Saturday, February 28, 2015


94. P. A. Pouran:

Globalisation, Privatisation, Liberalization and Tourism are certainly the ills of common man. I don't think , these enemies can be fought by Buddhism or such weak  therapies . People must come out and fight against these evils ruthlessly.


95. A. Kanthamani:

I was touched by the use of Neuro-buddhism! (Giorgio De Martino (Blog 38) who was associated with Neurotheology sometimes ago) That was my fault!
Professor Giorgio wants to impress upon me the need for 'transformation' the key usage of Umberto Eco. I understand that this is to add sinews to Sasi's idea of 'transforming' Buddhism (not necessarily Buddhist Culture or Religion) into Cultural Buddhism, especially in the context of market Casteism (Blog 40). This much  Sasi concedes: 'you can't by pass Buddhism while talking about social issues, more prominently, casteism' in the Indian context; it is just like Consumerism!

On Professor Giorgio's recommendation, one sure way of reaching this goal requires something like the following set: (consider x as in the buddhist state): then what about the following set? 
'x is in a consciousness state (inside body)'
'x is in a (Vippassana) meditative state'  
'x is in a mindfulness state'
'x is in an enlightened state'

The question is though there are certain evidences for the neural correlates corresponding to the above, we have no idea about the  implications for the scientific research (though many claims are made).
For Professor Giogio, Neuro-Buddhism is a tool to upgrade perception and enjoyment of reality which is difficult to agree for the above reasons. One can go to the extent of claiming that we do not have (or need) any scientific theory of mind to explain the above mentioned states. I have deployed a big howler!

Meanwhile I saw Professor Pannerselvam's comment  that one should minus religion ('get out of religion') to achieve such a goal. Hopefully he may agree with me about my comment on the above states.
Neuro-Buddhism, like Neuro-Hinduism, becomes only a metaphor! History apart,  Sasi would be well advised to rethink such neologism!
With all the best wishes for group-thinking!

96. K. Rohini:

Cultural imprint of Buddhism in the Sacred Groves of Kerala
The legacy of Buddhist culture in the social life of Kerala is an undeniable fact, and that it continues to prevail even today in many ways the cultural life of Kerala The kavu tradition of kerala was much influenced by the Buddhism and so it should be discussed thoroughly. Kavu (sacred grove), nowadays has become simply a remnants of ever green forest patches, which is being protected and conserved on the basis of religious beliefs, as they are considered too be the resting place of gods and goddesses. In the kavu tradition, the imprint of Buddhism can be deciphered in its ceremonies like Pooram and Kettukazhcha like Kalakettu and Kutira kettu. A Sreedhara Menon in his work Cultural Heritage of Kerala mention about Kettukazhcha. The Kettukazhcha festival is a relic of Buddhism and that it resembles in its details the Buddhist festival which Fahien, the Chinese pilgrim (5th century AD) witnessed at Pataliputra”. In real sense, the process of acculturation seems to be found in the festivals of kavus, which transformed into temples. Because kavus are the remnants of primitive nature worship belonged to ‘little tradition’ but it was later become co-opted into the Hinduism.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

RESPONSES set - 11


Responses update:

89. S. Raju:

The theme-note of the workshop has a claim that people are looking for the liberative aspects within Buddhist culture so as to encounter liberalization and globalization of the capitalist world. If this is so , then one is tempted to say that there is a functional reductionism. Being identified with Buddhist culture, one need not be looking for the liberative elements in it. Being part or identified with Buddhist culture, one may be seeking plethora of other aspects/world-views, etc., within Buddhism. Therefore, the functional reductionism may be one of the ways to relate to people's identification with Buddhist culture. Liberalization and globalization of the capitalist world cannot be countered solely by finding out liberative aspects of Buddhism. When liberative aspects of Buddhism is plugged into the ways of capitalist world,  it is quite likely that the liberative aspects will get galvanized (it may get appropriated). Moreover, it seems when we counte-pose liberalization and globalization with liberative aspects of  Buddhist culture, it appears that there is a rivalry between them, or at least a dichotomy. This dichotomy in effect sounds bit decadent Marxist Programme. 


90. P. Madhu:

It may not be historically right to say the precepts of historical Buddha was counter to a commercial world, which has taken its later shape  'liberalization' (the counter intuitive terminology actually suggests unfreedom). The ethological conditioning of Buddhism is not merely the essentialist-Brahmanism - but then burgeoning commercialization & contempt against 'in-disciplines' of nomadic life-world. If we are caught up into claims of identity & isms- we may not understand it. Let's not be over joyous over Buddhist emphasis on values & morality. Today's market is not essentialist as it was with Adam Smith's world view. It is constructivist. Markets are made, created- not merely discovered! Anti-essentialism has no power against libertarian premises. My be drawing to essences- beyond essentialisms- would expose callousness of the oxymoronic libertarianism- because with that we may at least expose the oxymoron!
Liberation, I presume may not come from any 'ism'. If one has such hope that is misplaced hope.

Can we artificially culture a culture- be whatsoever the culture could be. Such things open the back-door for fascism- beautified with reinvented idealisms. Planning for a ‘cultural’ transformation using a label pasted upon a teacher lived 2500 years before?

Of all the absurdity, I think, I should not be silent about is - looking for the authentic Buddhist culture- monumentality is haunting! Where to search for an ideal Buddhist culture? Falling into idealism? I think historical Buddha warned not to fall into such ideal.


91. C. P. Vijayan:

Let us not delve in to aspects which have no bearing on the general topic at hand of unearthing "Buddhist traditions" from whatever is left in the culture, traditions, art , craft, agriculture, medication, rituals linguistics , psyche and the physical remains (if at all we could lay hands on some). As per knowledge, almost all of the written texts have somehow been lost (which seems true).

92. Kirathan. V:

Vipassana meditation is the true teaching of Buddha. If we donot learn vipassana, wecannot understand Buddha. THEORY IS ESSENTIAL, BUT ALONG WITH IF WE DONOT PRACTICE MEDITATION, THEN WE CANNOT UNDERSTAND BUDDHA. It is just like two cart of a vehicle. Just one example, one professor who taught pali in BHU for 26 years, and he taught about Buddha. Every day he came across the word impermanence, but he didn't understand the true meaning until he attended a 10 day vipassana meditation retreat.


