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Archive for the ‘Asanga’ Category

Fog

A cloud of fog covers the ground. It’s warm outside, but a cold front is coming and will be here by tomorrow. With it comes predictions for powerful thunderstorms to be causing havoc in the area Thursday morning. The wildlife seems to know it: birds are out in a frenzy; they are flying around fast, gathering food as it is available, calling to one another whenever it is found.

The interfaith dinner I went to on Tuesday was quite good. There was a small group of us (only ten were able to make it). After being presented with slides from Patrick Birge   we had a nice dialogue on the arts, raising questions of how the arts can be used for interfaith dialogue, but also what one is to do when religions encounter each other and how are they to dialogue if they do not share all the same arts in common. What does it tell us about a specific religion if some forms of artistic expression are either unknown to it or, in more drastic situations, forbidden?

I also met Fr. Francis Tiso, the Associate Director for the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs at the USCCB. He shares with me interest in Buddhism and has done considerable research in the field — such that I expect we will have several great chats in the near future (he told me to keep in touch).

Overall, it was a great evening — despite having little sleep before going to the dinner.

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Abhidharma teachings, the higher, systematic, and highly philosophical presentation of the dharma within Buddhism, developed, like Medieval Scholasticism, into a highly complex system of thought detailing all kinds of distinctions, leading to list upon list, definition upon definition, of those elements which constitute reality and how they relate to one another. It is understandable why Mahayana rejected an objectified version of the Abhidharma, yet, this ultimately led to neeed for the creation of a new, just as subtle, systematic Abhidharma teaching for Mahayana. And it is one version of this which I have to go through right now, reading through Asanga’s Abdhidharmasamuccaya. 

It’s a very condensed presentation. It is very slow going (about 15 pages/hour). It is also providing an ample amount of notes for my dissertation (perhaps explaining why it is going slow). While it is fascinating, it is also very difficult. I am sure I am not getting half of what is intended wihtin the text. I am also sure commentaries will help explain things better, but I will have to be careful as to which ones to follow. 

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