Thursday, February 12, 2015


quick responses and exchanges.
For theme note and responses sets 1-6, do visit:


63. Argo Spier:

Parthasarathi Mondel has made an interesting Quick response posting ref "...
where you could also discuss the idea of the collective.' It prompted the issue of historiography. And particular this question 'Is the history of Buddhism to be found in the recorded historiography or may the collective provides a truer account of it?' And P. Madhu's "... Even Christianity, Judaism & Islam are a fake constructions." balances on thin air." Of course all three of these has structures that could be trace back in Religious Mythology till very old Occidental forms but that doesn't make their constructions faked ones. On the contrary, in Christianity, a construction such as Dumuzi-Adonis-Attis-Dionysos-Christ has a real base. His remark re the colonial historiographers however cuts more precise. An interesting point was also made by C.C. Viayan when he had it over 'the responses of animals and birds are seen to be genetically and culturally codified, humans …cannot be an exception.' The concept cultural codification however is reserved for humanity. The concept culture holds that it is something opposite of natural things such as trees and animals although both of them are living entities like humans. But the answer to his musing is yes, humans cannot be an exception. We too are genetically codified. Cultural codification too exists.  The fact that we build houses we don't really live in - we spend more times outdoors than indoors - is a cultural codification. That we spend more time outdoors is a genetic codification. We are basically hunters that has to sniff the air. The interesting part of his quote is that it prompts the question what role cultural and genetic codification plays in Cultural Buddhism? And, can we find a cultural and or genetic tendency in us that gears us towards Buddhism? And an even stranger question, can we find traces in tendencies of the history of Buddhism?


64. Pulavar N. Thiagarajan:

Buddhist Culture of Pumpuhar.

Silappadikaram metioned that there were temles for many gods - Brahma, Muruga,  Balarama, Vishnu. The epic also states that there were Buddhist and Jain pallis besides Dharmastanas.
(5: 79-80).

Manimekhalai refers to the presence of the Buddhavihara and the Buddha-pada being revered by the devotees (3: 64-65), 5:97, 5:104, 6: 11-12).

  The discovery of a big Buddhavihara at Pallavaram by the archeologists is extremely significant and condirms the literary evidence. One wing of the vihara (palli) consisted of a series of seven square rooms in one of the rooms a small metal image of Buddha seated in dhyana pose was discovered. In another room, a large limestone (whitish) slab bearing the sacred feet of Lord Buddha (Buddha pada) was found. Carvings around the feet were the auspicious symbols like the lotus flower, purna-kumbham and swastikam.  This Buddha -padam, in limestone according to Dr. K. V. Raman, is similar to the found at the Buddhist sites of Nagarjunakoda and Amaravati in Andra Pradesh and most probably brought from there was also a large granite half moon-stone at the entrance.   Buddha was worshipped symbolically in the earlier period and in iconographic form in later times.

    Mahindra, the grandson of Asoka is said to have visited Kaveripumpattinam (on his way to Srilanka) and established as seven Buddha-viharas. In one such vihara,  Aravana-adigal was staying according to the Manimekhalai. 

   In the 4th century A.D. this place came under the rule of Kalabhara king Achyuta vikkantan. During his period and under his patronage, a great Buddhist scholar Buddhadattar lived in a monastery in Kaveripumpattinam and wrote his work Abhidammavatara. In this work he praises the monastery he stayed as the place and particularly the monastery he stayed as the one built by Kanadasa. The vihara looked white like the Kailasa hill because of the white stucco plaster. A similar description is also found his work Buddha Vilasini. When we read these lines and look at the Buddha viharas discovered by the archaeologists many interesting facts come to light. The numerous white plastered fragments, some of them painted and the beautiful white stucco figures add significance to the literary descriptions. 

   The National Institute of Oceanography had suggested the undertaking of intensive exploration by sending divers into the sea.....