93. Mini. T:

Transition of Buddhist Concept of Nibh¡na [Nirv¡¸a] through Ages.

            Buddhist Philosophy considers Nibh¡na [Nirv¡¸a] as the highest goal of life. A person who attains this state is considered as freed from the cycle of birth and death. From the time of Buddha himself this concept had importance. Buddha had attained it and several monks and nuns are said to have attained it by knowing the four Noble truths and following the AÀ¶¡ngam¡rga. At the early period of Buddhism this concept was considered as the cessation from all worldly sorrows and   liberation from the cycle of Birth and death. End of the life of such liberated one was known by the term Parinibh¡na [Parinirv¡¸a]. Later, after the Parinirv¡¸a of Buddha, Buddhist way of life had undergone many transitions. Concept of Dharma, lifestyle of monks, and the Philosophical outlooks had changed very much. Tathagata and Bodhisatva concepts developed in Mah¡y¡na Buddhism changed the nature of Nirv¡¸a concept. Nirv¡¸a undergoes transitions which later make it as the transformation of the achiever in to Buddha himself. Another matter occurs in the transition of this concept is that attainment of Nirv¡¸a of nuns or ladies are considered to be impossible by some texts and some Buddhist teachers. Gender discrimination plays a high role inside the Sangha by this development. The change of concept also results in different modes of worship of Buddha as a God. The teacher who was against the ritualistic worships and image worship is subjected to all such ways of worships. This shifts of concepts and the result it created in Buddhist Philosophy and Buddhist Sangha deserves serious study.     

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

RESPONSES set - 10

83. P. D. Anithamol:

The Tamil epic Manimekhala is taken to be a work of art which exemplifies

Buddhadharma. If so, how do we understand its protagonist's transformed

attitude towardshers hereditary profession of ganika (devadasi danseuse)? Both

Maninmekhala andher mother Madhavi, before their conversion to Buddhism,

had upheld the ganikatradition as something prestegious. Whereas, when they

became Buddhist nuns,they were advised by Aravanaadikal to keep off the

practice of dancing. Because,such a life style was considered to be unethical

from the standpoint of Buddhism.Can such an instance of distancing from the

ganika practice be taken as being partof critique of Vedic/Brahmanic/

patriarchal ritualism? Or, can it be an anotherinstance ofwomen being denied of

their (sexual/artistic/professional) freedom?


84. V. Vasanthakumari:

               Buddhist Sources of Feminst Critique of Brahmanism

Buddhism, a philosophy, besides a religion is connected with the most distinct phenomena of our social life. Buddhism escalated alongside an ominous parallel development of caste system. This caste ideology sharpened by a system of Brahmins is reflected in the purāņas. All purāņas firmly stick to the varāśramadharma. The authors of purāņas maintained and accepted the authority of the Vedas as they realized that the priestly class could survive only if the varņa system was made adequate to the society. This move culminated in the loss of equality among the people and made the society least egalitarian. Specific references of the wretched state of the society resulting from caste discrimination can be seen in Skandapurāņa. In Kāśikānda of Skandapurāņa, a Buddhist monk called Punyakirti preaches Buddha dharma among people, highlighting the concept of equality. He establishes that all beings from the Brahma to the grassroots have their own existence and are equal. There is no dharma as great as compassion and non violence. All these indicate that violence and inequality existed at the era of purāņas.
The Buddhist notion of donation (dāna) is too relevant even in this era of globalisation. Punyakirti states that the highest donation one can provide is shelter to someone - shelter to the fearful, medicine to the sick, food to the starving, and knowledge to the seeker.
There is also reference of a Buddhist nun Vijnanakaumudi, who vehemently criticized the caste system. She even criticized puruşasūktam in Ŗgveda which mentions creation. She states that the conviction that Brahmin was born from the face of God is incorrect. If it is so, how do the four sons born from one person become different in their caste? Here she also questions the validity of Vedas. After hearing Vijnanakaumudi’s words, women refused to serve their husbands, which was considered as the noblest job in their life. Thus Buddhist ideology could intervene in the social life existed in the era of Puranas.

85. C. P. Vijayan:
If every possible means were tried to drive away Bhikshus and Bhishukis from their places of congregation during the process of eviction, capture and conversion initiated by Vaishnava/Shaiva sects for which the kings had to be mute spectators (Kodungallur/Ochira) for fear of losing their conferred Kshatriyahood during the dark period, it would have been an easy job for the Brahminic clergy to instill tantra in its fold and tarnish Buddhism's age old moral supremacy against a caste ridden Hinduism donned by Brahmins. The Lingayat line is an example to explore
86. P. J. Sunny:

Zen Buddhism is the quintessence of East Asian philosophy since it is not the philosophy of a particular country such as India, China, Japan, Vietnam, or Korea, but rather the essence of the major religious traditions of all these countries. The study of Zen therefore requires an understanding of the cultural mapping of all these countries. World religions like Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism have had their own cultural precursors such as Judaism and Vedic thought and have absorbed indigenous cultures for the sake of expansion. But Zen Buddhism is the only religious/philosophical phenomenon that adopted, adapted, and absorbed
the teachings of other cultures, not for geographical expansion but for inner development. This paper tries to discuss how different cultural elements – tathagata-garbha, wu-wei, kami - are amalgamated in Zen Buddhist understanding of ecosophical ontology, as depicted in the corpus of Zen literature. The paper argues that these intercultural ingredients provided a trans-cultural status to Zen Buddhism.
87. C. P. Vijayan:

Following are some of the questions, which  may be explored in the forthcoming workshop:

Q : What prompted Max Mueller to invoke a batch of ICS recruits of Britain in 1906, destined to serve British India, to take a closer look at rural India for lessons for solution of most socio cultural problems in Britain?

Q : What prompted Kejriwal to cite the example of the township of Vyshali ,during Buddhist period in his booklet “Swaraj”?

Q : Is there truth in what some Mr.Paul , an expatriate in Japan, revealed to B.R.P. Bhaskar on a striking similarity of paddy cultivation process in Japan and Tiruvilwamala?

