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Devadatta

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Hi again. Here’s to the beneficial effects of a stiff challenge.

- Now, in one of our previous discussions you suggested that the ultimate realization of Sanatana dharma is “union with Mahabrahma” (if this is not quite accurate, please set me straight). In other exchanges, you’ve put great stock in the atman/anatman distinction. I’m not sure on which particular texts or teachers you base your viewpoint, which I would be interested in knowing. But I feel compelled to explain my own understanding.

- First, at issue is the contention that Buddhism aims at a radically higher realization than any other tradition, in this instance Sanatana dharma.

- For the comparison to be at all meaningful the terms must be at least roughly parallel. And “union with Mahabrahma” has never been to my knowledge the definition of the highest realization in Sanatana dharma. If you look at any standard reference, you’ll find a clear distinction between any notion of “Brahma” as a creator god and “Brahman” as the impersonal absolute. In the dictionary I have, Brahman among other things is described as “incorporeal, immaterial, invisible, unborn, uncreated”, etc. Brahma is a creator god whose name doesn’t even appear in the earliest Vedas and who is supplanted early on by Vishnu and Shiva as the preferred gateway names to the absolute. Highest realization doesn’t turn on any of these gateway names or concepts but on realization of that uncreated absolute.

- Again, I don’t know from where you derive this meaning of “Mahabrahma”, but in the fundamental suttas this refers to a creator god way down in the divine pecking order in the form world (14 out of 16, if I remember correctly), and more a figure of fun than anything like the uncreated absolute.

- So fundamentally, the true comparison is between Buddhist realization of “dependent origination” and Sanatana dharma realization of impersonal “Brahman”; or, to put it another way, the verbal formulation “not-self” as against the verbal formulation “Supreme Self”.

- Is there some fundamental difference between these two views of nirvana, based on verbal distinctions like atman/anatman, in terms of the actual experience of that ideally fully realized sage? If there is, it will take a far more evolved person than myself to explain where that real as opposed to conceptual/verbal difference lies.

- That said, the important issue for me is whether the Buddhist tradition, at its most fundamental, really does claim that realization of the uncreated Brahman is a second-rate nirvana. And here I think the answer may be more straightforward than one thinks, given the vast bulk of Buddhist writings.

- You’re no doubt familiar with the Brahmajala. This is traditionally placed as the very first sutta in the written canon, and is recognized as authoritative by all schools. It’s also the first comprehensive expression of fundamental Buddhist views on this question.

- And what do we find among the 62 views listed as wrong? Well, we find Mahabrahma playing the buffoon as usual, with wrong view arising not from “union” but from being born as a Mahabrahma or in his realm, and retaining a defective memory of the experience (as well, it’s said that one can arrive at this wrong view through some unspecified process of reasoning).
.
- Of all the 62 views listed (actually fewer than 62; the 62 total arises from a quaint way of categorizing “views”), the best shot for a sectarian view of nirvana is the very first, “belief in an eternal soul and an eternal world”. Superficially, this view most resembles the identity of Brahman & Atman that we find in the Upanishads.

- But is it the same thing? I think there are good reasons to doubt. First the “world” and “uncreated Brahman” are hardly synonymous. “Eternal world” could well be a materialist conception. Second, what is posited here is fundamentally a belief rising from the faulty memory of past lives, or a simplistic deduction of eternality arising from those memories or their experience. Does this do justice to the subtle formulations of Brahman already present in the Upanishads of the time? Again, I think there are good reasons to doubt that this “wrong view” adequately sums up the Sanatana approach to nirvana, or is even intending to.

- Certainly this question comes down to interpretation, others are possible, and everyone is entitled to their own. But I think in a way, whatever our interpretation we adhere to, we have to make a basic choice.

- I believe we can either take a pluralist or a sectarian view.

- The pluralist view is that the Brahmajala effectively sums up a range of naive metaphysical views common to its time, and which it shows to be based on clinging to concepts and projections rooted in past memories or present experience. The Brahmajala therefore speaks from a very sophisticated standpoint, but does not thereby preclude other standpoints equally sophisticated. The pluralist view is that such equally sophisticated standpoints existed at the time, have certainly existed & developed over the centuries, east & west, and exist to the present day.

- The sectarian view is to cling to any scriptural formulation that appears to justify a belief in the superiority of its particular tradition or lineage.