65. C. P. Vijayan:

M. T, Vasudevan Nair, in one of his short stories (I do not remember the title but) wrote about the temples in a locality(I presume the locality to be Kudallur or nearby places).The protagonist in the story ,an Archaeologist who was on vacation with family in his ancestral home says "If one dug deeper around the plinths of most of the temples in this area , one might find writings in Pali and images of Buddha".
What I mean to say is that no one is an exception. If all other creatures remember the ways and customs practiced for long embedded in them, no man could be an exception - writers and columnists included.
Prejudice might prevent someone to look inwards for an answer, but he too becomes dumbfounded as a particular custom, ritual or body language is pointed out to him which relate him to his past. 
A group of people were photographed once while they were crossing a meadow full of overgrown grass.Of course they all were engrossed in some discussion. But what their "body" was doing while they walked was amazing. Almost all of them were unwittingly pulling of the shoots atop the grass, some simply nibbling at it, some chewing, some smelling and some few smelling and throwing away. They were just doing what all other primates would have done in similar situations - inspecting/smelling/eating tender grass shoots!!


66. C. K. Raju:

The workshop is indeed very imaginative.
If Buddhism is a non-stagnant *way* of critically viewing a *religious
world*, it would have eternal significance. Self-sufficient and
self-administered gotras appear to have been appropriated into a
faith-system in an antagonising manner. It could also be very likely
that places of meditation or preaching might have been forcibly taken
over and rechristened as temples. Even Ayyappan might be a chiseled
and ornamental form of Buddha. I also get a feel that *right to enter
temples* might actually be a hindu-version of *right to reclaim sacred
sites* by their rightful owners.


67. 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 are of usable nature and whether they executed here with 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 throughout my input but hopefully have 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 to delete the rest. Due to the scope of the Quick/r preliminary discussions I also refrain from writing a conclusive paragraph. This may give the piece a feel that it is 'hanging' somewhere. 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 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 of method and the fact that method and analysis of existing knowledge escapes historiography? Present traces of historiography may not hold the truth one has got used accepting? And isn't this questioning an inherent part and parcel of the concept after all? How do we know that that what we know of Buddhism, its history and its 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, may be wrong. And 'truths', especially 'historical-truths' … are they not always only true to a degree per definition? Our knowledge of truth itself too, is it an absolute true thing that is never untrue? 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. When do things, facts, statements an concepts become true? Can a concept become 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 this standard a sound 'thing'? One has to know what knowledge is to know that it is knowledge and one has to prove and verify that this knowledge is the 'right' knowledge to know. Verification is important, it comes into the equation with a strong command. 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? Has it weight or is it a bearing showing a direction? All this has influence on the topic of Cultural Buddhism. The very 'meaning' of our talking has influence over that what we say about subjects and objects in everything. In all our utterances we all have to be aware of this and of the issues mentioned here. 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 other 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 of grasping meaning as well. The way that we have been looking at things and the way we have been dealing with the truth so far in our lives 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 to 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 it as a 'true thing'. We must be very sure that we are speaking the truth and say something 'real' so that others can use it 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' when we deal and research Cultural Buddhism. It may even be the right methodological approach to discover the full extend of the reach of Cultural Buddhism.

To speak of knowledge, the first question that comes to our minds is the question '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. Its abstract. But how do we know that we know it? Even, how do we know that it is abstract? And how do we know that it is knowledge? There's knowing it and and theres knowing it is knowledge. Don't we have to know what knowledge is first 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 but, an interesting situation! And say 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 is absolutely 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?  Indeed this seems to be an Ororobos snake eating its own tail and going into a never-ending loop. But 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 seek out things and preferably ob for true things and 'true knowledge' about our subject.