Q : Is it true that traditional medicinal systems got developed based on instinctive identification of body needs and the resultant consumption of minerals , mud baths , sun bath , application of urine , saliva etc as prevalent in birds and animals even today?

Q : To what extent can we find similarities in Tibetan, Chinese and Ayurvedic systems of medicine?

Q : Is Ochirakkali an annual ritual to celebrate the desecration and mauling of a prominent Buddhist centre of yore and its conversion as a Shiva temple?

Q : Is the ‘open arm fight’ staged at Mavilayi kavu in Kannur a comparable event as Ochirakkali?

Q : Was Nagananda a drama staged at Koothuparamb to impart lessons on the importance of ahimsa?

Q : Was there any study undertaken ever to ascertain and mark the caves supposedly used by monks on hill tops? If at all , what were the findings?
Q : Were all the places which have got ‘munda’, ‘palli’,’ooru’,’dharma’ tags, places of importance during Buddhist period? If so, are there chances to find more material of substance from any of these places?

Q : What can “Cherppu” give us ?

Q : “Koodalmanikyam”, “Sripadmanabha”, “Thiruvalla” and a lot other temples are supposed to have got hundreds of important documents alongside some of the palaces such as Panthalam ,Thrippunithura , Padmanabhapuram, Kowdiar and several family archives of say, Thazhaman, Arackal etc . Can any of the bodies
such as ICHR get access to these?

Q : What was the real importance of Thirunnavaya and how true is it that the ‘mamankam’ indeed was a ritual invented by vested interests for the periodical annihilation of Buddhist faith?

Q : Is ‘Ayyappa’ the only one, clad with no weapons but a chinmudra ?

Q : Is ‘putha’ or ‘pootham’ a substitute for Buddha? If then, who indeed was the substitute for ‘poothana’?

Q : Did anyone conduct any study on Kuttanad (Karumadi and Mavelikara in particular)?

Q : What more inferences can one get from Kodungallur?


88. Ajay Sekher:

 Recovery of Buddhist idols recently from Pattanam, Avittatur n Ponjasery must be discussed as Archeological evidence of the sustined presence of Buddhism in Kerala.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


75. Janaky Sreedharan:

somehow i connect to Buddhism on a different level altogether....i am not sure if i associate it with all this intellectual hairsplitting...i feel the spirit of Buddhism is more intuitive....


76. Argo Spier:

Methodology and the thing about mango-tasting tomatoes.

[*** I opted for the informal language and style that I used because this may broadens the scope of the readership. The use of words and concepts such as 'thing', 'concept', 'knowledge' and 'truth' and even 'true statement' may not always be semantically consistent throughout the response.]

I agree with the tautology argument of Madhu. Form his response we have material for further pondering. I'll elaborate on the 'thin air issue' which all of a sudden seems to have turned into is an exciting metaphor.

Here his quote:
*** "...Tracing a historical Hinduism/Christianity/Islam/Judaism ... and making judgements according to their essential actuality/factuality ... appears as if it is sturdily grounded. Rather one has to understand why do we have the so much realistic- actuality like- fact mimicking mirages - super virtual- exist- as if they have unshakable truth foundation.
History can question existence & appearances of existences. They are better than histories of impressionisms."

The appearance of things, the things we know, the things we have knowledge of and our concepts of these things, as well as the things we are very certain of as being true and have derived from true statements (our truths in general) are indeed not always as sturdily grounded as we may think. Buddhism deals with that in a very effective way. It says thoughts are entities that just come into minds and then go out of them again. And that they are produced by our minds (and our misconceptions). We all have what Madhu calls 'realistic actuality-like' facts but these facts (truths) are many times just 'fact mimicking mirages'. And, on top of it, we have the audacity to trade our arguments for these 'facts' on the market place of academic discourses. This lead to serious mis-bargaining with others. In plain cheating in some cases. In the process of communicating with others we very easily end up, when we use these 'fact mimicking mirages', making very untrue statements. This doesn't stay without consequence, this 'filling the minds of others' with virtual truths or, if you wish, 'thin air'. In their minds these ideas mixes with debris layers of thought and truths that they have themselves and when they then respond to our thin air comments, all we are getting back really as feedback is double polluted 'thinness'. The thin air of our arguments and truths comes back to us, not only as thin air too, but as thin air mixed with debris and discourse and the search for insight becomes a tiresome thing. This is the dilemma of academic communication and it underlines the responsibility we as academics have to try and deal only with true statements. We must try to work ourselves into positions where it is impossible to produce thin air. Workshops with topics such as our Cultural Buddhism can quickly become something like a company dealing in non truths and rubbish. Our discourses are then a one non-truth that is generated forwards and backwards in a perpetual way. – Philosophy Departments at Universities are then Thin Air Producing Trading Companies! In this respect I find the response of Janaky Sreedharan a most applicable one.

Here is what She said:
*** “... .somehow I connect to Buddhism on a different level altogether.... I am not sure if i associate it with all this intellectual hair-splitting...I feel the spirit of Buddhism is more intuitive....”

What she says triggered the following in me – there are more to knowledge that just the fact that it is knowledge. Personally I would be weary to describe this 'extra' to knowledge (due to its thing and concept nature) as 'levels of knowledge' because knowledge is knowledge and that's it. I am also weary of possible toxic smells. Her response forces however an understanding of the issue in a beautiful straight line. A pleasure to account such linearity. One understands her point without him having to use complicated academic words and reasoning. I hope this will be the case with my response here as well. Why I liked Janaky's response, is that that what she says, pushes us towards the urgency to come up with an answer as to how we are going to deal with the topic of Cultural Buddhism. What is our methodology? A quick metaphor here may provide more perspective as to what I mean by this.

