makes reference to Chinese texts and includes some quoted Chinese characters. Since Conze makes it clear in the <i>Memoires</i> that he did not speak or read Chinese, he ought to have credited the person who helped him with the Chinese. Between 1955 and 1957 Conze published a series of articles in <i>The Middle Way</i>. These were collated and published as <i>Buddhist Wisdom Books </i>(1958), which contained a translation of&nbsp;and commentary on the <i>Vajracchedikā</i> and a version of the Sanskrit text of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> along with a translation and commentary. A second edition appeared in 1975.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The Sanskrit edition of the <i>Heart Sutra </i>that Conze published contained a number of simple grammatical errors (Attwood 2015, 2018b). I'm sympathetic to Conze's inability to proofread as I suffer a similar affliction. However, I find readers will often pick up on mistakes I miss, and editors are usually very sharp-eyed when it comes to mistakes of mine (I'm very grateful to them for it). Where were Conze's readers and editors? And where were his critics for 70 years? Many scholars, some of the best in our field, looked at Conze's edition of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> and did not notice the obvious mistakes. I feel obliged to ask why not, but hesitant to supply answers because I fear there is no excuse.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Conze presented the <i>Heart Sutra</i> as a Mahāyāna version of the four noble truths (or “holy Truths” as he calls them), going to elaborate lengths to try to make make the case for this (1958: 90, 100-1). The idea is based on the commentary in the <i>Abhisamayālaṅkāra</i>. Apart from the fact that Conze’s arguments are not convincing, when we look at his translation of the <i>Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikā</i> organised with subject headings taken from the <i>Abhisamayālaṅkāra</i> (Conze 1975), it shows that the <i>Heart Sutra</i> does quote from the section labelled as expounding the noble truths (<i>āryasatyāṃ</i>). However, the passage begins with the last few lines of the paragraph that supposedly outlines the second truth (<i>samudaya</i>) and ends halfway through the section on the third truth (<i>nirodha</i>). The <i>Heart Sutra</i> includes nothing from the paragraphs on the first (<i>duḥkha</i>) or fourth (<i>marga</i>) truths. So, at best, the reference is partial. In reality, the author of the&nbsp;<i>Abhisamayālaṅkāra</i> strains our credulity, because even reading the full passage the connection with the noble truths is not apparent.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The text is shoehorned into the traditional categories, obscuring what it is actually talking about. Which tells us that that author of the&nbsp;<i>Abhisamayālaṅkāra </i>was not that interested in the text, but had their own agenda that the text was made to serve. And Conze does much the same thing. Interestingly, this is the most prominent feature of all the commentaries on the <i>Heart Sutra</i> since they first were recorded in the late 7th Century. Take this observation with the one about the unnoticed errors ,and we find a systematic picture of commentators telling us what the text means with almost no reference whatever to the text.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">To top it all, the <i>Heart Sutra </i>also appears to say that&nbsp;<i>there are no four noble truths</i>. Conze gets around the apparent contradiction by denying that "no" means "no". It cannot be an "ordinary negation", he says, “because it is used in a proposition of which one term, i.e., ‘emptiness’, is itself a self-contradictory unity of Yes and No.” (1958: 90) Unsurprisingly, Conze goes on to admit that this kind of rhetoric confused everyone who he had read his book before publication. Without any trace of irony, he refers to the effects of his self-contradictions as leaving his readers “dazed by so much splendour” (1958: 90). This might be an attempt at humour or it might be Conze's delusions, it's hard to tell at this remove.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Another curious feature of Conze's commentary is the elaborate attempt to relate the wording to Abhidharma texts. The Prajñāpāramitā texts are, if anything, resistant to Abhidharma ideas, for example, retaining the simpler early Buddhist schema of five <i>skandhas</i>, rather than indulging in the proliferations that accompanied the development of <i>dharma</i> theory. In fact, there is no reference in the <i>Heart Sutra</i> to words that positively connote the Abhidharma. It is simply a coincidence that they both employ common categories that predate the Abhidharma. There is good reason to think that the Prajñāpāramitā movement was quite conservative and preserving meditative and doctrinal traditions that were old by that time.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Conze’s contempt for ordinary people is evident throughout his commentary on the <i>Heart Sutra</i>. He says, for example, that:</div><blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">“This Sutra is not meant for the stupid, the emotional, or the uninformed. Other means will assure their salvation. Everything that is at all worth knowing is contained in the [<i>Heart Sutra</i>]. But it can be found there only if spiritual insight is married to intellectual ability, and coupled with a delighting in the use of the intellect.” (1958: 99). </div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">We already know that Conze sees himself as amongst the elect and has a touch of messianic delusion. The influence of Theosophy can be seen in many statements such as&nbsp;</div><blockquote class="tr_bq" style="text-align: justify;">“‘Emptiness’ is our word for the beyond, for transcendental reality… this is the mystical identity of opposites” (1958: 83). “[The bodhisatva] is able to bear the absolute aloneness of his solitary Spirit” (1958: 94)</blockquote><blockquote>“The series of negations… does not add up to nothingness, but points the way to a unique ultimate reality” (1958: 95)</blockquote><blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">“When viewed from the subject-side, the transcendental reality is known as ‘thought only’, because, one and simple, free from duality and multiplicity, it is without a separate object. This Thought, or Spirit, forms the very centre of our being” (1958: 96)</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">None of this has anything to do with Buddhism or Prajñāpāramitā, and most of these terms do not even have Sanskrit equivalents. When we read the Prajñāpāramitā sutras in Sanskrit or Chinese we find there are no spirits, no absolute being, no mystical identity, and no ultimate reality. Instead, we find a narrative based on the experience of cessation and the epistemological and/or soteriological consequences of the fact that experience may stop in meditation without the loss of consciousness. Conze looked for his perennial philosophy in Prajñāpāramitā and because he “read what ought to be there” he found it, even though it was not there.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">This is not the work of a great scholar. He was certainly a <i>busy </i>scholar and worked in a field largely neglected by others, but Conze has thoroughly misunderstood the <i>Heart Sutra </i>in particular and the Prajñāpāramitā in general.&nbsp;</div><br /><b></b><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b><b>Conclusion</b></b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">That Conze deserves a place in the history of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> is undisputed. However, he has been dead long enough that we can see his life and his contributions in perspective. Summing up his contribution, Eric Zsebenyi (2004) says, “Conze’s pioneering accomplishment is still hailed as a model of meticulous scholarship, and he ranks among the greatest and most prolific modern translators of the Buddhist tradition.”&nbsp; This may have been true at the time Conze died, but by the time I started regularly interacting with academics, it was not. No one I met while studying Sanskrit and attending conferences spoke highly of him as a translator or editor, though some do still acknowledge him as a “pioneer”. He was certainly prolific, but his work, like the man himself, was deeply flawed and full of contradictions. No one looks to him as a model scholar any longer. For myself, I have certainly had to spend a good deal of time and effort to understand and correct Conze’s many errors of translation and interpretation.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In perspective, Conze cuts a lonely figure. He believed himself to have been sent to soften the Hearts of barbarians, but this messiah could not love the people he was ostensibly sent to save. He characterises, Avalokiteśvara as "the Lord who looks down" (mistranslating the verb <i>ava√lok</i>) but, in fact, it is he who looks down on the world. And with disgust rather than compassion. Indeed, he could never wholly get along with another person. As he says, “Throughout my life I have been a stranger on this earth and never felt at home anywhere. Nor have I ever found anyone who was completely congenial or whom I could trust altogether” (54).<br /><br />A more tragic epitaph for a Buddhist Messiah can hardly be imagined. Conze was a classic outsider as described by Colin Wilson, his former neighbour in Notting Hill Gate, in his book, The Outsider. The man that supposedly sees the world too clearly and cannot make their peace with what they see.&nbsp;On the other hand, Conze also seems to have worked well with certain colleagues who shared his privileged social background. He adored Suzuki and names many other men his friends. The fact is that the <i>Memoires</i> is addressed directly to Jan de Jong.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Above all, Edward Conze was a bourgeois Romantic. He had the bourgeois sense of heroic and even messianic destiny and entitlement (which, in fact, he shared with the Nazis). He hated modernity and fantasised about an idealised pre-industrial past when the elite were truly elite and the peasants were illiterate and happy. He had the Romantic distrust of his senses and of intellect, logic, and rationality; preferring intuition, astrology, and mysticism. He was obsessed with perfection and transcendence and, at the same time, loudly contemptuous of imperfection and inferiority. And he saw “blacks” as inherently inferior (another attitude he shared with the Nazis). Put another way, while preaching non-duality, Conze had all the characteristic prejudices of someone who accepts a profound matter-spirit duality as described in my essay&nbsp;&nbsp;<i><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2013/04/metaphors-and-materialism.html">Metaphors and Materialism</a></i>).<br /><br />Whether Conze was contrary by nature or became that way through upbringing is a matter for speculation. We can imagine what changes his circumstances in life might have wrought on him, but we don't know and we mostly only have his word for it. The fact is, that he was a man marked by contradictions, in every aspect of his life. And yet, his reputation for greatness persists in Buddhist circles. Just as no one ever seems to really read the <i>Heart Sutra</i>, no one ever seems to really read what Conze wrote about himself. We might want to think about why the establishment have been so willing to overlook his faults, both confessed and apparent. Having read his <i>Memoires </i>in detail again, and having cleaned up the mess he made of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>, I find myself unwilling to participate in the beatification of Edward Conze.&nbsp;</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;">~~oOo~~</div><br /><strong>Bibliography</strong><br /><br />Conze, Edward.<br />—— 1946. ‘The Heart Sutra.’ <i>The Middle Way</i>, xx. 5, 105.<br /><div class="hang">—— 1958. <i>Buddhist Wisdom Books: The Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra</i>. George Allen &amp; Unwin. Second edition 1976.</div>—— 1967. 'In Memoriam Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki 1870-1966.'&nbsp;<i>The Eastern Buddhist</i>. II/1.<br />—— 1975. <i>Further Buddhist Studies: Selected Essays</i>. Oxford, Bruno Cassirer<br />—— 1979. <i>Memoires of a Modern Gnostic</i>. Parts I and II. Privately Published.<br /><br /><div class="hang">Forsyth, Mark. 2011. <i>The Etymologicon</i>. Icon Books.</div><br /><div class="hang">Harrison, Paul. (2006) 'Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā: A New English Translation of the Sanskrit Text Based on Two Manuscripts from Greater Gandhāra', in <i>Buddhist Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection </i>(Vol. III). Hermes Publishing, Oslo, p.133-159.</div><br /><div class="hang">Harrison, P. &amp; Watanabe, S. (2006) 'Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā.' in <i>Buddhist Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection </i>(Vol. III). Hermes Publishing, Oslo, p. 89-132.</div><br /><div class="hang">Heine, Holgar. 2016. 'Introduction' in <i>The Principle of Contradiction</i>. Lexington Books. First published in German as <i>Der Satz vom Widerspruch</i>. Hamburg, 1932. <i>Langenberger Kulturlexikon: Immaterielles Kulturerbe der UNESCO</i>. http://www.unter-der-muren.de/kulturlexikon.pdf</div><br /><div class="hang">McRae, John (2003), Seeing Through Zen. Encounter, Transformation, and Genealogy in Chinese Chan Buddhism, The University Press Group.</div><br /><div class="hang">McMahan, David (2008), <i>The Making of Buddhist Modernism</i>, Oxford: Oxford University Press</div><br /><div class="hang">Wiles, Royce. 2018. Correspondence Between JW de Jong and Edward Conze Concerning “Memoirs Of A Modern Gnostic” (1979).<i> Discovering de Jong</i>. https://blogs.canterbury.ac.nz/dejong/2018/09/03/correspondence-between-jw-de-jong-and-edward-conze-concerning-memoirs-of-a-modern-gnostic-1979/</div><br /><div class="hang">Zsebenyi, Eric. 2004. ‘The Perfection of Wisdom: Iconoclast, astrologist, communist sympathizer, and devoted practitioner, Edward Conze translated Buddhism for the West.’ <i>Tricycle Magazine</i>, Fall. 2004. https://tricycle.org/magazine/perfection-wisdom/</div><br /></div></div>Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-21076736230528183912018-08-17T07:57:00.000+01:002018-10-25T08:00:12.479+01:00The True History of the Heart Sutra. III<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: left; margin-right: 1em; text-align: left;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-CrFCm4uDrLM/W3KJFR04ywI/AAAAAAAAHPQ/hS9gnDPh_dEl6qZEdyhWi92Zw_-3z9dgACLcBGAs/s1600/Jion_Daishi.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" data-original-height="335" data-original-width="275" height="200" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-CrFCm4uDrLM/W3KJFR04ywI/AAAAAAAAHPQ/hS9gnDPh_dEl6qZEdyhWi92Zw_-3z9dgACLcBGAs/s200/Jion_Daishi.jpg" width="163" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jion_Daishi.jpg">Kuījī</a></td></tr></tbody></table><div style="text-align: justify;">In <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2018/08/the-true-history-of-heart-sutra-i.html">Part I</a> and <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2018/08/the-true-history-of-heart-sutra-ii.html">Part II</a> of this essay, I laid out a lot of evidence drawn from Chinese sources from the 4th to the 8th century. Most of the evidence is complicated in that it <i>can </i>be interpreted different ways. The received tradition has relied on presenting a partial picture and a single monolithic reading that sustains the status quo of the Buddhist establishment.<br /><br />Having an esoteric text that can only be understood by masters is a way to engage in what has recently been called "charismatic signalling". Masters display their mastery by commenting on the ineffable as embodied by the <i>Heart Sutra</i>.&nbsp;"Effing the ineffable" as David Chapman has memorably phrased it. The master signals that they have a shaman-like ability to cross the boundaries into the other world and bring back knowledge.<br /><br />The status quo was disrupted in 1992 by Jan Nattier when she proved that the <i>Heart Sutra&nbsp;</i>was composed in Chinese and the <i>Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya </i>was a translation from the Chinese. Nattier has made an inestimable contribution to Buddhism Studies. However, her discovery has been met with ambivalence and rather late, grudging acknowledgement from Western academics and open hostility from some Japanese (who are typically also clergymen).<br /><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Given the evidence of the bibliographers and early commentators, there are at least three different narratives that we must now consider: 1) the already discredited received tradition of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> in which Xuanzang translates a text he is given in Sichuan; 2) a version of events in which the <i>Xīnjīng </i>is identified with the <i>shénzhòu </i>texts and is an anonymous digest text; and 3) a version in which the <i>Xīnjīng</i> is a standalone digest text.<br /><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">The question of the Sanskrit text is secondary to this, since it is a translation of the <i>Xīnjīng</i>. My paper putting this beyond all doubt has been accepted by the <i>Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies </i>and will appear in November 2018. When we think about what was happening in China at the time and how Buddhist texts were being used, it becomes apparent that the Sanskrit text had a particular role in the history of the <i>Heart Sutra </i>and I will spell this out. <br /><br />We begin by reviewing the received tradition.<br /><br /></div><br /><b>The Received Tradition</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The received tradition is that the <i>Heart Sutra</i> was composed in the 3rd or 4th Century, in Sanskrit, in India, and transmitted via the usual routes to China. It may have been in China by 374 CE, but was definitely translated by Kumārajīva (<i>Damingzhoujing; </i>T250) in the early 5th Century and then by Xuanzang (<i>Xīnjīng</i>; T251) in 649 CE. This is complicated by the story of Xuanzang receiving the text in Sichuan from a sick man <i>before</i> travelling to India in 629. Was that text in Chinese or Sanskrit? Each option is problematic.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">But the problems go very deep with this narrative. Jan Nattier (1992) has already shown, on the basis of internal evidence, that the Sanskrit text is a translation of the Chinese rather than vice versa. Publications by Matthew Orsborn (writing as Huifeng 2014) and myself (2017, 2018 forthcoming) have confirmed this by showing that the translator at times misread the Chinese text and chose the wrong Sanskrit words and phrases, and that the Sanskrit text contains a number of Chinese idioms that cannot have come from an Indian, Sanskrit-using milieu.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Furthermore, in this three part essay, I have now shown that the Chinese bibliographies do not support this version of events either. Rather, they consistently see the text as having no translator and class it with other digest texts. The <i>Heart Sutra </i>perfectly fits the description of a digest text in that it cites a passage from Chapter 3 of the <i>Dajing </i>(T223) but also uses shorter pericopes from Chapters 19 and 33.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The received tradition is also historically problematic in the way it portrays Xuanzang in relation to Taizong, Gaozong, and Wu Zetian. The historical evidence frequently contradicts the received tradition and makes it seem highly implausible.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Clearly, this version of the history of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> does not stand even superficial scrutiny. It is surprising how little scrutiny it has received from scholars of Buddhism and how long it has survived as the official story. Many facts, such as the translation date, are cited uncritically even by scholars who should know better.</div><br /><br /><b>The <i>Shénzhòu </i>Identity</b><br /><div style="text-align: justify;"><br />In the second scenario, a digest text similar (or identical) to the <i>Damingzhoujing</i> was produced soon after Kumārajīva completed his <i>Dajing </i>translation (T223) in 404 CE, although there is no record of this until the <i>Kaiyuan Catalogue</i> of 730 CE. This text circulated, but was completely eclipsed by Xuanzang's translation when it appeared — <i>the first and only time </i>a translation by Xuanzang displaced one by Kumārajīva in the history of Chinese Buddhism. Though the <i>Damingzhoujing</i>&nbsp;exists, and is regarded as canonical, not a single commentary on it&nbsp;is preserved, nor is it mentioned in any other text until the 20th Century.<br /><br />This early version of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> went by a different name before the Tang Dynasty, i.e., (摩訶)般若波羅蜜神呪 <i>(Móhē)bōrěbōluómì-shénzhòu</i>. Even so, all the extant bibliographies up to the Tang recognise the text as lacking a translator, and most also class it as a digest text (抄經 chāojīng). As such the text was <i>always </i>recorded apart from authentic sutras.<br /><br />The problem with this scenario is that the <i>shénzhòu</i> texts appear in bibliographies stretching back to Dàoān's catalogue dated 374 CE, as recorded by Sēngyòu in 515 CE. The texts that we take to be the <i>Heart Sutra</i> date from before Kumārajīva's <i>Dajing </i>(T223); however, all the extant <i>Heart Sutra</i> texts cite it.<br /><br />If the <i>Xīnjīng </i>is, in fact, a continuation of the <i>shénzhòu</i> texts, then we have a fundamental contradiction and the scenario falls apart. If the <i>Xīnjīng </i>is not related to the&nbsp;<i>shénzhòu </i>texts then the&nbsp;<i>shénzhò </i>texts are irrelevant to the history of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>. Either way, this scenario is not viable.<br /><br /><br /><b><i> Xīnjīng </i>Standalone</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The final scenario is that the <i>shénzhòu</i> texts referred to in pre-Tang catalogues are not the <i>Heart Sutra. </i>The <i>shénzhòu </i>texts do, indeed, predate Kumārajīva's <i>Dajing</i>, but this is not problematic because they are not the <i>Heart Sutra</i>. Hundreds of digest texts (抄經) were produced in early medieval China. It would be more surprising if there were <i>not </i>more than one digest based on <i>Prajñāpāramitā </i>texts which were first translated in China in the 2nd and 3rd Centuries.<br /><br />In this scenario, the <i>Xīnjīng </i>is a completely new digest of Kumārajīva's&nbsp;<i>Dajing</i>, including a smattering of terms introduced by Xuanzang. As these terms were introduced by Xuanzang after his return from India, the <i>Xīnjīng </i>must have been created after 645 CE. Since the text is carved in stone in 661 CE, we have a maximum window of just 16 years in which it could have been redacted from Kumārajīva's <i>Dajing</i>. Given that it must have taken some time for the popularisation of these new translations, the window narrows towards the later date.<br /><br />The fly in the ointment is the <i>Damingzhoujing </i>which, by consensus, represents an earlier version by virtue of being closer to the original. However, it was clearly not redacted by Kumārajīva for the many reasons spelled out by Nattier (1992: 184-189). We can add that Kumārajīva was a foreigner and the elegance of his translations is almost entirely due to his working with talented Chinese assistants. The fact is that Kumārajīva is unlikely to have had sufficient command of written Chinese to make a digest sutra in that language, though some of his assistants may have. By the 7th Century, the manuscripts of the&nbsp;<i>Large Sutra</i>&nbsp;and commentary that Kumārajīva's translation group worked from in the 5th Century were unlikely to be extant. Hence the need to travel to India to get more manuscripts. As such, the date of the <i>Damingzhoujing</i> is in doubt. I will advance a new theory about this text below.<br /><br />Of these three narratives there is only one which is not immediately ruled out by the evidence from the bibliographies. In this view, the&nbsp;<i>Xīnjīng</i>&nbsp;is a relatively late, Chinese-language, digest sutra produced between 645 and 661.<br /><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /><b>The Chinese/Sanskrit Complex</b><br /><br />The <i>Xīnjīng </i>is easily recognised as a digest text if one is aware of the category and is scrutinising the text. I've shown how bibliographers from Sengyou (515 CE) onwards established the criteria for judging authenticity and consistently treated digest texts as inauthentic. Chief amongst the authenticity criteria were a connection to India and attribution to a named translator. This set the scene for making the <i>Xīnjīng</i>, a digest text, into a <i>bone fide </i>sutra.&nbsp;The transformation was achieved by attributing the "translation" of the text to the famous pilgrim and translator, Xuanzang. The first time we actually meet the <i>Xīnjīng,&nbsp;</i>in 661 CE, it is presented as a fully fledged sutra translated by him.<br /><br />Religieux and scholars alike have uncritically accepted the authenticity of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> based primarily on this association with Xuanzang.<br /><br />The rest of the information establishing the authenticity of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> dribbled out over quite a long period of time, but is also treated as authentic by scholars. After Xuanzang's death (664 CE), the sutra is officially ascribed to him by the bibliographer, Dàoxuān, in his <i>Nèidiǎn Catalogue</i> (664 CE). The story is elaborated twenty years later in the <i>Biography </i>(688 CE). It depicts a much closer bond to Taizong than seems plausible; and introduces important elements of the backstory such as receiving the text from a sick man and presenting Gaozong with a copy in 656 CE. There seems to be no reference to any of this in secular sources. However, note that all of these events take place during the time that Wu Zetian is either <i>de facto</i> or <i>de jure </i>ruler of China.<br /><br />Then, in 730, the <i>Kāiyuán Catalogue</i> adds the date of the translation. This date was not noted by either of the catalogues produced in 664, even though one of them was compiled specifically to include translations by Xuanzang. The <i>Kāiyuán Catalogue</i> also introduces us to the <i>Damingzhoujing</i> for the first time.<br /><br />The problem with relying on Xuanzang to legitimise the text is that his work is <i>very </i>well known. The fact that he does not mention the <i>Heart Sutra</i> or include it in with his <i>Prajñāpāramitā</i> translations is more significant than has been credited. To be credible, the attribution would require some sort of recognition from Xuanzang himself. Instead, he seems to be unaware of the text. The same goes for Kumārajīva and the <i>Damingzhoujing</i>. There are many reasons to be doubtful about these attributions, but the fact that two prolific authors themselves never mention a text they are supposed to have translated should ring alarm bells. Not including the <i>Heart Sutra</i> translation in T220 is effectively a denial by Xuanzang that he did translate it.<br /><br />We have also seen how the commentaries of Kuījī (ca 664-683) and Woncheuk (ca 664-696) played a role in legitimising the text by taking on its own terms. Kuījī appears to be writing sometime after the death of Xuanzang, since he quotes from T220, but makes no reference to a Sanskrit text. Woncheuk, writing at an unspecified period but possibly after Kuījī, <i>does </i>appear to have a Sanskrit text but does not translate it and does not treat it as wholly authoritative. Both men seem to be aware that they are commenting on a digest text extracted from the <i>Dajing</i>, though there remains some ambiguity to this. Since Kuījī was Xuanzang's successor, he would have had access to a Sanskrit text if one was available, hence it was probably produced <i>after </i>his commentary.<br /><br />When looking at the history of Buddhism we are frequently asked to believe that the assigning of an author or translator could be an act of humility or homage on the part of the true author. Ancient writers, we are told, credited their teacher, for example, or some other worthy person rather than take credit themselves. It was all quite innocent and "in that culture" they were not bothered by questions of authorship or copyright.<br /><br />The Chinese bibliographers show that at least some Chinese Buddhist monks did not think this way at all. They were very much concerned with authorship, authenticity and the accurate attribution of texts to authors and translators. They went to a lot of trouble to distinguish authentic translations from inauthentic, and codified different levels of authenticity. It was often the bibliographers who added attributions to anonymous texts based on their research. On the other hand, Robert Buswell has argued that, in the wider Chinese culture of the time, the concerns of the bibliographers were not always shared by other Buddhists. Texts identified by Bibliographers as fake, such as <i>The Awakening of Faith in the Mahāyāna </i>and the <i>Pseudo-Śūraṃgama Sūtra</i> remained in popular use (on the former see Lai 1975 and the latter see Benn 2009).<br /><br />Creating a Chinese language digest text for a Chinese audience would not have raised any eyebrows. It was a common practice, though going out of fashion by the beginning of the Tang (in 618) as genuine Buddhist texts began to flood into China. It is a stretch to accept the attempt to pass off a digest as an authentic sutra as quite so innocent. Some digest texts and outright fakes were passed off and were only identified much later, often after modern methods of scholarship emerged. I can find no other case where a Sanskrit text was produced for the purposes of legitimising a Chinese apocryphon.<br /><br />The Chinese&nbsp;<i>Xīnjīng&nbsp;</i>was already in a rather grey area when, late in the 7th Century, someone produced a Sanskrit translation of it and managed to convince the experts that it was an Indian "original" of which the <i>Xīnjīng is a translation by Xuanzang. </i>And this <i>before Xuanzang was even dead</i>. In an environment in which Buddhism was taught and practiced through the medium of Chinese (hence the importance of translations), and only a handful of people could read Sanskrit, the Sanskrit text served only one purpose; i.e., to make a text of doubtful authenticity seem completely authentic. This seems to go beyond what might be put down as humility or piety by the author. Someone set out to deceive us as to the origins of this text.<br /><br />Far from being an Indian original, the Sanskrit <i>Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya </i>is a deliberate and knowing <i>forgery</i>. The forgery succeeded spectacularly, producing what must be one of the longest running hoaxes in history. By the end of the 7th century the <i>Xīnjīng</i> was incorporated into the Chinese Canon as a translation of an authentic Sanskrit <i>sūtra</i> produced in India. By the eighth century it was joined by the <i>Damingzhoujing</i>, the Amoghavajra transliteration of the Sanskrit text (T256), and two more translations that were from the Sanskrit (T252, T253). More would follow along with the longer version of the text, which possibly was produced in India. The existence of the Sanskrit text blinded everyone to the true history of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>, including the Indian commentators.<br /><br />Not only is the true history of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> emerging for the first time, but some hard truths about the transmission of Buddhism are coming out also. The romantic ideal of disciples writing down the wise words of the master and transmitting high-fidelity copies of these to far off places is clearly bunk. When cultures assimilate Buddhism, they are not passive. They actively shape the form that Buddhism takes in their society. Buddhism is literally whatever Buddhists say it is.<br /><br /><br /><b>Who Forged the Hṛdaya?</b><br /><br />The Fengshan Stele, dated 661 CE,&nbsp;already attributes the "translation" of the&nbsp;<i>Xīnjīng</i>&nbsp;to Xuanzang. Thus we know that the plot was hatched during Xuanzang's lifetime, but it is very difficult to know what involvement he might have had. Certainly, had he been the translator (of the Sanskrit) we'd have expected him to do a better job of it and to own it. By 660 he was in failing health and he spent the last three years of his life in seclusion with a team translating the&nbsp;<i>Prajñāpāramitā&nbsp;</i>texts that he'd brought from India. Scholars will often reference Xuanzang's strong connection with <i>Prajñāpāramitā</i>, but, in fact, they were the last texts that he translated. His main concern was with texts directly related to Yogācāra.<br /><br />There is still a lot more painstaking, detailed, forensic examination of relevant material to be conducted and I can only hope that my amateur efforts will stimulate the professionals to come back and look again at the neglected&nbsp;<i>Heart Sutra</i>. We may never be able to establish who pulled off the initial hoax. At the moment, I think it is likely that the forger worked alone since no word of it ever leaked. They managed to deflect attention away from themselves - no one claims responsibility for "finding" the Sanskrit text, for example. The forger had to be a member of the small circle of Chinese monks educated in Sanskrit, but also someone with the authority to pass off a counterfeit manuscript without causing suspicion. The text had to have been <i>physically </i>forged as well and in such a way as other experts were not suspicious. Very few monks of the day would have dealt directly with Indian manuscripts.<br /><br />Perhaps 60 monks were part of Xuanzang's inner circle of translators and most of their names are lost. Woncheuk, Huili, and Dàoxuān were around at the time, but they seem to have alibis. One suspect stands out as having the means and the opportunity, i.e., Kuījī, Xuanzang's chief student and successor.<br /><br />However, it is not at all clear what the forger's motivation might have been. Obviously someone wanted us to believe that the <i>Heart Sutra</i> is authentic, but what is gained by this? What does anyone stand to gain by convincing people that the <i>Heart Sutra</i> was composed in India when there are any number of genuine Indian Buddhist texts available, in multiple translations. Identifying the underlying motive for the forgery will be an important step in the process of identifying the culprit.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br />This, then, is the true history of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>, or at least as close to it as I have been able to get. Lest it be seen as a wholesale denunciation of the text I will finish by suggesting some reasons that the <i>Heart Sutra</i> should continue to valued by Buddhists. </div><br /><br /><b>The Value of the Heart Sutra</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">When Jan Nattier suggested, with a good deal more politesse than I would have, that the <i>Heart Sutra</i> was a Chinese apocryphon, it caused a minor stir. A few Japanese scholars got angry and soon produced refutations that bring to mind the hysterical response of historians to Wu Zetian. Western Scholars mostly decided to stay out of it. Both Matthew Orsborn and Dan Lusthaus suggested that there might be minor flaws in Nattier's argument (I disagree, but have also suggested my own very minor corrections). That said, Orsborn, then writing as Huifeng (2014), was the first scholar to publish work which took on Nattier's approach and extended it. And by doing so he transformed our understanding of the text. When I appeared on the scene, in 2015 (having started working on the <i>Heart Sutra</i> in 2012), I began by showing that Edward Conze had made errors in editing, translating, and explaining the text. Over the next few years I also explored the evolution of the <i>Heart Sutra </i>and extended Nattier and Orsborn's work on understanding and translating the Chinese text. I've now written more than 40 essays on aspects of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>, and my 5th peer-reviewed article has just been accepted for publication (No.6 is almost finished, and no. 7 will be a formal write up of these notes). All going to plan, a book will follow. I am as qualified as any person, living or dead, to comment on this text.<br /><br />We now know that the received tradition of the history of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> is bunk. We also know that the standard mystical approaches to the text, the Theosophy inspired gnosticism, are very wide of the mark. Suzuki and Conze might have understood Zen, but they did not understand the <i>Heart Sutra</i> or the long-dead <i>Prajñāpāramitā </i>tradition.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Where does all this leave the text? When Orsborn showed that <i>aprāptitvād </i>"from a state of nonattainment" was, in fact, a mistranslation of a Chinese phrase and ought to have been&nbsp;<i>anupalambhayogena </i>"through the exercise of nonapprehension", he also noted that his discovery shifted the reading from the usual metaphysics and mysticism towards a more realist epistemology. In fact, his discovery is key to understanding the <i>Heart Sutra</i> as a <i>Prajñāpāramitā </i>text and to understanding the <i>Prajñāpāramitā</i> literature as a whole. I have also argued for such an approach, showing that we can read the <i>Heart Sutra</i> using Sue Hamilton's hermeneutic of experience (2017b). My colleague Satyadhana has highlighted connections with Pāli suttas and meditations in the formless spheres (<i>arūpa-āyatanā</i>). Although I have made small original contributions, my work on the <i>Heart Sutra</i> is largely corrective and synthesises the contributions of Nattier, Osborn, Satyadhana, and Hamilton. </div><br /><div style="float: right; margin: 10px 0px 10px 20px; padding: 10px; width: 150px;"><div style="text-align: justify;">“Mediation is not about having experiences, it is about bringing experience to an end.”&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;‒ <i>Satyapriya</i></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">“The Buddha presents a life extinction program, not a life improvement program”&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;‒ <a href="http://deconstructingyourself.com/podcast/dy-003-masters-oblivion-guest-kenneth-folk"><i>Kenneth Folk &amp; Michael Taft</i></a></div></div><div style="text-align: justify;">In this view the text does have magical elements, but it is primarily a perspective on a kind of Buddhist practice that involves withdrawing attention from sense experiences so that one does not apprehend (<i>upa√labh</i>) them. The practice of nonapprehension (<i>anupalambha-yoga</i>) of dharmas&nbsp;is central to the <i>Prajñāpāramitā.&nbsp;</i>Just such a practice of withdrawing attention from sense experience is outlined in the <i>Majjhima-Nikāya</i>&nbsp;(MN 121) and so this material is relevant for early Buddhism enthusiasts as well.<br /><br />By withdrawing attention from sense experience, using meditative techniques, we can bring sense experience to a halt without losing consciousness. In the ensuing state, the processes which give rise to experience (i.e., the <i>skandhas</i>) are not apprehended. Nor are the objects of the senses. This state feels like being in infinite space. If we also withdraw attention from cognitive experience, then we cease to apprehend thoughts and it feels like infinite consciousness. Through several more refinements that are more difficult to explain, one ends up in the state of emptiness in which there is only a kind of base awareness; one is conscious, but not of anything. Subject and object do not arise. Self does not arise. No dharmas arise<i> in this state</i>. And <i>this </i>is what the <i>Heart Sutra</i> is describing.