- So that would be my question to you, Vajra, and to anyone else who cares to answer: how do you choose, as a pluralist or as a sectarian? Are you with Panikkar or are you with the Pope?

- I hope this comes across as intended: direct, challenging, by not unfriendly.

Cheers.

BTW, here are two posts I wouldn't mind you responding to, if you feel moved to do so: http://www.comparative-religion.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3413
http://www.comparative-religion.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3486
 
Namaste Devadatta,

thank you for the post.

Devadatta said:
- Now, in one of our previous discussions you suggested that the ultimate realization of Sanatana dharma is “union with Mahabrahma” (if this is not quite accurate, please set me straight). In other exchanges, you’ve put great stock in the atman/anatman distinction. I’m not sure on which particular texts or teachers you base your viewpoint, which I would be interested in knowing. But I feel compelled to explain my own understanding.

the Sanskrit term is Moksha, which is one of the 4 aims of life in the Sanatana Dharma tradition.

Moksha has a few nuanced meanings, generally speaking, it means "union with God".

i've posted a bit of the technical distinction below regarding aspects of Brahma... however, since the terms are Sanskrit and many beings do not understand this language, i use the designation of "Maha" to refer to the Creator God... however, i do realize that, for many beings at the time, this name was Ishvara.

- First, at issue is the contention that Buddhism aims at a radically higher realization than any other tradition, in this instance Sanatana dharma.

it is not "higher" or more "meaningful" or some other descriptive term which implies a superior sort of attainment, in my view. all of these sorts of ideas are predicated upon something actually being taught and the Buddha taught nothing.

- For the comparison to be at all meaningful the terms must be at least roughly parallel. And “union with Mahabrahma” has never been to my knowledge the definition of the highest realization in Sanatana dharma. If you look at any standard reference, you’ll find a clear distinction between any notion of “Brahma” as a creator god and “Brahman” as the impersonal absolute. In the dictionary I have, Brahman among other things is described as “incorporeal, immaterial, invisible, unborn, uncreated”, etc. Brahma is a creator god whose name doesn’t even appear in the earliest Vedas and who is supplanted early on by Vishnu and Shiva as the preferred gateway names to the absolute. Highest realization doesn’t turn on any of these gateway names or concepts but on realization of that uncreated absolute.

does your dictonary talk about Ishvara and what role this being held?

- Again, I don’t know from where you derive this meaning of “Mahabrahma”, but in the fundamental suttas this refers to a creator god way down in the divine pecking order in the form world (14 out of 16, if I remember correctly), and more a figure of fun than anything like the uncreated absolute.

it is a colloquial way of speaking and, more to the point, represents my understanding of their tradition through its developmental periods.

brahman–derived from the Sanskrit root brmh meaning to grow, to expand, to bellow, to roar. The word brahman refers to the Supreme Principle regarded as impersonal and divested of all qualities. This form of brahman is sometimes designated as nirguna-brahman, brahman devoid of qualities. In contrast there is saguna-brahman, brahman invested with qualities. (See saguna-brahman). Brahman is the essence from which all created beings are produced and into which they are absorbed. This word is neuter and not to be confused with the masculine word Brahma, the creator god. Brahman is sometimes used to denote the syllable Om or the Vedas in general.

http://www.sanskrit.org/Sanskrit/sanskritterms.htm


- So fundamentally, the true comparison is between Buddhist realization of “dependent origination” and Sanatana dharma realization of impersonal “Brahman”; or, to put it another way, the verbal formulation “not-self” as against the verbal formulation “Supreme Self”.

why would the true comparison be between the realization of dependent origination vs. a creator god? i really don't see the connection that you are making here. i do agree that the Anatta teachings, especially as they are found in the Anatman/Atman distcintion, is a good method of comparison.

- Is there some fundamental difference between these two views of nirvana, based on verbal distinctions like atman/anatman, in terms of the actual experience of that ideally fully realized sage? If there is, it will take a far more evolved person than myself to explain where that real as opposed to conceptual/verbal difference lies.

perhaps... it lies outside the confines of verbal articulation? of course, you could read the Buddha Shakyamunis teaching regarding nibbana/nirvana and see what he has to say about it.

http://accesstoinsight.org/canon/sutta/majjhima/mn-001-tb0.html

which talks about how there is nothing that can rightly be regarded as the "root sequence".

http://accesstoinsight.org/canon/sutta/majjhima/mn-011-nb0.html

the Buddha Shakyamuni explains the differences in his view compared to the other sects in existence at the time.