Let me try: strong houses are build with heavy materials, portals, stones, casings, etc. which are too heavy for one man to carry. To solve this problem the builders have had a sit-down and a long discussion. They knew they had to come up with a 'how they can do it' answer, and how to bring on the materials before they can start building. Some of them came up with a brilliant idea, a 'new way' of doing the lifting and carrying. The idea was a track and pulley system with chains. They made it and it worked. We can compare this to the development of a methodology and the driving force for us to do that is 'the house that we wish to build', namely Cultural Buddhism. This is what we have to do, use methodology as a tool itself. But I'll come back to this idea as I seemed to have skipped some of my 'process explanation' to arrive at the last statement. There are 'smaller tools' too. What have I been doing in my response so far? I have been using metaphors to 'tell' things more efficiently, trying like Janeky's straight-line methodology to get 'truth' to its point, more quickly. The same as the builders. The evaluation of the validity of metaphors lie however always with the reader which make it rather 'communication sensitive'. One has to communicate for a metaphor to work and explain stuff better. Again, here the thin air argument comes in and responsibility. Western metaphors may not so easily be understood by Hindu for example. So its a good tool, yes … but to an extend. With the metaphor I used above, you have understood more about the need to have a methodology than of the actual processes that defines the metaphor and how these processes are almost organically tied to the subject that one deals with. That's another limitation but how it may be, you have understood that we ought to first to have the one (methodology) before we can have the other (start building a house – our Cultural Buddhism). And now, with my small explanation to what the tool of a metaphor is about, you also have understand that Cultural Buddhism and its methodology are organically attach to one another. But again, you cannot have the one and not the other. One can say the methodology of Cultural Buddhism is ingrained in the process of discovering and/or working it out. Like building a house and having a house, is. Its but the same thing really, to have a house and to build it. You have to own the architect's drawings (the concept of the house) and the ground on which you are building to build the house. And who doesn't continuously build and renovate his house when he lives in it. Only a lazy men doesn't do it. Not academics. So you see, as we built and work with the metaphor more and more insights (truths) appear. Its an easy thing to do but it also has complicated ties and knots all over. Its easy to make true statements but it is not so easy to sustain them throughout your argumentations. Stories and myths (old accepted myths) and new city-storytelling myths (newly designed myths) may also have this quality and feasibility. They tell of secrets and truths without mentioning it. Its straight-line truth swapping and truthful communication that are their motors. Understanding of a truth through a metaphor skips complicated philosophical clarification. Of the story of Little Red Riding Hood is said that it didn't really happened but that it is absolutely true. Yes, and it is. There are still paedophiles today and sick rapists that try to lead innocent contentious little girls astray and into the woods for their evil deeds. They are even prepared to smother grand mothers. The metaphor has bearing on how in academic research the tonality of methodology may be influenced. It has a relationship with both reality of the process and the result of its process. Metaphors also have a bearing on the fact that the philosophical questioning such as the questioning now taking place in the Workshop on Cultural Buddhism, and the 'truth' of the phenomenon's existence, depends on processes set aside inside methodology. This is a difficult one, no? To explain it in a bit more detail I will try incorporating it in an analysis of 2 more quotes from the preliminary discussion. Its about that 'wobble' effect I mentioned earlier. It is up to the reader to determinate if my observation is correct and whether we have a true statement (and a truth) in our hands … or whether my clarification is based on thin air that may have a toxic ordure.

The use of the metaphor to explain the scope of a truth developed
***Please understand that I am working more illustratively here than content-based. I am also, limited by the scope of the response.
Refer to the following quotes, both from responses of P. K. sasidharan.
1) *** "... if various ways of finding connection with the ideas/practices emerge from Buddhist culture could be termed as cultural Buddhism, of course it could be an inclusive framework for coming together all people who could go with the most common Buddhist positions such as, a stance against power (egoist or socio-political) and existential engagement with the sufferings of life. religious/spiritual Buddhist communities seem to exclude people who are connected to Buddhist thoughts and practices on the basis of cultural ideologies of various sorts."
2) *** "... What we call 'Cultural Buddhisms' and 'Buddhist cultures' are to be taken as different entities altogether. The present exercise of learning from Buddhist cultures need not be a call for a revival or institutionalization of any one of the so-called religious sects or philosophical doctrines that go in the name of Buddhism. Cultural Buddhism seems to inform a recurring tendency to invoke certain Buddhist ideas in relation to troubling questions of individual and social life. What makes sensitive minds to be so? If we make any reference to Buddhist thought or imagery as part of our contemporary engagements, I think it can very well go by cultural Buddhism. Consumerism seems to be setting an everyday context for cultural Buddhism everywhere. In the context of engagement with the castiesm in India, one may not be able to bypass Buddhism."

The first quote is included as it is a perfect description of the process of experimentation taking place in the 'discovery' of the exceptional haunch that Cultural Buddhism is. (*There is not a single true statement that I have read in the responses that makes it viable that it may indeed be an issue.) The second quote, see the underlined sentence, is the moment I wish to highlight as an example of 'working on a methodology' and the organic nature of it. It is the moment in which the academic attention and focus on methodology starts to 'wobble' and a directional change takes place. What happens here in the philosopher's mind is the same as what is happening in an experiment of say, plant genetic modification. This is another quick metaphor.

Let's compare the search for a true statement to the process of genetic modification of a tomato plant. (*Important - the reader must decide what the effectiveness is of the metaphor, whether is 'helps' to clarify the point that I am trying to make and/or whether it obscures the very point I want to make? Also, he has to decide whether the reasoning as a whole is toxic or not, based on thin air and/or it is a faked construction or a fabricated one we are dealing with.)

In the case of the tomato plant 'changes' are taking place in a process of experimentation. From an 'edible old-variety' the scientist takes DNA and he tries to make a new species of tomato plants, that say, will taste like a mango, or to be more reasonable, half like a mango. The specie will in the end have half of the tomato's genes and half of the mango's. The fruit of it will look like tomatoes but it will taste like mangoes. That's the idea. Whether this is good or bad is not the issue. We are only interested in the process of change and the organic nature of it. The scientist that worked on the modification and did the crafting of the new species used a certain methodology (and tools and knowledge; he dealt with truths and true statements) and somewhere along the line a genetic variation of the plant came into being. Did he know beforehand how the fruit would taste of this new mango-tomato plant? To a degree, probably, as he had worked into that direction (he had a blue print; a methodology) but he couldn't have been 100% sure of the taste of it. Nobody has ever tasted a 50-50% mango and tomato before. It's a new thing and this new thing, to bend the metaphor over into the philosophy of knowledge and truth, one could say brought a new true thing (concept) into existence. The same as with the haunch of Cultural Buddhism which is a new concept to start off with. A new 'truth' (plant/specie/concept) had come into being via a 'being busy' with it and this truth has arrived via the process of modification (search for methodology). In comparison with our dealings to search for clarity in OUR topic, I am saying that the same thing has or might be happening in our own analysis processes of statements of it. We are crafting at the plant but also at its DNA, methodology … and we have never 'tasted' the result.