<br /><br />That is to say, the <i>Heart Sutra</i> does not deny the existence of <i>dharmas</i>, but notes that in emptiness (<i>śūnyatāyām</i>) no <i>dharmas </i>register in the awareness of the practitioner. And we can say that having been <i>in that state</i> (<i>tathā-gata</i>) one's whole world is changed. The idea that the <i>Heart Sutra</i> is about <i>negation </i>or&nbsp;<i>&nbsp;non-existence </i>is simply wrong. Despite the fact that negation is at the heart of a lot of Mahāyāna rhetoric, it has nothing to do with the <i>anupalambha-yoga</i>. Far from being profound, the ontological reading of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> is facile. It ends in paradox, and no, that is not a good thing. Paradox in this case represents a level of unhelpful confusion that pervades Buddhist ideology. We have to set aside Nāgārajuna if we ever hope to understand <i>Prajñāpāramitā</i>, because he has disappeared down a metaphysical <i>cul de sac</i>.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The <i>Heart Sutra</i>&nbsp;epitomises the Buddhist project to extinguish sense experience and cognition, but it also reminds us of the credulity of religious Buddhists and the superficiality of most Buddhist philosophy. And this strongly suggests that what Buddhists believe is nowhere near as relevant to success with Buddhist practices as Buddhists say it is. Right-view is something that emerges from&nbsp; the experience of emptiness, it seems to make no contribution to having the experience. And in this sense, meditation is an equal opportunity practice: it requires no intellectual skill, no philosophy, no education, and no ability to think clearly. It only requires an ability to first direct attention and then withdraw attention.<br /><br />Fundamentally, Buddhism asks us to orient ourselves away from the <i>kamaloka</i>, to turn away from sense experience as a means to life satisfaction. The <i>Heart Sutra</i>&nbsp;draws mainly on a tradition of attempts to communicate from the <i>ārupaloka</i>. This is not some metaphysical absolute. It is not a <i>paramārtha-satya </i>or ultimate truth. Emptiness is not some alternative reality. It is experiential, though perhaps not in any way that someone intoxicated with sense experience can appreciate.<br /><br />In conclusion, then, the <i>Heart Sutra </i>is not what we were told it is, but it is exactly what we wish it to be. It is not an Indian, Sanskrit text. It is not a genuine sutra. It is a patchwork of pericopes, stitched together by a 7th Century Chinese monk. However, it does contain an accurate depiction of what we often call the farther shore, the cessation of sensory experience and cognitive experience that results in the radical reorganisation of our psyche away from self-centredness.<br /><br /></div><br /><div style="text-align: center;">~~oOo~~</div><br /><ol><li><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2018/08/the-true-history-of-heart-sutra-i.html">Part I</a> (03 August 2018). Bibliographies up to the Tang and early commentaries.</li><li><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2018/08/the-true-history-of-heart-sutra-ii.html">Part II</a> (10 August 2018). The historical background, Xuanzang, and the emergence of the Heart Sutra</li></ol><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Bibliography</b></div><br /><div class="hang">Attwood, Jayarava. (2017a). ‘Epithets of the Mantra’ in the Heart Sutra. <i>Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies</i>, 12, 26–57. http://jocbs.org/index.php/jocbs/article/view/155</div><br /><div class="hang">Attwood, Jayarava. (2017b). ‘Form is (Not) Emptiness: The Enigma at the Heart of the Heart Sutra.’ Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, 13, 52–80.</div><br /><div class="hang">Attwood, Jayarava. (2018 forthcoming). ‘The Buddhas of the Three Times and the Chinese Origins of the Heart Sutra.’ <i>Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies</i>, 15. [to be published Nov 2018]</div><br /><div class="hang">Benn, James A. (2008). 'Another Look at the Pseudo-Śūraṃgama sūtra'. <i>Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies</i>, 68(1), 57-89.</div><br /><div class="hang">Buswell, Robert E. (1990). 'Introduction: Prolegomenon to the Study of Buddhist Apocryphal Scriptures.' in Robert E. Buswell (ed). <i>Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha</i>. University of Hawai'i Press, p. 1-30.</div><br /><div class="hang">Eisenberg, Andrew. (2012). Emperor Gaozong, the Rise of Wu Zetian, and factional politics in the Early Tang. <i>Tang Studies</i> 30, 45-69.</div><br /><div class="hang">Hyun Choo, B. (2006) An English Translation of the <i>Banya paramilda simgyeong chan</i>: Wonch’uk’s Commentary on the Heart Sūtra (<i>Prajñāpāramitā-hṛdaya-sūtra</i>). <i>International Journal of Buddhist Thought &amp; Culture</i>. 6: 121-205.</div><br /><div class="hang">Jorgensen, John. (2002). 'Representing Wŏnch'ŭk: Meditations on Medieval East Asian Biographies' in <i>Religion and Biography in China and Tibet</i>, edited by Benjamin Penny. Routledge.</div><br /><div class="hang">Kyoko Tokuno. (1990). 'The Evaluation of Indigenous Scriptures in Chinese Buddhist Bibliographical Catalogues' in <i>Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha</i>, edited by Robert E Buswell. University of Hawai'i Press, 31-74.</div><br /><div class="hang">Lai, Whalen Wai-lun (1975). The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana (Ta-ch'eng ch'i-hsin lun): A study of the unfolding of the Sinitic Mahayana Motifs. PhD Thesis, Harvard University. http://www.acmuller.net/download/LaiWhalen_Awakening-of-Faith.pdf</div><br /><div class="hang">Nattier, Jan (1992). 'The Heart Sūtra: a Chinese apocryphal text?' <i>Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies</i>. 15 (2) 153-223.</div><br /><div class="hang">Satyadhana. (2014) The Shorter Discourse on Emptiness (Cūḷasuññatasutta, Majjhima-nikāya 121): translation and commentary. Western Buddhist Review. https://thebuddhistcentre.com/system/files/groups/files/satyadhana-formless_spheres.pdf</div><br /><div class="hang">Sen, Tansen. (2003) <i>Buddhism, Diplomacy, and Trade. The Realignment of Sino-Indian Relations 600-1400</i>. Association for Asian Studies; University of Hawai'i Press.</div><br /><div class="hang">Storch, T. (2014). <i>The History of Chinese Buddhist Bibliography</i>. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press.</div><br /><div class="hang">Tanahashi, Kazuki. (2014). <i>The Heart Sutra: A Comprehensive Guide to the Classic of Mahayana Buddhism</i>. Shambala</div></div>Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-8185735768178844222018-08-10T10:14:00.000+01:002018-10-25T07:59:15.898+01:00The True History of the Heart Sutra. II<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: left; margin-right: 1em; text-align: left;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-kwQ4Q1ATiGQ/W2VK1eZDyBI/AAAAAAAAHI0/xGeIKNSJCGw7YpiM3zzBCpzOJWVmgBlBgCLcBGAs/s1600/A_Tang_Dynasty_Empress_Wu_Zetian.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" data-original-height="393" data-original-width="347" height="200" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-kwQ4Q1ATiGQ/W2VK1eZDyBI/AAAAAAAAHI0/xGeIKNSJCGw7YpiM3zzBCpzOJWVmgBlBgCLcBGAs/s200/A_Tang_Dynasty_Empress_Wu_Zetian.JPG" width="176" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: xx-small;">Wu Zetian</span></td></tr></tbody></table><div style="text-align: justify;">In <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2018/08/the-true-history-of-heart-sutra-i.html">Part I of this essay</a>, I introduced the early medieval Chinese bibliographers who made catalogues of Buddhist texts that were prescriptive and proscriptive; i.e., they tried to determine what was and was not an authentic text. I also introduced the idea of the <i>digest text </i>(抄經) and pointed out that the <i>Heart Sutra </i>is a prime example of such a digest. I then showed that the bibliographers also thought of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> as a digest rather than as an authentic sutra and that the earliest commentators also seemed to agree. However, I raised a question about identifying the <i>shénzhòu</i> texts as the <i>Heart Sutra</i>.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Now, in Part II, I introduce some background on the turbulent politics of the time in which the <i>Heart Sutra</i> emerged. I then look again at Xuanzang and the reliability of texts about him as historical sources. The two early commentaries of the <i>Heart Sutra, </i>by Kuījī and his colleague Woncheuk, both seem to understand that the <i>Heart Sutra</i> is a digest text. Finally, later Tang catalogues add to the myth of the Heart Sutra by supplying a translation date that is widely and uncritically cited by scholars, and other elements of backstory. The <i>Damingzhoujing </i>emerges for the first time. This sets us up for Part III which discusses the evidence presented and various ways of accounting for it. </div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><b><br /></b> <b>Some Notes on Tang History</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">When we read about the history of Xuanzang, we generally read all about him interacting with the second and third Tang Emperors, Taizong (太宗; r. 626–649) and Gaozong (高宗; r. 649–683). Even though she is a key player from about 650 onwards, most accounts tend to leave Wu Zetian (624–705) out of the picture. For example, Kazuaki Tanahashi's "Comprehensive guide" to the <i>Heart Sutra </i>(2014) provides many historical details but doesn't mention Wu Zetian at all. I'm grateful to <a href="http://huayanzang.blogspot.com/">Jeffrey Kotyk</a> for alerting me to this issue in some emails we've been exchanging on this subject.<br /><br />Wu Zetian is a difficult character to get a fix on because Chinese historians of her own time openly hated her. The men who wrote China's official histories were Confucian scholars who were appalled by the thought of a woman wielding power (over them). Under their pens, she becomes a kind of caricature of evil and her accomplishments are overlooked. And it only gets worse over time.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Wu Zetian (武則天) was born in 624 CE. Her mother was from the Yang (楊) clan and was thus related to the Sui Emperors.* This gave her the status to become, aged 14, a mid-ranked concubine of Emperor Taizong. When Taizong died in 650, tradition demanded that childless concubines be sent to a monastery to live out their lives. Aged 26, Wu Zetian was assigned to Ganye Temple (感業寺) in the capital, Changan. However, she appears to have cultivated a relationship with a younger son of Taizong. As fate would have it, this son ended up becoming crown prince and then Emperor Gaozong. Gaozong recalled Wu Zetian from the monastery and made her his concubine at a much higher rank. She reputedly had her rivals disposed of (horribly), but in any case, just a few years later in 655, aged 31, she became wife to Gaozong, and thus Empress Consort. She had two sons with Gaozong: Li Xián and Li Zhe.<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq"><span style="font-size: x-small;">* It is probably a coincidence that the man named in the colophon of the <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2018/06/the-earliest-dated-heart-sutra-revisited.html">Fangshan stele</a> is also a Yang.</span></blockquote>Andrew Eisenberg (amongst others) has argued that standard accounts of Wu Zetian's rise to Empress leave out a great deal. The early Tang court was riven by factionalism that began in the latter part of Taizong's reign and was inherited by his son, Gaozong. Out of the various factions, one emerged that was led by Zhangsun Wuji (長孫無忌), a kingmaker who had been instrumental in helping to put the Li family on the throne, thus founding the Tang Dynasty, in the first place. The Zhangsun faction seriously threatened the power of Gaozong, not by undermining his position as Emperor <em>per se</em>, but by taking control of the executive branches of government. Leveraging the Fang Yi'ai (房遺愛) affair, Zhangsun Wuji was able to instigate a major (violent) purge of Gaozong's supporters in 653 leaving him isolated. In this revision of history, the ascension of Wu Zetian to the throne is part of a move by Gaozong and his ally, General Li Ji, to counter the growing power of the Zhangsun faction. Indeed, Eisenberg argues that Wu Zetian's accession was the culminating manoeuvre of a bloody retaliatory purge of their leaders. Zhangsun Wuji, himself, survived until Gaozong had him executed along with his family in 659. Wu Zetian may have taken part in the violent factionalism on the side of Gaozong, but manipulation, manoeuvring and murdering were the norm at the time. Gaozong and his palace allies, particularly Li Ji, were far from passive in these matters.<br /><br />Buddhist histories tend to portray China as a rather pacific state at this time. They may recall the chaos that brought down the Sui (581–618), but they tend to buy into the myth of Tang as a golden age. In fact, the early Tang may have been glorious in its own way, but it began in rebellion and was marked by rebellions (Wu Zetian and Ang Lushan), and was effectively ended by the Huang Chao Rebellion (even if it took a while to die). The battle for control of the world's largest and richest Empire has slow periods but has been more or less constant for 3000 years.<br /><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">However she got there, Wu Zetian seems to have been ready to take advantage of her position. She became the <em>de facto</em> ruler of China from 660 onwards due to Gaozong's incapacitation by a series of strokes. Typically, some historians believe that he was poisoned by Wu Zetian. Gaozong recovered for a time, during which they shared power, but he suffered repeated bouts of illness, leaving Wu Zetian in effective control of the Empire. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">After Gaozong died in 683, Li Xián was proclaimed Emperor Zhōngzōng (中宗). However, Wu Zetian deposed him after just six weeks and installed his younger brother, Li Zhe, as Emperor Ruizong (睿宗 r. 684–689), though Wu Zetian continued to rule as Empress Dowager and Regent. This resulted in a major rebellion that was put down at great cost. Then, in 690, Wu Zetian declared herself Emperor <i>de jure</i>. Since she was not of the Li family, she could not technically carry on their Dynasty; she called her new dynasty Zhou, after the historic Zhou Dynasty (c. 1046–249 BC), in the time of Confucius and Laozi. She was eventually forced to yield the throne back to Li Xián in 705 and died shortly afterwards. A generous view of her might be that, although her rise to power was manipulative and violent, Wu Zetian was a good ruler. She ran the palace as a meritocracy and made reforms that benefited peasants and women. Printing was discovered and developed during her rule (a development that had a profound effect on Buddhism in China as texts became standardised, much cheaper, and widely distributed). </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">It is significant that, unlike Gaozong or Taizong, Wu Zetian was a Buddhist. She promoted Buddhism as the state religion ahead of Confucianism or Daoism. When she did take the throne, Buddhism provided the rationale for her mandate for being the first (and only) female Emperor. As Tansen Sen (2003) notes, Wu Zetian secured crucial support from Buddhist Clergy from 685–695. In 689, a leading Buddhist monk, Xue Huaiyi (said by her enemies to be her lover) organised the production of a commentary on a Buddhist text (T2879) to link Wu Zetian with prophecies about the return of Maitreya. Later, in 693, the translator Bodhiruci produced a version of the <i>Ratnamegha Sūtra </i>(T660) into which were interpolated passages prophesying a female Emperor in China.<br /><br />This is the political background against which the <i>Heart Sutra</i> emerged and Wu Zetian may well have been the most important political figure of the time. Buddhist histories tend to portray Taizong and Gaozong as having an interest in Buddhism, but really they were not interested. At this stage, Buddhism was still seen as a foreign religion. It was Wu Zetian who changed that. Which makes her one of the most significant women in the history of Buddhism. But the Buddhists establishment, from apparent self-interest, also got behind her, to the point of forging prophecies of her ascension. </div><br /><br /><b>Xuanzang</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Xuanzang (600?–664), the famous monk, pilgrim, and translator, is entangled in any discussion of the history of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>. Apart from his birth, the dates of Xuanzang are a matter of long-settled opinion. He must have been born at or around the turn of the 7th Century. He became a Buddhist monk and, following the collapse of the Sui Dynasty in 618, he and his brother spent time in Sichuan (四川) Province. He then left China to visit India in 629 and returned in 645 (16 years). Shortly after his return, Taizong died and Gaozong took the imperial throne, though, as we have seen, his rule was soon dominated by Wu Zetian.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">As with the references to the catalogues, we need to look again at what we think we know about Xuanzang and the <i>Heart Sutra</i>. A key source is his travelogue, 《大唐西域記》 <i>Great Tang Records on the Western Region</i> (T2087), composed in 646, supposedly at the request of the Emperor Taizong. In this memoir of his travels, Xuanzang does not mention the <i>Heart Sutra</i>, though this is not surprising. Taizong was a rationalist emperor who wanted intelligence on his neighbours and their neighbours to help him understand his strategic position in the world.<br /><br />In the <i>Records</i>, Xuanzang does use the words 神呪 and 呪, a number of times. Both meaning "a chant or incantation" in a general way. They are not used with respect to a specific text. Chanting incantations was simply something Buddhists and Hindus did and they had this in common with Daoists.<br /><br />The most important source of information about Xuanzang is a hagiography by Huìlì (慧立 ) and Yàncóng (彥悰) known as 《大唐大慈恩寺三藏法師傳》 <i>Biography of the Dharma Master of the Great Ci'en Temple in the </i><i>Tang Dynasty</i><i> </i>(hereafter "the <i>Biography</i>") which dates from about 688 CE. The preface of the text, composed by Yàncóng, suggests that Huìlì produced a text of about 5 fascicles but lost confidence and hid it. After Huìlì's death, Yàncóng reworked the text, producing a final work of 10 fascicles. They can properly be said to be co-authors, though they seem to have worked on it the <i>Biography</i> different times. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;"><div style="text-align: left;"><div style="text-align: justify;">The first literary link between Xuanzang and the <i>Xīnjīng </i>occurs in the <i>Biography</i>. Chapter One briefly tells the story of Xuanzang receiving the <i>Xīnjīng </i>from a grateful man he had helped. The story is not told in context, i.e., not as part of the story about his move to <span style="text-align: left;">Sichuan (or </span>蜀 Shǔ as it was then called), but comes as an aside when Xuanzang gets lost in the desert and is assailed by demons. He supposedly recited the <i>Heart Sutra</i> to stay safe. The main part of the story goes like this. </div></div></div><blockquote class="tr_bq">初,法師在蜀,見一病人,身瘡臭穢,衣服破污,慜將向寺施與衣服飲食之直。病者慚愧,乃授法師此《經》,因常誦習。(T 50.224b.8-10) </blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">Once when the master in Sichuan saw a sick man, with foul-smelling body sores, dressed in dirty rags. Feeling benevolent he took that man directly to the temple and give him clothing, food, and drink. The sick man, being ashamed, taught the Master this sutra [i.e., the <i>Wisdom-Heart-Sutra</i>] and for this reason, he often recited and practised it. (T 50.224b.9-10).</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">Note that the sick man (病人) is described as 身瘡臭穢 literally "body sores stinking foul". This could well be a layperson's description of final-stage leprosy. The disease was well known and described in China at this time, though social attitudes to leprosy were ambivalent (Skinsnes &amp; Chang 1985).<br /><br />In the preceding paragraph of the <i>Biography</i>, "the text" 《經》 is called 《般若心經》 or <i>Wisdom-Heart-Sutra</i> which, as we have seen, does not come into use in Buddhist catalogues until 664, the year of Xuanzang's death, though his early life and travels occur in the pause between catalogues.<br /><br />In a later chapter, the biography purports to preserve letters sent by Xuanzang to Emperor Gaozong, in one of which (dated 656) he offers the emperor a gold-lettered <i>Prajñāpāramitā </i>text in one fascicle (which seems to be the <i>Xīnjīng</i>) to congratulate him and the Empress on the birth of a son (Li Xián). </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Many scholars uncritically take these references to be solid historical facts, though the biography seems to be unreliable as a historical document. For example, the biography describes Xuanzang crossing vast trackless deserts on his own with just a horse. Horses are not adapted to desert life the way camels are. Between them, a man and a horse travelling in the heat would require well in excess of 100 litres ( = 100 kg) of water per day. It is overwhelmingly likely that both would have died within a day or two of venturing unguided into the Gobi or Taklamakan deserts. The name of the Taklamakan is said to mean "place of no return" or "place of ruin". Stories about divine interventions don't hold water. Neither Xuanzang himself nor the <i>Biography</i> mentions Xuanzang as the translator of a Sanskrit text of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>. It is true that texts, especially the <i>Heart Sutra</i>, were occasionally engraved in Sanskrit, but only a handful of people in China could read Sanskrit at any given time. As far as popular Buddhism in China goes, it was all in Chinese translation.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br />If we think critically about the text we might ask, if the <i>Heart Sutra</i> is magic and can save Xuanzang from certain death, why was the leper not cured by magic as well? One answer is that helping a sick man is "virtue signalling"; i.e., a pious, but personally costly, display of virtue to help other Buddhists recognise Xuanzang as one of them (Bulbulia &amp; Schjoedt 2010: 35-6). And by "costly" here we mean not just the financial cost of the clothing and food, but the discomfort of spending time with someone who has stinking, suppurating, sores and the risk of being infected. Xuanzang needs to establish his saintly credentials, not in the relative safety of Sichuan, but now, in the desert where his life is in danger, where he could only have succeeded by a miracle.<br /><br />The broadly uncritical approach taken by readers of Xuanzang's biography suggests that this may also involve what Bulbulia &amp; Schjoedt call "charismatic signalling". In effect, it is our shared awe of Xuanzang that brings Buddhists together on a large scale. Displays of costly virtue (such as being a celibate monk) may not be enough when large-scale anonymous cooperation is required; therefore, religious groups direct attention to charismatic (i.e., highly persuasive) individuals, the purpose of historical saints to create a sense of continuity with the present charismatic individuals, often with saints being seen as conduits of the divine. Tang Dynasty Buddhists could not know, when they promoted him as a saint, that Xuanzang would chiefly be remembered as a caricature in a tawdry Ming Dynasty fantasy novel.<br /><br />A hagiography may well contain stories that are valued by religieux for their inspirational qualities. But when we are looking at them as historians, we have to be a lot more sceptical. Taking a hagiography on its own terms is very poor method. And yet many historians do take this information as historically accurate.<br /><br /><br /><b>Kuījī and Woncheuk</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Two other men important in Xuanzang's story have already been mentioned; i.e., Kuījī 窺基 (632–682), his Chinese student and his successor in the 唯識宗 or Mind-Only [Idealist] School of Yogācāra; and Woncheuk 圓測 (613-696) a Korean editor and translator who was assigned by Gaozong to assist Xuanzang. Both men could read Sanskrit, at least to some degree (there are debates on who knew how much, but this is another topic).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Woncheuk is very important to this story because, as Dan Lusthaus (2003) points out, Woncheuk seems to refer to "a Sanskrit text" when composing his commentary on the <i>Xīnjīng </i>(T1711).</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">或有本曰 「照見五蘊等皆空」 雖有兩本。後本為正。撿勘<span style="color: red;">梵本</span>有等言故後所說等準此應知。[punctuation added for clarity]</div></blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">There is another version of the text [或有本] which says "illuminatingly, he saw the five skandhas, and so on [等], are all empty." Although there are two versions of the text [有兩本], the latter text [後本] is correct. An examination of the Sanskrit text [<span style="color: red;">梵本</span>] shows that it has the word "and so on" [等]. Hence the "and so on" stated by the latter (text) should be understood to be the standard." (Adapted from Lusthaus 2003:83)</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">Lusthaus takes this putative Sanskrit text or Sanskrit <i>version</i> (<span style="color: red;">梵本</span>) to be the “original” but this assumes facts not-in-evidence and is contradicted by evidence from the catalogues. The trouble is that we <i>know </i>that the Sanskrit is a translation and source was Chinese. So even if Woncheuk had a Sanskrit text, we know it to be a translation from the Chinese. That Woncheuk appears not to know this is significant because it means he almost certainly wasn't the translator.<br /><br />A problem that Lusthaus does not discuss is that we know that there a number of divergences between extant Sanskrit and Chinese texts, and yet Woncheuk’s commentary only references this one minor difference (等, presumably Skt. <i>ādi</i>) and none of the major differences, such as the different number of verbs in the first sentence (see Attwood 2015). Furthermore, this minor difference is not found in any extant <i>Heart Sutra</i> text, but the line with 等 is found in both commentaries by Kuījī and Woncheuk; it is cited by another Tang Dynasty monk, Zhìzhōu 智周 (668-723) in his 《大乘入道次第》 <i>Introduction to the Mahāyāna Path</i> (T 45.459b.4); and it occurs in an otherwise unknown text found at Dunhuang (T2746). All we know from Woncheuk's commentary is that the Sanskrit text had some equivalent of the Chinese character 等 "etc" and that was the only difference Woncheuk deemed worthy of comment. This would be counted very peculiar, indeed, were the text really a Sanskrit "original".<br /><br />On the other hand, we have already noted in <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2018/08/the-true-history-of-heart-sutra-i.html">Part I</a> that Woncheuk saw the text as 簡 "selected, gleaned" from 諸般若 "various <i>Prajñā(pāramitā sūtras</i>)" (T 33.543.b.18). However, even this is less straightforward than it seems because Woncheuk gives the initial title of the sutra as 《佛說般若波羅蜜多心經》, with two additional characters—佛說—that mean "The Buddha Expounded". This title is not found elsewhere and on its own we would take to suggest that Woncheuk understands the text to be an authentic sutra. Since he appears to know that the text is a digest, we would seem to have to take this to mean that he understood the text to be quoting ideas expounded by the Buddha. In other words, that he saw Mahāyāna texts as Buddhavācana, which is not problematic, in the sense that it was a common view amongst Mahāyāna Buddhists.<br /><br />It's possible that by Sanskrit version (梵本) Woncheuk was not referring to a <i>Heart Sutra</i>, but to the <i>Dajing </i>from which it quotes. There is nothing in the commentary that excludes this possibility and it fits with the knowledge that he is commenting on a digest text. Woncheuk would probably not have had access to the manuscript used by Kumārajīva, but he certainly would have had access to the manuscripts used by Xuanzang.<br /><br />Woncheuk uses the phrase "Sanskrit word" (梵音) 8 times, explaining the meaning of 佛 (<i>buddha</i>), 般若 (<i>prajñā</i>), 奢利富 (<i>Śāriputra</i>), 涅槃 (<i>nirvāṇa</i>), 佛 again, in reference to transliterated <i>anuttarā-samyak-sambodhi</i>, 菩提 (<i>bodhi</i>), and with reference to the <i>dhāraṇī </i>being in Sanskrit. Woncheuk refers to Xuanzang as 大唐三藏 Great Tang Traipiṭaka or simply 三藏 Traipiṭaka. On four occasions he refers to Xuanzang's understanding of technical terms, but not in ways that suggest that Xuanzang was commenting on the <i>Heart Sutra, </i>per se. Note that Woncheuk's commentary has since been independently translated into English (Hyun Choo 2006).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">It is not that Woncheuk was afraid to disagree with Xuánzàng. As John Jorgensen (2002: 74-5) has shown, the two fell out over the interpretation of Dharmapāla’s interpretation of Yogācāra. Xuánzàng endorsed Dharmapāla but Woncheuk, with his greater knowledge of the history of Yogācāra, argued that Dharmapāla was in error. Later Chinese biographies looked down on Woncheuk as a result (and because he was foreign).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Kuījī's commentary (T1710) must have been composed after late 663. This is because when it refers to the <i>Dàjīng</i> (大經) it uses a phrase "菩薩摩訶薩行般若波羅蜜多時" that can only have come from the compendium of <i>Prajñāpāramitā </i>translations by Xuanzang (T220), completed toward the end of 663. He makes a number of references to the <i>Dàjīng</i>. However, he does not mention the character 譯 "translated", or the name 玄奘 Xuanzang, or the title 三藏法師. Kuījī does not mention a Sanskrit text.<br /><br />Keeping<span style="text-align: left;"> in mind that Kuījī and Woncheuk lived in the same milieu, it seems very unlikely that if a Sanskrit </span><i style="text-align: left;">Heart Sutra </i><span style="text-align: left;">existed when he was writing, Kuījī would not have known about it and had access to it. As Xuanzang's most talented and student, he was in the limelight, especially after Xuanzang died in early 664. The absence of evidence is not usually evidence of absence, but Kuījī's not mentioning a Sanskrit text suggests that it did not exist at that point.</span></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">We can provisionally conclude that when Kuījī composed his commentary, between 664 and 683, no Sanskrit text was available to him. However, the text was already attributed to Xuanzang in 661 on the Fangshan stele, which is difficult to reconcile with the other facts. Then, when Woncheuk composed his commentary before 696, there <i>was </i>a Sanskrit text, but he seems to have been ambivalent about it. His commentary is very much on the Chinese text.</div><br /><br /><b>The Heart Sutra in Later Chinese Bibliographies</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The myth-making surrounding the <i>Heart Sutra </i>did not end with the <i>Nèidiǎn Catalogue </i>or the <i>Biography</i>. Many sources uncritically cite the year 649 CE as the date that Xuanzang translated the <i>Xīnjīng</i>, even though we know that it was a digest text and even though we know that the Sanskrit text is actually a translation from Chinese.<br /><br />The first mention of the 649 Date is in the 《大唐開元釋教錄》 (T2154) <i>Catalogue of Śākyamuṇi’s Teachings of the Kaiyuan Era of the Great Tang Era</i> or simply the <i>Kāiyuán Catalogue</i>; compiled Zhìshēng in the year 730 (Nattier 1992: 174).</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">般若波羅蜜多心經一卷(見內典錄第二出與摩訶般若大明呪經等同本貞觀二十三年五月二十四日於終南山翠微宮譯沙門知仁筆受 (T55.555.c.3-4)</div></blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">The <i>Prajñāpāramitā-hṛdaya-sūtra </i>in one fascicle (See: the <i>Nèidiǎn Catalogue</i>, scroll 2 and the <i>Mahāprajñā(pāramitā)-mahāvidyā-sūtra</i>, etc. from the same source; Zhēnguàn Era 23, 5th Month, 24th Day [8 July 649]; translated at Cuìwēi Gōng, on Mount Zhōngnán, with monk Zhīrén as scribe). (Thanks to <a href="http://huayanzang.blogspot.com/">Jeffrey Kotyk</a> for help with elements of this translation). </div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">Note that Taizong was gravely ill in 649 and his deathbed was at his summer residence, Cuìwēi Palace (翠微宮). He died on 10 July 649; the news was delayed by a few days and Gaozong took the throne on 15 Jul 649. Taizong was notoriously rational and contemptuous of superstition and unlikely to have been interested in the <i>Heart Sutra</i>. The <i>Biography </i>portrays him as undergoing a deathbed conversion to Buddhism, but this seems highly unlikely. The <i>Biography </i>makes no mention of the "translation" of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>. It does, however, suggest that the Beilin Stele (erected 672 CE) was made around this time, so it is clearly mixing up the dates. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Even though the <i>Kāiyuán Catalogue</i> refers to the <i>Damingzhoujing</i> as being in the <i>Nèidiǎn Catalogue </i>we don't find it there. This is the first mention of the title, in full, the 《摩訶般若波羅蜜大明呪經》 or the <i>Mahāprajñāpāramitā-mahāvidyā-sūtra</i> (T250). In the <i>Damingzhoujing </i>there are no Xuanzang-isms; the main excerpt has some missing lines restored, and it is attributed to Kumārajīva. This has been taken by many (including me) to mean that the <i>Damingzhoujung </i>predates the Xīnjing. It is certainly closer to the <i>Dajing </i>in some respects. However, in the light of previous catalogues, we have to wonder whether the <i>Damingzhoujing </i>was deliberately created after the fact in order to fill out the backstory of the <i>Xīnjīng</i>. It is extremely unlikely that such a text would exist but evade every single bibliographer over two centuries. Of course, 神呪 <i>shénzhòu</i> and 明呪 <i>míngzhòu </i>can both represent Sanskrit <i>vidyā</i>, so it is possible that the <i>Damingzhoujing</i> has some relation with the 《摩訶般若波羅蜜神呪》 <i>Móhēbōrěbōluómì shénzhòu</i> of Sēngyòu's catalogue in 515. But without knowing the content of the texts we can only speculate.<br /><br />We must also note that Zhìshēng is generally quite dismissive of digest sutras (抄經). Of the hundreds that were noted in previous catalogues, he only lists 54. And they are lumped together with the fake sutras (偽經) (<span style="text-align: left;">Tokuno </span>1990: 58). He is also critical of texts falsely attributed to famous translators, and Kyoko <span style="text-align: left;">Tokuno </span>particularly draws attention to his criticism of the 《要行捨身經》 "Book of the Essential Practice of Self-Mortification", which he thinks is wrongly attributed to Xuanzang (1990: 56). This text is listed in the Taishō Canon as No. 2895, under the heading <i>Apocrypha found at Dunhuang</i>.<br /><br /><br /><b>Summary So far</b><br /><br />In <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2018/08/the-true-history-of-heart-sutra-i.html">Parts I</a> &amp; II of this essay I have laid out an array of information, much of which, at more than a millennium removed, must be treated with some caution. We have seen that the Chinese bibliographers and their catalogues of Buddhist texts are pivotal in the construction of the history of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>. In particular, I have, for the first time, noted the prescriptive and proscriptive nature of the catalogues and tried to determine how the <i>Heart Sutra</i> fit into the schemes that the bibliographers worked out. The <i>Heart Sutra </i>turns out to be one of hundreds of digest texts (抄經 <i>Chāojīng</i>)<i>.</i><br /><i><br /></i> We've seen that the politics of the day was far more complex than is typically represented in Buddhist texts. Xuanzang's close relationships with male emperors is exaggerated and his relationship with Wu Zetian is effaced. The <i>Biography </i>is an unreliable source that is all too often treated as reliable.<br /><br />A great deal rests on the identification of the <i>Heart Sutra </i>with the <i>shénzhòu </i>(神呪) texts found in the pre-Tang catalogues. Having looked at this issue I find the identification doubtful at best, precisely because the <i>shénzhòu </i>texts predate the <i>Dàjīng </i>text that the <i>Xīnjīng </i>quotes. As far as I can tell we have no information about the content of the <i>shénzhòu </i>texts other than their title and classification in a number of catalogues as being digests without a translator. We've also seen that the commentaries by Kuījī and Woncheuk add a whole layer of complexity to the story.<br /><br />The next step is to try to tie it all together, to try to see if I can make sense of it all. I think I can make sense of it, but traditionalists are not going to like how I do this. We may say that the <i>Xīnjīng </i>is an understandably pious effort to epitomise the <i>Prajñāpāramitā </i>tradition and perhaps to leverage this tradition in the form of a magic spell. I've previously commented on <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2013/11/the-act-of-truth-in-relation-to-heart.html">truth magic in relation to the <i>Prajñāpāramitā</i> tradition</a>, where I tied them to Ariel Glucklich's account of magic as concerned with the sense of interconnection. As I said:<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">The [Truth Act] <i>saccakiriyā </i>allows one individual who is <i>samyañc </i>(in tune) with respect to the nature of experience, to restore <i>samyañc </i>for another who is <i>mithyā </i>(at odds) with respect to the nature of experience.</blockquote>The <i>Xīnjīng </i>is understandable in Buddhist terms but the Sanskrit text is something else. In the context of early medieval China, it had to have been created to deceive people about the true history of the <i>Heart Sutra;</i> i.e., to hide when and where it was produced, as well as by whom, and for what reason it was produced. So part of the task in Part III is to see how much of the true history can be recovered.</div><br /><div style="text-align: center;">~~oOo~~</div><br /><ol><li><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2018/08/the-true-history-of-heart-sutra-i.html">Part I</a> (03 August 2018). Bibliographies up to the Tang and early commentaries.</li><li><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2018/08/the-true-history-of-heart-sutra-iii.html">Part III</a> (17 August 2018). Assessing the evidence, and outlining the true history of the Heart Sutra</li></ol><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Bibliography</b></div><br /><div class="hang">Attwood, Jayarava. (2015). Heart Murmurs: Some Problems with Conze’s <i>Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya</i>. <i>Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies</i>, 8, 28-48.</div><br /><div class="hang">Attwood, Jayarava. (2017a). ‘Epithets of the Mantra’ in the Heart Sutra. <i>Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies</i>, 12, 26–57. </div><br /><div class="hang">Attwood, Jayarava. (2017b). ‘Form is (Not) Emptiness: The Enigma at the Heart of the Heart Sutra.’ <i>Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies</i>, 13, 52–80.</div><br /><div class="hang">Bulbulia, Joseph and Schjoedt, Uffe. (2010). 'Religious Culture and Cooperative Prediction under Risk: Perspectives from Social Neuroscience' in <i>Religion, Economy, and Cooperation</i>, edited by I. Pyysiäinen. (Religion and Reason. 49). De Gruyter.</div><br /><div class="hang">Eisenberg, Andrew. (2012) Emperor Gaozong, the Rise of Wu Zetian, and factional politics in the Early Tang. <i>Tang Studies</i> 30, 45-69.