- That said, the important issue for me is whether the Buddhist tradition, at its most fundamental, really does claim that realization of the uncreated Brahman is a second-rate nirvana. And here I think the answer may be more straightforward than one thinks, given the vast bulk of Buddhist writings.

why is that the most important issue for you?

- And what do we find among the 62 views listed as wrong? Well, we find Mahabrahma playing the buffoon as usual, with wrong view arising not from “union” but from being born as a Mahabrahma or in his realm, and retaining a defective memory of the experience (as well, it’s said that one can arrive at this wrong view through some unspecified process of reasoning).

you'll note that the Sutta never actually speaks about MahaBrahma in this regard.

- Of all the 62 views listed (actually fewer than 62; the 62 total arises from a quaint way of categorizing “views”), the best shot for a sectarian view of nirvana is the very first, “belief in an eternal soul and an eternal world”. Superficially, this view most resembles the identity of Brahman & Atman that we find in the Upanishads.

"quaint"? as in: expert and skilled or marked by skillful design?

there are a total of 62 views which Buddha Shakyamuni talks about in the Sutta

the first wrong view is explained:

Wrong view number 1: "Here, monks, a certain ascetic or Brahmin has by means of effort, exertion, application, earnestness and right attention attained to such a state of mental concentration that he thereby recalls past existences - one birth, two births, three, four, five, ten births, a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand births, several hundred, several thousand, several hundred thousand births. ‘There my name was so-and-so, my clan was so-and-so, my caste was so-and-so, my food was such-and-such, I experienced such-and-such pleasant and painful conditions, I lived for so long. Having passed away from there, I arose there. There my name was so-and-so ... And having passed away from there, I arose here.’ Thus he remembers various past lives, their conditions and details. And he says: ‘The self and the world are eternal, barren like a mountain-peak, set firmly as a post. These beings rush round, circulate, pass away and re-arise, but this remains eternally. Why so? I have by means of effort, exertion, attained to such a state of mental concentration that I have thereby recalled various past existences. That is how I know the self and the world are eternal …’ That is the first way in which some ascetics and Brahmins proclaim the eternity of the self and the world."

http://www.buddhistinformation.com/ida_b_wells_memorial_sutra_library/brahmajala_sutta.htm

- But is it the same thing? I think there are good reasons to doubt. First the “world” and “uncreated Brahman” are hardly synonymous. “Eternal world” could well be a materialist conception. Second, what is posited here is fundamentally a belief rising from the faulty memory of past lives, or a simplistic deduction of eternality arising from those memories or their experience. Does this do justice to the subtle formulations of Brahman already present in the Upanishads of the time? Again, I think there are good reasons to doubt that this “wrong view” adequately sums up the Sanatana approach to nirvana, or is even intending to.

this is one of the 62 wrong views. how about the other 61, do they address your concern in an adequate manner?

- Certainly this question comes down to interpretation, others are possible, and everyone is entitled to their own. But I think in a way, whatever our interpretation we adhere to, we have to make a basic choice.

- I believe we can either take a pluralist or a sectarian view.

interesting. how is it that you've come to this conclusion?

- The pluralist view is that the Brahmajala effectively sums up a range of naive metaphysical views common to its time, and which it shows to be based on clinging to concepts and projections rooted in past memories or present experience. The Brahmajala therefore speaks from a very sophisticated standpoint, but does not thereby preclude other standpoints equally sophisticated. The pluralist view is that such equally sophisticated standpoints existed at the time, have certainly existed & developed over the centuries, east & west, and exist to the present day.

- The sectarian view is to cling to any scriptural formulation that appears to justify a belief in the superiority of its particular tradition or lineage.

- So that would be my question to you, Vajra, and to anyone else who cares to answer: how do you choose, as a pluralist or as a sectarian? Are you with Panikkar or are you with the Pope?

i suspect that we'll have a vastly different view of this as i do not believe in anything resembling free will as it is commonly understood. as a consequence, i do not see there is much choice in this manner, it is, in my estimation, more a matter of spiritual capacity more than anything else. as such, even should a being choose to want to hold a particular belief, that being may not be able to do so.

i am curious as to why you characterize the sectarian view as "clinging" and neglect this descriptive term for the pluralist view?

metta,

~v
 
Vajradhara said:
the Sanskrit term is Moksha, which is one of the 4 aims of life in the Sanatana Dharma tradition.