OK, to go back to the quote again and find the crux of the matter (see the underlined) - the discourse in the second quote starts off with the statement 'Sensitive minds' . That is our tomato plant. If you look closely at the quote, you will be able to see that this 'sensitive minds' are in a modification process. Mango DNA is being added to it and the concept of it (truth) is getting ingrained into the tomato plant's 'genes'. The mango DNA comes with the statement 'I think it can very well go by cultural Buddhism'. 'Sensitive minds' (tomato) is being linked to 'I think it can very well be by cultural Buddhism' (mango) and a new species of truth arrived. What had come out of this linking (the modification process) is a 50-50% new variety of truth (which may be thin air and have toxic qualities but never the less its there.) The new specie or new truth is now 'Cultural Buddhism is the motor of softness.' Its a new variety and a true statement. It means 'I think softness can very well go by cultural Buddhism.' One can say a 'genetic change' has taken place in the attempt to find a way to deal with the truth of the quote in our search for methodology. What the academic was doing, was searching for a methodology (a new variety to produce a specie of truth about Cultural Buddhism), he had blue prints but he wasn't sure of the outcome, etc. but in the coarse of the experiment something organic has taken over and a new truth arrived. The process of applying methodology seems to be dynamic and leading an own life. And there was a 'wobble' in the process. The result is a new questionable truth. It is a true statement. It says 'Cultural Buddhism is responsible (or possibly responsible) for the softness'.

Now this is where YOU, the reader comes in. I have distilled a new truth from a quote. I have used a certain methodology and the tool of a metaphor, but have I really produced a new truth? Was my construction fabricated or were the statements in the quote fabricated? Is there a hint of a faked thing in here and is it toxic in its construction? Are we dealing with thin air or just plain rubbish? And the whole idea of working in this way, is it a thin air argument? And even a more complicated question, if my effort to discover a truth via a certain methodology resulted in toxic material distribution, isn't that then true for all methodologies?

With this, the issue that arrived in Madhu's response becomes actual again – what is the difference between a faked and a fabricated academic construction and a true argument and the resulting true statement from it? We are confronted with language philosophy now. 'What do we say when we talk?' Is it possible to talk sense überhaupt? Is our talking not only leading us to modified possible toxic plants and no real communication at all? The 'wobbling' that happens in modification processes balances Cultural Buddhism now on the narrow rift of the Kantian imperative and the Wittgenstein and Husserl call for a perfect language to avoid ontological parallelism. Words and existence aren't the same. Janeky conveyed that. Their loads are different, that we know. But their codes? We aren't so sure of that in our dustbin minds.

I must say, Janeky Sreedharan's, Madhu's and Sasidharan's input were very stimulative! And here is a last 'metaphor' to analyse and ponder about. It was written by an anonymous Buddhist monk in the 16th Century and called a poem. It is probably the best poem ever written. It gets and says truth in a straight line, skipping all that thin air that can be so pollutive. This is for your recuperation while you think what is the true nature of fabricated and faked stuff or something like that.

Lying, thinking last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf not a stone
I came up with one thing
And I don't believe I'm wrong
That nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone

And as an illustration of the exchange of truth (knowledge) here's my answer to it, 400 years later. Hopefully there hasn't crept toxicity into the process of communication.


it flows from here to there
and back again

the river runs through the cast
of our eye

- yours and mine -

and when I look at you
when warm at brace and bank

you feel the sensation too
- you can feel it

with your hand touching mine -

and at riverbank and prop
where you wait

where you used to wait
I too wait to see with you

how it flows from me to you
and back again

That the metaphor is a tool that can be used in methodology to drive home truth is undeniable – you however have to decide the extent there is to it. And leaving the issue to rest in your mind now, I cannot help but to think that should all the intellectual academic power involved in the Workshop have been involved in the genetic experimental preliminary discussions of the tomato experiments, we really could have pushed the idea of a modified 'mango-tasting tomatoes'. There was never such a genetic modification. Its just a figment of my imagination. But just imagine the taste of the chutney that can be made from such a variety! The thin-air boys company would have done a good job! Of that I am even more sure than of certain parts of my reasoning concerning the 'wobble' in methodology.


77. P. Madhu:

my contention is simple: 1. the arguments of religious determinism is flawed. 2. all the more it is flawed if the religious determinism is about the late construct of 'Hinduism' 3. my contention is expandable in the case of other faiths or isms too. 4.arguments from all academics from whatsoever reputation is contestable if it make causal claims from religious determinism.


78. Argo Spier:

Cultural Buddhism - developing a methodology and how a 'wobble' creates a process
NOTE to the reader: The following input may aid students to rethink the methodology they are using when proceeding with the theme Cultural Buddhism. I have made used of a subtle set of metaphors. It is for the reader to see the connections between content and metaphor and decide whether the scope of the metaphors are not overdrawn. It is also up to him to decide whether these introduction ideas forms a usable whole with an accepted reasoning. The difference and yet inter-connectivity between the thingness of a concept and the concept itself was also touched upon, as was the 'spaces' connected to methodology. I may have repeated certain thought streams but hopefully not overloaded the repetition. The input has to be seen as a quick response and the reader is begged to only use what he finds applicable and delete the rest. Due to the scope of the Quick/r preliminary I also refrain from writing a conclusive paragraph. This may give the piece a 'hanging' feel. The reader may write the end paragraph for himself if he so desires (and post it to me). - Argo