</div><br /><div class="hang">Hyun Choo, B. (2006) An English Translation of the <i>Banya paramilda simgyeong chan</i>: Wonch’uk’s Commentary on the Heart Sūtra (<i>Prajñāpāramitā-hṛdaya-sūtra</i>). <i>International Journal of Buddhist Thought &amp; Culture</i>. 6: 121-205.</div><br /><div class="hang">Jorgensen, John. (2002). 'Representing Wŏnch'ŭk: Meditations on Medieval East Asian Biographies' in <i>Religion and Biography in China and Tibet</i>, edited by Benjamin Penny. Routledge.</div><br /><div class="hang">Tokuno, Kyoko. 1990. 'The Evaluation of Indigenous Scriptures in Chinese Buddhist Bibliographical Catalogues' in <i>Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha</i>, edited by Robert E Buswell. University of Hawaii Press, 31-74.</div><br /><div class="hang">Nattier, Jan (1992). 'The Heart Sūtra: a Chinese apocryphal text?' <i>Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies</i>. 15 (2) 153-223.</div><br /><div class="hang">Satyadhana. (2014) The Shorter Discourse on Emptiness (Cūḷasuññatasutta, Majjhima-nikāya 121): translation and commentary. Western Buddhist Review. https://thebuddhistcentre.com/system/files/groups/files/satyadhana-formless_spheres.pdf</div><br /><div class="hang">Sen, Tansen. (2003) <i>Buddhism, Diplomacy, and Trade. The Realignment of Sino-Indian Relations 600-1400</i>. Association for Asian Studies; University of Hawai'i Press.</div><br /><div class="hang">Skinsnes, O.K. and Chang, P.H. (1985) Understanding of leprosy in ancient China. <i>International journal of leprosy and other mycobacterial diseases</i>. 53(2), 289-307.</div><br /><div class="hang">Storch, T. (2014). <i>The History of Chinese Buddhist Bibliography</i>. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press.</div><br /><div class="hang">Tanahashi, Kazuki. (2014). <i>The Heart Sutra: A Comprehensive Guide to the Classic of Mahayana Buddhism</i>. Shambala</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div></div>Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-12801416628716501542018-08-03T10:12:00.000+01:002018-10-25T07:58:18.486+01:00The True History of the Heart Sutra. I<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-4PgV05Fq4lM/W1rm3vYatnI/AAAAAAAAHDU/Wg1BOhTYbW80gUQi25k9WMCpJzsTuFGQwCLcBGAs/s1600/DiwvlB7UwAASyfT.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="497" data-original-width="530" height="187" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-4PgV05Fq4lM/W1rm3vYatnI/AAAAAAAAHDU/Wg1BOhTYbW80gUQi25k9WMCpJzsTuFGQwCLcBGAs/s200/DiwvlB7UwAASyfT.jpg" width="200" /></a></div><div style="text-align: justify;">In this essay, the first of three instalments aimed at revising the history of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>, I will focus on the early medieval Chinese tradition of bibliography up to the Tang Dynasty. In particular, I will show that bibliographers saw what appears to be the <i>Heart Sutra</i> as one of a class of non-authentic texts known as a "digest texts". I note that the view of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> dramatically changed during the Tang. In <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2018/08/the-true-history-of-heart-sutra-ii.html">Part II</a>, I will make some salient points about the early history of the Tang. I will examine how early commentators saw the texts and how, slightly later, bibliographies contributed to the myth of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>. In <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2018/08/the-true-history-of-heart-sutra-iii.html">Part III</a>, I will assess the information presented in Parts I and <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2018/08/the-true-history-of-heart-sutra-ii.html">II</a>. I will sketch out three alternative scenarios and show that only one of them fits all of the facts. It will also argue that, despite the apparent fraud involved in its inception, the <i>Heart Sutra </i>still has value as an epitome of formless sphere (<i>arūpa-āyatana</i>) meditations and an epistemic approach to emptiness.<br /><br /><b>Chinese Buddhist Bibliographies</b><br /><br />Sēngyòu (僧祐 445–518) was the senior Buddhist monk in the Southern Liang Dynasty, during the reign of Emperor Wu (<span style="background-color: white; color: #222222; font-family: sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">梁</span>). In 515 CE, Sēngyòu completed his catalogue of scriptures held in the imperial library, entitled 《出三藏記集》<i>Chūsānzàng jìjí</i> <i>Collection of Records about the Production of the Tripiṭaka </i>(T2145). Unfortunately, Wu was not satisfied with it and immediately commissioned Sēngshào (僧紹) to make another one, which was completed in 518. Even this catalogue did not suffice, and another was produced by Bǎochàng (寳唱) in 521, which Emperor Wu adopted as the official catalogue of the dynasty.</div><div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">This said, it is Sēngyòu's catalogue, the <i>Chūsānzàng jìjí</i>, that was historically influential and survived down to the present. This was because of the way that he tackled a long-running problem for Chinese Buddhism. Buddhist Texts had been arriving in China since the 2nd century, sometimes in ones and twos and sometimes in larger batches. At first, they mostly arrived in the memories of Buddhist monks, with few written texts. The texts were not part of a systematic, organised collection like the Pāli Canon. Rather, they were a selection of <i>sūtra</i>, <i>vinaya</i>, <i>abhidharma</i>, <i>avadana</i>, and <i>dhāraṇī</i> texts, mixed with commentaries (<i>upadeśa</i>, <i>bhāṣya</i>) and treatises (<i>śāstra</i>). Many had no recorded translator and no information about their provenance.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The situation was complicated by two Chinese developments, which began very early on in the transmission of Buddhism. One was the production of <i>fake texts&nbsp;</i>(偽經). Some modern scholars prefer to hedge this term with faux neutrality: "indigenous productions", "apocryphal texts", etc. But the bibliographers thought of them as 偽 "fabricated, artificial; falsified, feigned, sham, counterfeit, forgery, deception" (Kroll 2015: 473).<br /><br />Some of the fakes were openly signed by the author, so presented less of the problem in terms of identifying and classifying them. Others were intended to be passed off as Chinese translations of an Indic source text. These were sometimes difficult to spot and several remain in the modern Canon. Dozens of such fakes were in circulation in China by the 6th Century. This was alarming on two levels. Firstly, they often mixed in elements of popular Chinese culture of the day, especially Daoist mysticism, and were perceived as diluting and/or corrupting Buddhism. Secondly, having fakes in circulation undermined the project to convert China to Buddhism. Buddhism was seen as a <i>foreign </i>religion and as such inferior to Daoism and, especially, Confucianism. If Buddhism was just bastardised Daoism, then they had no need of it.<br /><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">The second development was the 抄經 or <i>digest text</i>. According to Sēngyòu, “digests were produced by Chinese people who cut the existing translations into pieces and arranged them to their liking.” (Storch 2014: 64). 抄 has been translated several ways, i.e., "digest", "extract", and "condensed", but I like "digest" because of the easy allusion to the <i>Reader's Digest Condensed Books</i> (my grandfather was a subscriber). The 抄經 were the Reader's Digest of their day. We might also think of them as <i>mashups</i>. They served several purposes. For example, they often served as an overview or introduction to the main themes of a larger text, pulling out the essential points from long, abstruse texts that would have been daunting to read had they been well translated (and often the pioneering translations were problematic). Or they were a source of edifying sentiments. They might even be used for magical purposes, for warding-off ill-fortune or for securing a better rebirth.&nbsp; Sometimes the attraction was simply that they were <i>short</i>. However, digests or mashups could easily distort the message of the text or of Buddhism, so were distinguished from genuine texts.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">These digest texts were far more common than fake texts. Sēngyòu's catalogue lists 2,162 texts in total. Of these 20 or about 1% were counted as outright fakes. Of the anonymous texts, 450 were digest sutras. That's about 20% of all the Buddhist texts in circulation in 515 CE.<br /><br />Bibliographers undertook to deal with the problem of authenticity. They proposed criteria by which&nbsp; texts could be evaluated and categories reflecting different levels of confidence. Sēngyòu's catalogue was not merely descriptive, but also prescriptive and&nbsp;<i>proscriptive</i>. In her study of Sēngyòu's catalogue, Tanya Storch (2014) boils his fifteen categories down to five.</div><ol><li>Unquestionably authentic texts, with a title, a connection to India, and translated by a respected translator. </li><li>Other translations, especially later translations of the same texts</li><li>Anonymous translations</li><li>Digest texts</li><li>Suspicious or fake texts.</li></ol></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Sēngyòu's attitude towards the digest texts was tinged with hostility. They served a purpose, but many went too far and distorted the original (Storch 2014: 64). That said, Sēngyòu was generous by comparison with latter-day bibliographers, most of whom classed digest sutras as fakes.<br /><br />The first wholesale systematic translations of Buddhist texts were only completed in the late 4th to early 5th Centuries, by the Kuchan monk, Kumārajīva, and a large team of Chinese monks. This enabled more systematic study of the texts and fostered efforts to categorise them. Kyoko Tokuno (1990) points out that while all this high-level scholarship and categorisation work was going on, a digest which summarised the content of a long abstruse text was a valuable tool. However, once the Chinese Canon began to take shape, in the 6th and 7th Centuries, such digests could be dispensed with and, on the whole, they were. In 594 another Bibliographer, Fǎjīng 法經 (i.e., Dharmasūtra), complains that Sēngyòu was too lax in his treatment of digests. Rather than listing some digests with anonymous sutras, Fǎjīng and his colleagues shunted them all into a distinct category.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The point is that digests were common by the 6th Century, widely recognised for what they were, and treated differently than authentic sutras by Chinese bibliographers. And this demarcation became increasingly strict after Sēngyòu's time.</div><br /><br /><b>The Heart Sutra as Digest</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The Japanese scholar, Fukui Fumimasa (1987: cited in Nattier 1992: 175), was the first modern scholar to suggest that the <i>Heart Sutra</i> was not, in fact, a sutra. He argued that, in the titles of texts, the term 心 "heart" (Skt <i>hṛdaya</i>, <i>citta</i>) was interchangeable with terms for <i>dhāraṇī </i>such as 咒 and 陀羅尼; therefore, the title 心經 should be translated as <i>Dhāraṇī Scripture</i>. Jan Nattier found this argument "quite convincing". Although Nattier (1992) and Tanahashi (2014) both cite portions of Fukui's argument, the full version has only appeared in Japanese to date and I have not had a chance to assess his overall argument. <i>Dhāraṇī </i>is certainly a plausible reading. However, I think Nattier herself points to a better answer, although she doesn't adopt it. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">There are two parts to this. Nattier firstly points out that the <i>Heart Sutra </i>had long been thought of as an "extract" [i.e., digest] in China. Kuījī 窺基 (632–682) was a Chinese student of Xuanzang and his successor, Woncheuk 圓測 (613-696), was a noted translator and scholar in his own right who was assigned to assist Xuanzang. Both wrote commentaries on the Heart Sutra. In exploring their attitudes to the <i>Heart Sutra</i>, Nattier says:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">"In sum, the statements of both Kuījī and Woncheuk indicate that at least some Buddhists, already in the 7th Century CE, considered the Heart Sutra to be, not a separate sermon preached by the Buddha, but an extract made by certain "sages who transmitted the Dharma" from the Large Sutra of Kumārajīva" (1992: 207 n.33).</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">The wording used by Woncheuk is 簡 "selected, gleaned" from 諸般若 "various Prajñā(pāramitā sūtras)" (T 33.543.b.18). Kuījī talks about the <i>Heart Sutra </i>being "separately produced" (別出) (T 33.524.a. 8-9, 26-7). Kuījī seems to mean is that it is not part of the <i>prajñāpāramitā </i>collection (總). He is apparently referring to the <i>Mahāprajñāpāramitā-sūtra </i>T220, translated 660-663, by Xuanzang, et al. However, Alan Sponberg points out&nbsp;(in an unpublished translation referenced by Nattier) that he refers to the sutra being "produced" (出) rather than "preached by the Buddha." And <i>this </i>explains why it does not have the introduction or conclusion expected of a sutra. In other words, both Kuījī and Woncheuk did not think of the Heart Sutra as an authentic Indian sutra; they both saw it as a digest text.<br /><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Secondly, Nattier cites a private communication from Robert Buswell (1992: 210 n.48) who proposed to Nattier that the <i>Heart Sutra</i> might be an example of a <i>ch'ao-ching</i> or "condensed sūtra". Though Nattier's article does not supply the Chinese characters for the Wade-Giles romanisation, they are in fact 抄經, which I am translating as "digest sutra". In 1990, Buswell had edited a volume called <i>Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha</i> in which there was an article by Kyoko Tokuno on how Chinese bibliographers dealt with fake sutras and digests. The next section reviews this evidence, but we can already say that the <i>Heart Sutra </i>perfectly fits the description of a digest. It is composed of various extracts from the <i>Dajing </i>by Kumārajīva (T223). The <i>Dajing</i> is a long and abstruse text (its commentary more so), and in some ways, the <i>Xīnjīng </i>does epitomise the content of it. The redactor has altered the text a little to incorporate Avalokiteśvara which, though it has given some modern exegetes paroxysms, was probably unremarkable at the time: Guanshiyin was simply the best known and loved bodhisatva, why would he <i>not </i>appear?</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The <i>Heart Sutra</i> is a Chinese digest of the <i>Dajing.</i> It was one of hundreds of such texts that circulated in China, though with decreasing frequency as the mature canon emerged. Importantly, this was no secret as leading exegetes of the Tang Dynasty recognised it. And, as we shall see in the next section, this was how Chinese Bibliographers saw the text as well. </div><br /><br /><b>The Heart Sutra in Early Catalogues</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">One of the ways that writers have referenced the authenticity of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> is to mention that it occurs in various catalogues. However, these references inevitably treat the catalogues as homogeneous and descriptive. As we have seen, the bibliographers took an active approach: both prescriptive and proscriptive. Thus any reference to the catalogues should consider which <i>category </i>any given bibliographer puts the <i>Heart Sutra</i>. I will now do this (for the first time as far as I know). </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The first thing to consider are the so-called "lost translations". These were supposedly listed in the catalogue by Dàoān, 道安 in 374. Although this catalogue is itself lost, Sēngyòu reproduces much of it in his catalogue (T2145<span style="font-family: &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif; font-size: 12pt;">) completed in&nbsp;515 CE</span>. He listed two texts which <i>might</i> be versions of the <i>Heart Sutra </i>(T 55.31.b.10-11), these are</div><ul><li>摩訶般若波羅蜜神呪一卷 = <i>Móhēbōrěbōluómì shénzhòu</i> in one scroll. </li><li>般若波羅蜜神呪一卷(異本) = <i>Bōrěbōluómì shénzhòu</i> in one scroll (different version). </li></ul><div style="text-align: justify;">Sēngyòu's annotation, 異本 "different version", suggests that these are versions of the same text. Unfortunately, neither survives, so we have no idea of the content of either, just the titles. The two texts are not named as 經 "sutra" but <i>shénzhòu </i>(神呪), literally "divine spell", but perhaps meaning "incantation". The term might be interpreted at this point in history as <i>vidyā </i>(See Attwood 2017a).<br /><br />The two <i>shénzhòu</i> texts are listed under the heading: 失譯 "lost translator" (i.e., anonymous). As we have already seen, this meant that Sēngyòu was suspicious of them. Later catalogues attribute them to translators Zhīqiān (支謙) and Kumārajīva, respectively. However, as Nattier says these attributions "are clearly after the fact and can be easily discounted" (1992: 183).<br /><br />Nattier further suggests that the practice of using 般若波羅蜜 to transliterate <i>prajñāpāramitā</i> was introduced by Kumārajīva in 404 CE and so placing them in Dàoān's catalogue seems anachronistic. However, 般若波羅蜜 is used throughout T224, the earliest translation of the <i>Aṣṭasāhasrikā-prajñāpāramitā sūtra </i>by *Lokakṣema, ca. 179 CE, so it would not have been out of place in 374.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The reference point of Kumārajīva is still important because all of the extant <i>Heart Sutras</i> in Chinese are excerpts from his <i>Dajing</i>. This is beyond any doubt and thus any reference to the <i>Heart Sutra</i> before 404 CE, when that translation was completed, is problematic. Since&nbsp;Dàoān was writing in 374 CE we have a problem. Below, I will show that there are at least two different ways to resolve this problem.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In any case, what needs to be emphasised is that <i>if</i> the first references to the <i>Heart Sutra</i> are in this 515 catalogue, then they are listed in it as <i>having no translator</i>. Dàoān seems to only have listed texts he had to hand, so it seems very likely that the&nbsp;<i>shénzhòu </i>texts&nbsp;existed in 374 CE. What Sēngyòu was looking for in an authentic sutra (in 515 CE) was a definite connection to India, a famous translator, elegant expressions, and integral rather than digested content. What we have in the <i>Heart Sutra</i>, if it is the <i>Heart Sutra</i>, is an anonymous digest with no obvious connection to India.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The 《大隋眾經目錄》 or <i>Dà Suí Catalogue</i>&nbsp;(T2146) compiled in 594 by Fǎjīng also lists titles 《 摩訶般若波羅蜜神呪經》 and 《般若波羅蜜神呪經》 (T 55.123.b.22-3) under the heading of Mahāyāna texts "produced separately" (別生). As Tokuno notes, this category was invented by Fǎjīng to contain the digest sutras. He considered them inauthentic in the sense that they were mere digests of genuine texts, but not actually fake in the sense of original compositions. Note the similarity to Kuījī's term "separately produced" (別出): produced, not preached. In this catalogue, 197 sutras are listed as fake, so there has been a dramatic rise in the number of them. Another point here is that Fǎjīng has added the word 經 <i>sūtra</i> to the titles of the <i>shénzhòu</i> texts. Even so, we can say that Fǎjīng follows Sēngyòu in treating these titles as separate from authentic sutras.<br /><br />Note that&nbsp;Fǎjīng used the phrase&nbsp;神呪經 36 times and there are about the same number of 呪經's as well.<br /><br />The&nbsp; 《歷代三寳記》 <i>Records of the Three Treasuries Throughout Successive Dynasties</i>, compiled by Fèi Chángfáng (費長房&nbsp;) in 597 CE (T2034), is not listed with other catalogues in Taishō Vol. 55 but with histories in Vol. 49.&nbsp;Fèi Chángfáng's approach to digests and fakes was somewhat different to other bibliographers in that he lists texts in chronological order of when they were translated, and he treats very few texts as being inauthentic. He has come to be known for controversially attributing texts to translators without foundation (Tokuno&nbsp;1990: 44-45). His approach seems to have been to "minimize the number of scriptures of questionable pedigree" in order to "enhance the credibility of the textual basis of Buddhism" (Tokuno&nbsp;1990: 46). Fèi Chángfáng lists the 《般若波羅蜜神呪經》 with an annotation (T 49.55.c.1). Unfortunately, the annotation has many variations in different versions of the Canon. The Taishō editors opted for&nbsp;或無經字 "perhaps not a sutra". One variant is&nbsp;異本 "different source" while the Song (宋) edition combines these, i.e.,&nbsp; 異本或無經字 "different source or perhaps not a sutra". The title is listed under 譯經後漢 "Sutras translated after the Han Dynasty". Despite this and Fèi Chángfáng's tendency to see sutras as genuine, has his doubts about this one.<br /><br />When&nbsp;Fèi Chángfáng notes "different source" he may be thinking of his entry 《摩訶般若波羅蜜呪經》<i>*Mahāprajñāpāramitā-vidyā-sūtra</i> (T 49.58.b.9), listed under&nbsp;譯經魏吳 "Sutras Translated During Wei (魏) and Wu (吳). Along with Shu (蜀), these two kingdoms made up the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280). Fèi Chángfáng's annotation here is "See the Catalogue of Bǎochàng" which is unfortunately no longer extant, despite (as mentioned above) being selected by Emperor Wu of Liang as his official catalogue; the annotation continues "or just say&nbsp;般若波羅蜜呪經". In other words, he probably has neither text to hand and is unsure whether the two titles represent two distinct texts or variant titles for one text. It's not clear on what basis he has separated them when others have always listed them together.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The defect of the <i>Dà Suí Catalogue</i> was that did not differentiate between extant and non-extant texts, but preserved entries in previous catalogues even where no copy of the sutra could be found. Therefore, a new catalogue was commissioned by Sui Emperor Wen. A group of experts, led by the Yàncóng (彥琮), completed the highly influential 《內典文全集》 <i>Complete collection of Buddhist scriptures </i>(T2147) in 602 CE. Yàncóng was a skilled and systematic translator and an expert on <i>Prajñāpāramitā</i>. Yàncóng's catalogue<i> </i>again lists 《摩訶般若波羅蜜神呪經》 and 《般若波羅蜜神呪經》 (T 55.162.a.24-5) suggesting that they were extant texts in 602. They are placed under the heading 大乘別生 or <i>Mahāyāna Produced Separately, </i>i.e. digests of Mahāyāna sutras. And, again, they are kept separate from the authentic sutras. Although there are eight titles with the phrase 心經, none of them appears to be the <i>Heart Sutra</i>.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">If we accept that the <i>shénzhòu </i>texts are the <i>Heart Sutra</i>, then we must also note that pre-Tang Dynasty bibliographers were almost unanimous in treating the texts digests as anonymous and produced separately (i.e., digests). In other words, they did not understand these texts to be authentic sutras. The only exception is&nbsp;Fèi Chángfáng, and even he is doubtful. So, if we take this road, then we already have proof that the text was not an authentic sutra produced in India. We need not make special arguments about the Sanskrit text, except to say that there is no such tradition of making digests in India. The digest sutra is a distinctive feature of China.<br /><br />However, this still leaves the problem that all the extant <i>Heart Sutras</i> quote from the <i>Dajing </i>translation of 404 CE. I will not finally tackle this problem until Part III. At this point, I wish to complete my survey of the early catalogues. We have arrived at the Tang Dynasty and we see the sudden appearance of the title: 《摩訶般若波羅蜜心經》 <i>Mahāprajñāpāramitā-hṛdaya-sūtra, </i>aka the 《心經》 or <i>Xīnjīng.</i></div><br /><br /><b>The Heart Sutra in Tang Catalogues</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Whereas the Suí Emperors were enthusiastic about Buddhism, the early Tang Emperors, with the exception of Wu Zetian, were not. I'll say more about Wu Zetian in part II. The lack of enthusiasm for Buddhism is reflected in the fact that fewer catalogues of Buddhist scriptures were produced during three centuries of Tang than during the four decades of the Sui. However, the catalogues that were produced were highly influential in the formation and structuring of the Chinese Buddhist Canon and are important in the story of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>. The Tang Dynasty begins in 618 CE, but the first catalogue of Buddhist texts was not produced until ca. 627-650 and it was soon lost, so that nothing much is known about it.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">It is not until 664 that the, now famous, 《大唐內典錄》or <i>Catalogue of the Inner canon of the Great Tang, </i>aka <i>Nèidiǎn Catalogue, </i>is compiled by Dàoxuān (道宣). 664 is also the year that Xuanzang died and it is well into the period during which Wu Zetian was <i>de facto </i>Emperor. Another catalogue was hastily prepared after Xuanzang's death in 664 to incorporate his new translations (presumably his <i>Prajñāpāramitā </i>translations), but this was largely the same as Yàncóng's catalogue and is otherwise unremarkable.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">For the history of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>, the <i>Nèidiǎn Catalogue </i>is important because it is the first catalogue to use the now familiar title 《摩訶般若波羅蜜心經》*<i>Mahāprajñāpāramitā-hṛdaya-sutra</i> (<i>Xīnjīng</i>), and it is the first to attribute the text to Xuanzang. One of the first things we notice is that the titles 《摩訶般若波羅蜜神呪經》 and 《般若波羅蜜神呪經》 have disappeared from view. They were mentioned as digest sutras in the Yàncóng catalogue of 602, which excluded non-extant texts, so we presume they existed then. Now, they are not mentioned at all. Instead, we find the well known <i>Xīnjīng</i>. It is a subtle point, but note also that it is not the <i>Heart of Prajñāpāramitā</i>&nbsp;(i.e., not a general summary of Prajñāpāramitā) but the <i>Heart of the Mahāprajñāpāramitā(-sutra)</i>. As we have seen, Kuījī took this to be a reference to Xuanzang's massive anthology of Prajñāpāramitā texts, but this was also the title of Kumārajīva's Dajing translation (from which the <i>Heart Sutra</i> was extracted).&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The <i>Nèidiǎn Catalogue </i> is organised around ten divisions. We expect a digest sutra to be in Section 7: 歷代諸經支流陳化錄 "A record of scriptures throughout successive dynasties that appeared as a result of rearrangement through the process of independent circulation." (cf. Storch 2014: 133). But the text does not appear here. Instead, it occurs with the <i>bone fide</i> sutras in sections 1-4. Notably, section 3 is a list of texts to be included in a Buddhist Canon (having eliminated fakes, and so on) and section 4 lists "the most important scriptures". So this&nbsp;<i>Heart Sutra</i> is not only <i>authentic</i>, but has a high status amidst authentic sutras. Can this really be the same text? </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">We can now usefully return to the question of the identification of the <i>shénzhòu</i> texts as the <i>Heart Sutra</i>. Clearly the title (摩訶)般若波羅蜜神呪經 is not <i>Prajñāpāramitā-hṛdaya-sūtra </i>at all, but *<i>(Mahā-)Prajñāpāramitā-vidyā-sūtra </i>or, perhaps, <i>*(Mahā-)Prajñāpāramitā-dhāraṇī-sūtra. </i>Certainly there is some similarity, especially to the alternative Chinese <i>Heart Sutra</i>, the 《摩訶般若波羅蜜大明呪經》 or <i>Mahāprajñāpāramitā-mahāvidyā-sūtra</i>, where&nbsp;大明呪 = <i>mahāvidyā</i>. Elsewhere, I have argued that 神呪 and 明呪 are synonyms (Attwood 2017a). It is certainly possible that the name suddenly changed. Such things happened, especially in the <i>Prajñāpāramitā;</i> for example, the&nbsp;小經&nbsp; or <i>Xiǎojīng </i>had several different names, sometimes including <i>mahā </i>(大 or 摩訶):<br /><ul><li>《道行般若經》179 CE</li><li>《大明度經》225 CE</li><li>《摩訶般若鈔經》382 CE</li><li>《小品般若經》404 CE</li></ul>The difference here is that all these texts are extant and can study and compare them. I've done this, tracing passages like "the epithets" or "form is emptiness" from the <i>Heart Sutra </i>to each one, via the <i>Dàjīng</i>.&nbsp;The&nbsp;<i>Xiǎojīng&nbsp;</i>was always considered to be authentic and was plausibly attributed to known translators, even though it was thought by Chinese translators to be a redaction of the <i>Dàjīng </i>(they did not yet see the process of expansion that is obvious to us in retrospect).&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Somehow, in the years since 602, the digest has become a sutra, changed its name, and entered the Chinese Canon of authentic texts <i>with a bullet</i>. At least this is what most scholars of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> would have us believe. The trouble is that we can plainly see that the <i>Heart Sutra is a digest</i>. And we know that the Tang Dynasty commentators knew this and wrote about it.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">We also know that, whatever did happen, it had to have happened by 661 CE, because we have the Fangshan stele, which records 三藏法師玄奘奉 詔譯 "Translated by Traipiṭaka Dharma-master Xuanzang, by imperial decree." (see <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2018/06/the-earliest-dated-heart-sutra-revisited.html"><i>The Earliest Dated Heart Sutra Revisited</i></a>, 22 June 2018), and this after he went into seclusion to finally translate the <i>Prajñāpāramitā </i>texts he'd brought with him, that had sat unlooked at for 15 years while he focussed on his priorities.<br /><br />One&nbsp;alternative story would be that sometime after 602, but before 661, a brand new digest was redacted from Kumārajīva's&nbsp;<i>Dajing,&nbsp;</i>but including some minor modifications reflecting translation conventions introduced by Xuanzang (the most celebrated translator of the day).&nbsp;This new text was passed off as a translation by Xuanzang. While this story is still quite implausible at face value, it has the advantage of not being at odds with all the known facts and the opinions of ancient scholars who, on the whole, seemed to know their business quite well.</div><br />So the question now is, what happened in those 59 years? I will begin to try to answer this question in the next installment by looking at the historical context.<br /><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;">~~oOo~~</div><br /><ol><li><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2018/08/the-true-history-of-heart-sutra-ii.html">Part II</a> (10 August 2018). The historical background, Xuanzang, and the emergence of the Heart Sutra</li><li><a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2018/08/the-true-history-of-heart-sutra-iii.html">Part III</a> (17 August 2018). Assessing the evidence, and outlining the true history of the Heart Sutra</li></ol><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Bibliography</b></div><br /><div class="hang">Attwood, Jayarava. (2017a). ‘Epithets of the Mantra’ in the Heart Sutra. <i>Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies</i>, 12, 26–57. http://jocbs.org/index.php/jocbs/article/view/155</div><br /><div class="hang">Attwood, Jayarava. (2017b). ‘Form is (Not) Emptiness: The Enigma at the Heart of the Heart Sutra.’ Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, 13, 52–80.</div><br /><div class="hang">Eisenberg, Andrew. (2012) Emperor Gaozong, the Rise of Wu Zetian, and factional politics in the Early Tang. <i>Tang Studies</i> 30, 45-69.</div><br /><div class="hang">Hyun Choo, B. (2006) An English Translation of the <i>Banya paramilda simgyeong chan</i>: Wonch’uk’s Commentary on the Heart Sūtra (<i>Prajñāpāramitā-hṛdaya-sūtra</i>). <i>International Journal of Buddhist Thought &amp; Culture</i>. 6: 121-205.</div><br /><div class="hang">Jorgensen, John. (2002). 'Representing Wŏnch'ŭk: Meditations on Medieval East Asian Biographies' in <i>Religion and Biography in China and Tibet</i>, edited by Benjamin Penny. Routledge.</div><br /><div class="hang">Nattier, Jan (1992). 'The Heart Sūtra: a Chinese apocryphal text?' <i>Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies</i>. 15 (2) 153-223.</div><br /><div class="hang">Satyadhana. (2014) 'The Shorter Discourse on Emptiness (<i>Cūḷasuññatasutta, Majjhima-nikāya </i>121): translation and commentary.'&nbsp;<i><a href="https://thebuddhistcentre.com/system/files/groups/files/satyadhana-formless_spheres.pdf">Western Buddhist Review</a>, 6, </i>78-104&nbsp;.</div><br /><div class="hang">Sen, Tansen. (2003) <i>Buddhism, Diplomacy, and Trade. The Realignment of Sino-Indian Relations 600-1400</i>. Association for Asian Studies; University of Hawai'i Press.</div><br /><div class="hang">Storch, T. (2014). <i>The History of Chinese Buddhist Bibliography</i>. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press.</div><br /><div class="hang">Tanahashi, Kazuki. (2014). <i>The Heart Sutra: A Comprehensive Guide to the Classic of Mahayana Buddhism</i>. Shambala</div><br /><div class="hang">Tokuno, Kyoko. 1990. 'The Evaluation of Indigenous Scriptures in Chinese Buddhist Bibliographical Catalogues' in <i>Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha</i>, edited by Robert E Buswell. University of Hawaii Press, 31-74.</div><br /></div>Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-56544280293303700302018-07-27T10:23:00.000+01:002018-08-10T15:06:10.071+01:00Is Karma Inconceivable? You'd Better Hope Not. <div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div style="text-align: justify;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_sWGYTTAL1U/W1rcqFmA5AI/AAAAAAAAHDI/HOvW2hTo4m8kHr-ZQCNNQF1jgmX-UeCVQCLcBGAs/s1600/how-i-got-that-body-johnny-rotten-01.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1065" data-original-width="800" height="200" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_sWGYTTAL1U/W1rcqFmA5AI/AAAAAAAAHDI/HOvW2hTo4m8kHr-ZQCNNQF1jgmX-UeCVQCLcBGAs/s200/how-i-got-that-body-johnny-rotten-01.jpg" width="150" /></a></div>A colleague recently cited the famous passage in which the Buddha seems to say you'll go mad if you try to figure out the workings of karma. I was aware of this text, since it is very often quoted by anti-intellectuals who wish me to stop talking about the details of karma. Because, of course, when you look at it in detail, karma is nonsense. However, I had never scienced the passage before and decided to do so and report back.<br /><br />Reading the text, especially in the light of a partial Chinese parallel, I find the Pāli quite strange and peculiar. It doesn't say what most people take it to say, and what it <i>does </i>say is really rather daft.</div><br />Here is the <i>Acinteyyasuttaṃ</i> (AN AN 4.77 ) in Pāli alongside my rough translation. Note the Buddha is only the implied protagonist and is not named here. I present the entire sutta as recorded in the 6th Council Edition. The point about karma is in red.<br /><br /><div style="margin: 0px 10px;"><table style="text-align: justify;"><tbody><tr><td valign="top" width="225">Cattārimāni, bhikkhave, acinteyyāni, na cintetabbāni; yāni cintento ummādassa vighātassa bhāgī assa. <br /><br />Katamāni cattāri? <br /><br />Buddhānaṃ, bhikkhave, buddhavisayo acinteyyo, na cintetabbo; yaṃ cintento ummādassa vighātassa bhāgī assa. Jhāyissa, bhikkhave, jhānavisayo acinteyyo, na cintetabbo; yaṃ cintento ummādassa vighātassa bhāgī assa. <span style="color: red;">Kammavipāko, bhikkhave, acinteyyo, na cintetabbo</span>; yaṃ cintento ummādassa vighātassa bhāgī assa. Lokacintā, bhikkhave, acinteyyā, na cintetabbā; yaṃ cintento ummādassa vighātassa bhāgī assa. Imāni kho, bhikkhave, cattāri acinteyyāni, na cintetabbāni; yāni cintento ummādassa vighātassa bhāgī assā. (AN ii.80)</td><td width="10"></td><td valign="top" width="250">Bhikkhus, four things are unthinkable and not to be thought of. Thinking of them will bring a share of madness and vexation.<br /><br />What four?<br /><br />Bhikkhus, the buddha-domain of a buddha is unthinkable and not to be thought of. Thinking of it will bring a share of madness and vexation. The range of jhāna-domain of a meditator is unthinkable and not to be thought of. Thinking of it will bring a share of madness and vexation. <span style="color: red;">The consequence of an action (<i>kammavipāka</i>) is unthinkable and not to be thought of</span>. Thinking of it will bring a share of madness and vexation. The <i>lokacintā </i>is unthinkable and not to be thought of. Thinking of it will bring a share of madness and vexation. These four things bhikkhus are unthinkable and not to be thought of. Thinking of them will bring a share of madness and vexation</td></tr></tbody></table></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">The point here is that some things are being defined as <i>acinteyya.</i> I'm not going to look at all of them, because there seems little point. I just want to look at the word itself and how it might apply to <i>karma-vipāka</i>.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br />This is the only discourse in which the word <i>acinteyya</i> is used in the entire <i>Sutta-piṭaka</i>. Grammatically, it is a future passive participle and thus indicates something to be done, something desirable to do, something able to be done. The root is <i>√cint, </i>which is used for all kinds of cognitive activity, such as "thinking", "reflecting", and so on. So <i>cinteyya </i>would mean "something (able) to be thought about, considered, reflected upon" and with the addition of the negative prefix,&nbsp;<i>acinteyya </i>"something not to be thought about, considered, reflected upon". However, this participle is being used as an adjective: some things are being described as "not to be thought about" or "not able to be reflected on". Or some such. Many translators take it to mean the latter and substitute and English compound like "inconceivable".<br /><br />So, the text is saying the consequence of action (<i>kamma-vipāka</i>) is something not to be thought about or reflected on. And we have to hold this alongside the idea that "actions have consequences" is often used as an English language summary of Buddhist ethics.<br /><br />Sometimes translators try to tell us that it is the "exact workings" of karma, the complex processes involved that are the problem. It's all so complex and fiddly that we shouldn't worry our little heads over it. So, for example, <a href="https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.077.than.html">Thanissaro translates</a><i> kammavipāko, bhikkhave, acinteyyo, na cintetabbo</i> as "The [precise working out of the] results of kamma is an unconjecturable that is not to be conjectured about." But this is not what the text says, so where is he getting "precise working out of the" from? It turns out not to be the commentary, which is the usual source of these kinds of divergent translations. The commentary makes a veiled reference to the Theravāda doctrine of the different times at which karma may be experienced and that's it.<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq"><i>Kammavipākoti diṭṭhadhammavedanīyādīnaṃ kammānaṃ vipāko </i>(ANA 3.107)<br />"Consequences of actions" refers to the consequences of actions that are to be experienced during this life time, etc. [where "etc." means <i>upapajjavedanīya</i> "to be experienced at rebirth, and <i>aparāpariyavedanīya </i>"to be experienced in later births"]</blockquote>I think "precise working out" is the kind of gloss that I would call a fig leaf. Something that we don't want to see is protruding and we want to cover it up. Because for a Buddhist to be told <i>not </i>to think about the consequence of actions is nonsensical - at some level, thinking about the consequences of our actions actually <i>is Buddhism</i>. So we fiddle with the translation without reference to the original text or the traditional commentary until what it says <i>does </i>make sense. This is putting the ideological cart before the scriptural horse.