Moksha has a few nuanced meanings, generally speaking, it means "union with God".

i've posted a bit of the technical distinction below regarding aspects of Brahma... however, since the terms are Sanskrit and many beings do not understand this language, i use the designation of "Maha" to refer to the Creator God... however, i do realize that, for many beings at the time, this name was Ishvara.

does your dictonary talk about Ishvara and what role this being held?

brahman–derived from the Sanskrit root brmh meaning to grow, to expand, to bellow, to roar. The word brahman refers to the Supreme Principle regarded as impersonal and divested of all qualities. This form of brahman is sometimes designated as nirguna-brahman, brahman devoid of qualities. In contrast there is saguna-brahman, brahman invested with qualities. (See saguna-brahman). Brahman is the essence from which all created beings are produced and into which they are absorbed. This word is neuter and not to be confused with the masculine word Brahma, the creator god. Brahman is sometimes used to denote the syllable Om or the Vedas in general.

Hi Vajra. Hope all is well with you.

It seems to me that here you're involving us in an unnecessary terminological tangle. The definition of Brahman you've taken the trouble to quote here only restates the distinction I've already made pretty clear. In fact, if you have a look at Bhikkhu Bodhi's introduction to the current standard translation of the Majjhima, you'll find that he clearly maintains that the brahmas and mahabramas referred to in the suttas were all species of creator gods, and that at no place in the suttas is the impersonal, absolute* Brahman in play. This is my whole point. As well, the place of Ishvara as a variant name for Lord, and the possible conceptual differences between the term "moksha" and the term "nirvana" both of which have been used in Sanatana dharma are not here at issue.
*(or nirguna, empty of rajas, sattva and tamas)

Vajradhara said:
it is not "higher" or more "meaningful" or some other descriptive term which implies a superior sort of attainment, in my view. all of these sorts of ideas are predicated upon something actually being taught and the Buddha taught nothing.

Agreed. But at the end of the day many a mystic east & west has said as much, when it comes down to the end game of entry into the inconceivable.

Vajradhara said:
it is a colloquial way of speaking and, more to the point, represents my understanding of their tradition through its developmental periods.

Ah, so you were speaking loosely. I'll say no more.

Vajradhara said:
why would the true comparison be between the realization of dependent origination vs. a creator god? i really don't see the connection that you are making here. i do agree that the Anatta teachings, especially as they are found in the Anatman/Atman distcintion, is a good method of comparison.

You consider nirguna Brahman a creator god? The point is that realization of Brahman without attributes, though it is arrived at through cataphatic and not apophatic means, is surely in at least the same neighbourhood as realization of dependent origination, which in my understanding is equivalent to the realization of non-self or sunyata.

Vajradhara said:
perhaps... it lies outside the confines of verbal articulation? of course, you could read the Buddha Shakyamunis teaching regarding nibbana/nirvana and see what he has to say about it.

Agreed. The absolutes aimed at in both traditions are thought to be beyond verbal articulation. Yes, I'm familiar with this sutta. I'm not sure of your point here, except that all Buddha dharma stands on the inconceivable, says Vimalakirti, while Sanatana dharma, like other theistic traditions, holds your hand to the last instant before cutting the ground from beneath your feet. The Buddha was more a straight shooter. Or perhaps he was patiently impatient!

Vajradhara said:
why is that the most important issue for you?

Well, as you know by now through my numerous rantings, if I'm a sectarian of anything it's pluralism. I won't here repeat what I've said elsewhere about its practical importance in the scheme of things as I see it, but the issue here turns on the fact that Buddha dharma is still a-borning in the West. In earlier periods, it seems to me, for example the heyday of beat Zen in the 1950's with figures like D.T. Suzuki and Alan Watts, things were much more freewheeling than they've since become. In the interim, there's been a great influx of Asian traditions and writings, especially Tibetan. On balance of course, this is a necessary and good thing; we are better informed than ever, and there are now many more serious practitioners than there used to be. But with old traditions come a lot of baggage, as well as a tendency among some to feel compelled to duplicate the dogmatism characteristic of Western religion. As a pluralist, I feel I should speak in favour of openness, especially as we have yet to work out what the shapes of Buddhism in the West will in fact be.

Besides, Buddhism is a child of India, and (traditional) India is also where many people still look to as the model of what religious pluralism means.

Vajradhara said:
you'll note that the Sutta never actually speaks about MahaBrahma in this regard.?

