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«The International Association of Buddhist Universities (IABU) Buddhist Philosophy and Meditation Practice Academic Papers presented at the 2nd IABU ...»

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The International Association of

Buddhist Universities


Buddhist Philosophy and

Meditation Practice

Academic Papers presented at the 2nd IABU Conference

Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University, Main Campus

Wang Noi, Ayutthaya, Thailand

The International Association of

Buddhist Universities

2012 IABU Editorial Committee:

Ven. Dr. Khammai Dhammasami

Prof. Padmasiri de Silva

Prof. Sarah Shaw

Dr. Dion Peoples

Jamie Cresswell

Toshiichi Endo



Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University (MCU) has been privileged to witness and play an instrumental role in developing and hosting successful UNDV and IABU celebrations, annually. As always, we are all very grateful to the Royal Thai Government for its constant support, and thank the Thai Supreme Sangha Council for its blessings, guidance and support. We are indebted, also, to the United Nations for recognizing the thrice-sacred Buddhist holy day.

We had to delay the 2nd IABU Conference, due to the extreme ¿ooding that shut down MCU for nearly two months. It has been 2600 years since the Enlightenment of our Great Teacher, and we have gathered here from across the globe, from many nations, to again pay tribute to his birth, enlightenment, and death – occurring on the same day in different years. The 2nd IABU Conference is running this year, due to the postponement, with the 9th United Nations Day of Vesak Conference. The IABU Secretariat now plays a major role in our celebrations, particularly in the academic program of the conference.

This publication could not have been possible without the persistence, hard work, and dedication of MCU’s scholars and staff. I wish to thank all members of the International Council for The Day of Vesak and the Executive Council of the International Association of Buddhist Universities, and the other members of the Editorial Committee for their devotion.

I am also grateful to our many donors, sponsors, and dedicated volunteers who return year after year to support the IABU and United Nations Day of Vesak Celebrations.

We all truly celebrate the Buddha’s Enlightenment, and hope these words reach the hearts and minds of the readers.

The Most Ven. Prof. Dr. PhraDharmakosajarn Rector, Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University President, ICDV & IABU (3) Contents Preface Table of Contents Introduction Buddhist Philosophy and Meditation Practice Jason Siff: Language and Meditation 1. 3

–  –  –

16. Jim Rheingans: Communicating the Innate: Observations on 177 Teacher-Student Interaction in the Tibetan Mah mudr Instructions

17. Sumi Lee: Searching for a Possibility of Buddhist Hermeneutics: 202 Two Exegetic Strategies in Buddhist Tradition

18. Khristos Nizamis: The Mind’s ‘I’ in Meditation : Early P i Buddhadhamma 212 and Transcendental Phenomenology in Mutual Re¿ection

19. Apisin Sivayathorn & Apichai Puntasen: Is It True That Buddhism is 239 Mind-Based Science?

20. Karin Meyers: The Pleasant Way: The Dhy na-s, Insight and the Path 259 according to the Abhidharmako a

21. Thanaphon Cheungsirakulvit: Buddhad sa’s Poetry : the Object of 278 Contemplation on Emptiness

22. Prof. Yasanjali Devika Jayatilleke: An Anthropological Study on the Rituals 314 Pertaining to Life Crises Events among Sri Lankan Buddhists

–  –  –

24. Bethany Lowe: Dangerous Dharma, Death, and Depression: 343 The Importance of ‘Right View’ for Practicing Contemplation within a Western Buddhist Tradition

25. Venerable Bhikkhuni Anula Devi: The Practical approach to 362 the Enlightenment through the Buddhist Meditation

–  –  –

Welcome to the 2 nd International Association of Buddhist Universities Academic Conference on Buddhist Philosophy and Praxis. This conference seems like it has been a long time in the making, due to the extensive ¿ooding that ravished Thailand, and certainly left Mahachulalongkorn rajavidyalaya University, our gracious and great host, inundated with almost 2 meters of water.