Most of the posts and per-luminary chat so far in the Workshop (up to February 2015) seem to be dealing with content-orientated history. There also seems to be an accepted hear-say reasoning in the method of many of the posters and a firm belief in some of them that that what they post, and their arguments in getting to their statements, deals with 'the truth' of the historical developments of Buddhism. But isn't that exactly what is at stake in the issue Cultural Buddhism, namely the questioning that the method and analysis of existing knowledge escapes historiography and that historiography may not hold the truth one has got used accepting? And isn't this questioning an inherent part and parcel of the concept? How do we know that what we know of Buddhism, its history and development through the ages and/or decline, isn't but a colored version tainted with local myth and/or the rusted concepts of 'truth' that are ingrained inside our thoughts and memory? Our concepts of what history and what development is even may be wrong. And 'truths', especially 'historical-truths' … are they not always true to a degree per definition? Our knowledge of truth too, is this an absolute true thing? What about half-truths and even non-truths? How do we distinguish between these categories? Another issue applicable here is that there are the 'things' that we name and then believe that by naming them we have made them true. And there are more uncertainties. For instance, there's that Kantian imperative and the issue of having knowledge of knowledge. How can one know that he knows something without knowing what he knows is part of knowledge? And the ability of the individual to deal with knowledge as a truth, is that based on a standard and is it sound? One has to know what knowledge is to know that it is knowledge (and one has to prove that this knowledge is the correct knowledge to know). And verification comes into the equation. How can we know that our ideas are truthful at all and what definition do we give to the attribute truth that is so often attached to what we formulate? And there is the Heidegger issue of the meaning of the meaning of knowledge? What is the meaning of truthful knowledge? All this has bearing on the topic of Cultural Buddhism. The very 'meaning' of our talking has influence over that what we say about subjects and objects. In all our utterances we all have to be aware of this and the issues mentioned. And with our efforts we have to exercise an openness in which it is possible to consider that that what we say is true. But this isn't as easy as it seems. There are many aspects of knowledge and true statements that one has to be aware of in order to really get to some level of not only clarity but meaning as well. The way that we have been looking at things and the way we have been dealing with the truth may not have been the absolutely right way and, in our openness, we have to incorporate that as well. An awareness of all the aspects of knowledge seems to be a worthwhile approach to start with. Then issues such as what truth- and trustful knowledge is has to be incorporated. We need to know 'what it is' that we are saying when we make a statement and hold that we have dealt with a 'true thing', that we are speaking the truth, saying something 'real' that others may use to built their 'knowledge' upon and be on the 'right track' to find the meaning of what was said. This seems a good way to 'go', to deal and research Cultural Buddhism. It may even be the right methodological approach to discover the full extend to which Cultural Buddhism may reach.

To speak of knowledge, the first question that comes to our minds is 'what is it?' What is knowledge? How can we know what knowledge is? It is a word, a concept one can answer and that would be a true statement. But knowledge is also something more than the word that explains the concept of it. It is something we know. But how do we know that we know it? And how do we know that it is knowledge? Don't we have to know what knowledge is before we can know that we know it and know that it is knowledge that we know? It all doesn't seem so easy, does it? One can reason that this is ah, this is interesting but that it has nothing to do with Cultural Buddhism. But a person thinking that, has he it at the right end? How does he know it has nothing to do with the topic? And if he sure of his view how does he know that it is a true view, one worth to have? And how does he know he knows that it has nothing to do with the subject? Where did he get that 'knowledge' from and where is that knowledge now, in his head? How does he know it? How does he know it is in his head? Indeed this is an Ororobos snake eating its own tail and going into a seemingly never-ending loop. It matters. It matters because we are trying to get truthful knowledge about our subject. We don't want to fool around, no, we want to know true things about our subject. That's why we have a Workshop, to out things and preferably true thing about our subject.

But what are 'true' things? How do we know that things are true and how do we know that that what we know is true? Oh, one again could say things that cannot be proved to be true are false. That seems a good answer but is it? Really, what is truth and what way and/or method do we have to follow to get it? To find the answer and also to ponder more about knowledge, I suggest you read the following piece I worked on before I started with the 'wobble' idea in the methodological process, a topic I probably will not conclude. .....

Much of the 'rubbish in the world' (our pondering of what true things are as well resort under this heading) can still be used, recycled in some way. Others not. Radio-active material radiate dangerous radio-activity and only after some 20,000 years or so the effect seemed to has lost its bite. We are dealing with toxic stuff when we deal with it. Toxic stuff that lingers. How many rusted theories do we not have in our heads that blur our vision and harm our ability to think clearly about and on academic topics and issues? It is as if there is a 'lingering' of 'toxic' stuff in our heads that prohibits the discovery of new means of approaching a subject, work out a methodology. Just as with contaminated materials, it too lingers. Some of the truths we have have been with us for a long time. 20,000 years? Yes, things like Archetypes are from Paleontologist times in our minds. Are they toxic? Yes and no, depending whether you incorporate them is some kind of religious truth and fill your life with it. They certainly are of the lingering kind too. How do we know whether concepts that we hold for true in our minds are producing the right or wrong'kind of truth? I don't know, do you? I suppose you have to work with it, test it and mull it over and over till the true nature of that what you hold true really becomes knowable. I'd say awareness of the nature of truths and a long pondering of it is a good way to start with the endeavor to find out what a true thing really all about. And if we mean to know that what we know is true, we must become doubly aware as this as this especially is a true signal of toxic content. People who tell other people that they tell the truth certainly lie. Has any one of us ever have asked ourselves whether if that what we know that we know are true whether then that what we don't know is to be definitely untrue? Do you see, what I mean by toxicity? You are using the same methodology for the lefts side and the right side. In this case it leads to nonsense. Like with radio-activity, we do not see the dangerous radiation that causes the cancer in our bodies. We also do not we see that whether that what we know is to be true may be false and not true at all. It seems that the idea to work with a truth of degrees isn't such a bad idea after all. What we know of Buddhism, its development and possible decay (as many academics in Kaledy seem to believe to be true as far as Kerala is concerned), may only be true to a degree of the level of truth about it. This is all linked to what I had said earlier about knowledge and the question of where we did get the knowledge that we know is knowledge and treat as truthful knowledge issue comes into play again. Methodology is a question more of how we ask the question of what knowledge is than of a content-logic reasoning of what knowledge is. The same goes for the dealing with truths. And we have to develop our ways of doing it, get a methodology. Methodology is the space into which you dump the question whether that what you believe you do, is true or false. View it as a per-designed letterhead. You use it for all your letters. Or even, view it as as the dustbin icon on your computer screen. You can dump things into it. They are not really in it. The codes to the items is what are in the dustbin. When you delete the codes the documents crumble and evaporate from your computer. There is a handy function however to this dustbin. You can salvage documents from it, move them back to the original places they come from and use them again. And then you can dump them again. Methodology is like that. It is a way to deal with the roots of things. And this brings us to the following issue – roots of things, what are that? For instance, Cultural Buddhism is a concept dealing either with the roots of Buddhism or the results of Buddhism. But we, when dealing with Cultural Buddhism, do not know where the idea and concept of Cultural Buddhism comes from. And since we have that idea where does it resides? In the concept of it? Or in the thingness of it? We don't even know if it is a true thing or even a true concept of a true thing. We have found it in ourselves as a discarded debris layer of thought (coming from waste theories whether toxic or not) that was placed there by an earlier times for deletion. We have the codes of it in our dustbin. With this earlier I don't mean from a previous lives and/or that we know about it via incarnation or rebirth. Although it may be true that we had previous lives, and many Buddhists know this to be true, it is more in a historic way that I am using the term, it's collective unconsciousness embedding by culture.