<br /><br />By the way, in this translation Thanissaro uses one of his trademark bizarre neologisms—unconjecturable—for <i>acinteyya</i>. We can see what he is getting at. Sometimes a future passive participle will express potential: √<i>kṛ</i> "do" → <i>kāranīya </i>"that which should be done; doable". But would it mean to describe something as "conjecturable"? The language around conjecture is awkward. We can use the word as a noun, "a conjecture"; i.e., a proposition about something that is in need of evidence. But we can also use it as a verb, "Einstein <i>conjectured </i>that mass would bend the path of massless photons, because gravity bends space rather attracting mass". What Thanissaro means is "something about which we should not makes conjectures". Clearly karma <i>is</i> conjecturable in the sense that we <i>can and should&nbsp;</i>make conjectures about the consequences of our actions.<br /><br />Now, we can boil down this sentiment to this statement about <i>karma-vipāka</i>: We should not&nbsp; make conjectures about the consequences of actions, <i>for fear of the consequences</i> (i.e., if we do we might go mad). It is asking us to think about the consequences of thinking about the consequences! So whatever else is wrong with the sutta, it is blatantly self contradictory. And this is what passes for wisdom amongst us.<br /><br />Furthermore, of course, the precise working out of the consequences of actions is a very frequent subject for conjecture or even for the confident assertion of knowledge elsewhere in this same literature. This is exactly the premise of the <i>jātaka</i>, for example, including the several hundred such stories in the official <i>Jātaka </i>collection, and the dozens more scattered throughout the <i>Nikāyas </i>and the <i>Vinaya</i>. And it is at the very heart of Buddhist ethics.<br /><br /><br /><b>Chinese Parallel</b></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">There is a Chinese parallel, or at least a partial parallel, in the <i>Ekottarāgama </i>增壹阿含經 (29.6). This version doesn’t include a warning about going mad. And <i>kamma-vipāka</i> is not one of the four items we are warned not to think about.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">云何為四?眾生不可思議;世界不可 思議;龍國不可思議;佛國境界不可思議。 所以然者,不由此處得至滅盡涅槃。(T 2.657.a.19) </div></blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">What four? The arising of people (眾生) should not be thought about; the worldly realm (世界 = <i>lokadhātu</i>) should not be thought about. The land of the dragon (龍國) should not be thought about, the objects of cognition in the Buddha-land (佛國境界) should not be thought about. Why is this? Because they are not conducive to cessation and extinction. (My translation). </div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">When we talk about this text being a "parallel" what we mean is that it is a version of a text that shares some features with the <i>Acinteyya Sutta</i>. Here, the Chinese 不可思議 means the same as&nbsp;<i>na cintetabbo</i>. So this much is held in common. And remembering that the word is only used in one Pāḷi sutta, the use of it here definitely suggests some kind of connection.<br /><br />But there the similarities end. The Chinese text doesn't mention karma and the reason for not thinking about things is more comprehensible - it doesn't go anywhere. When aiming for cessation the more things you have to think about, the longer it takes. Cessation is approached by not thinking about things. Although this contradicts what I said above at one level, it is because they are on different levels that there is no absolute contradiction. Ethics involves, amongst other things, paying attention to consequences of actions. In meditation we try to leave all such concerns behind to explore the mind in the absence of sensory stimulus. The two methods are complementary, not exclusive.<br /><br />Note, not that it really matters, but I haven't been able to figure out what 龍國 means. I've given a literal translation for what it is worth. But I can't see how it would affect my argument unless it turned out to mean <i>karma-vipāka</i> and even then it wouldn't affect my conclusions.<br /><br /><br /><b>Conclusion</b><br /><blockquote style="color: #0b5394;"><i>Vizzini</i>: He didn't fall? <i>Inconceivable</i>!<br /><div class="hang"><i>Inigo Montoya</i>: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."</div></blockquote>So this is a strange little sutta. It's quoted quite often, but apparently almost no one thinks about what it means. In other words, some Buddhists don't think about what it would mean to not think about the consequences of actions. This is partly because most people are reading fig leaf translations that opt to say something other than what the text does, so the fact that is it nonsense is obscured. Mostly the text is used in apologetics for traditional beliefs to combat people who <i>do </i>think about karma and come up with unanswered problems. Labelling <i>karma-vipāka</i> as <i>acinteyya </i>is the polite Buddhist way of saying "we can't explain it, so just shut the fuck up and do what you are told."<br /><br />But the sutta is arguing from consequences to a conclusion about not thinking about consequences resulting in a bald-faced contradiction, which is why most translators pad it out till it says something less batshit.<br /><br />Learning Pāli is empowering because it allows you to see when translators are going off piste. It is disappointing, in the sense that you realise how crap many translations are, and how much translators are interpreting for you so you don't see inconsistencies. But it is empowering to be able to think about it for yourself, I find. If one is only willing to read.<br /><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">The problem with defining the outcome of action (<i>kamma-vipāka</i>) as unthinkable or inconceivable (<i>acinteyya</i>) and saying that we <i>should not think about it</i> (<i>na cintetabbo</i>) is that the basis for morality disappears. If we truly believe that the consequences of actions are unknowable then we have no basis for saying “Actions have consequences”. Our slogan should rather be “Actions may well have consequences, but we have no idea what they might be and we avoid thinking about them for fear of going mad.” Which would force us into being moral relativists, at best. In fact, most Buddhists take a decisive stand on morality because we believe that actions do have knowable consequences, and this seems to be entirely rational (and not mad or <i>ummāda</i>).<br /><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">This idea that <i>kamma-vipāka</i> is <i>acinteyya</i>, that we should not think about the consequences of actions, seems like a classic example of an incoherent idea in Pāli that nobody ever really thinks about carefully <i>just because it is in Pāli</i>. Or if they do notice that the sutta cannot be taken on face value they simply add a fig leaf. The axiom is that the Pāli Canon always makes sense and therefore one is free to tweak any translation, without reference to the source text, <i>until it does make sense</i>.<br /><br />I keep saying to my colleagues that we need to be more discerning in our use of these texts. We really do need to think about the consequences of our actions as users of religious texts.<br /><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><div style="text-align: center;">“The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.”</div></div><div><div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: xx-small;">—William Shakespeare. Merchant of Venice. Act 1, Scene 3.</span><br /><span style="font-size: xx-small;"><br /></span></div><div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: xx-small;"> </span></div><div style="text-align: center;">~~oOo~~</div></div></div>Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-53892538770827541152018-07-06T10:45:00.001+01:002018-07-15T12:40:43.801+01:00Sutras in Stone for the End of the Dharma<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Pwy80LLzPXI/WziRw36ghZI/AAAAAAAAGr8/C3OaZcAORXg_feQXSR2UY3ZjOHBnOBZoQCLcBGAs/s1600/2016080909030116385.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="367" data-original-width="468" height="156" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Pwy80LLzPXI/WziRw36ghZI/AAAAAAAAGr8/C3OaZcAORXg_feQXSR2UY3ZjOHBnOBZoQCLcBGAs/s200/2016080909030116385.jpg" width="200" /></a></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Jìngwǎn (靜琬) was a devout monk who flourished in the early 7th Century and died in 639 CE. He was abbot at the Temple that Dwells in the Clouds (雲居寺) or Yúnjū Temple, on a low peak called Fángshān (房山) or Repository Mountain (In Middle Chinese 居 means a room or alcove, or any space where something is housed). Fángshān is about 65 km south-west of central Beijing.<br /><br />Although his origins are obscure, we remember Jìngwǎn because he undertook a project to carve Buddhist sutras in stone to preserve them against what he saw as the imminent end of Buddhism. Jìngwǎn and his many followers over centuries created a huge repository of Buddhist texts on around 15,000 stone tablets stored in caves in the nearby ridge, originally called Mount White Stripe (白带山) because of a stratum of white chalk that can be seen in the cliff faces. It is now called Stone Sutra Mountain (石經山) for obvious reasons. The tablets provide important insights into Buddhist texts of the period (several periods in fact) and are part of a bigger story about Buddhist practices in medieval China.<br /><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Jìngwǎn and his Time</b></div><br />Most of the biographical information about Jìngwǎn seems to come from a single source, published in 653 CE:<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">"The oldest account of the caves is found in the <i>Míng bào jì</i> (冥報記), a collection of tales dealing with the miracles associated with Buddhism. The compiler of the <i>Míng bào jì</i> was a government official, Táng lín (唐臨)." (Lancaster 1989; Wade-Giles amended to Pinyin and characters supplied)</blockquote></div><div style="text-align: justify;">At that time, Táng lín was one of two Vice Presidents of the Censorate (御史臺), the branch of the imperial government charged with monitoring and tackling official corruption. They reported directly to the Emperor and were thus very powerful. His collection of stories, the <i>Míng bào jì</i>, was published in English translation by Donald Gjertson (1989). Táng lín records that he visited the region of Yōu zhōu (幽州) in 645 CE and spoke to locals who told him about Jìngwǎn, but that he didn't see the Temple itself "because of the military situation [軍事]" (Gjertson 1989: 166). Táng lín actually refers to "the monk Zhìyuàn (沙门智苑) of Zhìquán Temple (智泉寺) in Yōu Zhōu (幽州)" (c.f. <a href="https://zh.wikisource.org/zh-hant/%E5%86%A5%E5%A0%B1%E8%A8%98">Wikisource</a>), but it is widely agreed that this story must relate to Jìngwǎn (靜琬) at Yúnjū sì (雲居寺). As far as I can tell, there is no Zhìquán Temple and never was (though funnily there is a modern temple in Japan, which uses the same Kanji but pronounced Chisenji).</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Jìngwǎn<span style="text-align: justify;"> is sometimes linked to another millennialist monk, Huìsī (慧思), the third patriarch of Tiantai Buddhism. For example, Li Jung-hsi (1979), Lewis Lancaster (1989), and Yong You (2010) all state without qualification that Jìngwǎn was a disciple of Huìsī and had lived at Zhiquan Temple. However, the first mention of such a link comes from the Ming Dynasty, in Liu Tong's guide to the Capital, 帝京景物略 (Dìjīng jǐngwù è) or </span><i style="text-align: justify;">A Summary of Things to Admire in the Imperial Capital</i><span style="text-align: justify;">, published in 1635. Huìsī died in 577 and it's not known when Jìngwǎn was born. It's not impossible that they met, but Jìngwǎn died 62 years after Huìsī. Had Jìngwǎn been a student of Huìsī, he'd have to have been a monk already and thus probably in his teens by then.</span></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">We are not sure where he lived prior to his appearance at Yúnjū sì, but the temple itself is in the region that was controlled from 550 to 577 by the Northern Qi (北齊) during a time when China was divided into a number of states. In 574 Emperor Wu (武帝 543–578) of the neighbouring Northern Zhou held a debate between Confucianists, Daoists, and Buddhist and decided that the Confucianists had won. As a result, he banned both Daoism and Buddhism, appropriated the considerable wealth and property of Buddhist temples and returned monks to lay life.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In 577, Wu of Zhou made an alliance with the Göktürks (Blue or Celestial Türks) and conquered Qi, reuniting the north into a single state. The records of the Northern Zhou are the first to refer to the nomads living on the steppes to the north of China as Türks, although nomads had lived there for centuries. The word they use to represent Türk is 突厥, probably pronounced in Middle Chinese like <i>duot-gwut</i> (IPA duət̚-kʉɐt̚). The Türks would continue to play a decisive role in Chinese and Central Asian geopolitics for the next few centuries, while their cousins from Central Asia would go on to take the modern territory of Turkey from the Byzantine Empire and call it their own.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Wu died suddenly in the summer of 578. The shrewd political operator Yáng Jiān (楊堅) became, first regent, and then, in 581, Emperor of a new Dynasty, styling himself Emperor Wen of Sui (隋文帝). Wen still faced an ongoing series of rebellions from within and threats from the increasingly organised and aggressive Türks in the North. Despite this, he impressed people as a hard-working administrator. He reorganised the state, standardised coinage, and began a series of infrastructure projects such as canals connecting major rivers to facilitate trade. Notably, Wen was born in a Buddhist temple and raised in his early years by a Buddhist nun. As Emperor, he promoted Buddhism as the state religion, thus undoing some of the damage caused by Wu. He reigned until 604.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The second Sui Emperor, Yáng (隋煬帝), embarked on a series of disastrous military campaigns against the Kingdom of Goguryeo (or Koguryǒ) which had been encroaching on Chinese territory. Goguryeo was in what is now North Korea and also had its capital in Pyongyang. Yáng also faced major incursions of Türks from the north, as they also found political unity in their identity as the Göktürk Khaganate. Yáng drafted men for his armies and this led to a shortage of labour for farms and drops in agricultural production. Worse, Yang was a hedonist who squandered wealth on luxuries. Rumour was that he had murdered his father to get to the throne.<br /><br />In 617 the aristocratic Lǐ (李) family from what is now Shanxi province were deeply unhappy with the situation. Turks and Koreans were increasingly a problem in the north and rebellion amongst the people looked increasingly likely. Lǐ Yuān 李淵 and his two children led an insurgency that soon captured the capital. They forced Yáng to retire and installed the thirteen year old Yáng Yòu (楊侑) as Emperor Gong of Sui (隋恭帝). However, in 618, after just six months, Yáng's own minsters strangled him, at which point Lǐ Yuān forced Emperor Gong to step down and install him as the Emperor of a new Dynasty. </div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br />Lǐ Yuān became Emperor Táng Gāozǔ (唐高祖). The new dynasty name, Tang 唐, referred to the Lǐ family's original fiefdom. The first Tang Emperors inherited a unified China, but one still wracked by rebellion and external threats. It took them a few decades to establish peace and prosperity. Even then the Tang era was marked by extraordinary events such as the first and only female Emperor (the Chinese term 帝 is not gendered) and large scale rebellions. During this period Xuanzang travelled to and from India and then Tantric Buddhism arrived with Śubhakarasiṃha and Vajrabodhi. The Tang capital, Changan, was the largest city in the world and, as one end of the Silk Road, was also vastly wealthy (though such wealth was very unevenly distributed). The wealth of Buddhist temples in Tang era Changan was said to be "incalculable" and must have seriously distorted the Tang economy as they paid no tax. The later Tang era also saw renewed persecution of Buddhists and confiscation of their property.<br /><br />Prophecies of the decline of Buddhism continued to fuel the imagination of Buddhists in East Asia for centuries. And to understand Jìngwǎn we need to understand a little more about these prophecies.</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>The Three Ages</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">For Jìngwǎn, who lived in the North of China, less than 100km from the Great Wall, peace and prosperity were likely in short supply for much of his life. In addition to witnessing the rise and fall of the Sui (581-618) he had become interested in the Chinese Buddhist doctrine of the three ages: the age of the true Dharma (正法), the age of the semblance Dharma (像法; when people go through the motions, but do not attain liberation), and the age of the end of the Dharma (末法). The last is pronounced mòfǎ in Mandarin but is perhaps better known in the West by its Japanese rendering <i>mappō</i>. During the last period, the Dharma gradually disappears until nothing is left. It was only at the end of this cycle that the new Buddha, Maitreya, would appear to rediscover the Dharma and begin the cycle anew. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">This idea of an age of decline is the subject of the book <i>Once Upon a Future Time</i> (1991) by Jan Nattier, based on her PhD thesis. Nattier notes that there is no Indic term corresponding to 末法 or <i>mappō</i>. Indian Buddhists certainly discussed the Dharma having a strictly limited lifespan, originally 500 years. However, as with other forms of millennialism, when the 500 years were thought to be up, the figure was extended to 1000 years and, when that time approached, to 1500 years, and so on. Despite this notion of a fixed term for the Dharma, Indian texts only mention two periods: the period of the Dharma and the <i>paścimakāla </i>"after time" (which is usually translated as 末世). 末法 is a Chinese coinage with no Indic counterpart. The three ages doctrine is thus distinctively Chinese and only emerged in the 6th Century. The Chinese concept of the decline and end of the Dharma was very influential in medieval East Asia. Those who saw themselves as cut off from liberation through awakening, were very creative in thinking of other ways to be liberated, especially via the Pure Land idea of the intervention by Buddhas from other universes. The doctrine of the three times had a huge influence on the development of the Jōdo Shinshū school founded by Shinran. It also affected Nichiren Buddhism and via that the Soka Gakkai movement. Together these three schools make up a significant proportion of the modern world's Buddhists. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">One of the most important sutras for this apocalyptic vision of decline in China was the <i>Mahāsaṃghata Sutra or Mahā</i> (大集經; T 397), also known as the 大方等大集經 <i>[Mahāvaipulya-mahā]saṃnipāta-sūtra</i> (Yong 2010: 130; Nattier 1991: 114). This was translated by Naredrayaśas in 566 CE. Within this collection of sutras we find the 月藏分 <i>Candragarbha-vaipulya-sūtra </i>and within that, a section on the decline and destruction of the Dharma (法滅盡品).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Whatever sources Jìngwǎn was relying on, he calculated that he was living in the last of the three ages, that Awakening was no longer possible and that chaos was only going to increase, the advent of the Tang Dynasty and state Buddhism notwithstanding. Jìngwǎn left a number of progress reports, also carved in stone, as he reached milestones in his project (translated in Ledderose 2010). He clearly states himself to be living in the last age:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">"The true Dharma of Śakyamuni Tathāgata and the semblance Dharma have together endured for more than 1,500 years. Now, in the second year of Zhenguan era [628] we have been immersed in the decline of the Dharma for seventy-five years." (Adapted from Ledderose 2010: 393)</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">It might be hard to imagine taking something like this seriously, but cults with strange beliefs still attract many followers in modern times. The combination of taking the prophecy of decline literally and the geopolitical and social chaos of the Late 6th - early 7th Centuries obviously had a massive impact on Jìngwǎn. From the progress reports we have a glimpse of his motivations:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">"The True Dharma and the Semblance Dharma, too, have been lost in the depths, all living beings are heavily stained and faithful hearts are no more... I fear for the day when the scriptures will disintegrate and dissolve, for paper and palm leaves are hard to maintain for a long period of time. Whenever I ponder these matters my tears flow in compassion and sorrow." (Adapted from Ledderose 2010: 392)</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">For those Buddhists who took the three ages doctrine to heart and concluded that they lived in an age of decline and disappearance, the idea had a <i>profound </i>effect on them. Despite the gloomy tone of his messages to posterity, however, it would be a mistake to characterise Jìngwǎn as pessimistic. To be sure, he understood himself to be living in the age which would see the complete destruction of Buddhism, but his response was in many ways optimistic and heroic. He decided that he would carve important sutras in stone for posterity. Having done this, he conceived of the far grander project of engraving the whole of the Buddhist Canon (as it was in those days) in stone.</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>The Stone Sutra Project</b></div><br /><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: right; margin-left: 1em; text-align: right;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-fdfkKn5Ppkc/WznmWsN8DWI/AAAAAAAAGtI/3vlKfEVf8vol6To294VnN7P__oKO68pgQCLcBGAs/s1600/6929720988_4bd9137794.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" data-original-height="331" data-original-width="500" height="131" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-fdfkKn5Ppkc/WznmWsN8DWI/AAAAAAAAGtI/3vlKfEVf8vol6To294VnN7P__oKO68pgQCLcBGAs/s200/6929720988_4bd9137794.jpg" width="200" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: xx-small;">Goats reading the Diamond Sutra <br />inscription on Mount Tai, Fall 1995. <br /><a href="http://ianboyden.com/?p=shufa_interview">Photograph by Ian Boyden</a></span></td></tr></tbody></table><div style="text-align: justify;">The practice of carving sutras in stone began around 550 CE, with large outdoor carvings like the partial <i>Vajracchedikā Sūtra</i> carved at Mount Tai (泰山) in characters 40–50 cm high. Other collections of stone sutras are found in Shandong and Henan provinces. However, the collection at Fángshān is the most extensive by a wide margin.<br /><br />Some (later) accounts explain that Jìngwǎn founded Yúnjū Temple, possibly for the express purpose of continuing the stone sutra project. However, since temple construction was controlled by the government, this seems unlikely. Other accounts suggest that the Temple was founded somewhat earlier, in the 550s. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">We don't know the exact year Jìngwǎn began his project, but Táng lín says that it was in the Daye (大業) period, i.e., 605-616 CE (Gjertson 1989: 165). One of his first tasks would have been extending a natural cave in the nearby ridge now called Stone Sutra Mountain. This became the eventual repository for the first batch of sutras. Depending on how much help he had, we can envisage the sutra engravings might have begun at the same time.<br /><br />The stone for the tablets came from a quarry to the south, near the modern-day town of Gaozhuangcun (高庄村), which until recently was still producing fine marble. Industrial approaches to quarrying caused pollution, however, and <a href="http://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2109791/quarry-supplied-imperial-palace-beijing-shut-down">the quarry has been shut down</a> and there are plans to make it into a <a href="https://www.thebeijinger.com/blog/2017/09/10/polluted-beijing-rock-quarry-be-sculpted-greenified-tourist-attraction">tourist attraction</a>. The preparation of the stone slabs for engraving was carried out at another nearby monastery (no longer extant and not named in sources). Next, an expert calligrapher would brush the text onto the surface of the stone. Then, an engraver would have carved the characters. Often the "calligraphy" of Chinese inscriptions is of considerable interest to experts and aficionados (this is very much the case at Mount Tai). All of the actual work was carried out by lay craftsmen, under the supervision of monks. And note that even a small stone tablet like the <i>Heart Sutra</i> commissioned by Yáng Shèshēng (楊社生 ) would have cost a lot more than any of them earned in a year for making stone tablets.<br /><br />Li explains that carving took place at Yúnjū Temple; then, once a year on the Buddha's birthday (8th day of the fourth month), locals would flock to the temple for a festive ritual as the tablets were carried by devotees to Stone Sutra Mountain for storage (1979: 108)</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">According to Táng lín, in 611, the Emperor Yáng and his retinue were on tour in nearby Zhuō county (涿郡). Yáng was probably planning ahead for his invasion of the Kingdom of Goguryeo, which occurred in 612. Xiāo Yǔ (蕭瑀), a high ranking official and younger brother of the Empress Lady Xiāo (蕭氏) heard about Jìngwǎn's project. A devout Buddhist, Xiāo used his influence with his sister to arrange for a large donation to the project (as now, <i>funding </i>for projects was crucial). Li Jung-Hsi describes the donation as "1000 rolls of silk and other valuable goods" (1979: 106). The Xiāo's were descendants of the (Southern) Liang Dynasty Imperial family (502–557) which was still both rich and powerful (as indicated by Lady Xiāo's becoming Empress). Bolts of silk often functioned as currency for high-value transactions. A bolt of silk was worth about 1000 standard copper coins.<br /><br />The brother and sister also inspired many of their peers to make donations. Overnight Jìngwǎn became extremely wealthy and just five years later, in 616, the initial phase of Jìngwǎn's vision was complete.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Léiyīn Dòng 雷音洞 or Thunder Sound Cave is a minor marvel. The ceiling is about 2.5 metres high, and the walls are all different lengths (10.07 x 7.66 x 11.82 x 8.3 metres). The frontage is actually a constructed stone wall. Four pillars support the roof and are decorated with images of Buddhas accompanied by their names (from a sutra listing the names of 1000 Buddhas). Lining the walls in two or three registers, are 147 stone slabs with 19 texts, many of them extracts. Complete copies of the <i>Saddharmapuṇḍarikā-sūtra </i>(T 262) and the <i>Vimalakīrtinirdeśa </i>(T 475), both in Kumārajīva's translation, are prominent and together these two take up half the wall space in the cave. Lee notes that the Xiāo family were famously devoted to the <i>Saddharmapuṇḍarikā-sūtra </i>and speculates that they may have had some influence over the choice to complete it first and to give it the most prominent place in the cave (2010: 56). </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Amongst the other complete texts found in the <span style="text-align: justify;">Thunder Sound </span>Cave are the <i>Prajñāpāramitā-vajracchedikā </i>(T 236; tr. Bodhiruci) and the <i>Śrīmālādevī-siṃhanāda-sūtra</i> (T 353; tr. Gunabhadra). Gjertson notes that Xiāo Yǔ was also especially devoted to the <i>Prajñāpāramitā-vajracchedikā </i>(1989: 183). Most of the other texts are very short and include sutra extracts mostly focussed on practical matters such as ethics and monastic etiquette. Thus the cave represents a kind of <i>samuccaya</i> or anthology of Buddhist texts important to a Chinese monk living in the early 6th Century, albeit with some possible influence from his sponsors. It is a valuable snapshot of Buddhism in that time and place.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Lee suggests that Jìngwǎn had "brought together for the first time two strands of Indian Buddhist thought that had been introduced to China in previous generations", i.e., Madhyamaka and Yogācāra. I'm doubtful about this. Both of these post-<i>Abhidharma </i>schools of thought were primarily <i>śāstric </i>rather than <i>sūtric</i>, i.e., based on commentarial literature by Nāgārjuna and Vasubandhu, respectively. The distinctions between the schools are not based on different sutras, but in different hermeneutics and exegetical strategies for reading <i>the same sūtras</i>. Moreover, these Indian categories were not so influential in China, which inherited a range of texts from the outset. Distinctions between schools were only nominal in China. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Lee also suggests that the 判教 <i>Pànjiào </i>or doctrinal classification systems, a number of which predate Jìngwǎn by centuries, might have formed part of the context. Again, I'm not sure that this is doing anything more than stating the obvious: i.e., that the Chinese were struggling to make sense of the bewildering variety of texts emerging from India (and also from China!) which often appeared to contradict each other. That said, Jìngwǎn's choices for the Leiyin Cave <i>were </i>idiosyncratic, as is demonstrated by the different choices made in other stone sutra collections at <a href="https://xts.uchicago.edu/">Xiǎngtángshān</a> (響堂山) and <a href="https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/912">Dàzú Shíkè</a> (大足石刻) (Lee 2010: 59 ff.). The latter is focused, for example, on the theme of the end of the Dharma.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Phase two of the stone sutras project is marked by expansion, in many senses. Táng lín mentioned seven caves or "rooms" filled with sutras, though now there are nine in total. The scope of the project became to engrave the entire Buddhist Canon as it occurred at the time. This phase extended long after Jìngwǎn's death.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Award winning Professor of Art History, Lothar Ledderose, characterises the new phase as "changing the audience". The first phase seems to have been aimed at living people. Leiyin cave was not sealed and was arranged as a kind of shrine so that people could come in and read the texts arrayed around the walls. The new caves were simply storage and not easily accessible. In the newer caves, the stone slabs were densely stacked together and Jìngwǎn left instructions not to disturb them unnecessarily. These make up about 5,000 of the almost 15,000 stone tablets associated with Yúnjū Temple (10,000 more were found buried in the Temple grounds). Once they were filled, each of the caves was sealed with a large stone door. However, it is clear that people, particularly Emperors, could not resist peaking from time to time (Li 109).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Xuándǎo (玄導) became abbot and leader of the stone sutra project after Jìngwǎn's death, until his own death in 672. During his leadership, funds apparently ran low and Yúnjū Temple began accepting donations in return for engraving specific sutras. The earliest example of this happens also to be the <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2018/06/the-earliest-dated-heart-sutra-revisited.html">earliest dated Heart Sutra</a>, from 661. This program is similar in some ways to the Roman Catholic practice of selling indulgences. Lay people thought that by doing these pious acts they would secure a better rebirth or even liberation for themselves and their families. This led to many copies of the same sutras being created, though, presumably, the funds generated by selling indulgences went back into the main project.<br /><br />During the life of the stone sutra project, more than one hundred different sutras were engraved, including very long texts such as the <i>Mahāprajñāpāramita-sūtra</i>, the <i>Mahāsaṃghata-sūtra</i>, and the <i>Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra</i>. The latter covered 120 tablets on its own and was stored in its own cave, while the Mahāprajñāpāramitā Sūtra covered 1,500 tablets (Li 1979). However, multiple copies of some sutra texts make up many of the tablets (Yong 2010). </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Buddhists would once again undergo persecution in the late Tang, and a disruptive civil war in the Five Dynasties Era (907-960), but work on the stone sūtras did not completely halt until 1691. Of the 15,000 tablets, as many as 10,000 date from the Liao and Jin Periods and were buried in a pit in the monastery between 1117 and 1200 CE.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">During the excavations in the 1950s, rubbings were made of the tablets, including the <i>Xīnjīng </i>tablet that is <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2018/06/the-earliest-dated-heart-sutra-revisited.html">the earliest dated <i>Heart Sutra</i></a>. Slabs were engraved on both sides so that a total of 30,000 rubbings were made at the time. Rubbings of such tablets are made by spreading ink directly onto the stone and then pressing (rubbing) paper onto it, in a manner resembling lithographic printing. This, of course, produces a horizontally inverted negative image. A few facsimile images of these rubbings, printed reversed so that they could be read (including the <i>Heart Sutra</i> of interest), were printed in Zhōngguó... (1978) and the entire collection from Fángshān were published (in 30 volumes) by Zhōngguó... (2000). These publications are the main way that scholars can get access to the collection now (though there are no copies of the complete set in the United Kingdom, unfortunately).</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Conclusion</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I thought it worth telling the story of Jìngwǎn and his stone sutra project in some detail, including as many names and dates as possible, because it is not well known in the West. This essay brings together facts that are scattered amongst many different publications that remain inaccessible to most people. This is despite the story being common knowledge amongst some Western archaeologists and art historians (since at least the 1970s), and amongst Chinese and Japanese Buddhism Studies scholars (since the 1930s), though modern studies of the collection begin 1914. Jìngwǎn's collection includes the earliest dated copy of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> and thus deserves a chapter in the history of the text. It also gives us a stronger sense of how the <i>Heart Sutra </i>was conceived of and used in its original context.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">That tiny minority of intellectuals who commented on the <i>Heart Sutra</i> as a text certainly did not see it as ineffable, while the vast majority (including the majority of Buddhist monks) saw it as having magical properties that did not depend on understanding. These properties could be activated, following the advice of other Mahāyāna Buddhist texts, merely by speaking it aloud or by writing it. Writing it in stone was seen as especially efficacious in China, perhaps because of the model of Emperor Asoka and his edicts.</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;">~~oOo~~</div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Bibliography</b></div><br /><div class="hang">Gjertson, Donald E. (1989) <i>Miraculous Retribution: A Study and Translation of T'ang Lin's Ming-pao chi</i>. Berkeley Buddhist Studies Series; Centers for South and Southeast Asia Studies; University of California at Berkeley.</div><br /><div class="hang">Lancaster, Lewis R. (1989). 'The Rock Cut Canon in China: Findings at Fang-shan,' in <i>The Buddhist Heritage</i>, edited by Tadeusz Skorupski [Buddhica Britannica 1]. 143-156. Tring: The Institute for Buddhist Studies.</div><br /><div class="hang">Ledderose, Lothar (2004). 'Changing the Audience' in Religion and Chinese Society (Vol. 1). <i>A Centennial Conference of the École franşaise d'Extrême-Orient</i>. John Lagerwey Ed., p385-409. [This publication includes a review of studies conducted at Fángshān, mostly published in Japanese and Chinese] </div><br /><div class="hang">Lee, Sonya S. (2010) 'Transmitting Buddhism to a Future Age: The Leiyin Cave at Fangshan and Cave-Temples with Stone Scriptures in Sixth-Century China.' <i>Archives of Asian Art</i>. Vol. 60 (2010), pp. 43-78.</div><br /><div class="hang">Li Jung-hsi (1979). 'The Stone Scriptures of Fang-shan.' <i>The Eastern Buddhist</i>. Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 104-113</div><br /><div class="hang">Nattier, Jan (1991). <i>Once Upon a Future Time: Studies in a Buddhist Prophecy of Decline</i>. Asian Humanities Press.</div><br /><div class="hang">Yong You. (2010) <i>The Diamond Sutra in Chinese Culture</i>. Buddha's Light Publishing.</div><br /><div class="hang">中国佛教协会 (1978) ​「房山云居寺石经」. 北京 : 文物出版社. = Chinese Buddhist Association. (1978) <i>Mount Fang, Yunju Temple, Stone Sutras</i>. Beijing: Cultural Relics Publishing House.</div><br /><br /><div class="hang">中国佛教协会 and 中国佛教图书文 (eds) (2000) 「房山石经」(全30册)华夏出版社. = Chinese Buddhist Association and Chinese Buddhist Literature Museum (eds) (2000) <i>Mount Fang Stone Sutras</i>. Huaxia Publishing House.</div><br />Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-42971958901003561252018-06-29T11:50:00.000+01:002018-07-15T08:26:04.258+01:00Critical Thinking in Buddhist Historiography<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div style="text-align: justify;">In this essay I'm going to try to show some of how I evaluate sources of information using a case study of the two mentions of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> in the standard biography of Xuánzàng written by Huìlì and Yàncóng. This involves a detailed assessment of such qualities as authenticity, veracity, accuracy, precision, and reliability. What knowledge can we obtain from a text, using which kinds of methods? What kinds of caveats apply to this process?<br /><br />On the 5th day, 12th Month of Yǒnghuī 6 (永徽六年十二月五日) i.e., 6 January, 656, Xuánzàng sent a letter to the emperor celebrating the birth of a new prince the month before. He wrote in a letter: "I dare to offer a copy of the <i>Prajñā Heart Sutra</i> in gold letters, one scroll and a case." (輒敢進金字《般若心經》一卷并函 T 50.272b.12). This piece of information is quite a big deal because this is the earliest literary reference to the <i>Heart Sutra</i>&nbsp;with a precise date that I know of. It is five years before the <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2018/06/the-earliest-dated-heart-sutra-revisited.html">earliest physical evidence</a> (661 CE) and definitely before&nbsp;Xuánzàng began translating Prajñāpāramitā texts in ernest (660 CE). But this important date is seldom, if ever, discussed in the literature on the <i>Heart Sutra</i>.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The information comes from the 《大唐大慈恩寺三藏法師傳》, a Tang Dynasty (唐) biography (傳) of Xuánzàng (aka "the Dharma Master 三藏法師傳 of the great Ci'en Temple 大慈恩寺") by 慧立 Huìlì and 彥悰Yàncóng from about 688 CE (henceforth, <i>Biography</i>). I say "biography", but as&nbsp;Xuánzàng never puts a foot wrong and is portrayed as conforming to an ideal, the text is clearly part of a trend to elevate him to the status of Buddhist saint. As such, we might better refer to it as a <i>hagiography</i>. Chinese Buddhist saints are quite different in character from Indian Buddhist saints, which is something that requires its own study (and I don't propose to get into it here). Unlike some hagiographies, the <i>Biography </i>was composed quite close to the subject's lifetime, in a literate society that kept good records in both the religious and imperial spheres, and partly by someone who knew the subject personally. So Xuánzàng&nbsp;is not presented as doing many miracles, but more as behaving in an exemplary manner in social, political, and religious spheres. He is, in short, the archetype of a good Buddhist living in a fundamentally Confucian society.