Exactly. But maybe I'm missing your point.

Vajradhara said:
"quaint"? as in: expert and skilled or marked by skillful design?.

Sure, there's skilful, that is to say, pragmatic, design. But logically quaint as in listing 1 view with two possible bases as 4 views, but I could list other examples. Or am I being too cheeky in your view?

Vajradhara said:
"there are a total of 62 views which Buddha Shakyamuni talks about in the Sutta
the first wrong view is explained....

this is one of the 62 wrong views. how about the other 61, do they address your concern in an adequate manner?

I'm not sure why you pasted in this excerpt from the Bramajala, which I've already discussed. I there explained that re-reading the whole sutta I could find no view that could reasonably be equated with the highest realization as expressed in Sanatana dharma, past or present, but that view #1 seemed to me to make the closest approximation. If you can point out better candidate, please do so. Again, the consensus as maintained for example by people like Bhikkhu Bodhi is that Brahman in the absolute sense is not directly in play in the suttas.

Vajradhara said:
"i suspect that we'll have a vastly different view of this as i do not believe in anything resembling free will as it is commonly understood. as a consequence, i do not see there is much choice in this manner, it is, in my estimation, more a matter of spiritual capacity more than anything else. as such, even should a being choose to want to hold a particular belief, that being may not be able to do so.?

And naturally being a Buddhist your spiritual capacity would be superior?

But I'm not sure what free will has to do with this discussion. Whether we have free will or not, whatever determines our next thought or our next typo, we will both continue to express our next thoughts and commit our typos. I don't think it's fair to evade questions by claiming a lack of freewill.

Vajradhara said:
"i am curious as to why you characterize the sectarian view as "clinging" and neglect this descriptive term for the pluralist view?

Well, I admit I framed this question very unfairly, sort of like a bad sales guy. Let me try to do better.

Take this question of view #1 in the Brahmajala. My sense is that the evidence is decisively against this being equivalent to highest realization in Sanatana dharma. But for argument's sake (not that I want to argue!), say that I agree that the matter is more doubtful. Say I call it a coin-toss.

In that case, which side gets the benefit of the doubt? Do we hold that Sanatana dharma just may be effectively equivalent to Buddha dharma in its ultimate aims? Or do we use whatever the text may suggest to maintain an essential difference/superiority in Buddha dharma's ultimate aims? My feeling is that the answer will turn on our predispositions, or mentality - and here you can invoke your determinism if you like - and in that sense there indeed is a clear distinction between a pluralist and a sectarian response.

As for pluralism itself, it's not only intrinsic to the Indian tradition, to me it's implicated in the pragmatic core of Buddhism, and commemorated for example in the parable of the raft, and in your Prajnaparamita-like statement above that the Buddha taught no dharma. Along with this pragmatic core whose natural inference is that realization lies beyond all dharma formulations, is the polemical and even dogmatic note sounded in some the suttas, arising, I believe, as much from exigencies of transmission and the formation of sects & schools as from anything the Buddha is said to have said. So the level of pluralism or dogmatism one finds in the dharma will vary according to one's reading, practice & understanding, and here is we may just have to respectively express divergent interpretations.

As for "clinging to pluralism", well, I admit I can quite easily be a pain in the ass or even dogmatic on the subject. That's my failing & my hobbyhorse. On the other hand, the idea that clinging to pluralism is equivalent to clinging to sectarianism, that pluralism is just another dogma, is a kind of sophism on the level of saying that belief in democracy is no different than belief in dictatorship. There's obvious motivation and payoff to clinging to one's own sect, based on the will to power; the ideal of pluralism lacks those instinctual rewards and is precisely the attempt to overcome that kind of clinging.

But certainly you may say that the question doesn't lie there, that you simply have investigated and reached certain unshakeable conclusions; the truth is the truth. (This is the default position for apologists of all traditions.) If so, I wish you well. With all respect, however, I have my doubts about your level of understanding, which I've expressed to you in perhaps too blunt a fashion. Again, I apologize for the resulting negativity. For myself, I claim no higher attainment. In my opinion, we've both been discussing distant peaks (luckily, they're really very close by).

Cheers.
 