This is an uncontrolled vast domain of continued space of human existence. It spreads through all people. In this space (this is our second use of the word and concept space) we must look to find sense to the concepts we work with. The how we look for Cultural Buddhism contains the methodology question and has everything to do with the collective unconscious of man. How we deal with that what we think we know that is important. So undefined creative cultural space and the space of methodology are areas of outlet to watch out for. Attitudes towards Buddhism can be found in the collective unconscious of culture of which we are psychologically part and parcel of. These attitudes must be viewed as sedimented layers of 'waste' (rubbish) that the 'stream' of civilization activity through the eons has left behind in our souls. To 'find' Cultural Buddhism we have to become archaeologists of these layers and dig it up in the above mentioned spaces …. which in the end may prove to be only the very same one. As archaeologists, diggers, excavators we will have to compare the pieces related to the subject that we have found with the images (concepts) we have imprinted in our mind systems and do our selections. While doing it we must try to disregard what's academically irrelevant and fit what's relevant and in this way slowly build our grand theory (which may prove to be our our methodology) to find out whether that what was recorded (in the historiography), and had produced certain theories and truths that were through the ages been sedimented in our minds, can compare to new theories of the past that we hold for true and/or false. We will then slowly understand whether we are victims of false codification or gallant academics riding real horses. We need to question the historiography of both the present and the past. And we have to do this in fully awareness of the categorical imperative, that issue and question as to what knowledge is. Its not an easy pursuit, I agree. Nothing is 'true' in the World of Everything and everything is only recorded and sedimented inside the World in Us, our mind. Truth is its own concept and rather the philosopher's enemy because of the possible toxic nature of it. We must be very careful not to make fools of us, saying something to somebody that we think is the absolute truth and then to discover only some moments later that we we fooled by our lack of methodology in the space of our minds (third time) and had dealt with the wrong layer of rubbish, the wrong theory. But this is rather besides the point now. Our knowledge of what we know of the past and also that of what we know of the present is for a great deal only that what we think we know of it. We must know more of what we know – that is why we are having a Workshop on Cultural Buddhism. Our knowledge fits our habits, attitudes and the theory of what it takes for a thing and a concept to be known (and be true). As diggers and searchers for academic validity we may at one stage even may consider abolishing the concept Cultural Buddhism or chose to see it as a fabrication, when we conclude that the totality of is but yet another layer of sedimented on top of a newer level of how to ask the question concerning it … in the riverbed of our thinking. Once again, methodology is the message and carries the message. Does this mean that that the message IS the meaning as was pondered in the 60ties? Yes, in a way. We even may conclude, in our quest, that we have taken a presupposed road in our academic fervor and made something true that is absolutely not true. We have then taken another 'thing' that exists and we have treated it as Cultural Buddhism. The space (fourth time) of dynamic affluence and creativity is important in methodological method.

First steps in this 'real political' methodology and excavation I am advocating may have to allow for a shift from a content-based knowledge methodology towards a more fluent intuitive and creative drive in attitude excavation and analysis. And to do so, and take the first step, we have understand that the concept of Cultural Buddhism, and to understand it, carries the possibility of being a real 'thing'. And also understand that real things cannot be in our minds. Cultural Buddhism is a thing and a concept. The concept lives in our heads and the thingness of it is a quality that exists somewhere else? Cultural Buddhism as a word makes sense because of this possible meaning of it as a thing and as a concept driving a thing at the same time. Or, to be more elaborative, there are more categories of this. Cultural Buddhism is a concept, a thing, carries a meaning of being a concept and a thing and from here you can hop on the bus and go to the meaning of the meaning of the concept of Cultural Buddhism as a thing. Once again we are back to where we have started, back at the categorical imperative of Kant, the how do we know that we know, the question of knowing what knowing is. But we have also covered some ground. So we are probably on track.

We need to look at how we relate to Buddhism ourselves and what attitudes we have towards it to find our methodology and truthful knowledge. The sedimented rubbish of what may be the truths of Buddhism lies not only in our mind but the colour of it can also been seen when we look in our attitudes. In our attitudes it is as if we do not know if our knowing of things and concepts of what we know. It is as if the debris in our minds has a steering power over our actions. We do what we are and we are what we think. Reality is only that what keep us busy. If we are aware of this space (fourth or fifth time?) in us we can utilize it. In our attitudes towards concepts/truths creative methodological processes sometimes give clear indications of the direction into which has to be looked in order to find clarity. It is in the locality of attitudes that unseen things really gets their meaning. Cultural Buddhism and the truth of the phenomenon's existence depends on processes set aside inside methodology … but do analyse people's attitudes and you will be a mile closer in understanding Cultural Buddhism and its meaning.

79. P. Madhu:

This is in repose to Argo Spier and my stand on overall position of the workshop (agreeing with Sasi),
"It is there because it is" is a tautological argument. Is Kalady is there because it IS the Kalady (foot-print) of Shankara? It is like sun rises in the east because sun IS rising in the EAST! Tracing a historical Hinduism/Christianity/Islam/
Judaism for that matter of any of mirages because it IS- and making judgements according to their essential actuality/factuality -though has no balance at all on whatsoever the thin air- appears as if it is sturdily grounded. Rather one has to understand why do we have the so much realistic- actuality like- fact mimicking mirages - super virtuals- exist- as if they have unshakable truth foundation.
History can question existence & appearances of existences. They are better than histories of impressionisms.