<br /><br />The <i>Biography</i> is included in the Taishō Edition of the Tripiṭaka as text no. 2053. T2053 was translated by Samuel Beal in 1911 (I use a 1914 reprint), and more recently by Li Rongxi&nbsp; for the <i>BDK English Tripiṭaka</i> (1995).&nbsp;Huìlì was a younger contemporary of&nbsp;Xuánzàng, who knew and worked with him. Yàncóng recounts the&nbsp; story of how the <i>Biography</i>&nbsp;came about in a preface. Having written down the the Biography, Huìlì lost confidence and buried them "fearing that the contents of his writing might be incomplete and inadequate for the public" (Li 1995: 3). However, on his death bed he asked his students to dig up the manuscript. Within a few years it had become divided and scattered. Some parts were lost. Around 688 CE, the students managed to collect up the remaining works and commissioned&nbsp;彥悰 Yàncóng to edit it into a book. What remained of&nbsp;Huìlì's work amounted to five scrolls, and Yàncóng added five more. The result is the now famous biography.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">However, there is a slight difference between how Li tells the story in his translator's introduction and how Yàncóng tells it. Li suggests that Huìlì's account ended with Xuánzàng's return to China in 645 CE. If Yàncóng does not supply this detail, then who does? It probably originates from a seemingly off-the-cuff comment by Beal in his introduction:<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">The five chapters added by [Yàncóng] are probably those which follow the account of [Xuánzàng]'s return from India, and relate to his work of translation in China. (1914: xix)</blockquote>As far as I can tell, there is no basis for this "probably". Beal is guessing. What Yàncóng&nbsp;says in Beal's own translation is that he was engaged to "to re-arrange and correct the leaves which their master had written and hidden in a cave." (xix).&nbsp; But compare Li "Then I mixed the original text with supplementary annotations, extending it into a work of ten fascicles" (1995: 9). What this suggests to me is that&nbsp;Huìlì provided the framework for the whole text and&nbsp;Yàncóng expanded on it in general.<br /><br />Li is not beyond adding little details to pad out the story. Take the example of the famous story of the sick man giving&nbsp;Xuánzàng the <i>Heart Sutra</i>, which occurs earlier in the <i>Biography</i>:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq" style="text-align: justify;">慜將向寺施與衣服飲食之直。(T 50.224b.8-9)</blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq">Li: "With a feeling of pity, he took the man to his monastery and gave him money to purchase clothes and food." (26).</blockquote>However, when I parse this sentence what I get is:<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq" style="text-align: justify;">慜 benevolent 將 will 向 to 寺 temple 施 bestow 與 give 衣服 clothing 飲食 food and drink 之 going 直 straight 。</blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq">i.e.,&nbsp; feeling benevolent, [Xuánzàng] took [the sick man] straight to the temple, and gave him food, drink, and clothing. [my trans]</blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">There is no mention of "money" or "purchasing" in the text. And, given that we generally understand monks as not handling money, this added feature is incongruous, although, of course, some monks did handle money (and I haven't checked which kind&nbsp;Xuánzàng was). So the translation here is more precise than the source text (it supplies extra details), but it appears to be inaccurate (because the details don't arise from the source text).<br /><br />I started out assuming that Li must be fairly reliable to be employed as a translator by the prestigious BDK organisation. Based on assessing these two details, I conclude Li is less reliable than my initial assessment of him. Samuel Beal's translation is, "Pitying the man he took him to his convent, and gave him clothing and food" (1914: 21). Beal, writing in a different era, uses language with an archaic feel to it. We might also wonder why he chose "convent" (usually associated with nuns in English) for&nbsp;寺.&nbsp;On the whole, however, his translations seems more more accurate, and thus more reliable than Li at this point.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">How does anyone assess when a translator is more or less reliable without reference to the source text in the source language? Very often my friends and colleagues make a kind of aesthetic judgement on the grounds of which one <i>reads </i>better. Often the more "poetic" a translation is the more folk like it. Which seems like nonsense to me. Is it fair to judge a translation on a handful of sentences? When we are only interested in a handful of sentences, the importance of them with respect to the text as a whole is magnified.<br /><br />In this case Li's small amendment to include a reference to giving money has a major impact on my study. Had I taken Li seriously, I might have decided that I needed to spend time looking into the issue of use of money by monks in medieval China. This is a potentially fruitful avenue to go down if it relates to my task at hand, but the fact is that it doesn't. It's just a lapse on the part of a translator. Fortunately, I like to try to see how source texts look before taking translations seriously. Any reader who does not check the source text (for whatever reason) is always at risk of being misled.</div><br /><br /><b>譯 = Translator?</b><br /><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">One of the interesting things about the <i>Biography</i> is the style of the attribution. In some past explorations of the attribution of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>&nbsp;we've seen that 譯 means "translator". Dictionaries are quite unequivocal on this point. However, in the <i>Biography </i>the attribution is:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq">沙門慧立本 譯彥悰箋.&nbsp;&nbsp;</blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq">"Originally composed by Monk Huìlì, edited by Yàncóng, with annotations."</blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">Here 沙門* means that Huìlì (<span style="text-align: start;">慧立)&nbsp;</span>was a Buddhist monk. The character 本 means "origin, root" and tells us that the text originates with Huìlì.&nbsp; Next, 箋 means "annotation" or "commentary". We know from Yàncóng’s (彥悰) preface that his role was that of editor of Huìlì’s manuscript and notes, 譯 here must mean “editor/edited”, rather than “translator/translated”. However, this&nbsp;work&nbsp; was composed in Chinese, so 譯&nbsp;cannot mean "translator" as nothing was translated. This is an important detail because it contributes to another aspect of my work on the Heart Sutra: the relationship between Xuanzang and the <i>Heart Sutra</i>. When I checked I found that Xuánzàng is credited with being the 譯 of his own travelogue, also composed in Chinese.&nbsp;</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="font-size: x-small;">* 沙門 is pronounced like 'shaman', deriving from Prakrit <i>ṣāmana </i>(Sanskrit <i>śrāmaṇa</i>). There is a possible link with&nbsp;English <i>shaman</i>: Sanskrit <i>śrāmaṇa</i> → Prakrit <i>ṣāmane</i> → Middle Chinese 沙門&nbsp;<i>&nbsp;</i><i>ʃa</i><i>muən&nbsp;</i>→ Siberian/Tungus <i>šamān </i>→ Russian <i>shamán </i>→ German <i>schamane </i>→ English <i>shaman </i>(attested 1698).</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">It might be fair to assume that if many texts that are translations refer to a person as the&nbsp;譯 in relation to it, then that person is the "translator" and that 譯 must mean "translated [by]". But we have two examples of the character being used in contexts where it cannot mean "translate". The dictionary&nbsp; definition seems to be incomplete. There is another sense which is something like "worked on", which is distinguished from "authored".<br /><br />Keeping track of such small details is integral to this kind of work, because the accumulation of details is what adds up to a case. The only problem is that some intellectuals tell us that no accumulation of details adds up to a case.&nbsp;</div><br /><br /><b>Critical Thinking and Historiography</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Advocates of critical thinking sometimes suggest that there is only one rational way to go about seeking knowledge, i.e., through refutation. This is supposedly based on Karl Popper's principle of conjecture and refutation. In this view, there is nothing to be gained by looking for confirmation or, in my case, the accumulation of details. We can never confirm a theory; all we can hope for is to refute it. This, they say, is because of the so-called black swan effect. The story goes that Aristotle, when formulating his outline of logic, took it as axiomatic that "all swans are white". This allowed him to confidently construct deductive syllogisms like<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">All swans are white.<br />Bruce is swan.<br /><i>Therefore</i>, Bruce is white. ✓</blockquote><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-6wJ0mIF9toE/WzX58rVXtsI/AAAAAAAAGns/jN-4Php6E6Ig5Uv1AK8Dg0xlfJ6v55WVwCLcBGAs/s1600/Black_Swan-1024x681.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="681" data-original-width="1024" height="132" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-6wJ0mIF9toE/WzX58rVXtsI/AAAAAAAAGns/jN-4Php6E6Ig5Uv1AK8Dg0xlfJ6v55WVwCLcBGAs/s200/Black_Swan-1024x681.jpg" width="200" /></a></div>Until one discovers that Bruce is Australian and he is actually a <i>black </i>swan and the deduction is false. The problem here, and with all deductive reasoning, is that it all revolves around axioms, i.e., propositions that one accepts as truth before proceeding to infer some new fact by deduction. If the axiom is false, then all inferences from it are also false. The argument proceeds to say that it doesn't matter how many white swans you meet, you can <i>never </i>be certain that all swans are white. It only takes one black swan to disprove the axiom that all swans are white and all inferences from the axiom fall apart.<br /><br />The "black swan" argument is that you can never arrive at the truth through seeking confirmation of an axiom. Indeed, proving that <i>any </i>axiom is true is a very difficult thing to do. It is possible in mathematics. However, in any system of mathematics it is also possible for something to be true or false, but for this to be impossible to prove. So the search for truth quickly gets bogged down. And this is why scientists tend to avoid the idea of truth, and instead seek accurate and precise descriptions of reality (i.e., the day to day focus is on the epistemic aspects of their work). The attitude is "let the philosophers argue over the nature of that reality, as long as we can predict how it's going to behave". Scientists and philosophers are often dismissive of each other, largely because scientists stray into the area of speculating about the (ultimate) nature of reality (metaphysics) and because philosophers often speculate without reference to empirical knowledge - which is far and away the most <i>reliable </i>form of knowledge.<br /><br />This critical thinking approach, call it hyper-critical thinking, leads to an impasse. It seems as if all claims to truth are either false now or soon will be. And thus it may seem that there is no point in even seeking knowledge, because in common sense and classical philosophy we equate knowledge and truth. Meanwhile, in the real world, very general rules of thumb turn out to be surprisingly useful in day to day life. We mainly get by on heuristics, or generalised approaches to solving problems that are good enough. Truth, as an abstract or an ideal, turns out to have surprisingly little practical value. Law courts, for example, use the heuristic of establishing something <i>beyond reasonable doubt</i>, which may be very far from the ideal of truth.<br /><br />The hyper-critical approach to knowledge is a more or less useless strategy for studying history. History is always written from a point of view. That point of view includes the axioms that the historian explicitly accepts about history and historiography (the writing of history) as well as the implicit axioms they accept uncritically (bias, prejudice, cultural conditioning, etc.). In Justin L. Barrett's terms, historians, like everyone, have&nbsp;&nbsp;reflective and non-reflective beliefs. And by now historians all know this. Very few historians, especially <i>trained </i>historians, ignore these problems. But just in case they do, few serious readers of history ignore these problems. We know that history is not "truth", but that doesn't matter. No one is much interested in truth in the absolute sense. History provides us with an understanding of events, from a point of view. Historians and readers alike know that multiple points of view are available. History is not science, much less abstract philosophy.<br /><br />Equally, historians are aware that new information surfaces all the time. A history written in 1900 or 1950 is likely to be out of date for this reason. We would usually like our records to have been recorded as close to the events as possible, and our histories written as close to the present as possible. But the fact that there are always going to be new takes on history should not, and does not, paralyse historians, or prevent them from publishing. The black swan effect is a given. Two years ago I blogged an essay about "the oldest dated <i>Heart Sutra</i>" unaware that in Chinese academic circles an older version had been common knowledge for almost sixty years. Unaware of the fact, I continued to suggest that the oldest <i>Heart Sutra</i> was dated 672 CE right up until the last couple of weeks.&nbsp; History is not only written by the winners, but it is rewritten by the better informed amongst the winners' descendents.<br /><br /><br /><b>Approaching the subject</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Coming back to the&nbsp;to passage from the <i>Biography</i> that I started our with: "Xuánzàng presented the Emperor Gāozōng with a copy of the <i>Xīnjīn </i>on 6 Dec 656." There are two ways to approach a statement like this.<br /><br />On one hand, we may doubt the authenticity and veracity of the statement and look for ways to refute it. We may, for example, check that the dates coincide with other records of the reign of Gāozōng and the birth of the prince. We could&nbsp;check if there is any record of the Emperor receiving such a gift in the imperial records. Some documents from that time still exist in some form. We might query whether the conversion to the Gregorian calendar is accurate (since I used an <a href="http://sinocal.sinica.edu.tw/">online black-box converter</a> this would be a good question). In this approach we think of&nbsp;Huìlì and Yàncóng as unreliable, motivated witnesses and we interrogate them like prosecuting attorneys. We try to pick apart their story. Some might argue that such a procedure is the only way to deal with historical sources. The Greek historian is known both as The Father of History and The Father of Lies. Pre-modern historians were not always critical when it came to their sources.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The other approach is to assume, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that&nbsp;Huìlì and Yàncóng are at least sincere in their statements, that they have not set out to deceive us. They may themselves have been deceived, but&nbsp;Huìlì was contemporary with the subject and Yàncóng only one generation removed. Many living people who knew&nbsp;Xuánzàng would have been available to Yàncóng&nbsp;as witnesses. Also, one or both of them seem to have had access to official records of both state and religious institutions. Apparently, one or both had access to the correspondence between&nbsp;Xuánzàng and Gaōzōng (in the days before carbon paper). In this approach, we may look for corroboration of dates. In doing so we may turn to the very same sources as those who set off looking to refute the statement. We may look for a state record of receiving the gift, or a letter of acknowledgement from the Emperor. Such a letter is reproduced in the biography, but does it occur anywhere else.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The trick is not to ask is it true or false. We know at the outset that what we are seeing is not the truth in any abstract sense. We understand that someone is expressing their values through the medium of a biography (or hagiography). So we know to look at a text like the <i>Biography</i> as an anthropologist might. What interests us as historians is how reliable are our witnesses? What level of confidence should we have in them? What biases do they have? In this sense, good history is naturally Bayesian in its approach. We look at the givens and we make an initial assessment of the veracity. The different scenarios from complete falsification to existentially accurate and precise. Then we look into the matter, gather evidence and see how that affects our perceptions of the possibilities.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">We will never establish an existential truth beyond the actual existence of the text we are studying. There <i>is</i> a biography and it is text no. 2053 in the <i>Taishō</i>. The accuracy of the authorship, the date, and provenance of it are all matters of conjecture. What we seek, rather, is a plausible account that, ideally, fits all the facts. If, for example, we know for certain that the <i>Heart Sutra</i> is not a translation, then we need to account for the stories that state&nbsp;Xuánzàng translated the text. This may involve factors such as the ambiguous use of language and the pious desire to connect&nbsp;Xuánzàng with the Sutra.</div><br /><br /><b>Precision vs Accuracy</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">One of the problems that we face is that the biography gives us a precise date:&nbsp;永徽六年十二月五日. The precision is admirable and can, with some effort, be translated with equal precision into the more familiar Gregorian Calendar, 6 January, 656. Precision to the day might be undermined if all the other references to the event are less precise. If a dozen other texts say "sometime in 656" then the precision of&nbsp;Huìlì and Yàncóng might seem suspicious. In general, however, Chinese sources do keep track of events to this level of precision quite routinely. Two prominent exceptions are the commentaries on the <i>Heart Sutra</i> attributed to Xuánzàng's successors, Kuījī and Woncheuk. But since these almost certainly post-date the date of 656, they don't really matter in terms of establishing the provenance (except that Woncheuk appears to refer to a Sanskrit text).&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Other scenarios include the whole event being made up, i.e., high precision but completely inaccurate. It it might be that they got the day, month, or year wrong, causing inaccuracy at different orders of magnitude. A lot of history is written about at the level of precision of the year. For example, we often cite the year of birth and death for a historical figure:&nbsp;Xuánzàng (602-664). On the other hand, earlier in the <i>Biography </i>the authors suggest that the prince in question is born on the afternoon of the Month 1, day 5 and that Xuánzàng's gift was given in Month 2, day 5 giving us precision to the day.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">So, given a precise date, we have to think about how precise it is and how plausible that level of precision is; and how accurate it is. How would we know? Again, the approach is to look for either refuting or corroborating evidence: which either lowers or raises our level of confidence. What critical thinking does, is make it more likely that our confidence will fall to 0% than that it will rise to 100%. We can more easily be convinced that something is false, than that it is true. But most of the time we will be somewhere in the middle.<br /><br />For example, I think it unlikely that&nbsp;Xuánzàng translated the <i>Heart Sutra</i> from Sanskrit into Chinese. The preponderance of evidence suggests that the <i>Heart Sutra</i> is not a sutra at all, but a sutra extract. The practice of copying out extracts is distinctively Chinese. Also, Nattier has shown that extraction was done in Chinese, from Kumārajīva's translation. The story in the <i>Biography</i>&nbsp;makes it seem likely that&nbsp;Xuánzàng received a Chinese text, before he left for India and learned Sanskrit. And the date of 656 CE from the <i>Biography</i> suggests that he had the text before he started to translate the <i>Prajñāpāramitā</i> texts in 660 CE. There is a story that he translated the <i>Heart Sutra</i> in 649 CE, but this first appears some centuries later and is quite obviously apocryphal. So any story we tell about the man and the text, has to fit all these points. And we must ignore that fact that many uncritical authors have told other stories (the 649 CE date is repeated as a solid fact uncountable times).&nbsp;</div><br /><br /><b>Doing Historiography</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">So, despite what critical thinking nerds might say, it absolutely makes sense to look for confirmation as long as one does it in the right spirit. As historians, we pile up evidence&nbsp; and then try to weave a narrative in which all the evidence is accounted for. We tell stories in the full knowledge that next year or tomorrow, some new piece of evidence may turn up that changes the story. And we (mostly) acknowledge our biases. No one is pretending that History is a science, though sometimes it may approach being a kind of philosophy.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Histories are always constructed on partial information. The historical record is patchy, though it is often better in China than almost anywhere else because the Chinese were literate and kept records. Knowledge is always partial in any case, but as the centuries pass such records tend to degrade. So while we have what we think are reliable copies of the <i>Biography </i>composed by&nbsp;Huìlì and Yàncóng, the kinds of records against which we might look to evaluate the biography often don't exist (such as the correspondence between Xuánzàng and the Emperor). Which is not to say that evidence <i>never </i>existed, although sometimes this may be the case. As the saying goes "Absence of evidence, is not evidence of absence."&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Under these conditions, sitting on the fence and being a tooth-fairy agnostic is not interesting at all. To participate, one has to get off the fence and join the discussion. This is why historians write histories with conviction. As Mercier and Sperber have observed, when making a case, it is natural, reasonable, and <i>rational</i> to make the best case possible and then see what others say. History is not a solitary, one-time occupation, it is an ongoing, collective effort. At any given time a small number of people will be putting forward stories constructed as the strongest case they can make (harnessing confirmation bias) and a majority will be sitting back and arguing over the alternatives. Fundamentally, reason is both collective and argumentative. And so is history.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Another problem is the motivation of the witnesses. The donor of the Fangshan stele states that his desire is for his family to attain awakening by donating the merit of making the stone sutra to that end. We can probably relate to this. However, what was the motivation of the stone carver, or the monastery who employed him? We don't know. We do know that Chinese monasteries were often extremely wealthy as donors sought to mitigate misfortune or buy their way into Heaven. These carved sutras with donor inscriptions are a bit like the Roman Catholic Church selling indulgences --&nbsp;make a big enough donation and your sins will be forgiven. Monasteries also engaged in usury, farming, and manufacturing to generate income. Do these motivations give us any reason to doubt the details of the artefact or the biography? Sometimes the adage, "follow the money" is apposite in historiography.<br /><br />Is the association of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> with Xuánzàng historical or is it legendary? We might want to ask the question, who benefits from the association?&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">One thing that is clear is that, in 7th Century China, insisting that <i>Heart Sutra</i> was a translation from an Indian text would have added an air of authenticity. The implication was that a sutra from India was<i> ipso facto</i> the words of the Buddha.&nbsp;In the story about Xuánzàng receiving the <i>Heart Sutra</i> from a sick man, we are not told what language the sutra is in. But if we look at inscriptions from the period, they are almost all in Chinese, not Sanskrit. A few Sanskrit inscriptions exist, but only a handful of people could read them (a situation analogous to the present). It's unlikely that Sanskrit was heard outside the monasteries in which translations projects were carried out.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">It seems very likely that there was a conscious effort to promote the <i>Heart Sutra</i> from sutra extract (抄經) to sutra (經). And to focus on the name&nbsp;《心經》 (<i>Hṛdayasūtra</i>) rather than any of the alternatives such as 《大明呪經》(<i>Mahāvidyasūtra</i>). The assigning of a&nbsp;translator (譯) would have been an essential part of this process, though it may have exploited an existing ambiguity in which&nbsp;Xuánzàng was an editor (譯) of the text. It is so tempting to see T251 as a edited version of T250, attributed to Kumārajīva, that we might not fault Tanahashi for referring to is as the α-version. Actually, we do not know the provenance of T250, though we do know that the evidence for it is later than evidence for T250.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><br /><b>Questions, questions</b><br /><br />In writing up my notes on the Fangshan Stele I was left with a number of questions:<br /><ul><li>Are the precise dates I have accurate?&nbsp;</li><li>Are the 7th Century sources reliable?&nbsp;</li><li style="text-align: justify;">And how would I know?</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Where can I find accurate geographical information on Tang China?</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Do my observations about 譯 add up to anything?</li><li style="text-align: justify;">What was&nbsp;Xuánzàng's involvement in the <i>Xīnjīng</i>?</li></ul><div style="text-align: justify;">I'm puzzled that many experts have transcribed the colophon of the Fangshan Stele without commenting on the words in it, especially the place names and military titles. Or is it just so obvious to experts that they didn't think it needed commenting on? When the experts in epigraphy don't do their job, then historians struggle to know what to make of such inscriptions. I'm also puzzled as to why so little has been made, by other historians, of the clear and dated reference to the <i>Heart Sutra</i> discussed in the <i>Biography</i>. If&nbsp;Xuánzàng gifted a copy of the Heart Sutra to the Emperor in 656 CE, then this really does change the narrative.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br />The important point is that historians cannot afford to take witnesses at face value. Questions must be asked. Whether we seek to refute or confirm, we have to <i>evaluate </i>sources. Careful historiography is often our best defence against religious bias. History often reveals the weaknesses of religious stories precisely because it evaluates and compares sources. As a historian of ideas, I am fascinated by how doctrines that some religieux treat as articles of faith have been quite changeable over time. And, in particular, by how historical arguments about doctrine reveal weaknesses visible even in antiquity (without the need to invoke modernity or science). I hope to inspire friends, colleagues, and fellow religieux to be more careful in their use of historical sources, to cast a wide net, and above all to critically evaluate sources.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: center;">~~oOo~~</div><br /><br /><b>Bibliography</b><br /><br />Chinese texts from the Online CBETA Reader.<br /><br />Beal, S. (1914.) <i>The Life of Hiuen-Tsiang. By the Shamans Hwui Li and Yen-Tsung</i>. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner &amp; Co.<br /><br />Li Rongxi (1995) <i>A Biography of the Tripiṭaka Master of the Great Ci'en Monastery of the Great Tang Dynasty</i>. Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research.<br /><div><br /></div></div>Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-45795588936784191882018-06-22T09:00:00.000+01:002018-06-24T10:54:55.407+01:00The Earliest Dated Heart Sutra Revisited<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: left; margin-right: 1em; text-align: left;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-lAJ6uU0BLgw/WxeqZQ17API/AAAAAAAAGTQ/luXpYbFONbUmYNTuvbyIa7NvKtsmcP5PwCLcBGAs/s1600/F%C3%A1ngsh%C4%81n.png" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" data-original-height="982" data-original-width="691" height="320" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-lAJ6uU0BLgw/WxeqZQ17API/AAAAAAAAGTQ/luXpYbFONbUmYNTuvbyIa7NvKtsmcP5PwCLcBGAs/s320/F%C3%A1ngsh%C4%81n.png" width="225" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Fángshān Stele, rubbing.<br />He and Xu (2017) </td></tr></tbody></table><div style="text-align: justify;">In 2016, a story made its way around the Chinese media (e.g., the Chinese <a href="http://www.sach.gov.cn/art/2016/9/27/art_723_133778.html">State Administration of Cultural Heritage</a>)&nbsp;that a new discovery had been made of the earliest dated <i>Heart Sutra</i>. A stone stele, inscribed with the Heart Sutra and carrying the date of 661 CE, had been found at Fángshān near Beijing. The story was not picked up in the West. During correspondance with Ji Yun about my review of his article on the <i>Heart Sutra </i>he generously informed me about this inscription and kindly supplied me with a copy of a recent journal article outlining the find (He &amp; Xu 2017) and a book with another transcription (Beijing Library... 1987).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I uncovered some older sources which mention the Fángshān Stele. Firstly, I found that the colophon (containing the date) was transcribed and published in Dàoān and Zhāng (1977). Unfortunately, I cannot get access to this book, except through "snippets" on Google Books. However, I also discovered the text of a pamphlet on Fángshān, which also transcribes the colophon (Lin 1958). And note that Lin 1958 was published in Taipei, Taiwan, not in Communist China and was thus always available to scholars outside the region. The text of Lin (1958) was also used in a pamphlet about the temple on Fángshān, i.e., Yang (2003). Different transcriptions of the colophon disagree on some details. I'm grateful to members of the Omniglot Facebook group and the Chinese Language Stack-exchange for help with deciphering the colophon (though of course any remaining mistakes or infelicities are down to me). </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The Fángshān <i>Xīnjīng</i> Stele is of considerable interest because it purports to be carved in 661 CE, three years before the death of Xuánzàng in 664 CE and yet it attributes the <i>translation </i>of the <i>Heart Sutra </i>to him, which as we know is problematic. I have done my best to assemble and evaluate the evidence below.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The text is inscribed on a stone tablet or stele. It's dimensions are unclear, but the ratio of its sides is approximately 2:3 and I would guess at dimensions in the realm of 60 x 90 cm (allowing ca. 3 x 3 cm&nbsp;for each character and some leeway). The surface of the stele seems to be badly damaged so that many characters are obscured. It was broken in half at some point and appears to have been repaired. The lower left corner is missing, obscuring up to nine characters.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The stone tablet now resides at 雲居寺 Yúnjū sì which translates something like <i>Temple Dwelling in the Clouds</i>. The temple is on 房山 Fángshān, which means something like <i>Repository Mountain. </i>Nearby is 石經山 or Stone Sutra Mountain where Buddhist sutras were carved on thousands of stone slabs in an attempt to preserve the entire Buddhist Canon (as described in the 8th Century). <a href="https://goo.gl/maps/Mo1nM8BL1b32">Fángshān is about 65km south-west of Beijing</a>.</div><br /><br /><b>Title</b><br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-l_jc6_QxR_w/WxuGcBJJAzI/AAAAAAAAGVk/5X7PGVE6Jbs2EZMNkKQr4W1BXkVgmuhDgCLcBGAs/s1600/F%C3%A1ngsh%C4%81n%2Btitle%2Bdetail.png" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="784" data-original-width="284" height="320" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-l_jc6_QxR_w/WxuGcBJJAzI/AAAAAAAAGVk/5X7PGVE6Jbs2EZMNkKQr4W1BXkVgmuhDgCLcBGAs/s320/F%C3%A1ngsh%C4%81n%2Btitle%2Bdetail.png" width="113" /></a></div>The title displayed on the stele comes at the end of the text, which is usual for Indic Buddhist texts. The full title of the text is:<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">般若波羅蜜多心經</blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">The Middle Chinese pronunciation of this can be reconstructed as <i>Banya-baramida-sim-keng. </i>This translates into Sanskrit as <i>Prajñā-pāramitāhṛdaya-sūtra</i>. We can see that the first part—般若波羅蜜多— is an attempt to represent the sounds of the Sanskrit word using Chinese characters, while the last two characters represent whole words.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">This transliteration was used by Mokṣala in his translation of the <i>Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikā-prajñāpāramitā-sūtra </i>dated 291 CE and was also used by Kumārajīva in his translation of the text in 404 CE.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br />Note that the character 經 is a <a href="http://dict.variants.moe.edu.tw/variants/rbt/word_attribute.rbt?quote_code=QTAzMTI0LTAwNQ">variant</a>. <img border="0" data-original-height="27" data-original-width="31" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-35CDT7XGzvg/Wy9jCApWK0I/AAAAAAAAGkQ/zGetHgPbo9Ymsb0m6YBYdOOSRgh6DFeiACLcBGAs/s1600/005.jpg" width="10 px" /><br /><br /><br /><b>Attribution</b><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-5wDUW0YyuLA/Wxev2maCUfI/AAAAAAAAGTw/4_RPEhj9N704V93dxIMiAOx4kTk93IeqwCLcBGAs/s1600/F%C3%A1ngsh%C4%81n%2Bdetail.png" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="376" data-original-width="115" height="320" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-5wDUW0YyuLA/Wxev2maCUfI/AAAAAAAAGTw/4_RPEhj9N704V93dxIMiAOx4kTk93IeqwCLcBGAs/s320/F%C3%A1ngsh%C4%81n%2Bdetail.png" width="97" /></a></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br />The stele attributes the text to Xuánzàng (see detail, right):<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">三藏法師玄奘奉 詔譯</blockquote></div><blockquote class="tr_bq">三藏 Tripiṭaka<br />法師 Dharma master (Skt&nbsp;<i>dharma-bhāṇaka</i>)<br />玄奘 Xuánzàng<br />奉 詔譯 translated with imperial authorisation</blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">Note that there is a full character space between 奉 and 詔. We see the same space in the <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2016/01/the-oldest-dated-heart-sutra.html">Beilin Stele</a>. This is added as a mark of respect to the Emperor. The character<a href="http://www.buddhism-dict.net/cgi-bin/xpr-ddb.pl?q=%E8%A9%94">詔</a> means:<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">"An imperial edict. To decree. Appearing in the colophons of translated scriptures, it indicates official authorization at the highest level, indicating the high level of the translatorʼs reputation." (DDB)</blockquote>Note that this attribution occurs at the beginning of all of Xuánzàng's translations in the Taishō Tripiṭaka. However, it also occurs in his travelogue 大唐西域 (T2087) which was not translated but <i>composed </i>by him. Note also that there are minor variations in some earlier editions suggesting that the wording was not fixed.<br /><br /><br /><b>Date</b><br /><br /><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-r4fHGd5Iu3M/Wxe2MYTPzxI/AAAAAAAAGT8/fbvqOMJlISspXR-7sCwew-alTc6ssbkugCLcBGAs/s1600/Fanshang%2Bdate%2Bdetail.png" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; display: inline !important; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="958" data-original-width="300" height="320" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-r4fHGd5Iu3M/Wxe2MYTPzxI/AAAAAAAAGT8/fbvqOMJlISspXR-7sCwew-alTc6ssbkugCLcBGAs/s320/Fanshang%2Bdate%2Bdetail.png" width="100" /></a>The date of 661 CE comes from the phrase 顯慶六年二月<span style="background-color: white; color: #222222; font-family: &quot;arial&quot; , sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">八</span>日造, which occurs at the bottom of the leftmost column on the stele.This is considerably less clear than the attribution. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">顯慶 Xiǎnqìng refers to a period of the rule of Emperor 唐高宗 Táng Gāozōng, roughly coinciding with the years 656-661. 唐 was the name of the dynastic lineage, hence Táng Dynasty. Chinese emperors would take special "reign names" (年號) at significant points in their reign. Gāozōng used 14 different names during his time as Emperor (649-683).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The Chinese new year begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice, usually in mid January to mid February. The length of months varied, but generally they were defined from new moon to new moon which was on average 29 ​<sup><span style="font-size: xx-small;">32</span></sup>⁄<sub><span style="font-size: xx-small;">60</span></sub>&nbsp;days long. Thus a typical month might be 29 or 30 days, and this would always leave a few days at the end (12 x 30 = 360 and a year is 365.25 days). [I'm told that this is an over simplification]<br /><br />However, reign periods did not always change at new year. The Xiǎnqìng period began on 7 February 656 and ended on 4 April 661, to be followed by the 龍朔 Lóngshuò period. Lóngshuò began on the 30th day of the second month (= 5 April), so this stele was made towards the end of Xiǎnqìng, on 13 March, 661.</div><blockquote class="tr_bq">顯慶 Xiǎnqìng era<br />六年 6th Year<br />二月 2nd month = March<br />八日 8th day = 13<br />造 made, constructed.</blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">Not all the elements of the first character 顯 are clear, but the second 慶 is clear and there seems little doubt that this is the correct interpretation. This is partly because 慶 is not used in many other names of any other regnal periods and is thus a useful identifier. There is no obvious reign period for which this could be mistaken.</div><br /><br /><b>The Text</b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The rest of the text is presented in 11 columns of 26 characters (or less), most of which are clearly visible and match the text of T251. There are some minor differences, however.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">One feature of the text is the substitution of the simplified character 无 for 無 throughout. At first this struck me as odd, but asking around I found that it was actually common, especially in inscriptions where the justification was that it was easier to inscribe. The <a href="https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E6%97%A0">Wiktionary entry </a>says "First attested in the Warring States period; used interchangeably with 無 until the Tang dynasty." Some of the simplified characters introduced by the PRC government actually have long histories.