Buddhist Thought in India, Three Phases of Buddhist Philosophy

Edward Conze

Language: English

Pages: 150

ISBN: 0472061291

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Scanned like photocopies, two pages per sheet

From the preface:

This book sets out to discuss and interpret the main themes of
Buddhist thought in India.' The time is not yet ripe for the production
of a comprehensive academic handbook, and in any case such
an undertaking would require much more space than I had at my
disposal. There has been no room to do justice to the infinite details
of Buddhist philosophizing, and also the references at the end have
been kept brief and might have been multiplied indefinitely. The
emphasis is everywhere on those aspects of the doctrine which appear
to me to be indubitably true or significant. Throughout I have aimed
at furthering the understanding, as distinct from the bare knowledge,
of Buddhist thinking. It would have been easier to string together a
lot of quotations, but what would have been gained in ostensible
erudition would have been lost in demonstrable insight. In presenting
Buddhist philosophy as an intelligible, plausible and valid system, I
have never lost sight of its function as a spiritual method designed to
win emancipation from this world. As contrary to the ways of the
whole world has this Dharma been demonstrated. It teaches you not
to seize upon dharmas, but the world is wont to grasp at anything

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be 'pointed out' as something definite." 'Non-resisting' (a pratigha) means that dharmas do not react or impinge on each other, do not resist and obstruct one another. 5. Dharmas are isolated (vivikta)," absolutely (atyanta) isolated. The Sutras treat this term as a familiar synonym of 'empty', and nowhere explain it. A dharma is called 'empty' when one considers that it has no properties, 'isolated' when one considers that it has no relations to other dharmas. As isolated, dharmas cannot act on

absolute truth by way of logical reasoning will be very far from the teaching of the Buddha, and fail'. Moreover logic is 'uncertain' (aniyata), merely empirical and confined within the limitations of conventional truth (sāmvrta), of interest only to foolish people (bālāfrayo) and 'tiresome' or 'tedious' (khedavān). Not only is the style of the logical treatises dull, dry and scholastic, but the refutations very often' consist in nothing more than the bald assertion that the second member (hew)

first, and by far the longest, chapter is devoted to them (a), and Vasubandhu rounded off his Abhidharmakola with a ninth chapter which is exclusively occupied with the refutation of this heresy (b). The doctors of the Church, like the Sarvāstivādin Abhidharmists (c), Nāgārjuna (d), Asadga (e), Candrakirti (f), 85ntideva (g) and Kamalafila (h) never tired of castigating them: (a) Points of controversy, trsl. S. Z. Aung and C. A. F. Rhys Davids, 19'5• Also The Debates Commentary, trsl. B. C. Law,

which is the result of past karma. It is corruptible, though in other ways superior to that of ordinary beings (cf. no. 4 on p. 170). (z) The Buddha can through his magical power conjure up fictitious bodies (nirmdpakdya) which allow him to appear anywhere. (3) Finally there is the Dharma-body, which consists of the five 'portions of Dharma' (cf. p. 94), the possession of which makes a Bodhisattva into a Buddha. In this form the trikdya doctrine was taken over by the Mahayana, where it underwent

where we do not know. This neglect of the Mahayana is rather strange at a time when the most obscure writings of other traditions elicit floods of ink from scholars all over the world. The complete lack of encouragement for these studies seems to point to their having no relation to the needs of any significant section of contemporary society. In consequence the study of the Mahayana Stitras is either left to outsiders lodged precariously on the margin of society, or carried on for reasons

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