The university, where the IABU Secretariat is currently headquartered, has overcome this dif¾cult situation, and we are now ready to hold this conference. The conference was originally scheduled for 16-18 December 2011, but to make this happen seemed like an impossibility. We are now here for the rescheduled date: 31 May – 02 June 2012. We have noticed that our 2nd IABU Conference coincides with the 9th United Nations Day of Vesak Celebrations – but our aims are different for this occasion. It’s quite fascinating that a single university can host two large international conferences at the same time. We further give our humble respects to the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand and to the Thai Sangha Supreme Council for enabling this conference to proceed.

When this conference was in its planning stages, we had initial discussions on the main theme: Buddhist Philosophy – but we did not want papers that just gave idealistic proposals. Instead we aspired to gain papers that demonstrated philosophy in action, or the conversion of an idea into an actuality – and thus we wanted to implement or emphasize the aspect of praxis, into the conference.

We had scheduled a practical meditation session, where elected Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana masters would hold a meditation session along with a question and answer period; but due to the merging of the two conferences: the 2ndIABU Conference and the 9th UNDV Conference – there was no longer enough allotted time for the meditation sessions, so it was regretfully eliminated.

We hope that the gathering of academics took advantage of this expertise that availed themselves for this august gathering.

As all the scholars can surmise, there are several formats or applications of Buddhism, some are living-systems, and some have become either extinct or have merged with existing systems. Buddhist Philosophy is a vast topic that ¾lls many bookshelves. Most of us have read texts on early-Indian or Vedic-philosophy and have seen the emergence into what we are discussing: Buddhism – but by no means are we holding a singular view of a Buddhism. The overwhelming amount of scholars present here surmise that dependent-origination is probably the supreme-teaching of the Buddha, or the one doctrine that gathers the most attention. The term: ‘praxis’ has caused some confusion amongst our scholars. If the term was de¾ned: we could determine that praxis is the application or process through which the philosophical or doctrinal point becomes actualized or put into place (practiced) – it’s about the endeavor. We might have taken the term from international-socialistic literature, which emphasizes that besides just having philosophy – the point of all of us studying the Buddha’s preserved words is for the sake of improving our world – to eliminate suffering from the social experience. How have we actually done this?

(7) Approximately 160 articles were received the 2nd IABU Conference from around the world.

We have selected about 110 of them for presentation at the conference. There are articles from different levels of scholars, ranging from the most senior of professors and on downward to undergraduates.

Each of the articles have merits of interest within them. We decided on four programs (sub-themes).

This is the volume for Buddhist Philosophy and Meditation Practice.


In the spirit of the middle way, the apportioning of papers to panels has been conducted in an attempt to ¾nd a balance between working with thematic af¾nity, and trying to juggle time allocations and speaker availability. Papers for this session should have included advanced studies related to philosophical issues in meditation practices; dialogues on meditation differences in the traditions; theological or cosmological issues and any resultant meditative attainments – what is next after these realizations? This panel aimed for a serious discussion of deep philosophical points actualized as possible or bene¾cial, with evidence of transformation. We hope that serendipity in this instance accords with the planned conceptions, and ultimately, the aims of the panel.

The ¾rst paper, by Jason Siff, discusses ‘The Language and Description of Meditative

Experiences’. As he points out, we have the Buddha’s words, not his experiencesas his legacy:

so the reconstruction of meaning from what has been left behind is an essential process both for meditators and exegetes. By exploring the role of ¾rst-person testimonial and questioning as a means of testing the reliability and worth of meditative growth, the author explores ways that the arousing and honest accounting of changed states in meditation can be achieved. From his perspective as a vipassan meditation teacher, he investigates David Kalupahana’s work in establishing a ‘language of existence’ and a ‘language of becoming’, positing a middle way between these two as helping the expression and development of meditative practice. Arguing that experience, perceived within the stages of knowledge (ñ a) can be articulated, explained and tested through appropriate questioning and wording, he offers his own term, ‘transformative conceptualization’, a means by which meditators can construct their own narratives. Carefully fostered, such narratives, by superseding partial, misleading or dispiriting accounts, can accommodate nuance and discriminatory awareness amongst those practicing within this meditative system.