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In the <i>dhāraṇī</i>, 帝 is written as 諦 "examine", with the same pronunciation /tei/. This composite character has&nbsp;言 "speech" as a (vaguely) semantic element and&nbsp;帝 as a phonetic element. We also saw this substitution in the <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2016/01/the-oldest-dated-heart-sutra.html">Beilin Stele</a>. If we explain 无 for 無 as a simplification, then 諦 for 帝 is the opposite, since 諦 is considerably more complex and therefore difficult to carve. However, the&nbsp;so-called two truths are often transliterated as 二諦 and it may that the calligrapher thought this connection too good to pass up.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">The text appears to be signed at the end of the sutra, but I cannot make out the character and none of my sources mentions it.&nbsp;</div><br /><br /><b>Colophon</b><br /><br /><div><div style="text-align: justify;">The colophon is important because it not only gives us the date of the work, but some details about the donor who paid for the stele to be made. Such items were a fund-raiser for the monastery to help pay for their main project of carving the entire Tripiṭaka into stone (which remained incomplete, but covered thousands of tablets). Indeed, our text is not only the oldest dated <i>Heart Sutra</i>,&nbsp; it is the oldest dated colophon at Fangshan and thus marks the beginning of a new phase of the project.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">By comparing the image of the rubbing from He and Xu (2017) and published transcriptions (which&nbsp; disagree, are partial, and/or contain errors), I have created a kind of critical edition. The colophon must have had more characters where the corner is broken off (indicated in light grey beow).&nbsp;</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span style="color: #351c75;">雍州櫟陽縣</span><span style="color: #b45f06;">遊騎將軍守</span><span style="color: blue;">左衛淥城府</span><span style="color: #38761d;">左果毅都尉</span><span style="color: red;">楊社生</span><span style="color: #999999;">□<b>父</b>楊</span><br /><span style="color: #cc0000;"><span style="color: #674ea7;"><b>母</b>段</span>□<span style="color: #351c75;"><b>妻</b>扈</span></span><span style="color: #38761d;"><b>息</b>懷慶玄嗣玄器<b>玄</b>貞</span><span style="color: blue;"><b>女</b>大娘二娘</span><b>隸</b>利巫山<span style="color: #999999;">?</span><span style="color: #999999;">?</span><span style="color: #999999;">?</span><br />家眷屬緣此功德齊成正覺<span style="color: #999999;">?</span><span style="color: #999999;">?</span>顯慶六年二月八日造經<span style="color: #999999;">?</span><span style="color: #999999;">?</span><span style="color: #999999;">?</span></span></blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq">□ = a full character-sized space in the inscription.</blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">What can we find in this? Firstly the inscription was commissioned by <span style="color: red;">楊社生</span> Yáng Shèshēng. Unfortunately, he seems not to have made any other mark on history. However, 楊 is a very significant name in Chinese history because the Emperors of Sui were from the 楊 clan; although it is not clear if Yáng Shèshēng was closely related to them, because of his name and rank we can say that he is a member of the aristocracy.<br /><br /></div><br /><span style="color: #351c75;"><b>Line 1.</b> 雍州櫟陽縣</span><span style="color: #b45f06;">遊騎將軍守</span><span style="color: blue;">左衛淥城府</span><span style="color: #38761d;">左果毅都尉</span><span style="color: red;">楊社生</span><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Yáng was from <span style="color: #351c75;">雍州</span> Yōng Zhōu or Yong Province in which the Tang capital, Chang'an (長安) was located (modern day Xian). More specifically, he was from <span style="color: #351c75;">櫟陽縣</span> Yueyang county.* Yueyang was a temporary capital of the Han (200-205 BCE). It is now in the Yanliang District (阎良区) about 50 km from Xian.</div></div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><span style="font-size: x-small;">* note that the usual Mandarin pronunciation of 櫟 is lì, but the name of the County is definitely Yue, probably based on the pronunciation of 樂 yuè. </span></blockquote>Yang was a military officer. With help from Charles Hucker's (1985) <i>Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China</i> we can determined that he held (<span style="color: #b45f06;">守</span><span style="color: #38761d;">)</span> the prestige title of General of Mobile Cavalry (<span style="color: #b45f06;">游騎將軍</span>), but served as Courageous Commander" (<span style="color: #38761d;">果毅都尉)</span> of the left (<span style="color: #38761d;">左</span>) in the guard of the left (<span style="color: blue;">左衛</span>) in the garrison <span style="color: blue;">府</span><span style="color: #b45f06;"> </span>of <span style="color: blue;">淥城&nbsp;Lùchéng</span>. The early Tang military was divided into 12 armies, each comprised of a number of garrisons (~ 650 in total). Each garrison had an overall commander and two "courageous commanders" (果毅都尉), left and right. The "courageous" part related to the way of referring to different garrisons.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The place name 淥城府 or Lùchéng Garrison seems to correspond to modern day 涿州为 [涿州為] or Zhuōzhōu Province which is about 30km south-east of Fángshān. This explains why the stele was found in Yúnjū Temple rather than somewhere closer to Chang'an.<br /><br /><br /><b>Line 2: </b><span style="color: #999999;">父楊 </span><span style="color: #cc0000;"><span style="color: #674ea7;">母段</span>□ <span style="color: #351c75;"><b>妻</b>扈</span></span><span style="color: #38761d;">息懷慶玄嗣玄器玄貞</span><span style="color: blue;">女大娘二娘</span>隸利巫山<br /><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Line two is all summed by Yang (2003) as 其全家 "his family". It begins with his <span style="color: #cc0000;">Mother 母 Duan段</span>. Duan would be her family name. Next is his <span style="color: red;">wife 妻 Hu 扈</span>; his <span style="color: #38761d;">sons (息): 懷慶, 玄嗣, 玄黎*, and 玄貞</span>; his <span style="color: blue;">daughters (女) 大娘</span><sup>†</sup><span style="color: blue;"> and 二娘</span><span style="color: magenta;"> </span>(i.e., first daughter, second daughter); and finally someone named 利巫山 who is a servant or dependent (隸). Perhaps a "ward" given that he is included with the family. The person missing from all this is his father. Since the tablet has columns of 26 characters, there are potentially three characters missing from the end of each colophon column. We can conjecture that the end of line one included the word father (父) and his name, which was presumably also 楊.</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><span style="font-size: x-small;">* 玄器 is an alternative reading of 玄黎.<br />† in this context we might expect 太 rather than 大.</span></blockquote><div><div style="text-align: justify;">The traditional Chinese system of names is relatively complex. They have a family (originally a clan) name, in this case 楊. Then they have a given name (名) which may be given by the head of the family rather than the parents and only used in the family. Women only used their family and given names.&nbsp;Boys might have an infant name (乳名) used up to adulthood. At adulthood men get a 字 or "courtesy name" which is the name they use in everyday life, though intimates may also call them by a nickname (號). At ordination monks take a Dharma name (法號). It's possible that the younger sons became monks and that their names with the common element 玄 (which they share with Xuanzang) reflect this. Other names, such as a <i>nom de plume</i>, or posthumous names were also common. Emperors often took a new name when they took the throne.<br /><br />Three characters are missing at the end of this line.<br /><br /></div><br /><b>Line 3:</b> 家眷屬緣此功德齊成正覺<span style="color: #999999;">?</span><span style="color: #999999;">?</span>顯慶六年二月八日造經<span style="color: #999999;">?</span><span style="color: #999999;">?</span><span style="color: #999999;">?</span><br /><br />The third line asks that family (家) members (眷屬) be caused (緣) by this merit (此功德) to attain awakening (成正覺) together (齊).<br /><br /></div>The date 顯慶六年二月<span style="background-color: white; color: #222222; font-family: &quot;arial&quot; , sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">八</span>日 the sutra was made 造經 we have already discussed.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;"><b><br /></b> <b>Discussion</b></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">For the first time we have physical evidence linking the <i>Heart Sutra</i> to Xuánzàng during his lifetime and naming him as translator (譯). However, we need to be cautious. What this tells us is precisely that those involved in the production of the inscription believed that Xuánzàng had translated the sutra. Xuánzàng is&nbsp;<i>mentioned </i>in&nbsp;this inscription, but he wasn't involved in it. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I asked Dr Jeffrey Kotyk if he could shed any light on the chronology from the traditional histories. In the 《釋氏通鑑》, a Buddhist history of China up to ca 960 CE, we find a single mention of Xuánzàng for year 5 of Xianqing 顯慶 (kindly translated for me by JK, but with some slight modifications of my own):</div><blockquote class="tr_bq">「三月。西明寺靜之禪師遷逝。甞鼻患肉塞。百方無驗。有僧令誦般若心經萬遍。恰至五千。肉鈴便落(本傳)○奘法師。於玉華譯般(若經)○」(CBETA, X76, no. 1516, p. 88b2-4)</blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq" style="text-align: justify;">"3rd lunar month. Chanshi Jingzhi of Ximing-si passed away. He once suffered from blocked nasal passages. Hundreds of remedies were ineffective. There was a monk who had him recite the <i>Prajñā-Heart Sutra </i>ten-thousand times. At exactly five-thousand [recitations], his [nasal] flesh tinkled [like a bell]. (original biography). Master Xuánzàng at Yuhua translated the <i>Pra(jñā Sūtra)</i>."</blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq"><span style="font-size: x-small;">Words in square brackets are added to help make sense of the translation. The words in parentheses are notes from the CBETA edition.</span></blockquote><div><div style="text-align: justify;">From the 《大唐大慈恩寺三藏法師傳》, a biography of Xuánzàng composed by慧立 Huìlì, edited and published by 彥悰 Yàncóng in about 688 CE (T 2053), we know that Xuánzàng moved to Yuhua late in the 4th year of Xianqing (659), and started translating the <i>Mahāprajñāpāramitā</i>&nbsp;(i.e., T220) at the beginning of the 5th year (660). See below for more on dates. What this passage suggests is that the <i>Heart Sutra</i> predates the translation of the&nbsp;<i>Mahāprajñāpāramitā</i>.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The phrase 三藏法師玄奘奉 詔譯 appears at the beginning of T220, Xuánzàng's translation of the collected <i>Prajñāpāramitā sūtras. </i> By contrast, Huìlì and Yàncóng state that the work was translated due to a request from the "people"</div><blockquote class="tr_bq">東國重於《般若》,前代雖翻,不能周備,眾人更請委翻 (T 2053.275c.17-19)</blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq">In the Eastern Country the <i>Mahāprajñāpāramitā Sūtra</i> was highly esteemed. Although it had been translated into Chinese during a previous dynasty, the translation was incomplete, so the people [眾人] requested that the Master kindly translate it anew. (Li 1995: 327)</blockquote><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DpBnMEicsNY/Wx0d_dEmmYI/AAAAAAAAGYQ/P52YdR5HqiktK4egmTzkEcQnemt06-5-ACEwYBhgL/s1600/changan%2Band%2Benvirons%2Bcopy.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="566" data-original-width="808" height="224" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DpBnMEicsNY/Wx0d_dEmmYI/AAAAAAAAGYQ/P52YdR5HqiktK4egmTzkEcQnemt06-5-ACEwYBhgL/s320/changan%2Band%2Benvirons%2Bcopy.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><div style="text-align: justify;">From what I can make out, such translations were presented to the Emperor after completion and <i>then </i>received the imperial seal of approval. </div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">The 玉華宮 Yuhua Gong, or Palace of Jade Flowers, is the place where Xuánzàng's translation team worked on T220. It is about 100 km north of Changan, well away from the distractions of life in the capital (and quite far from where Yang lived, also). According to Huìlì and Yàncóng, Xuánzàng moved out to Yuhua in 顯慶四年十月 or November 659 (T2053.275c). Yaowang Mountain, about halfway between Chang'an and Yuhua also has a collection of stone sutras. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The date of 顯慶六年二月<span style="background-color: white; color: #222222; font-family: &quot;arial&quot; , sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">八</span>日 for the Fángshān stele is interesting because it's in the middle of the period during which Xuánzàng and his team of translators were translating the collection of sixteen <i>Prajñāpāramitā sūtras </i>known as the 大般若波羅蜜多經 or <i>Mahāprajñāpāramitā Sūtra</i> (T220). This took about four years and occurred between: 顯慶五年正月一日 and 龍朔三年十月二十日. The table below shows the key events and the dates in the traditional Chinese and Gregorian calendars.</div><br /><table><tbody><tr><td width="140"><u>Event</u></td><td width="170"><u>Chinese date</u></td><td width="200"><u>Gregorian</u></td></tr><tr><td></td><td width="170">顯慶 begins (i.7)</td><td width="100">656 Feb 7</td></tr><tr><td>Move to Yuhua</td><td>顯慶四年十月 </td><td>659 Nov</td></tr><tr><td>T220 Trans begins</td><td>顯慶五年正月一日</td><td>660 Feb 16</td></tr><tr><td><b>Fángshān stele</b></td><td><b>顯慶六年二月八日</b></td><td><b>661 March 13</b></td></tr><tr><td><br /></td><td>龍朔 begins (ii.30)</td><td>661 Apr 4</td></tr><tr><td>T220 Trans ends </td><td>龍朔三年十月二十日</td><td>663 Nov 15</td></tr><tr><td><br /></td><td>麟德 begins (i.1)</td><td>664 Feb 2</td></tr><tr><td>Xuánzàng dies</td><td>麟德一年二月五日</td><td>664 March 7</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">As we can see, the stele purports to be from a time a little over a year into the translation of the <i>Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra </i>collection. And at a time when Xuánzàng had retreated from public life in the capital to a mountain retreat 100 km away. If we take this at face value, then Xuánzàng must have "translated" the <i>Heart Sutra</i> attributed to him (T251) before he started this magnum opus. I use scare quotes on "translated" because it is clear from other evidence that he did not translate it. Note that Xuánzàng died within a few months of completing the <i>Mahāprajñāpāramitā Sūtra</i> translation.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">All of the circumstantial evidence points away from Xuánzàng's being involved in translating it (see Nattier 1992: 189ff for a survey of the evidence). </div><ol><li style="text-align: justify;">The <i>Heart Sutra</i> is a 抄經 (chāo jīng) or "sutra extract" rather than a translation. </li><li style="text-align: justify;">The extraction was from Kumārajīva's Chinese translation of the Large Sutra (T223), with other parts inspired by the same text, and a <i>dhāraṇī </i>from elsewhere. It now clearly predates the completion of T220.</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Like a lot of English (so-called) "translations" the text attributed to Xuánzàng (T251) is an edited version of an existing text (T250). Two lines were removed and the characters for two names and one technical term (skandha) were changed.</li><li style="text-align: justify;">All the terms changed were introduced by Xuánzàng, but were seldom taken up by later translators.</li><li style="text-align: justify;">No text translated by Xuánzàng ever replaced one translated by Kumārajīva in popular Chinese Buddhism - Kumārajīva's texts are still in use today. </li><li style="text-align: justify;">Xuánzàng's biography mentions him being <i>given </i>the text, not translating it.</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Xuánzàng's own travelogue doesn't mention the <i>Heart Sutra</i> at all. </li><li style="text-align: justify;">The <i>Heart Sutra</i> does not appear in T220, Xuánzàng's collection of <i>Prajñāpāramitā sutras </i>translated from Sanskrit (though we have reason to believe he already possessed a version). No other <i>Prajñāpāramitā </i>text translated by Xuánzàng occurs outside of T220. </li></ol><div style="text-align: justify;">So, Xuánzàng was, at best, an <i>editor </i>of the text. And such edits as occurred were relatively minor. In a forthcoming essay I will show that the character 譯 does not always mean "translate" but can mean precisely "edit". In any case, the resulting text, or one very like it, was attributed to Xuánzàng three years before he died (early in 664 CE) by someone who lived several hundred kilometers away. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Even if the story about the blocked nasal passages is not exactly historically accurate, it probably does reflect the use to which the <i>Heart Sutra</i> was put in the 10th Century, when the commentary was composed. And this is confirmed by other sources. While a handful of scholars studied and interpreted the text as a document of Buddhist ideas, the majority of Buddhists, then and now, see it in magical terms, in which understanding the text is secondary, if it has any importance at all.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">The Fángshān Stele can now claim to be the oldest dated <i>Heart Sutra</i>. It forces us to review the relationship between Xuánzàng and the <i>Heart Sutra</i>, though I do not think that we can take the attribution to him at face value. Since the <i>Heart Sutra</i> Xuánzàng had was almost certainly already in Chinese, we cannot say that he translated it. It is possible, even likely, that he <i>edited </i>it for publication. If he did so, it was most likely before he embarked upon his translation of the <i>Mahāprajñāpāramitā Sūtra</i>. And he probably did not include the <i>Heart Sutra</i> in this collection, because it was already in Chinese. If the biography of Huìlì and Yàncóng can be believed, then Xuánzàng treated the text as a locally produced (magically efficacious) <i>dhāraṇī</i>, not as an authentic Indian sutra. However, the commentaries of Kuījī and Woncheuk (which I have written about before) clearly do treat the text as having an Indian origin and as being a text about ideas rather than simply apophatic magic.</div><br /></div><br /><b>Bibliography</b><br /><br />Chinese Canonical texts from the <a href="http://cbetaonline.dila.edu.tw/en/">CBETA Reader</a>, except where stated.<br /><br /><div class="hang">北京圖書館金石組, 中國佛教圖書文物館石經組編 (1987) ‘房山石經題記匯編’. 书目文献出版社 : 新華書店北京發行所發行, 1987. = The Beijing Library Metal and Stone Group and The Chinese Buddhist books and Cultural Relics Museum Stone Sutra Group. (1987). Classified Compilation of Headings and Records of the Stone Scriptures on Mt. Fang, Beijing: Bibliographic Literature Publishing House and Xinhua Bookstore.</div><br /><div class="hang">道安 and 張曼濤. (1977)「大藏經硏究彙編」(2 Vols.) 台北: 大乘文化出版社. = Dàoān and Zhāng Màntāo. (1977) <i>Collection of Tripiṭaka Research</i>. (2 Vols.). Taipei: Mahāyana Culture Press.</div><br /><div class="hang">賀銘, 續小玉, “早期《心經》的版本”,房山石經博物館/房山石經與雲居寺文化研究中心,編輯,《石經研究》,第一輯,頁12-28. 北京:北京燕山出版社,2017年。= He Ming, Xu Xiaoyu. (2017) “the Early recessions of Heart Sutra”, in Fángshān Stone Sutras Museum &amp; Research Center of Fángshān Stone Sutras and Yunju Temple, ed., Stone Sutras Studies, Vol,1, pp.12-28. Beijing: Beijing Yanshan Chubanshe.</div><br /><div class="hang">Hucker, Charles O. (1985). <i>Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China</i>. Stanford University Press.</div><br /><div class="hang">Li Rongxi (1995) <i>A Biography of the Tripiṭaka Master of the Great Ci'en Monastery of the Great Tang</i>. Numata Centre for Buddhist Translation and Research.</div><br /><div class="hang">林元白。(1958)「唐代房山石经刻造概况」現代佛學 , 3。 一九五八年。= Lin Yuanbai. 'A General Survey of Fángshān Stone Sutras from the Tang Dynasty. <i>Modern Buddhist Studies</i>, 3, 1958. www.baohuasi.org/qikan/xdfx/5803-011A.htm. <a href="http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.baohuasi.org/qikan/xdfx/5803-011A.htm">Cached copy</a>.</div><br /><div class="hang">杨亦武. (2003) 云居寺. 华文出版社. = Yáng Yìwǔ (2003). Yún jū Temple. Huawen Publishing House.<br /><b></b><br /><b></b><br /><b>Additional Links</b><br /><br />Chinese news story: <a href="http://www.sach.gov.cn/art/2016/9/27/art_723_133778.html">http://www.sach.gov.cn/art/2016/9/27/art_723_133778.html</a><br /><br />Video on Fángshān showing caves and stone steles with carved sutras. <a href="http://www.ikgf.uni-erlangen.de/videos/china-academic-visit-2013/the-video-on-F%C3%A1ngsh%C4%81n.shtml">http://www.ikgf.uni-erlangen.de/videos/china-academic-visit-2013/the-video-on-Fángshān.shtml</a></div></div></div>Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-91264192793521571872018-06-08T08:39:00.000+01:002018-06-09T14:52:49.324+01:00Asoka's Dates and Historicity<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-S4spFmjgCkg/WxjZSd7JXAI/AAAAAAAAGUQ/ysUrJNYq1UwvDllTGLa6-mi2bRViH_gBACLcBGAs/s1600/buddhacoin.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="442" data-original-width="241" height="200" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-S4spFmjgCkg/WxjZSd7JXAI/AAAAAAAAGUQ/ysUrJNYq1UwvDllTGLa6-mi2bRViH_gBACLcBGAs/s200/buddhacoin.jpg" width="108" /></a></div><div style="text-align: justify;">I recently had the pleasure of meeting Joe Cribb at the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.indiran.org/">Ancient India and Iran Trust</a> (25 May 2018). Joe was keeper of coins at the British Museum and is an expert on early coins in the area of what is now Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, his main interest is in what coins and other physical objects can tell us about chronology. The gist of his lecture for the AIIT was a revised chronology of the Kushan period of Gandhāra, ca. 1-500 CE. The lecture covered much the same ground as a recent paper: <a href="https://www.academia.edu/36308762/Numismatic_evidence_and_the_date_of_Kani%E1%B9%A3ka_I"><em>Numismatic evidence and the date of Kaniṣka I</em></a>. This is an important result for anyone interested in, for example, early Buddhist art in Gandhāra. Some of the earliest images of the Buddha appear on Kushan coins.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Much of my pleasure at meeting Joe was that, just the day before, I had downloaded and read his 2017 article on the dates of Asoka. He was spurred to reconsider the dates of Asoka by our mutual friend Richard Gombrich, former Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford University, though it took him some time to get around to publishing his findings.<br /><br /></div><br /><strong>Dating the Buddha</strong><br /><div style="text-align: justify;"><br />In 1992, Gombrich had argued for a revised reading of the ordination lineages found in the <i>Dīpavaṃsa</i>, a history composed in Sri Lanka. Gombrich's most relevant conclusion is that:</div><blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">...the Buddha died 136 years before Asoka’s inauguration, which means in 404 B.C. So, taking the margin of error into account, he died between 411 and 399 B.C., probably towards the middle of that period. (1992: 20)</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">This revised date for the <em>parinibbāṇa </em>has become widely accepted amongst scholars, though it is approximately a century later than the traditional dates (of which there are more than one). However, note that Gombrich's date relies on the only fixed point in early South Asian ancient history, <em>the dates of Asoka</em>.<br /><br /></div><strong><br /></strong> <strong>Dating Asoka</strong><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The tale of the rediscovery of Asoka by Military and Civil officers of the British East India Company acting as amateur archaeologists is engagingly retold by Charles Allen in his book <em>Ashoka</em> (2012). I won't go over this ground, but I want to make the comparison with the Buddha as a legendary figure and Asoka as an historical figure.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">We know about the Buddha from living Buddhist traditions and from the extant texts of both living and dead Buddhist traditions. The story of the Buddha as the founder of our religion has been told and retold for centuries. How many centuries we are not sure, but at least 20 and as many as 25. The old literary strata of our texts had to have been composed after the so-called "second urbanisation" which occured in the Ganges Valley after about 700-600 CE. The first urbanisation was the enigmatic Indus Valley Civilisation, which ended ca. 1700 BCE due to climate change. However, survivors of that prolonged drought moved north and blended with the populations there, so the people themselves lived on. The second urbanisation was a rather extended process, and some sources place the emergence of the key city of Sravasti as late as ca 400 CE. I need to look more closely at this as&nbsp; Sravasti (Pāli <i>Sāvatthī</i>) is a key location for the Buddhist stories and its dates can help us to narrow down when the production of such stories began.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Since the Nikāya and Āgama texts don't mention Asoka or his Grandfather, we may infer that they were composed before his time. I think Cribb makes this argument all the more plausible. This means that the earliest texts were composed between ca. 700 and 300 BCE.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The modern discussion about Asoka's dates is quite vague, partly because the basic facts became established in the 19th Century. For a few decades references were made to the original observations, but after a while everyone just takes it all for granted and says that Asoka reigned in the mid 3rd Century BCE and leaves it at that. His dates are sometimes given more precisely. The Wikipedia entry on Asoka, for example, citing the first edition of Romila Thapar's excellent <i>History of India</i>, says that he "ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from c. 268 to 232 BCE," the latter date also being the date of his death. These dates are widely accepted as being accurate, if not very precise.</div><br />Cribb notes that the dating of Asoka is based on a number of different sources of evidence:<br /><blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">Our knowledge of Mauryan chronology comes from five main sources: Buddhist texts like the <i>Dīpavaṃsa</i>, Jain and Purāṇic texts, references to the Mauryan kings in Classical Greek and Latin texts and the inscriptions of the reign of the third Mauryan king Ashoka. (2017: 5)</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">All of these sources, except for the inscriptions, were composed long after the life of Asoka. The inscriptions themselves are the single most important historical source, not only for Buddhists, but for all of ancient history in India. Rock Edict no. 13 mentions five Greco-Bactrian kings:</div><blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">"Of the five Greek kings three are of chronological significance: Antikini must represent Antigonus Gonatus (276-239 BC); Maka must be Magas king of Cyrene (c 283- 250 BC); Alikasundra is most likely Alexander II of Epirus (272-255). The other two cannot be used to create any direct chronological evidence: they are Antiyoki, i.e., Antiochus, and Turamaya, i.e., Ptolemy." (2017: 8)</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">This edict is not dated, but by combining inferences drawn from other edicts, we may conjecture that it was created in the 13th or 14th year of Asoka's reign. Knowledge of these kings reflects the period 272-255 BCE and, allowing a year for the news of them to travel, suggests that the edict was made in 271-254, making his coronation dates 285/4-268/7 BCE. Sri Lankan sources suggest a delay of four years between accession and coronation.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Greek and Latin sources do not mention Asoka, but they do seem to mention his grandfather, Chandragupta:</div><blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">"The Classical historians Diodorus (16.93-4) and Curtius (IX.2.1–7) referred to the Indian king ruling at the time of Alexander the Great's invasion of north-western India, 326-5 BCE, in terms which correspond to the descriptions in Indian texts of one of the Nanda predecessor of the Mauryan kings (low born, śūdra origin and the descendant of a barber, Singh 2012, 272–3), who the same sources state immediately preceded Chandragupta. Diodorus called him Xandrames; Curtius called him Agrammes. These texts can be seen as evidence that Chandragupta was not yet king in 325 BCE." (2017: 6)</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">Chandragupta is also apparently referred to by Pompeius Trogus, Strabo, Appian, Hegesandrus. All of these European classical authors were writing long after the time, and their observations have to be treated with caution. Cribbs notes that all previous treatments of them have taken these sources at face value, but they have also misinterpreted these texts to fit a preconceived idea about Indian chronology.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">The Greek and Roman sources put the beginning of Chandragupta's reign "at about 321 BCE, with the range proposed being c. 324–320 BCE." (2017: 9). Cribb discusses the various accounts of the length of the reigns of Chandragupta, Bindusara, and Asoka, including summaries of the Purāṇīc and Jain texts. He concludes that "the Greek and Roman sources are pointing to the accession of Chandragupta during the period c. 311 (unlikely to be earlier than 316) to 303 BCE." (2017: 11).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">As it turns out, in order to make the highest number of the various dates match up, it is necessary to adopt Richard Gombrich's revised reading of the <i>Dīpavaṃsa</i>. This gives the date of Asoka year 1 based on his accession (with coronation four years later) as no earlier than 285/4 BCE and no later than 270/1 BCE.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Based on the Dipavaṃsa sources, anchored by the revised dates for Asoka, this places the Buddha's <em>parinibbāṇa </em>no earlier than 423 BCE and no later than 389 BCE, i.e., less precise than Gombrich's dates (411-399 BCE), but centred on roughly the period, i.e., beginning of the 4th Century BCE. As I noted above, Sravasti might have emerged as a city around this time or only a little earlier. Sravasti is the established capital of Kosala in Buddhist and Jain texts, as well as in Pāṇini's grammar.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Cribb sounds a final note of caution that we do not actually know that the edicts of Asoka were composed and/or inscribed by him or during his lifetime. We need to constantly question the accepted wisdom of our time, because it is often simply based on assumptions that have become hidden over time.</div><strong><br /></strong> <strong><br /></strong> <strong>A Historical Figure?</strong><br /><br />Some time ago I linked to <a href="https://www.academia.edu/36121418/The_Idea_of_the_Historical_Buddha_Published_version_JIABS_2017_">David Drewes (2017) article</a>, in which he starts out by saying:<br /><blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">We are thus left with the rather strange proposition that Buddhism was founded by a historical figure who has not been linked to any historical facts, an idea that would seem decidedly unempirical, and only dubiously coherent. (Drewes 2017: 1)</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">This, unsurprisingly, proved to be a provocative statement for many Buddhists and members of the <i>Triratna Buddhist Order</i>. For many of us the historicity of the Buddha is not only beyond doubt but to doubt it seems a little perverse. I bring it up again because Cribb's article draws together all the research which makes Asoka seem to very definitely be a historical figure and this highlighted for me what a historical figure is.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Over and above the inscriptions in stone which purport to have have been erected by Asoka, the stories of Asoka were preserved by Buddhists, Jains, and Hindus in India, and by Greeks and Romans outside of India. Of course, we must keep in mind that the Greek Herodotus was not only called the Father of History, but also the <em>Father of Lies</em>. Like other writers of his age, he never let the truth get in the way of a good story (there is nothing new about "fake news"). All of these sources, particularly those composed centuries after the facts they recount, taken individually must be treated with caution, even the inscriptions themselves. However, taken together they make a compelling case. Asoka may well be a figure of legends and myths, but he also has a good claim to be the first genuinely historical figure in Indian history (Pāṇīni is another claimant to the title, but his dates are based on Asoka's).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In contrast, the Buddha is a figure only of Buddhist stories. No account of him is found in Jain or Hindu texts, let alone in Latin or Greek. It might be argued that they could not be expected to record someone outside of their own communities, except that the Buddhist texts record many encounters between the Buddha and non-Buddhists. Of course, there are no written records until some centuries later, but if <i>we </i>preserved stories from that time, why would others not? Would the Brahmins not have been keen to denounce Buddhists as heretics for denying both <i>ātman </i>and <i>Brahman</i>?</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Recall that, by the time of Roman and Greek contact with the Mauryans, the Buddha was nearly a century dead and his followers could be found throughout the Empire. Did other groups really not meet any or hear news of them?</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">One of the arguments for the historicity of the Buddha (i.e., for his being a historical figure) is that we all tell the same story, more or less, about him. I'm not the first to point out that actually the received story is contradicted in many details in the <em>Ariyapariyesanā Sutta </em>account of his life. In an unpublished article (Attwood 2013), I've argued that we know his name was not Siddhārtha and there is reason to doubt that his name was even Gotama. With respect to this, if Buddhism began with a small group of people and expanded out, at the end of the process all Buddhists would have a version of the original story of founding that the small group told. In a published article (2012) I argued that, based on the preserved stories, the small group in question, the Śākya tribe, might have arrived in Central Ganges Valley having ultimately come from Iran. That idea was first put forward informally by Michael Witzel and I simply formalised it. The same year Witzel (2012) published a masterly account of the origins of world mythology in the small group who left Africa ca. 100,000 years ago (incidentally allowing us to set aside Jung's fantasy about a "collective unconscious").</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The historicity of Asoka is not in doubt because there is a range of evidence for his having lived. Some of the details of his life may be vague or in doubt, but he himself is beyond any reasonable doubt. Asoka was a man who lived in India in the 3rd Century BCE. He inherited an Empire, which collapsed not long after his death. Accepting the historicity of Asoka is a simple matter of rationality. It would be irrational to argue that the evidence amounts to nothing.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Whether or not any reader accepts the historicity of the Buddha depends entirely on how much credence they give to the Buddhist stories about the Buddha. One of the arguments is that it is the simplest way to account for the stories - all those stories must be based on a man. I think this is doubtful for two reasons. The texts themselves are full of stories that are unequivocally myths (stories about gods and fairies) and legends (stories about past Buddhas). We know that the authors of these stories had good imaginations, they used a wealth of similes, metaphors, imagery, and humour to convey their message. They clearly <em>did </em>make up stories (e.g., the Jātakas) in order to communicate their values. And such stories are also common to all of Buddhism. So why not the founder figure also?</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The other objection to this is that the preference for simple answers is a known cognitive bias and it turns out that things are almost never simple. We tend to think of evolution in terms of the <a href="http://mechanicalengineers.co/2013/12/evolution-trees-and-braids.html">tree metaphor</a> - things getting more complex over time, and therefore simpler as we look back in time. History, in this view, is simpler, the further back we go. This bias makes a single founder figure, uninfluenced by his family or culture, seem much more likely than it otherwise would. It's common, for example, for naive historians to say that WWI was started by the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, ignoring the vast number of factors which had to have accumulated beforehand for this spark to give rise to a global war.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">This may also be an artefact of what is sometimes called <em>The Great Man Theory of History</em>. In this view, a handful of men (not women), are responsible for history. Therefore, when we study history, we give precedence to studying the lives of great men and trying to understand their psychology. The ways in which this is wrong are so numerous as to require a book to refute them all. Most of how we think about individual psychology is bunk, based on fantasies composed by Freud and his bastards. Social factors are much more likely to influence behaviour than individual psychology, including in the case of powerful men. Women are as much a part of history. And those men who are powerful are often involved in the mass manipulation of societies that have to bend to their will instead of rebelling in order for the man to wield power (i.e., societies make individuals great, not the other way around).&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">It is more accurate to say that everything influences everything else and that any one person seen in isolation is very unlikely to be significant. Founders do occur. But if we take the example of Christianity, it has long been acknowledged by scholars that the shape of Christianity as a religion had a lot more to do with people down the ages than it does to do with Jesus. Buddhism is much the same. Whenever the founder became inconvenient, followers simply changed the story or made up a new bit, just as they made up his forgotten name.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The Buddha's final death was seen as extremely inconvenient by all Buddhists by the beginning of the Common Era. For most Buddhists, the knowledge that the Buddha was gone and never coming back was a catastrophe. They started to invent new stories: this included Buddhas from parallel universes (and we mock the Scientologists for <em>their </em>beliefs). Best of all, we invented a class of beings (with both mythic and human representatives) who were able to get enlightened without disappearing from the world - i.e., awakening without the ending of rebirth, when to that point the whole <em>raison d'être </em>of Buddhism was<em> to end rebirth</em>. These beings would stay to help out, the way that<em> the Buddha had not</em>. There was even a suggestion (played up by some modern Buddhists) that Gotama had been <em>selfish </em>to get enlightened and end rebirth for himself, leaving the rest of us on the carousel.