Devadatta,


you are free to have doubts about my understanding, my intellectual capabilities and any other aspect of my being, as you see fit. those are your issues to deal with.

i have not asserted for myself any sort of "special" attainment or realization. in point of fact, i quite clearly state the opposite, that i am a student and that everything i have said has been said before... nothing original is being said by me.

it would seem that you're view is not the orthodox view nor the reformed view, either, for that matter as you proudly claim for yourself the heterodoxy. as such, there seems to be a fairly significant difference in how we are approaching the Dharma and so forth. as a consequence, it seems that you are simply castigating my views because they tend to the more orthodox, which may seem strange being as how my practice lineage is from the Vajrayana, but there it is.

i would like to ask you to cease, please.

metta,

~v
 
Vajradhara said:
Devadatta,


you are free to have doubts about my understanding, my intellectual capabilities and any other aspect of my being, as you see fit. those are your issues to deal with.

i have not asserted for myself any sort of "special" attainment or realization. in point of fact, i quite clearly state the opposite, that i am a student and that everything i have said has been said before... nothing original is being said by me.

it would seem that you're view is not the orthodox view nor the reformed view, either, for that matter as you proudly claim for yourself the heterodoxy. as such, there seems to be a fairly significant difference in how we are approaching the Dharma and so forth. as a consequence, it seems that you are simply castigating my views because they tend to the more orthodox, which may seem strange being as how my practice lineage is from the Vajrayana, but there it is.

i would like to ask you to cease, please.

Hi Vajra.

I'm sorry you take my honest challenges as a kind of castigation. Certainly, it was unskilful of me to question your credentials, as I have done on several occasions. On the other hand, the vast bulk of what I've been saying in these last several posts treats only of alternate views of the dharma, and the questions I put I feel were fair and to the point. But rather than address these questions, you've chosen to be offended.

Speaking of orthodox/heterodox (I don't know what you mean by "reform") you may agree that these are relative if not phantom terms that can easily mislead. I've worn the cloak here of heterodoxy - no doubt again unskilfully - based on prevailing causes & conditions. In the end, I think that my heterodoxy has been vastly oversold. It may be that the defining difference between us is less orthodox/heterodox than the contrasting amount of starch we use in our shirts. (Of course this ancient metaphor may not work so well anymore - like, who uses starch?)

Anyway, I hope that any unwholesome thoughts I've been the occasion of have already been calmly noted and have fallen into extinction. As a parting dharma gift, I'm posting a gentle entertainment on the theme of the Diamond Sutra. No response is required or expected.

All the best.

Your friend, Devadatta.
 
for Dauer

Namaste Devadatta,

thank you for the post though gone you are.

Devadatta said:
I'm sorry you take my honest challenges as a kind of castigation.

they were not, in my estimation, honest challenges. it seems that you were asserting the fullness of your understanding whilst trying to denigrate my own for, as you've stated in previous posts, your own amusement.

if you'd like to feel intellectually superior you are free to do so somewhere else with someone that is happy to feed your ego in this manner.

Certainly, it was unskilful of me to question your credentials, as I have done on several occasions. On the other hand, the vast bulk of what I've been saying in these last several posts treats only of alternate views of the dharma, and the questions I put I feel were fair and to the point. But rather than address these questions, you've chosen to be offended.

i did not choose to be offended. i stated my points directly and concisely on all the questions that you posed to the best of my ability and understanding.

i have never made any claim for having credentials other than being able to read the Suttas and put the Dharma into practice, to some small degree, in my own life.

recent experiences have shown that my practice was far more shallow than i had thought.

Speaking of orthodox/heterodox (I don't know what you mean by "reform") you may agree that these are relative if not phantom terms that can easily mislead.

of course, there is always an overlap in language when describing ones beliefs as most beings do not hold singular views. in this case i mean the term "reform" in the sense of the reform of the initial 17 schools of Buddhism which lead to the Mahayana. it is not a very accurate way of speaking of the Dharma but it seemed be a term that a Christian would be able to relate to within the context of their own paradigm.

I've worn the cloak here of heterodoxy - no doubt again unskilfully - based on prevailing causes & conditions. In the end, I think that my heterodoxy has been vastly oversold. It may be that the defining difference between us is less orthodox/heterodox than the contrasting amount of starch we use in our shirts. (Of course this ancient metaphor may not work so well anymore - like, who uses starch?)

if that is the case then that is both a credit to your ability to present views which you do not hold and a credit for not communicating your own views and i'm not sure what starch has to do with it unless you are meaning to indicate that i'm too formal in my approach whereas yours is a more vernacular approach.

metta,

~v
 
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