18 Aug 2015

Alan draws an intriguing parallel between the timing of the treasure trove of Buddhist teachings becoming available outside of Tibet in the latter part of the 20th century and the receptivity of a Eurocentric audience. Taking Finkelstein’s panoramic view of the history of science from Aristotle to quantum cosmology, he finds a profound resonance. He then compares that sequence to the tradition of monastic study in Tibet. The monks start their study of logic with the Sautantrika view, corresponding to our idea of reality, like Descartes, then they move to Cittamatrin masters like Dignaga, who shatter the idea of an external physical world (as did Bishop Berekely) . It is only much later that the monks study the Madhyamika view. So there’s a sequence comparable to the progression from Descartes’ dualism to Hilary Putman’s view of pragmatic realism.

The treasure of Tibetan Buddhism has been around a long time but has only recently become available outside of Tibet. He asks us to imagine how the Tibetan lamas would have been received in the 19th century Eurocentric worlds of empire, superiority and racism. But after the savagery of two world wars, the devastation of the environment and the burgeoning inequality of wealth, people are looking for an alternative to a hedonistic consumer-driven life. He points out that this is a time of crisis but also a time of high potential and there’s an urgency to practice Dharma. If not now, then when?

The meditation is on the Avalokitesvara practice concluding with chanting Om Mani Padme Hung

After the meditation, Alan reads from Chapter Three, The Cultivation of Shamatha, elaborating on the meaning of yeshe.

Then he answers several questions . The first clarifies some points on the sadhana practice. His response to the second question is a careful explanation of several terms including Dharmadhatu and Chittatha. The third question elicits a clarification of how to observe mental afflictions while settling the mind and the last question covers an aspect of the breathing practice.

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