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In any case, I hope the contrast between the Buddha and Asoka is clear with respect to the kind of evidence that makes a person a "historical person". For Asoka, there is a wealth of evidence both textual and physical. For the Buddha, only stories told by Buddhists.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The last time I bought this up within the Triratna Buddhist Order, some people argued that it didn't matter to them whether or not the Buddha was historical. I think this attitude is probably quite widespread. But as some people in our community still struggle with this issue or reject any suggestion that the founder myth is not true, or at least based on a true story, it is problematic <i>for all of us</i>. We agree, to some extent, on the role of faith in our Order, but are not in harmony on the issue of <em>articles of faith.</em> For example, on the issues of karma and rebirth, even those of us who believe in the Buddhist versions of the twin myths of the <em>just world</em> and the <em>afterlife</em>, disagree on the details of how they work.&nbsp;</div><br />Some years ago Dharmacārin Subhūti expressed his fear that we might drift into doctrinal incoherence and therefore needed to impose limits on the Order. I would argue that we long ago passed that point, if, indeed, we ever had such coherence. Discussions about articles of faith such as the founder, the just world, and afterlife are apt to be emotionally charged and divisive. Not believing (and there are many of us who don't) is seen as deeply problematic: more so, for example, than the gap between those who favour incompatible Buddhists views on such issues as those who draw fairly exclusively on Theravāda, Madhyamaka, or Yogācāra ideology, for example. These are three incompatible views.<br /><br />Non-sectarian scholarship inevitably steps on people's sacred cows. Which is why most of us ignore it in favour of sectarian scholarship, I suppose.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;">~~oOo~~</div><br /><strong>Sources Cited</strong><br /><strong><br /></strong><br /><div class="hang">Allen, C. (2012). <em>Ashoka: The Search for India's Lost Emperor</em>. Abacus</div><br /><div class="hang">Attwood, J. (2012). Possible Iranian Origins for Sākyas and Aspects of Buddhism. Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, 3, 47-69. <a href="http://jocbs.org/index.php/jocbs/article/view/26">Online</a></div><br /><div class="hang">Attwood, J. (2013) Siddhārtha Gautama: What‘s in a Name?. <em>Unpublished</em>. <a href="https://www.academia.edu/4866512/Siddh%C4%81rtha_Gautama_Whats_in_a_Name">https://www.academia.edu/4866512/Siddhārtha_Gautama_Whats_in_a_Name</a></div><br /><div class="hang">Cribb, J. (2017). 'The Greek Contacts of Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka and their Relevance to Mauryan and Buddhist Chronology' in Kamal Sheel, Charles Willemen and Kenneth Zysk (eds.) <em>From Local to Global, Prof. A.K. Narain Commemoration Volume, Papers in Asian History and Culture </em>(3 vol.). Delhi: Buddhist World Press. Vol. I: 3–27. <a href="https://www.academia.edu/36696948/The_Greek_Contacts_of_Chandragupta_Maurya_and_Ashoka_and_their_Relevance_to_Mauryan_and_Buddhist_Chronology">Online</a>.</div><br /><div class="hang">Drewes, D. (2017). <em>The Idea of the Historical Buddha</em>. JIABS. 40: 1–25. <a href="https://www.academia.edu/36121418/The_Idea_of_the_Historical_Buddha_Published_version_JIABS_2017_">Online</a>.</div><br /><div class="hang">Gombrich, R. (1992). 'Dating the Buddha: A Red Herring Revealed' in Heinz Bechert (ed.), <em>The Dating of the Historical Buddha/Die Datierung des historischen Buddha, Part 2 (Symposien zur Buddhismusforschung, IV, 2)</em>. Göttigen: venderhoeck &amp; Ruprect, pp.237-59. <a href="https://www.academia.edu/15576419/Dating_the_Buddha_1992">Online</a>.</div><br /><div class="hang">Witzel, E. J. M. (2012). <em>The Origins of the World's Mythologies</em>. Oxford University Press.</div><br /></div>Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-19327107.post-64501279956810496092018-06-01T07:45:00.000+01:002018-06-05T11:09:47.862+01:00Review of Ji Yun's 'Is the Heart Sutra an Apocryphal Text? A Re-examination'<div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on"><div style="text-align: justify;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-641kOZ_erIU/Wv6YeoTz8bI/AAAAAAAAGIU/Ig_rPRHbFlwzp9jeu0IR_okcf-dqJAtMACLcBGAs/s1600/s-2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="332" data-original-width="547" height="121" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-641kOZ_erIU/Wv6YeoTz8bI/AAAAAAAAGIU/Ig_rPRHbFlwzp9jeu0IR_okcf-dqJAtMACLcBGAs/s200/s-2.jpg" width="200" /></a></div>This essay is a critical review of the article <i>Is the Heart Sūtra an Apocryphal Text? – A Re-examination</i> by Professor Ji "Michael" Yun of the <a href="https://www.bcs.edu.sg/en/">Buddhist College of Singapore</a>, first published in Chinese in 2012 and translated into English in 2017 by Chin Shih-Foong (who uploaded the article to <a href="https://www.academia.edu/36116007/Is_the_Heart_S%C5%ABtra_an_Apocryphal_Text_A_Re-examination">academia.org</a>).<br /><br />Ji's article is long, covering 68 pages, and very mixed in content and method (sometimes there is no apparent method). Unfortunately, this means that my review is also long (11,000 words). It's unreasonable to expect people to read something like this online. And most people won't, but there was a lot to say<br /><br />Ji is sceptical about and critical of Jan Nattier's thesis that the <i>Heart Sutra </i>was composed/compiled in China, though he is curiously naïve and credulous about other scholars, especially Conze and Fukui. I will argue that his methods are unsound and his conclusions largely invalid. For example, many of Ji's assertions rely on literal and entirely uncritical readings of traditional texts. As such, Ji's article on the <i>Heart Sutra </i>is consistent with those by <a href="http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/japanese-reception-of-chinese-origins.html">Ishii Kōsei</a> and <a href="http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/the-horror-of-apocrypha.html">Kazuaki Tanahashi</a>. All three authors seem willing to believe almost anything rather than accept the inescapable conclusion. Ji's article is also characterised by his patronising attitude toward Nattier and the use of rather clumsy strawman arguments.<br /><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Ji's original article was published prior to publications by Matt Orsborn (Huifeng 2014) and myself (Attwood 2015, 2017, 2018) and does not anticipate our discoveries or our arguments. Nor does he anticipate forthcoming articles of mine.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">There are minor errors of spelling and grammar on every page of the translation and it would have benefited by being proofread someone more skilled in English. Though, on the whole, the article is readable, I cannot speak to how accurate the translation is. I proceed on the assumption that it is a good representation of the original and if it is not then perhaps someone will draw this to my attention.<br /><br />Ji uses simplified Chinese characters in his article (the norm in Singapore where he teaches). In my discussion, I have used traditional characters and where I have quoted Ji directly, I have supplied the traditional characters.</div><br /><br /><b>Ji's Article: Section by Section </b><br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Ji begins with an anecdotal forward (Section 1), but soon settles into a long recapitulation (Section 2) of Nattier's main argument based on a comparison of four texts: Sanskrit and Chinese versions of both the <i>Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikā-prajñāpāramitā-sūtra</i> (<i>Pañc</i>) and the <i>Heart Sutra </i>(Ji 2012: 3-17). His summary is mostly accurate and his comments do not detract too much. One sees the strength of the argument for composition in Chinese based on an extract from Kumārajīva's translation of <i>Pañc</i>, i.e., T223.</div><br /><b>Section 3 </b><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Ji spends pages 18-34 reviewing the career of Edward Conze and his, often faulty, opinions on <i>Prajñāpāramitā</i>. Ji does not critique Conze; instead, his praise of Conze is effusive. This is curious from a contemporary scholar, since it is common knowledge that Conze made many mistakes in his Sanskrit editions and that his translations are inaccurate a good deal of the time.<br /><br />Ji includes some digressions such as comparing the <i>Svalpākṣarā</i> and the Sanskrit <i>Heart Sutra</i> which is intended to show that a short text like the <i>Heart Sutra</i> is not unique. Many short <i>prajñāpāramitā </i>texts were produced, though these were typically much later. For example, the <i>Svalpākṣarā</i> was translated into Chinese during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE) and the earliest Sanskrit manuscript is dated ca. 1000 CE. The <i>Svalpākṣarā</i> is an overtly Tantric text, while the <i>Heart Sutra </i>harks back to a much earlier pre-Tantric period.&nbsp; Therefore, the&nbsp;<i>Svalpākṣarā</i>&nbsp;most likely post-dates the <i>Heart Sutra </i>by quite a bit.&nbsp;This is one of several times that Ji seems inattentive to the importance of chronology, a fault that I also noted in my <a href="http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/japanese-reception-of-chinese-origins.html">critique of Ishii Kōsei's article on the <i>Heart Sutra</i></a>.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">It is not entirely clear what is achieved by this long section of the essay, covering three more pages than the summary of the thesis Ji sets out to criticise. Conze's work is surely well known by the intended audience for this article and it has little or no bearing on the matter at hand, i.e., the question of whether the <i>Heart Sutra </i>is an apocryphal text or not.<br /><br />Moreover, Conze's work is now severely dated and almost all of his editorial work needs to be redone due to careless mistakes. Ji does not notice the mistakes in Conze's edition of the Sanskrit <i>Heart Sutra</i> (See Attwood 2015, 2018). These mistakes are now a useful yardstick against which to measure the work of scholars of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>. If they do not notice simple grammatical mistakes in the Sanskrit text, then they are not in a position to comment.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><b>Section 4 </b><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Section 4 gives a cursory review of the volume of <i>Prajñāpāramitā </i>essays edited by Lewis Lancaster in honour of Conze. Leon Hurvitz (rightly) gets most of the attention, as he translated the introductions to T256 (See my essay <i><a href="http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/taisho-256-other-chinese-heart-sutra.html">Taishō 256: The Other Chinese Heart Sutra</a></i>). Nothing here is relevant to the Chinese origins thesis.</div><br /><b>Section 5 </b><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Ji continues his review of historical research with a brief discussion of the first of Donald Lopez's two books on the Indian commentaries of the Heart Sutra (1988). The second, and better, book with complete translations (1996) is not mentioned. Ji proposes that Nattier benefitted from Lopez's observation that according to Conze 's chronology there is a 500-year gap between composition and the first Indian commentaries (Chinese commentaries appear a century earlier). By not referring to Nattier's use of Lopez (1988), while suggesting that it has been a major influence on her work, Ji seems to imply that Lopez is an <i>unacknowledged </i>influence. This is certainly not the case. For example, Lopez (1988) is prominently cited on the first page of Nattier's article (153) as well as elsewhere. This is the first of many examples of this type of argument.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">This apparent gap between composition and the emergence of commentarial texts <i>is </i>discussed by Nattier (1992: 173-4) at which time she again cites Lopez (1988) as a source (Nattier 208: n.39). Nattier further points out that all Chinese commentaries (ancient and modern) are on T251, while all of the Indian commentaries discussed by Lopez are on the extended Sanskrit <i>Heart Sutra</i>. Not only did the surviving Indian commentaries emerge a century later, they all used a text that has been altered to conform to Indian norms for sutras. See also Nattier's discussion of what constitutes authenticity in China, India, and Tibet (1992: 195-8). However, neither the apparent gap nor the question of what constitutes textual authenticity is central to the Chinese origins thesis. These are side issues. That said they make more sense if the <i>Heart Sutra</i> was composed in Chinese in the 7th Century.</div><br /><b>Section 6</b><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">This section gives us a deeper glimpse of the work of the late Fukui Fumimasa on the <i>Heart Sutra </i>(he died in May 2017). It seems that Ji is working from Chinese translations of Fukui's Japanese publications. Although Fukui has been very influential on <a href="http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/japanese-reception-of-chinese-origins.html">Japanese academia</a> (and on Zen Buddhist commentators) in rejecting Nattier's thesis, to date the relevant work has not been translated into English. As we will see, Nattier does cite his earlier work on several occasions (she taught at Soka University, Tokyo, 2006-10 and can read Japanese). Indeed, as with Lopez, Fukui is cited on the first page of Nattier's article (153).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Ji gives us considerably more detail than has previously been available of Fukui's argument that the title, 心經, should be read, not as <i>Heart Sutra,</i> but as <i>Dhāraṇī Scripture</i>. </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">According to Fukui, the title 《心經》 only becomes standardised as recently as the 14th Century. Before this it was routine to use the title 《多心經》 in catalogues and other literary references to the <i>Heart Sutra</i> (Ji 37-8). Fukui examined the Chinese <i>Heart Sutra</i> texts found at Dunhuang and recorded nine variations, each with 多 somewhere in the title, although the relationship varies (Ji 37). The relationship is not always obvious. For example, one variant was《多心經般若》where 般若 stands for <i>prajñā(pāramitā)</i>, suggesting that 多 does not.<br /><br />It is not clear what 多 signifies and Ji does not discuss this. He does point out that in Kumārajīva's day <i>prajñāpāramitā </i>was transliterated as 般若波羅蜜 (Middle Chinese <i>banya baramiet</i>), noting that 蜜 had a final dental sound ( /<em>miet</em>/ ) and could thus dispense with an extra character to present <i>tā</i>. By Xuánzàng's time, the final consonant of 蜜 must have been dropped, as in Mandarin, necessitating the addition of a final dental sound for which 多 (Pinyin <i>duō</i>) was the standard choice. From this Ji concludes that any reference to 多心經 must be to T251. However, this assumes that the 多 was related to 般若波羅蜜多 for which no evidence is forthcoming and, as Fukui's collection of titles show, it may not have been the case. Ji is not thinking critically at this point, but giving way to confirmation bias.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Ji does not consider, for example, that 多 has an independent meaning in Chinese. 多 has the basic meaning "many" (<a href="http://www.buddhism-dict.net/cgi-bin/xpr-ddb.pl?q=%E5%A4%9A">Digital Dictionary of Buddhism</a>). For example, Xuánzàng&nbsp;uses it in the expression&nbsp;多人 to mean "many people" (T 2087.867c.2). According to Kroll's (2015) definition 2, it can mean: "exceed, surpass; be greater than, superior to. a. make much of; deem important, significant, or valuable; highly esteem or praise." In other words, 多 can be a general superlative in Middle Chinese. And we know that Buddhists frequently used such superlative prefixes (e.g., <i>mahā</i>-, <i>ārya</i>-, <i>brahma</i>-) to mark names and words as important. One of the Sanskrit terms that 多 can stand for in Middle Chinese is <i><a href="http://buddhism-dict.net/ddb/monier-williams/mw-06.html#06003">mahat</a></i>, or as a prefix, <i>mahā-</i>. Even though 大 is far more common for <i>mahā-</i>, the point is that there is at least one other plausible interpretation of 多 in this context. Ji does not consider alternatives, except where it will undermine Nattier's thesis. Ji is completely passive in accepting the arguments of Fukui. I see no evidence for taking 多 to represent&nbsp;般若波羅蜜多 and some to the contrary.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Ji points out that there are one or two exceptions to this trend of referring to the text as 《多心經》, the most interesting being the reference to the <i>Heart Sutra </i>in the biography of Xuánzàng 《慈恩傳》by Huìlì 慧立 in 688 CE (24 years after Xuánzàng died). This biography twice refers to the 《般若心經》where 般若 is an abbreviation of 般若波羅蜜多 or <i>prajñāpāramitā</i>, and 心經 means <i>Heart Sutra</i>. Note that by 《慈恩傳》Ji seems to mean T2053, i.e., 《大唐大慈恩寺三藏法師傳》<i>Biography of Tripitaka Master of the Great Ci’en Monastery </i>(c.f. Li 1995)<i>. </i>Xuánzàng's own travelogue seemingly never mentions the <i>Heart Sutra</i>.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Without having come to any resolution on the meaning of 多, Ji segues into a discussion of 心.</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">"Fukui found that 心 ("heart") was interchangeable with 咒 (<i>vidyā</i>), 陀罗尼 or 真言 (<i>dhāraṇī</i>), and he concluded that 心 had in fact the meaning of mantra (pp. 22-25). Fukui also found that in scriptural catalogues, <i>dhāraṇī sūtra</i> 陀罗尼经 and heart sūtra 心经 were interchangeable terms." (Ji 37)</div></blockquote><blockquote class="tr_bq"><span style="font-size: x-small;">Note: 经 = 經 "sūtra"; 陀罗尼 = 陀羅尼 is a transliteration of&nbsp;<i>dhāraṇī</i>;&nbsp;真言&nbsp; "true word" is the standard translation of <i>mantra </i>in Chinese and Japanese Tantric Buddhism. </span></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">Fukui, like Ji, here seems inattentive to the importance of chronology. I have shown how the character 咒 changes its meaning over time (Attwood 2017). <i>Vidyā </i>is translated in the 5th Century by Kumārajīva as a binomial word 明咒. The early meaning of <i>vidyā</i> is "experiential knowledge", particularly the knowledge gained through meditation. In my essay <a href="http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/astasahasrika-insight-and-ongoing.html"><i>Aṣṭasāhasrikā: Insight and Ongoing Transformation</i></a>, I argued (on the basis of a single passage) that perhaps <i>dhāraṇī</i> also had the sense of the "ongoing transformation" that results from peak meditation experiences. Thus, <i>dhāraṇī </i>and <i>vidyā</i> may both have the sense of encapsulating the insights gained in meditation. This may also explain why the two words became interchangeable despite having different&nbsp;denotations.<br /><br />However,&nbsp;by the 7th Century, 明咒 is seen as two words, "bright <i>dhāraṇī</i>" (cf. <a href="https://prajnaparamitahrdaya.wordpress.com/2017/09/27/first-english-translation-beal-1885/">Beal's 1863 translation</a>&nbsp;with no influence from Sanskrit texts). In T251 明咒 is reduced to just 咒 in all but one case and is understood as <i>dhāraṇī</i>. As far as I can tell, 咒 has never been used to represent&nbsp;<i>vidyā&nbsp;</i>in this context. Contrarily, I have noted at least one occasion when&nbsp;明 represents&nbsp;<i>vidyā</i>, i.e.,&nbsp;in the translation of the&nbsp;<i>Ratnaguṇa-samcayagāthā</i>&nbsp;(Attwood 2017). The use of <i>dhāraṇī </i>as 'magic spell' predates the emergence of Tantric Buddhism in the second half of the 7th Century in India.<br /><br />As Ryūichi Abe points out (1999: 151 ff), Tantra is a <i>context </i>within which other elements can be interpreted. <i>Dhāraṇīs </i>and even <i>mantras </i>appearing out of context are not Tantric. In other words, Tantra becomes established after the <i>Heart Sutra</i> takes its standard form. 咒 does not take on the meaning of&nbsp;<i>mantra&nbsp;</i>until Tantric Buddhism becomes established in China in the 8th Century. Although there is some evidence for Tantric Buddhism earlier in China (See Jeffery Kotyk's blog&nbsp;<a href="http://huayanzang.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/after-xuanzang-monk-wuxing-and-early.html"><i>After Xuanzang: Monk Wuxing and Early Tantra in India</i></a>), it does not become firmly established until the arrival of Śubhakarasiṃha (637-735) and Vajrabodhi (671–741) in Changan in 716, and&nbsp; in 720 CE, respectively.&nbsp;As we will see, Ji makes a meal out of&nbsp; one of the earlier translations, but he goes far beyond the evidence when doing so. Notably, the two late 7th Century commentaries by Kuījī and Woncheuk, mentioned later by Ji, show no knowledge of Tantric Buddhism and see the <i>Heart Sutra</i> solely in terms of Madhyamaka and Yogācāra.<br /><br />If Fukui has been fairly represented by Ji, then he is also guilty of collapsing centuries of linguistic change when he conflates <i>vidyā</i>, <i>dhāraṇī</i>, and <i>mantra</i>. It is difficult to show exactly when <i>vidyā</i> and <i>dhāraṇī </i>became conflated, but it had not yet happened when the <i>Large Sutra</i> was composed. Note also that T250 is not called&nbsp;心經 at all, but&nbsp;大明呪經, i.e., <i>Mahāvidyā Sūtra, w</i>here <i>vidyā </i>is used&nbsp;in the sense of "knowledge" rather than as "incantation". Prajñāpāramitā frequently represents the aim of Buddhism as a superlative kind of knowledge: <i>prajñā-pāramitā</i>, <i>sarvajñā</i>, <i>mahāvidyā</i>, etc.</div><br /><b>Section 7</b><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In this section, Ji outlines some findings published in Chinese by Shen Jiu Cheng (i.e., 沈九成, Chén jiǔchéng - in this case, I will follow Ji in referring to 沈九成 as "Shen"). Shen seems to be, like me, an independent scholar working outside academia. I can find no other mention of him, he has no internet presence that I can detect. Ji describes him thus:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">"Shen has displayed some obvious errors in his writing, or some lack of rigour to say the least, due perhaps to his lack of academic trainings [sic]. This article also shows the author's lack of necessary knowledge in foreign languages, and his imfamiliarity [sic] with studies done overseas." (39)</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">At this point, I think it is fair to note that while Ji works for an institution, its main executive and teaching staff are Buddhist monastics (Ji is not) and the student body are also either monastics or in training to be monastics. When "academics" are signed up members of the Buddhist establishment with all the commitments and built-in biases that this implies (see <i><a href="http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/spiritual-iii-demesnes-of-power.html">Spiritual III: Demesnes of Power</a></i>) we have to be especially cautious about their views. The capture of Buddhism Studies&nbsp;by monks tends to shift the focus from critical thinking towards religious apologetics. And Ji's article can be seen as an apologetic for the authenticity of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>&nbsp;rather than as genuine critical scholarship.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Shen apparently pointed out that the Chinese <i>Heart Sutra</i> texts T250 and T251 are <i>vidyā </i>咒 rather than <i>sūtra </i>經 (note as above that 咒 does not mean&nbsp;<i>vidyā</i>). However, Ji gives us only the conclusion, not the reasoning behind it. Given Ji's comments about Shen's lack of training and skill, this conclusion seems more like luck than perspicuity. Where is Ji's scepticism in this case?</div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-kCNdVIdNNwM/Wugh3kvh2ZI/AAAAAAAAF7o/nlVtZBUDuNI-XdKDoqUI0JlhrTsliTL3ACLcBGAs/s1600/mantra.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="808" data-original-width="347" height="320" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-kCNdVIdNNwM/Wugh3kvh2ZI/AAAAAAAAF7o/nlVtZBUDuNI-XdKDoqUI0JlhrTsliTL3ACLcBGAs/s320/mantra.jpg" width="136" /></a></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Ji makes a great deal of the fact that Shen found a mantra at the end of Xuánzàng's collection of <i>Prajñāpāramitā</i> texts that is very similar to the one in the <i>Heart Sutra</i>. The mantra as it appears in <i>Taishō</i> (7.1110a) is on the right. My transliteration of the Siddham is</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><i>tadyathā oṃ gate gate paragate parasagate bodhi svāhā</i></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">There is an error in the scanned image of <i>Taishō </i><a href="http://dia.dila.edu.tw/pages/Tv07p1110.tif">7.1110a</a> accompanying the CBETA reader (clear in the extract, right). Ji either has a revised edition or he has silently amended <i>parasagate </i>to the expected <i>parasaṃgate </i>(Ji 40). It is a simple, even common mistake to leave off an <i>anusvāra</i> (Attwood 2015), so amending it is fair enough, but a <i>scholar </i>is bound to say when they make amendments to cited texts, especially canonical texts.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Ji writes about this as "an important discovery" (Ji 40), going to a lot of trouble to reproduce (and correct)&nbsp;the <i>Siddham</i> text from the <i>Taishō </i>page in his article. At the same time, he argues <i>against </i>Shen and for a <i>different </i>source of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>&nbsp;"mantra" (one already mentioned by Nattier and credited to John McRae: 211 n.52 and 53). Now, if Ji is right about the source of the <i>dhāraṇī</i>, then this "discovery" by Shen is <i>incidental</i> rather than important. Ji's argument is that Shen is not only a poor scholar in general, but that he is wrong about the <i>source </i>of the mantra.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In Attwood (2017), I showed that the incantation in the <i>Heart Sutra</i> was not a mantra, but a <i>dhāraṇī</i>. Mantras begin with <i>oṃ</i>. They reference deities or ritual actions. And, as already mentioned, they occur within the context of the <i>abhiṣekha </i>ritual (and <i>sādhana</i> based on it). <i>Dhāraṇī</i> do not start with <i>oṃ </i>(until they are wrongly conflated with mantra) and they are often just repeated sounds with variations. <i>Dhāraṇī </i>don't mention deities, though they do often contain Sanskrit words with changing prefixes, i.e., <i>gate</i>, <i>paragate</i>, <i>parasaṃsgate</i>. <i>Dhāraṇī </i>also have a strong preference for the Prakrit nominative singular ending <i>-e</i> (cf <a href="http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2009/03/words-in-mantras-that-end-in-e.html">here </a>and <a href="http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/some-additional-notes.html">here</a>). <i>Dhāraṇī </i>always end in the Vedic word <i>svāhā</i>, while mantras sometimes end in <i>svāhā</i>, but more often end with seed syllables or words (particularly <i>hūṃ </i>and <i>phaṭ</i>). Mantras of some Tantric deities, e.g.,&nbsp;Tārā are hybrids of the two approaches,&nbsp;<i>oṃ tāre tuttare ture svāhā</i>.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Moreover, I showed in <a href="http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2009/10/tadyatha-in-heart-sutra.html">an essay in 2009</a> that the inclusion of <i>tadyathā</i> is a mistake along the lines of an actor saying the stage directions on their script out loud. It means "in this manner". The inclusion seems to occur because the reciter cannot understand Sanskrit. Sanskrit studies were alive and well during Xuánzàng's lifetime, if only within an elite of the monastic community. So this mantra must post-date the composition of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> by decades if not centuries. It has nothing to do with Xuánzàng and appears to be the product of a culture in which Sanskrit is no longer understood.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">Shen also does some rather <i>ad hoc</i> reasoning (Ji 40-1) about which texts had Sanskrit sources. He concludes that "it is not inconceivable that there is first the translation from Chinese into Sanskrit, and later (back-translation) from Sanskrit into Chinese." (Ji 41). However, Shen does not examine any Sanskrit sources, so he is <i>at best</i> guessing about the relationship between T250 and T251 (which he credits to their traditional authors, confusing the chronology).<br /><br />As Ji portrays Shen, he lacks credibility and his observation was not based on solid "cross-lingual" evidence but was an opinion based on interpreting Chinese texts alone, Crucially, he was <i>wrong </i>about the source of the mantra. This section seems to be included solely because Ji claims that Shen anticipated one of Nattier's observations, though there is no sign that this was based on sound reasoning and indications that it was not.<br /><br /></div><br /><b>Section 8 </b><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">This section is lengthy and broken up into many unrelated sub-sections. I will continue in the same fashion taking each subsection as a unit.</div><br /><i>Section 8.1</i><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">After a seemingly pointless digression, Ji gets back on track with a discussion of the Chinese practice of copying sutras (41-5). In some historical references, the <i>Heart Sutra</i> is included in the category of 抄經 (chāo jīng) "copied sutra" or "sutra extract". According to Ji, the practice of making sutra extracts was first noticed by the Buddhist bibliographer 僧祐 Senyou (445–518 CE) in his catalogue of translations (though the term does predate Senyou according to <a href=";idx=cbeta&amp;opt=time">CBETA</a>). Senyou disapproved of the practice but he was ignored:&nbsp;</div><blockquote class="tr_bq">"... for generations, the act of copying parts of a lengthy work, either for ease of circulation or for worshipping needs, was an important religious practice." (Ji 43)</blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">This observation allows us to place the <i>Heart Sutra</i> in the context of a widespread practice of copying <i>parts </i>of translations in just the way that we can see has happened with the <i>Heart Sutra</i> itself. Far from being unusual, the <i>Heart Sutra</i> is just one example of a broad cultural trend happening in China<i>. </i>This jibes well with Paul Copp's (2014) observations about the use of <i>dhāraṇī </i>in early medieval China. Of course, we also know that the opposite happened, and previously independent texts were absorbed into larger texts. What Ji does not say is that&nbsp;there was <i>no such parallel trend&nbsp;in India</i>.<br /><br />The <i>Heart Sutra</i>&nbsp;is not a unique Indian attempt to condense the voluminous <i>Prajñāpāramitā </i>literature into a single page of text. Instead, it is part of a commonplace Chinese tradition of extract copying and <i>dhāraṇī </i>writing. Nattier's assertion that "the <i>Heart Sutra</i> is—in every sense of the word—a Chinese text" is bolstered by this observation. Curiously, Ji does not discuss the significance of this insight for the Chinese origins thesis at all. His eye seems to be on another goal that becomes apparent in Section 8.3 (Ji 49), i.e., the applicability of the word <i>apocryphal</i>.<br /><br />Ji then moves on to discussing the opinions of Xuánzàng's two chief students Kuījī and Woncheuk (I have used my <a href="http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/chinese-heart-sutra-dates-and.html">preferred Romanisation of these names</a> throughout). Ji fails to acknowledge previous work in this area by Dan Lusthaus (2003). The two commentaries in question are both now available in English translation (Shih and Lusthaus 2006; Hyun-Choo 2006). However, note that Nattier has already made this point in her article:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq" style="text-align: justify;">... we must assume that the core of the [<i>Heart Sutra</i>]—as East Asian Buddhist scholars have long been aware—is an <b><i>excerpt</i> </b>from the [<i>Large Sutra</i>]. (1992: 169. Emphasis added)</blockquote>This leads to a note which discusses precisely the contributions of Kuījī and Woncheuk.<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq" style="text-align: justify;">"In sum, the statement of both Kuījī and Woncheuk indicate that at least some Buddhists, already in the 7th Century CE, considered the <i>Heart Sutra</i> to be not a separate sermon preached by the Buddha, but an <b><i>extract </i></b>made by certain "sages who transmitted the Dharma" from the <i>Large Sutra</i> of Kumārajīva" (1992: 207 n.33. Emphasis added).</blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">Ji does not acknowledge that Nattier pre-empted his discussion of this facet of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>, even though he cites exactly the same passage from Kuījī's commentary (compare Nattier 206 n. 33 with Ji 44). What Ji does cite is another note (210 n.48) in which Robert Buswell privately proposed to Nattier that the <i>Heart Sutra </i>might be an example of a <i>ch'ao-ching</i> or "condensed sūtra". Though Nattier's article does not supply the Chinese characters for the Wade-Giles romanisation, they are 抄經, i.e., "copied sutra" or "sutra extract". Buswell has (erroneously, I think) translated 抄 as "condensed" rather than "copied" or "excerpted" (cf Kroll 43) giving the impression that he is talking about something else when he is making the same point. Again, we find Ji simply not paying attention to the article he is criticizing.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The omission here is egregious because note 48 takes us back to Nattier's discussion of Fukui in the body of her text. Following on from the passage cited above:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq" style="text-align: justify;">"Since the text was intended for ritual use (that is, as a <i>dhāraṇī</i> to be chanted) rather than to impersonate a genuine Indian <i>sūtra</i>, it is no surprise that the author(s) of the text have not tried to cloak their product in foreign garb" (Nattier 1992: 176).</blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">Ji does not acknowledge his own debt to Nattier (or to Fukui even) but presents this section as original research. This is all the more surprising given how eager he was to show Nattier's debt to her predecessors. But note what Fukui is saying here, via Nattier:&nbsp;<b><i>the Heart Sutra</i> <i>was&nbsp;never&nbsp;</i>a <i>sutra</i>. </b>And note that Ji explicitly agrees with this conclusion.<br /><br />Nattier emphasises that it is <i>only the core section </i>that is extracted from the <i>Large Sutra</i>, something that Ji overlooks. Conze suggested that as much as nine-tenths could be traced to the <i>Large Sutra</i>, though some of his tracings are to only vaguely similar Sanskrit passages rather than to Chinese passages (1967: 166). However, I have shown that at least some other parts of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> were composed very much on the model of Kumārajīva's <i>Large Sutra</i> (e.g., Attwood 2017). There is an argument for borrowing beyond the core section, but this also happened <i>in Chinese</i>.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">I agree with the conclusion of section 8.1, that we should classify the <i>Heart Sutra</i> as a "sutra extract" (not as a "summary", a "condensation", or any other form of essentialization) and we should, as Nattier has done, credit Fukui for this characterisation. I disagree that this "has long been known"&nbsp; because, as the next section shows, the knowledge was lost or deliberately obscured before the end of the 7th Century. Ji deserves credit for summarising the research of others, but that is all.&nbsp;</div><br /><i>Subsection 8.2</i><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">This section reviews how various catalogues treat the <i>Heart Sutra</i>. This is a useful contribution because we see that the <i>Heart Sutra</i>&nbsp;as Chinese 抄經 "sutra extract" is rapidly obscured and the text is treated as an authentic sutra translated from Sanskrit.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The <i>Neidian Catalog</i> (T2149) is the first bibliographical work to attribute the <i>Heart Sutra</i> to Xuánzàng. Compiled in the year of Xuánzàng's death, 664 CE, the 《大唐內典錄》<i>Dàtáng nèidiǎn lù</i> or <i>Great Tang Catalog of Texts</i>, by Daoxuan 道宣 (596-667 CE), lists the <i>Heart Sutra</i> several times under different categories, including texts translated by Xuánzàng and another category titled, 失譯經 or "sutras with unknown translators". This appears to be the first time there is any suggestion that <i>Heart Sutra</i> is a translation (from Sanskrit). However, the catalogue also lists the Heart Sutra as an anonymous text.<br /><br />In another moment of credulity, Ji argues that "we should have no reasons to doubt the accuracy of Daoxuan's records in his catalogue" (46). He has just finished proving that the <i>Heart Sutra </i>is <i>not a translation at all.</i>&nbsp;Ji appears to favour the view that the attribution to Xuánzàng&nbsp; is accurate and is therefore left explaining the anonymous <i>Heart Sutra</i> as an anomaly. Ji never gets to grips with the fact that the same text is attributed to different translators by Daoxuan. Even if he doesn't accept his own conclusion that the Heart Sutra is a 抄經 "sutra extract" rather than a translation, Ji must also be aware of the scholarly consensus that Xuánzàng <i>cannot</i> have translated T251.</div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">So the real question here goes begging. Why <i>two </i>attributions? Why attribute the text to Xuánzàng at all? Rather than weighing the evidence, Ji accepts the answers that best fit his existing belief.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The next catalogue, chronologically, is the《東京大敬愛寺一切經目錄》"The Eastern Capital, Greatly Beloved Temple, Catalogue of All Sutras" compiled by 釋靜泰 Shì Jìngtài in 666 CE. Note that 東京&nbsp;&nbsp;"the Eastern Capital" is a name for the city of Kaifeng 開封 during the Later Han period (947–951). This catalogue unequivocally attributes the <i>Heart Sutra</i> translation to Xuánzàng. That is to say that within two years of his death, Xuánzàng is credited with translating a text that Ji has convincingly argued was not a translation at all. This contradiction in his presentation never seems to occur to Ji who goes on piling up "evidence" that the <i>Heart Sutra</i> was translated by Xuánzàng (though, in the end, he comes back to this conclusion that it was not a translation).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The next development in what we must begin calling "the myth of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>"<i> </i>comes in the <i>Kaiyuan Catalogue</i>《開元錄》compiled by Zhisheng 智升 in 730 CE. Previous catalogues had only listed one title,《多心經》(though under different categories).&nbsp;In the <i>Kaiyuan</i>, T250 appears under its conventional title, i.e.,《大明呪經》, and is wrongly attributed to Kumārajīva for the first time (an observation by Fukui cited by Nattier 214, n.71), and T251 is again wrongly attributed to Xuánzàng. The Kaiyuan also lists T250 as "the first translation" (Ji 47). For the first time, a non-existent version is attributed to Bodhiruci (fl. early 6th Century).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">In summarising the catalogue evidence (Ji 48), Ji makes two curious statements. The first is, "Therefore, we can be completely certain that the Kumārajīva version is a late addition." A late addition to the cataloguing tradition? This much seems obvious. Does Ji mean something more? Is he, for example, claiming that T250 post dates T251? Has something been lost in translation here? </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The second statement is, "This fact has enabled the Kumārajīva version to achieve wide circulation." However, "the so-called Kumārajīva version" (i.e. T250) has <i>never </i>had wide circulation and still doesn't. T251 was and is the <i>only </i>version of <i>Heart Sutra</i> in Chinese to have had <i>any </i>circulation, let alone <i>wide </i>circulation. All known commentaries in Chinese, from Kuījī and Woncheuk onwards, have been on T251. Other versions still exist because they were collected in the anthologies that became the Chinese Canon.