This is the next issue - truth! What is truth and what are 'true' things? How do we know that things are true? How do we know that that what we know to be true is true? And if a statement is true can we then say we 'know' the 'truth'? When are things true and when are they not true, untrue, false or just plain irrelevancies? Are things that cannot be proved to be true per definition false. Or are there degrees of truth? Something like half true things? And what is the difference between a true thing and the concept that it is a true thing? And how much prove and verification does a thing need to be perfectly and finally true? Really, what is truth and what way and/or method do we have to follow to get it? This is a crucial issue in the research into our topic. We need 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 too) 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 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 and to work out a right approach towards it, to find a new methodology. Just as with contaminated materials, this keeps on lingering. 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 on 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 kind of truth? 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 is 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 left side as for 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 whether that what we know is to be true, may be false and not true at all. The idea to work with a truth of degrees seems to be not such a bad idea after all. What we know of Buddhism, its development and its 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 we have become accustomed to. This all is linked to what I had said earlier about knowledge and the question of where we get the knowledge that we think we know is knowledge and then treat as truthful knowledge. 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 dealing to deal with it. Methodology is the space into which you dump the question whether that what you believe you do believe, 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 are what is in the dustbin. When you delete the codes the documents crumble and evaporate from your computer. You have to also empty your dustbin. There is a handy function however to this dustbin on your screen (screen … your vision of truthful knowledge?). You can salvage documents from it, move them back to their original places and use them again. Its a kind of recycling. Knowledge too can be 'recycled' but can it be exposed of? What about truth? Anyway, then you can dump them again into the dustbin. 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. This may be the root of Cultural Buddhism, that is 2 things, root and culture. But we, when dealing with Cultural Buddhism, do not know where the idea and concept of Cultural Buddhism comes from, leave alone know its 'roots'. Since we have the idea of Cultural Buddhism we have a problem. Where does it resides? Does it exists in the concept of itself or where? In the thingness of it? We don't even know if it is a true thing or even contains a true concept of a true thing. We have found it in our minds where it may be hidden in a discarded layer of thought (debris, coming from waste theories whether toxic or not) that was placed there by an 'earlier time' for deletion. We just have the codes of it in our dustbin. We must restore the codes and undelete it to be able to work with it and find clarity, essence and root. With the word 'earlier' I don't mean from a previous life 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 focusing on 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 is important. Undefined creative cultural space and the space of methodology are areas of outlet to watch out for. Its in the attitudes in there that we find the possibility to discover truthful things and perspectives. Attitudes towards Buddhism are to be found in the collective unconscious of culture of which we are psychologically part and parcel of too. 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. The various spaces mentioned in this input is the right places where to dig. 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 (our knowledge) and do our selections. And while doing it, we must try to disregard what's academically irrelevant and what is fitting, what's relevant and what not. And slowly build our grand theory (which may prove to be our our methodology in the end) to find out whether that what was recorded (in the historiography) and had produced certain theories and truths that were through the ages become very true and hard, sedimented stuff in our minds, can compare to new theories of the past that we will stand the test for being 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 and where it is, in the thingness of it or in the concept of it. Its not an easy pursuit, I agree. Nothing is 'true' in the World of Everything and everything is but recorded and sedimented inside the World in Us, our minds, the dustbin full of codes. Truth is its own concept and rather the philosopher's nightmare 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 is true, only to discover only some moments later that we have been fooled by our lack of methodology in the space of our minds (third time) and that we have had been dealing 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. And when we are driving hard at the truth of it in our quest our knowledge will have to fit our habits, attitudes and the theory of what it takes for a thing and a concept to be known and to be know as ton be true. As searchers for academic validity (diggers, laborers) 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 crap on top of a newer level of how to ask the question concerning it … and knowledge … residing in the riverbed of our thinking. Once again, methodology is the message and carries the message. Does this mean that the message of it 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 in methodological method may then, thank god, provide a hiding place for our embarrassment.

As a first step in this 'real political' methodology I am advocating here, we may have to allow for a shift from a content-based knowledge methodology towards a more fluent intuitive and creative drive in our attitudes and analysis. And to do so, and take the step, we have to understand that the concept of Cultural Buddhism carries the possibility of being a real 'thing'. It is not only a concept. It is normally accepted that concepts are in our heads. But thing things, where do they 'live', exist? The thingness of Cultural Buddhism exists somewhere else? Where? This is what we are to look for. Cultural Buddhism as a word makes sense because it is a thing driving a thing at the same time. It is a concept, a thing, it carries a meaning of being a concept and a thing and … this is what we must do, from here hop on a bus and go to the meaning of the meaning of the concept of Cultural Buddhism as a thing. So we have the step and we have the direction. And we do it by bus. 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 anything at all. 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 color of it that can also been seen when we look in (the space) of our attitudes. Our attitudes has something to do with our deeds and actions. We do what we are and we are what we think. If we are aware of the spaces in us and in our deeds we can utilize it. In our attitudes towards concepts/truths creative methodological processes 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 I am ending off now. Just this still - do analyze people's attitudes (and your own) and you will be a mile closer in understanding Cultural Buddhism and its meaning.

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