In ‘Thought and Praxis in Contemporary Korean Buddhism: A Critical Examination’, Assoc. Prof. Jongmyung Kim considers the thought and identity of the Chogye Order. Focusing ¾rst on its emphasis on the concept of emptiness, meditative thought, and Flower Garland (K. Hwa m;

Ch. Huayan; Jp. Kegon) thought the author then investigates the order’s soteriology, concentrating on historical development and procedures, before assessing how these work together in the Order.

Taking a historical perspective, the paper explores a number of problems he observes in the Order, its textual roots and the practical implications of these, in a survey that includes the role of devotional and ascetic as well as meditative activities. The author argues for a more varied understanding of the nature of practice and its relationship with theory within the Order, and for a reassessment of its place in modern society. By exploring text and modern academic and practitioner based comment, he asserts that the Chogye Order needs to rede¾ne the notion of Buddhist practice beyond what he terms Kanhwa S n absolutism, as ‘a process of one’s living up to the basic teachings of the Buddha’, and so come to accept a more diverse and inclusive approach to practice and theory.

(8) Ven. Dr. Jinwol Lee’s paper on Seon meditation discusses much of the historical developments of Seon, and sites the writings of Professor Robert E. Buswell, Jr.; however, a number of authors examine innovations within meditative practice in different geographical and historical contexts, exploring ways that new practices, ways of working and doctrines have transformed pre-existing doctrines and practices. The other welcomed contribution to such understanding comes

from Prof. Buswell, who, in ‘The Transformation of Doubt ( ij ng )in Kanhwa S n :

The Testimony of Gaofeng Yuanmiao (1238-1295)explores the emergence and increasing in¿uence of new and creative meditative practices, formulation and language, which cannot be attributed to Indian sources, within Eastern Buddhist praxis and doctrine. As part of its critique of Sino-Indic traditions, and as a demonstration of its autonomy, Seon experimented with forms of rhetoric, as well as practice, it considered proleptic and transformative. Paying particular attention to the notion and experience of ‘doubt’, usually discussed in Indian sources as the ¾fth of the meditative hindrances, Buswell demonstrates how the public case and the hwadu, newly developed Chan/Seon catalystic meditative devices, are used in Korea to provoke and exacerbate a different kind of doubt, that coalesces into a palpable sensation that comes to pervade all of one’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, and eventually even one’s physical body. This doubt (yiqing) plays a crucial role in kanhua/kanhwa meditation, and is emblematic especially of the Linji school of the classical and post-classical Seon periods. Buswell demonstrates that such doubt, as described in particular with a startlingly eloquent evocation of paradox in the work of Yunmiao, is perceived as a means of engaging a creative dynamic in the body and mind between a painful knowledge of one’s own ignorance and an implicit and equally pervasive faith in an inherent enlightenment. Together, the author notes, those provide an existential quandary whose colliding contradictoriness, experienced within the body and mind of the practitioner, ¾nd resolution and fruition through practice, the ‘topic of inquiry’ (hwadu) and the ‘public case’ (gong’an), in the ¾nal release of awakening. A strong lay element is also identi¾ed in this teaching.

Ms. Pyi Phyo Kyaw explores the ‘The Pa h na (Conditional Relations) and Buddhist Meditation: Application of the Teachings in the Pa h na in Insight (Vipassan ) Meditation Practice’, in Burma, a country where the seventh book of the Abhidhamma has always held a particularly key position in doctrine, practice and ritual. In this instance, rather than practice in¿uencing theory, theory is deliberately employed as a means of sharpening, directing and shaping practice. Delineating in brief the twenty-four conditional relations, the author describes how these paccayas, whose formulation is perceived within Southern Buddhism as the most profound Buddhist teachings on interconnectedness, are used both as meditative tools and as a means of understanding experience at both a momentary and sequential level. Directed towards understanding and applying within meditation and daily life, through the agent of wise attention (yoniso manasik ra), the Pa h na guides those practicing within primarily vipassan -based traditions. In this capacity, the teaching of the paccayas has exercised an appeal to an unusually strong lay as well as monastic following, for whom the Pa h na is regarded as the embodiment of the Buddha’s omniscience, the Buddhasabbaññuta-ñ a.

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