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">After this, Ji notes that 慧琳 Huìlín (737-820 CE) in his 810 CE work《音義》"Meaning of Sounds" mentions a different set of three translations and mixes up the authorship of the texts. Ji spends a page discussing this confusion but it doesn't add anything to the main discussion.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Although I think Ji has overlooked or ignored important conclusions from the material he has presented in Subsections 8.1 and 8.2, it is nonetheless interesting and valuable evidence in the history of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>. Evidence from the catalogues shows us that the traditional narratives of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> as an Indian sutra were already being formed even while Xuánzàng's living students, Kuījī and Woncheuk, were acknowledging the fact of the (so-called) <i>Heart Sutra</i> being a <i>sutra extract </i>unrelated to Xuánzàng (see also comments from Ji 53, para 3). Unfortunately, Ji fails to join the dots here, but I think this is because he is assembling evidence for a peculiar argument that surfaces in Subsection 8.3, which we can now tackle.&nbsp;</div><br /><i>Subsection 8.3</i><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Subsections 8.1 and 8.2 are a lead up to a rather pedantic discussion on the applicability of the term "apocryphal". It is based on the assumption that the <i>Heart Sutra</i> is, in fact, not a translation of an Indian Sutra, but one of many <i>sutra extracts </i>composed in Chinese and&nbsp;was recognised as such by the earliest Chinese commentaries.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Ji has given us ample evidence that the <i>Heart Sutra</i> was not a sutra, but an example of a&nbsp;抄經 "<i>sutra extract</i>", and that this knowledge<i>&nbsp;</i>was lost (or deliberately obscured) before the end of the 7th Century. Ji doesn't notice that his argument is poorly founded <i>on his own account</i>.<br /><br />It may well be ultimately true that the <i>Heart Sutra</i> is not a sutra at all, but everyone in the world (including Ji himself) refers to it as <i style="font-weight: bold;">the Heart Sutra </i>(or whatever the local equivalent is). The <a href="https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/apocryphal">OED definition</a> of "apocryphal":<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">1. (of a story or statement) of doubtful authenticity, although widely circulated as being true.</blockquote>If everyone believes a text to be a sutra, but it is <i>not</i> a sutra and therefore of doubtful authenticity, then the word "apocryphal" is precisely the right term. I have noted before that there seems to be a&nbsp;<a href="http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/the-horror-of-apocrypha.html">horror of this word&nbsp;<i>apocryphal</i></a>&nbsp;in the world of Buddhist Studies (i.e., religious scholarship conducted by Buddhists as distinct from Buddhism Studies, which is the academic study of Buddhism).</div><br /><i>Subsection 8.4</i><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">This section is a discussion of the Chinese term 心 "heart" and its Sanskrit analogues <i>citta </i>and <i>hṛdaya</i>. Another argument against considering our text to be a sutra is that the surviving Sanskrit texts don't call it a sutra. But titles are so variable that no two manuscripts (or Chinese versions) share the same title. And as Ji has already pointed out, the title did not settle in Chinese until after the 14th Century. Titles are an unreliable source of evidence for this type of argument. This seems to be another section which has information unrelated to the task at hand, i.e., a review of the Chinese origins thesis.</div><br /><i>Subsection 8.5</i><br /><div style="text-align: justify;"><span style="text-align: start;">Ji begins this subsection with a list of references to Xuánzàng and the&nbsp;</span><i style="text-align: start;">Heart Sutra</i><span style="text-align: start;">, presented without scepticism or critique. The fact is that references to&nbsp;</span><i style="text-align: start;">Heart Sutra</i><span style="text-align: start;">&nbsp;in texts by or about Xuánzàng are rare. Since we know that Xuánzàng did not translate the text and that his contemporary Daoxuan was wrong about this in the&nbsp;</span><i style="text-align: start;">Neidian&nbsp;</i><span style="text-align: start;">Catalogue, we might begin to wonder about the provenance of all of these references. The&nbsp;</span><i style="text-align: start;">Heart Sutra&nbsp;</i><span style="text-align: start;">doesn't seem to be mentioned in Xuánzàng's own travelogue 大唐西域記 (T2087), at least not under the title《心經》, nor is any similar text incorporated into his huge collection of <i>Prajñāpāramitā</i> translations. So all the references connecting Xuánzàng to the&nbsp;</span><i style="text-align: start;">Heart Sutra</i><span style="text-align: start;">&nbsp;are second-hand and seem to be part of a hagiographic project. I believe that <a href="http://huayanzang.blogspot.co.uk/">Jeffrey Kotyk</a> is looking into this issue by comparing religious and secular historical sources on Xuánzàng and we can expect an article in due course.</span></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Ji introduces a pet theory, namely that the <i style="text-align: justify;">dhāraṇī</i> in the <i style="text-align: justify;">Heart Sutra</i> came from a text translated by Xuánzàng's contemporary, 阿地瞿多 Skt. Atikūṭa (or perhaps Atigupta). This is his counter-argument to the one in Section 7 where he presented the idea that Shen had discovered the source of the "mantra" at the end of T220. Atikūṭa translated the《陀羅尼集經》Skt.&nbsp;<i><a href="http://ntireader.org/taisho/t0901.html">Dhāraṇīsamuccaya</a></i><i style="text-align: justify;">-sutra </i>(or perhaps <i style="text-align: justify;">Dhāraṇīsaṃgraha</i>)<i style="text-align: justify;"> </i>into Chinese (T901) in 654 CE (Shinohara 2014: 29).<br /><br />A Chinese preface asserts that the&nbsp;<i>Dhāraṇīsamuccaya&nbsp;</i>is only a small section of a much greater work, though Shinohara (2014: 30) notes that this larger work may never have existed. Indeed, the evidence is that the&nbsp;<i>Dhāraṇīsamuccaya</i>&nbsp;was created in China from extracts of multiple existing texts. However, there is also a lot of material that "does not exist elsewhere in independent translations" (31). Ronald Davidson (2012) has asserted that the text contains "Indian elements" though the extent of these is unclear.<br /><br />Ji notes that "Atikūṭa‘s <i>Dhāraṇīsamuccaya</i> includes a <i>dhāraṇī</i> with the rather dubious [sic] title: Bore boluomita daxin jing《般若波羅蜜多大心經》(T18.804c-805a)," [NB. This "sic" is the translator's, not mine. J]. There is no explanation for why the title is "dubious" but it may be because it doesn't look like the <i>Heart Sutra</i> 心經&nbsp;he knows. Ji has already endorsed Fukui's theory that&nbsp;心 often substitutes for <i>dhāraṇī</i>, so it's not clear why such a usage would surprise him. That said, this <i>dhāraṇī</i> is an interesting short <i>Prajñāpāramitā </i>text which, without my having studied it in any detail, looks similar to many other such texts, for example, those translated in Conze's collection of short <i>Prajñāpāramitā </i>texts (1973).</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">However, it is another <i>dhāraṇī</i>&nbsp;(T 18.807b.20) that is the target of Ji's interest (Ji 54). It is identical to the&nbsp;<i>dhāraṇī </i>at the end of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>, although it includes <i>tadyathā</i>. This is certainly interesting, but as the <i>Dhāraṇīsamuccaya</i> is roughly contemporary with the so-called <i>Heart Sutra</i>, and it appears to have been assembled in Chinese from pre-existing texts (even if some of them were ultimately Indian), we are, therefore, looking for some evidence of the direction of borrowing. But Ji has none as he admits:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">"Therefore, although we have no extant historical records to show that Atikuṭa did have a direct influence on Xuánzàng, we can still infer that <i>the two were somehow connected</i> because both were translating in Changan at the same time; both were probably having an influence on each other's religious interest, and Xuánzàng's <i>Heart Sutra</i> had sourced its mantra from Atikūṭa's work." (Ji 54. My Emphasis).</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">Ji has already proved that T251 was not translated by Xuánzàng and he acknowledges this in the very next line by referring to it as "the <i>so-called</i> Xuánzàng <i>Heart Sūtra</i>" [My emphasis]. Also, there is the modern consensus that Xuánzàng had nothing to do with T251. This ongoing contradiction in Ji's presentation is very problematic. This means that, even if we could infer a connection between Xuánzàng and Atikūṭa, it would still have no bearing on the origins of the&nbsp;<i>Heart Sutra </i>since Ji tells us that Xuánzàng <i>wasn't involved in composing it</i>.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">From a complete absence of evidence, we can infer <i>precisely nothing</i>. Ji's inference here is simply him flattering his own theory. By contrast, as Paul Copp (2014) has subsequently shown, <i>dhāraṇī</i> was very important and prominent in Xuánzàng's milieu. Indeed, Ji's own comments about <i>dhāraṇī </i>and copied sutra extracts support the same point. The chanting and inscribing of <i>dhāraṇī</i> were central Buddhist practices of the pre-Tantric, early medieval period: the sight of inscribed, and sound of chanted, <i>dhāraṇī </i>in 7th Century Changan were surely ever-present. To argue that Xuánzàng was influenced to translate them by one man rather a whole culture requires specific evidence. We would be looking for Xuánzàng or Atikūṭa to mention each other in surviving texts and letters, for example. No such evidence is forthcoming from Ji (and I can find none). We don't even seem to have a second-hand account of their meeting. So the evidence for this idea is very much weaker than most of Ji's rather underwhelming argument. Ji seems to join in the myth-making that surrounds Xuánzàng and the <i>Heart Sutra</i> rather than standing back and considering what his sources tell him.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">It is equally plausible that the <i>dhāraṇī</i> in the <i>Heart Sutra</i> came from elsewhere or was simply made up along the lines of similar <i>dhāraṇī</i>, and was then copied into the <i>Dhāraṇīsamuccaya</i>. We lack sufficient evidence to decide this issue, but this does not keep Ji from coming to his conclusions.</div><br /><i>Subsection 8.6</i><br />This Subsection is further subdivided into three.<br /><br />Subsection 8.6, part 1, opens with an outright error regarding Nattier's understanding of the presence and role of Avalokiteśvara in the <i>Heart Sutra</i>:<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq" style="text-align: justify;">"Nattier offered no explanation for this role reversal, nor any suggestions on what it reflects in terms of the time or background when the text was composed." (Ji 54-5).&nbsp;</blockquote>However, compare this from the middle of Nattier's discussion of the frame section:<br /><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">The presence of Avalokiteśvara is not at all unexpected, for this figure was by far the most popular bodhisattva in China at this time as attested by both textual and artistic evidence... Thus the choice of Avalokiteśvara as the central figure in a newly created Buddhist recitation text would be perfectly plausible in a Chinese milieu. (1992: 176)</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">Ji is reduced to making strawman arguments against Nattier. Ji goes from bad to worse, as in reflecting on the origins of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> he abandons any pretence of accepting the Chinese origins thesis and discusses the history of <i>Prajñāpāramitā</i> in India (Ji 55). He <i>prefaces </i>a rambling digression into Nāgārjuna and Conze's deprecated chronology with the phrase "I shall now return to the main discussion". The article seems to be falling apart at this point.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Without coming to an obvious conclusion, Ji segues into Subsection 8.6, part 2, which argues for a close relationship between "the personified Prajñāpāramitā and Avalokiteśvara" (57). However, again Ji seems to lose track of the chronology by relying on Tantric sources that must post-date the composition of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>. Through a rather tortuous argument based on the figures who appear in the <i>Dhāraṇīsamuccaya </i>he comes to the rather startling and obviously false conclusion that "in Tang Dynasty, or since then, Avalokiteśvara held a very unique place in <i>Prajñāpāramitā sutras</i>." This is startling because, as is completely obvious, Avalokiteśvara has <i>no place at all</i> in the <i>Prajñāpāramitā </i>sutras until <i>after</i> the composition of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>. After the late 7th Century, then yes, Avalokiteśvara does show up again. But the more obvious explanation is that this is an influence <i>from</i> the Heart Sutra, not <i>on</i> it. This is so obvious I cannot believe I'm having to spell it out.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Ji then lurches sideways into a consideration of the etymology of the name Avalokiteśvara and the gender of the <i>bodhisatva</i>. Of course, the feminisation of Avalokiteśavara in China is a subject of some interest to historians of ideas, but it has no bearing on the subject at hand. Nor does Ji shed any light on Avalokiteśvara in China.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Subsection 8.6, part 3 considers the role of Śāriputra in the Prajñāpāramitā texts, bizarrely characterising him as "the villain". Śāriputra, who plays a major part in both <i>Aṣṭa </i>and <i>Pañc</i> is certainly a foil for Subhūti, asking patsy questions and admiring the answers he gets, but he's hardly a "villain". Again, one wonders if something has been lost in translation. But yet again we see Ji attributing ignorance and "surprise" to Nattier:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq">"Therefore, we need not share Nattier's surprise in wondering what role Śariputra has in the Heart Sutra and why he is involved at all." (Ji 59)</blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">This is a strawman argument, also with no reference to Nattier's article. What Nattier does express surprise over is that <i>the Buddha </i>is absent from the <i>Heart Sutra</i> (157). Equally, it is odd that Subhūti is absent since in the <i>Prajñāpāramitā </i>literature, Subhūti is the main expounder of the <i>Prajñāpāramitā </i>point of view and the Buddha simply backs him up (cf. Nattier 1992: 157). The presence of Śāriputra is not commented on "with surprise". Śāriputra's rather passive role in the <i>Heart Sutra</i> is entirely in keeping with his role in the <i>Prajñāpāramitā </i>literature, generally. And thus elicits little or no comment from Nattier. No one familiar with the Prajñāpāramitā literature would find anything unusual about Śāriputra in the <i>Heart Sutra</i>.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">The odd absences from the <i>Heart Sutra</i> listed by Nattier at p.157 are repeated in the discussion of the frame sections (174 ff), but again the focus is on the absence of the Buddha and the presence of Avalokiteśvara. Śāriputra is not mentioned. Nattier never expresses the "surprise" attributed to her by Ji.</div><br /><b>Section 9</b><br />The article concludes with Ji's summary of his arguments combined with some other ideas thrown in at random that seem to have no relation to the information presented (Ji 59-63).<br /><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">1. Ji emphasises that the text is a copied extract and/or a <i>dhāraṇī </i>(Ji 59-60). And that therefore the term <i>apocryphal </i>does not apply. However, when one continually refers to a text as a "sutra", which Ji does <i>even in this concluding paragraph</i>, then the fact that a text is <i>not</i> a sutra makes it the very definition of <i>apocryphal</i>. Ji cannot have his cake and eat it. He either needs to accept his own conclusion and refer to the text by some other name or accept that, <em>qua</em> sutra, the <i>Heart Sutra</i> is apocryphal. I also pointed out that though some early commentators seem to be aware of the true nature of the text, on the evidence <i>that Ji presents</i>, this knowledge is lost before the end of the 7th Century. Knowledge lost for 13 Centuries can hardly be seen as integral to the received tradition.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">2. Ji concludes that T250 "was not translated by Kumārajīva" (Ji 60). However, we knew this because Nattier had already explained the reasons for this conclusion. Ji repeats his speculative conjecture about the text borrowing its <i>dhāraṇī </i>from Atikūṭa's <i>Dhāraṇīsamucaya</i>, only now it has become an unqualified fact. He also implies that the <i>dhāraṇī</i> was borrowed independently by T251 (i.e., independently from T250 which just happened to borrow the same <i>dhāraṇī</i>). This may be a problem with the translation, but scholars need to be careful to avoid unintended implications.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">3. T251 is "not a translated text, Even if it is, it could not have been done by Xuánzàng himself." (Ji 60) This is certainly the modern consensus, but it does not flow from Ji's argument and at times he has seemed to contradict this, as when he uncritically accepted Daoxuan's attribution of the text as a translation by Xuánzàng. Ji repeats the traditional myth of Xuánzàng's association with the <i>Heart Sutra</i> as unqualified fact. He wrongly refers to it as a "tantricized text" and attributes the popularity of the text to this imagined process. There is <i>nothing </i>tantric about the <i>Heart Sutra.</i></div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">4. Ji concluded that "later" versions (i.e., all but T250 and T251) are translations (Ji 60). No evidence whatever is presented for this conclusion in his article, but it is certainly the modern consensus and has been for many decades.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">5. Ji acknowledges that "the Sanskrit Heart Sutra has indeed been influenced by Chinese grammar and aesthetic taste which shows that is very 'likely' to have been a back-translation from Chinese." (60) However, Ji also believes that he has somehow cast doubt on this conclusion in his article. I cannot imagine how he imagines this to be the case and he does not cite any specific examples.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Next, Ji casts doubt on Xuánzàng as the perpetrator of back-translation. This issue seems to exercise the Japanese commentators as well. To be clear, Nattier discusses the possibility and leaves it open. What he says next is barely credible:</div><blockquote class="tr_bq"><div style="text-align: justify;">"But even if we can prove that the extant short-form Sanskrit <i>Heart Sutra</i> is in fact a Chinese back-translation, we still cannot logically rule out compteltely [sic] the <i><b>probable</b></i> existence of a Sanskrit original. (Ji 61. Emphasis added)</div></blockquote><div style="text-align: justify;">This is tooth-fairy agnosticism gone mad. Note that, despite having no evidence whatever and, in fact, having more or less proved that it <i>cannot </i>be the case, Ji still considers it <i>probable </i>that a Sanskrit "original" existed. Ji likens the situation to the <i>Vimalakīrtinideśa </i>in which, he claims (but does not reference) a Sanskrit back-translation from Tibetan was known long before a Sanskrit manuscript was found. Even if this were the case, the situation is not analogous because the <i>Heart Sutra </i>is <i>not a sutra</i>. It is a <i>sutra extract</i>, specifically an extract from Kumārajīva's Chinese translation of the <i>Large Sutra</i>. Ji has failed to come to terms with this despite arguing for this conclusion. It is exactly the copied portion of the text that proves that the <i>Heart Sutra</i>&nbsp;had its&nbsp;<i>origins in Chinese</i>. If the extract had a Sanskrit "original" then the extracted portion would be similar to the extant documents of the Large Sutra, or at the very least use the idioms of Sanskrit texts. But it isn't.<br /><br />What Ji is suggesting here is that, as well as a Chinese <i>Heart Sutra</i> that used an extract from the Chinese <i>Large Sutra </i>(T223), there must be a lost Sanskrit <i>Heart Sutra </i>which used an extract from a Sanskrit <i>Large Sutra</i>. Why would (a) Chinese author(s) decide to reproduce a Sanskrit original via the laborious procedure of copying exactly the same extract, but using&nbsp;T223 instead of a Sanskrit <i>Large Sutra?</i>&nbsp;Why would they not simply&nbsp;translate the <i>Heart Sutra</i> from Sanskrit into Chinese as so many other Chinese Buddhists did (and with so very many texts)? Finally, there simply is no parallel tradition of sutra extract copying in India: a Chinese sutra extract is plausible, but a Sanskrit sutra extract is not. Ji has just not thought this through.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Ji justifies this poor reasoning by saying that "I just feel prudence is never a bad thing in academic research". This claim to scholarly prudence appears to be a Trojan Horse for a religious attitude of horror towards the idea that <i>Heart Sutra</i> is an apocryphal sutra (i.e., not a sutra at all). This is a bizarre argument because Ji's whole point, following Fukui and Nattier, is that <b><i>the Heart Sutra</i> is <i>not a sutra</i></b>. To spell it out, if the text is not a sutra, then the existence of an Indian text to authenticate it is neither here nor there. Only sutras have to be authenticated in this way.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">This part of the conclusion then drifts back to considering Xuánzàng as a potential back-translator. To be clear, I think this is a red herring, both in Nattier's article and in all the subsequent ink spilled over it. Xuánzàng's reputation was that he had mastered Sanskrit, while the so-called <i>Heart Sutra</i>&nbsp;was produced by someone clearly unfamiliar with the idioms of the Sanskrit <i>Prajñāpāramitā</i>. Ergo, it was not Xuánzàng.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">6. Ji expresses an opinion on the extended <i>Heart Sutra</i> which he calls "long-form" (Ji 62). But note that the subject did not come up in his article. His opinion here is simply an <i>ad hoc</i> statement, no case is made for it. It is a matter of broad consensus that the added parts were added in Sanskrit. It is something that Nattier, as noted above, did comment on.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">A note here on the relationship between language and geography. Nattier's argument is that the <i>Heart Sutra </i>was composed in a Chinese language. Not that it was composed in China. Ji argues that the extended <em>Heart</em> was composed in India. In fact, we do not know anything about <i>where </i>it was composed, only that in all likelihood it was composed in Buddhist Sanskrit.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">7. Ji argues that the <i>Heart Sutra</i> appeared when Tantra was "widespread" (Ji 62) and treats the <i>Heart Sutra </i>is a tantric text. I think this is an error. Atikūṭa was an early adopter and Tantra did not become widespread until the 8th Century. In 672, when the first physical evidence of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> appeared (in the form of the <a href="http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/the-oldest-dated-heart-sutra.html">Beilin Stele</a>), Tantra was in its infancy in India. It did not become established, let alone "widespread", until the arrival of Śubhakarasiṃha and Vajrabodhi in Changan in the early 8th Century. Recall that Ji could not find evidence of communication between Atikūṭa and Xuánzàng, no evidence of their having met. His idea that one influenced the other was just a supposition that seemed attractive because it supported his pet theory.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">On the other hand, I have argued (Attwood 2017) that the Sanskrit text must have been translated from Chinese in a milieu of Tantra because the character <span style="text-align: justify;">咒 meaning <i>dhāraṇī</i> could only have been mistaken for <i>mantra </i>under&nbsp;</span>such circumstances. Thus, the Chinese composition and the Sanskrit translation happened at different times and/or in different milieus.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Ji is confused about what constitutes&nbsp;Tantric Buddhism. The use of <i>dhāranī </i>in non-Tantric settings is established as early as the 2nd Century CE. We can compare this with the Theravāda practice of <i>partita,</i> the chanting of Pāḷi suttas as magical protection from misfortune and bad luck. This practice is first mentioned in the <i>Milindapañha</i> dated before the Current Era. Simply chanting magic spells is not Tantra. Tantra is centred on a specific ritual (<i>abhiṣeka</i>) based on the anointing of kings. It involves combinations of <i>mantra</i>, <i>mudra</i>, and <i>maṇḍala </i>representing the body, speech, and mind of Mahāvairocana as he communicated buddhahood to Vajrasattva. None of this is visible in the <i>Heart Sutra</i>. Instead, the <i>Heart Sutra </i>looks back in time to the Large Sutra and its milieu, with a focus on the exercise of withdrawing attention from experience (<i><a href="http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2018/05/anupalambhayogena-underappreciated.html">anupalambhayogena</a></i>) aimed at entering a contentless (<i>animitta</i>) awareness called "emptiness" (<i>śūnyatā</i>). In other words, Ji has fundamentally misunderstood the message and the practice outlined in the <i>Heart Sutra</i>.</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">8. Although Ji himself has not examined the Sanskrit text, he praises comparative studies in the philological approach to Buddhism Studies. He may have summarised Nattier's discussion of the Sanskrit <i>Heart Sutra</i>&nbsp;but has himself only examined and commented on Chinese texts. He praises Seishi Karashima as the leading light in this field of cross-lingual studies. Fair enough, Karashima is certainly <i>one </i>of the leading scholars of Buddhist texts in our time and his work is invaluable. However, he is, of course, not the only scholar working to compare Chinese texts with Indic texts in Pāḷi, Sanskrit, and Gāndhārī. And he has not published anything that directly relates to the <i>Heart Sutra </i>(his facsimile edition of the Gilgit manuscript of the <i>Large Sutra</i> appeared in 2016, four years after Ji was writing).<br /><b></b><br /><b>Conclusions</b> </div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Unfortunately, most of Ji's article is either obvious and uninteresting (e.g., a completely uncritical review of Conze's oeuvre) or irrelevant to the question of the origin of the&nbsp;<i>Heart Sutra</i>. Even when the evidence is interesting, the arguments about it do not seem cogent or coherent. Ji is reliant throughout on Chinese texts, ignoring the Sanskrit texts except when summarising Nattier's article.<br /><br />The title of Ji's article translates as <i>Is the Heart Sūtra an Apocryphal Text? – A Re-examination</i>. I took this as a statement of intent on Ji's part and read his article accordingly. However, his article was not a re-examination of the evidence <em>per se;</em> it was an attempted refutation of Nattier disguised as an objective appraisal. For example, Ji is only critical when considering Nattier's work. In other cases, especially when dealing with the work of Fukui and with traditional sources which support his presuppositions, he appears overly credulous and even naive. Because he does not evaluate his sources, but simply accepts them at face value, he does not draw the right conclusions from the evidence he presents.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Worse, for example, when conjecturing about a relationship between Xuánzàng and Atikūṭa, in which Atikūṭa supplies the <i>dhāraṇī </i>for the <i>Heart Sutra</i>, Ji apparently accepts his own suppositions as historical facts.&nbsp; Accounts of Tang Dynasty Changan describe a city of approximately one million people within the walls and another one million without, a&nbsp;city with 93 Buddhist temples and numerous other religious institutions and tens of thousands of monks. Could two monks live there and never meet? Certainly, they could. So where is the evidence that they <i>did </i>meet? Where is the evidence that Atikūṭa was a lender rather than a borrower of the <i>dhāraṇī </i>at the end of the <i>Heart Sutra</i>?</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">At other times, Ji is aware of the need to stand back from conclusions and acknowledge doubts. But he misuses this requirement for objectivity to argue for the <i>probable</i> existence of an "original" Sanskrit <i>Heart Sutra</i> without presenting any evidence whatever for this conclusion. A "Sanskrit original" is important, as Nattier points out (1992: 196) because in China this was (and is) the single most important criterion for the authenticity of a Buddhist sutra. It is apparent that some modern Mahāyāna Buddhists rather desperately want the <i>Heart Sutra </i>to be authentic by traditional standards. If the <i>Heart Sutra</i> is not "of Indian origin", then a foundation stone of many of the surviving Buddhist sects in Asia is unable to bear the load placed on it. As Fukui has been quoted as saying, “it would be a matter of grave concern if [the <i>Heart Sutra</i>] were proved to be an apocryphon produced in China” (Tanahashi 2014: 77).&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: justify;">At times, Ji appears to be patronising Nattier. Her article is also long, but her scholarly apparatus (notes and citations) are impeccable. Any such article is heavily reliant on other scholars but if Nattier is relying on someone else's work she says so. Indeed, Nattier is notably <i>generous </i>in her acknowledgement of other scholars. But Ji ignores the actual attribution of ideas and peppers his commentary on the research with phrases like:</div><ul><li>"It was Conze's editorial work... that provided Nattier with the very important basis of her research. (33)</li><li>"This part of the particle [sic] has been rather fully utilized by Nattier..." (35)</li><li>"a comment, I think must have been very inspirational for Nattier..." (35)</li><li>"Nattier has also benefited from... Lopez 1988" (35).</li><li>"...this observation has been [sic] very inspirational for Nattier." (36)</li><li>"Another academic source that has exerted a relatively major influence on Nattier's work comes from Fukui Fumimasa..." (36)</li></ul><div><div style="text-align: justify;">Ji does at times acknowledge that Nattier went further than any of these men; however, he seems to attribute the success to "cross-lingual study" to them rather than to Nattier. Normally if a scholar relies on a contribution from someone else we credit them with it. While it is a truism of scholarship that we are standing on the shoulders of giants, a scholar does not usually spend so much time speculating about who has influenced another scholar over and above their stated sources unless there is clear evidence of borrowing without attribution, i.e., plagiarism or fraud. Nattier fully acknowledges her intellectual debts in the usual way and there is no call to <i>speculate </i>about who "inspired" her.</div></div><div><br /></div><div><div style="text-align: justify;">The whole of Section 7 on the Chinese outsider, Shen Jiu Cheng, seems to be pointless. Ji thinks he was wrong on one hand and on the other that he sort of preempted Nattier on the idea of a "back translation" almost by accident while considering only Chinese texts. If Shen was correct about the Sanskrit text being a back translation, then <i>Nattier was correct</i>, and Ji should simply admit this.<br /><br />Moreover, at least two of the final conclusions have no supporting evidence or argumentation in the article. They are simply added in an&nbsp;<i>ad hoc</i>&nbsp;fashion. Ji simply appears to repeat widely held scholarly opinions without ever considering the evidence.&nbsp;</div><br /><div style="text-align: justify;">Towards the end of Section 8, Ji slips into presenting strawman arguments that sink far below the usual standard of academic discourse.<br /><br />Ji is right to attempt to find flaws in Nattier's argument. I have noted one or two small points of dispute with Nattier, as have Lusthaus and Orsborn. We all make errors. New information comes to light and can make existing conclusions untenable. This is progress. But Ji seems completely uncritical with regard to <i>any </i>other scholar (including <i>himself</i>). There is no real weighing of the evidence. Where there is confusion he simply sides with the traditional narrative.<br /><br />There are at least two glaring examples of faulty logic. For example, despite a scholarly consensus that Xuánzàng was not involved in the production of T251 (a point which is completely obvious to anyone who has compared the relevant section of his translation of the <i>Large Sutra</i> in T220 with T251), Ji proceeds to take references to Xuánzàng as translator of the <i>Heart Sutra</i> on face value. However, he then concludes that Xuánzàng was <i>not </i>the translator. The second example is that he argues for a probable Sanskrit original when the evidence he has presented proves that the extant Sanskrit text is a back-translation from Chinese (per both Shen and Nattier). Nothing presented here suggests that the source was anything other than the <i>Large Sutra</i>&nbsp;in Kumārajīva's translation (T223) and the imagination of an early medieval Chinese Buddhist monk familiar with Kumārajīva's text. This is discussed at great length in my own work, both published and blogged.<br /><br />Anything which supports the Chinese origins thesis is assessed critically, anything which undermines it is not assessed at all but presented uncritically. As Mercier and Sperber (2017) have shown, confirmation bias is usually present when one is trying to make a case but is not present when one is critically assessing someone else's case. Ji shows exactly this pattern; therefore, he is arguing for a case, not assessing someone else's case.<br /><br />This article falls well below the standards expected of academic authors: it is tendentious, biased, poorly argued, and draws <em>ad hoc</em> conclusions. It is not just Ji that is at fault. Named prepublication readers, journal editors, and peer reviewers have a role in ensuring that conclusions flow from the&nbsp;<i>evidence presented</i>, that obvious&nbsp;<i>biases&nbsp;</i>are addressed, that the tone of the article is suitable for academic discourse, and that assertions&nbsp;<i>are referenced</i>. The article should never have been published in this form.&nbsp;</div></div><div style="text-align: justify;"><br />Ji manages a moment of magnanimity at the end: "Nattier's studies has also [sic] shown that a cross-lingual approach is able to exhaustively expose existing blind spots of issues [sic] that would otherwise be glossed over by an intra-lingual approach" (63). However, Nattier seems not to have exposed Ji's blind spots. Indeed, we can say that Nattier is directly in Ji's blind spot.</div><br /><div style="text-align: center;">~~oOo~~<br /><br /><blockquote class="tr_bq" style="text-align: left;">NOTE: 5.6.18. I received a cordial email from Ji Yun acknowledging my criticisms, but slightly horrified that I took him to be patronising Jan Nattier. He says "I’m not sure it’s out of the translation or your reading ,there’s a huge misunderstanding , actually ,I’m a huge fan of Jan ." I accept that I might have misunderstood his intentions and I hope that there are no hard feelings. More crucially, Ji conveyed to me something that I had overlooked which is that a stone inscription of the <i>Heart Sutra </i>was recently found which is dated to 661 CE, three years before the death of Xuanzang. And this may be evidence that Xuanzang was indeed involved in its production somehow. I will need to look into this. See for example&nbsp;<a href="http://www.china.org.cn/arts/2016-09/26/content_39374656.htm"> http://www.china.org.cn/arts/2016-09/26/content_39374656.htm</a></blockquote><br /></div><br /><b>Bibliography</b><br /><br /><div class="hang">Abe, R. (1999) <i>The Weaving of Mantra: Kūkai and the Construction of Esoteric Buddhist Discourse</i>. New York : Columbia University Press.</div><br /><div class="hang">Attwood, J. (2012). Possible Iranian Origins for Sākyas and Aspects of Buddhism. Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, 3, 47-69. Online: http://jocbs.org/index.php/jocbs/article/view/26</div><br /><div class="hang">Attwood, J. (2015). Heart Murmurs: Some Problems with Conze’s Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya. <i>Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies</i>, 8, 28-48. http://jocbs.org/index.php/jocbs/article/view/104</div><br /><div class="hang">Attwood, J. (2017). 'Epithets of the Mantra' in the Heart Sutra. <i>Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies</i>, 12, 26–57. http://jocbs.org/index.php/jocbs/article/view/155 </div><br /><div class="hang">Attwood, J. (2018). 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(2010). Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā. Tokyo: Sankibo Busshorin, 2007. Online: http://fiindolo.sub.uni-goettingen.de/gretil/1_sanskr/4_rellit/buddh/psp_1u.htm [Input by Klaus Wille, Göttingen, April 2010]. </div><br /><div class="hang">Kroll, P. W. (2015). <i>A Student's Dictionary of Classical and Medieval Chinese</i>. Brill. </div><br /><div class="hang">Li R. (1995). <i>A Biography of the Tripiṭaka Master of the Great Ci'en Monastery of the Great Tang Dynasty</i>. Numata Center for Buddhist Translations and Research.</div><br /><div class="hang">Lopez, D. S. (1988) The Heart Sūtra Explained: Indian and Tibetan Commentaries. State University of New York Press.</div><br /><div class="hang">Lopez, D. S. (1996) Elaborations on Emptiness: Uses of the Heart Sutra. Princeton University press.</div><br /><div class="hang">Lusthaus, D. (2003) The Heart Sūtra in Chinese Yogācāra: Some Comparative Comments on the Heart Sūtra Commentaries of Wŏnch’ŭk and K’uei-chi. <i>International Journal of Buddhist Thought &amp; Culture</i>. September, Vol. 3: 59-103.</div><br /><div class="hang">Mercier, H. and Sperber, D. (2017) <i>The Enigma of Reason: A New Theory of Human Understanding</i>. Allen Lane.</div><br /><div class="hang">Nattier, J. (1992). 'The Heart Sūtra: a Chinese apocryphal text?' Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies. 15 (2) 153-223. Online: http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/ojs/index.php/jiabs/article/view/8800/2707</div><br /><div class="hang">Shih, H. C. &amp; Lusthaus, D. (2006) <i>A Comprehensive Commentary on the Heart Sutra (Prajnaparamita-hyrdaya-sutra)</i>. Numata Center for Buddhist Translation &amp; Research.</div><br /><div class="hang">Shinohara, K. (2014) <i>Spells, Images, and Mandalas: Tracing the Evolution of Esoteric Buddhist Rituals</i>. Columbia University Press.</div><br /><div class="hang">Tanahashi, K. (2014). <i>The Heart Sutra: A Comprehensive Guide to the Classic of Mahayana Buddhism</i>. Shambala.</div></div>Jayaravahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13783922534271559030noreply@blogger.com