80. Argo Spier:

Historiography - a case study of how and why history is fasified.

The following link is about the Spanish play write Garçia Lorca. His plays brought new insights into the relationship between public and actors and defined drama in a new and exciting way. He was from a rich family but he was also a homosexual and that may have been an embarrassment to his family. This and other reasons may have played a role. Also political reasons. The point to this response is that the article makes us aware that the records that exist of Buddhism may not contain be the full truth about its development through time as was queried by the Draft paper of the Workshop. I post it here as an additional piece of information that may make us fully aware through what mists the academic researcher must wade when he incorporates history into the subject of Cultural Buddhism. Unfortunately I cannot copy and paste the relevant passages and you will have to accept that the information comes via a link. The relevant paragraphs are the one just before 'Censorship and manipulations after his death' and the paragraphs in 'Censorship and manipulation'.

HERE the link -


81. C. P. Vijayan:

This response and the link seems to have not much in common with the missing links we find in India on Buddhism, I suppose.Though it is common knowledge that a Saint and a Bikshu are equally at home when it comes to Yoga and a practitioner of yoga passes through myriad sensual stages including those of Kundalini.
Of course the Hinayana and Mahayana faith had to give way to Vajrayana in pockets and sexuality in all likelihood was a later introduction into its fold, which in a way paved way for its exit from the Indian peninsula.
Both Bikshus and Bikshukis were known to lead a life of celibacy till the advent of Brahmanism and an effort was always made by vested interests to
"contradictions" within Buddhism for the decline.
t my mind, the absence of a force or militia to protect the interests of the religion - the likes of 'The Knights of Templar' on one side and too much inclination and adherence to the faith of Ahimsa were instrumental for its weakening.


82. P. Madhu:

search for a "pure buddism" matching with colonial contructs of victorian morality will be a futile pursuit. it is not even factual to relate tantras with brahminism


68. C. Rajendran:

An interesting feature of the traditional Sanskrit theatre of Kerala is the possible remnants of a Buddhist tradition in its multiple layers which needs to be subjected to cultural archaeology. To begin with, the term Cakyar, signifying the actor, shows some affinity to the word Sakya meaning a follower of Buddhism.Another important fact is that the play Nagananda, which deals with the supreme self sacrifice of the Vidydhara prince Jimutavahana who endangers his own life to protect a snake Sankhacuda from Garuda. Now this play was written by Harsavardhana of Kannouj who was a great admirer if not an adherent of Buddhist religion and who gave equal importance to both Hinduism and Buddhism in his state.Itsing has recorded that this play was staged in the Viharas of North India in his time. Isnt it possible that the play might have been staged in some of the Viharas of Kerala too before being appropriated to the later Brahmanical order?There were elaborate provisions for the enactment of the scene in which Garuda comes down and snatches away the body of Jimutavahana mistaking it to be that of Sankhacuda. .This was to be performed in the open and a very high stage was to be erected for the actor impersonating as the bird to come down from the sky and snatch the body of the prey.The body of the actor was to be suspended in the miod air with a network of chords deftly handled by the nambiar, the drummer.The places where this was enacted were known as Kuthuparambu.It is believed that this enactment was discontinued when there was an accident due to which the actor was suspended in the middle of the air once.All this elaborate provision makes little sense if there was not a powerful motive behind its enactment.The play deals with the repentance of garuda and teaches Buddhist ideals like compassion, detachment,love and unselfishness as well as filial devotion.


69. Ajay Sekher:

Apart from the Sakya - Chakyar analogy there is a Chakyar family called Potiyil in Kottayam like the ancient Potiyil Mala or Akatiyar Kudam later Hinduized as Agastyakudam. It was an ancient Buddhist centre called Bodhiyil Mala or Potiyilmalai in Tamil. It became the seat of Avalokiteswara Bodhisattva in the heydays of Vajrayana n post the middle ages got Hinduized into the seat of Agastya who is also given the authorship of the first Tamil grammar text.


70. C. Rajendran:

It is an attested fact that many Cakyar families migrated from malabar to far off places.


71. C. P. Vijayan:

Very interesting to read about Harshavardhana and the drama Nagananda.There are places by name Koothuparambu in Kannur and Malappuramdistricts with traditions "Koothu" (in its present form) missing frompublic psyche. Surprisingly, these places have got no Chakyar families either. Most inhabitants are Shudra descendants. Would it then mean that, it shows a direct link of the art form to Buddhism with no intermediary role attributed to Chakyars or Brahminic tradition. Places with "palli" suffixes are abundant as well – Keezpalli, Palottupalli, Oorpalli, Pallikkal, Pallikkara..


72. C. P. Vijayan:

Development of rituals, traditions and culture is a lengthy process and takes generations to shape up.This amorphous process therefore can not be examined using short cuts. Well, if documents such as inscriptions, travelogues, poetry, paintings, or trivia unearthed during excavations are available, then even, our conclusions can not be conclusive.
The fact of the matter is that nothing is available for a period of about five centuries in the middle.
This initiative by these individuals, need be seen in this perspective.
I am looking forward to this with a lot of hope that at least some in the gathering might come up with something worth pondering upon , be it a ritual in marriage, cremation or what ever.
Else, if at all we see for ourselves stark similarity in paddy cultivation method followed by Japanese farmers and the farmers of Palakkad (Thiruvilwamala in particular) matching step by step right through sowing, irrigating, harvesting and storing what should one infer?


73. Ajay Sekher:

The paddy field and irrigation systems including the bund, barrage and canal systems are solid contributions of Buddhist monks in peninsular India like the plough as in Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Combodia, Srilanka, Korea n Japan. Bhudatankettu bund in Periyar is a typical example. Mundantodu, Mundakapadam, Mundakavitu are few examples in paddy culture referring to the shaven heads of the monks the Munda or Mundathi the nuns.


74. C. P. Vijayan:

Feel excited about it already.The kind of information one gets, once the little ice ball of sharing and gathering keeps rolling . I am sure with tit bits such as these, picked by up scholars like you, along with ground realities and myths, you all would surely be able to recapture the lost data about our forefathers at least to some extent.