Monday, 8 November 2010

Buddhist Manifesto

Glenn Wallis has a sharp post up at his blog entitled: "Buddhist Manifesto" (PDF).

Q. Who is Gotama?

Gotama, Wallis claims, is not a god but "an unsurpassed scientist of the real."

Q. What do we know?

The categories of being. These categories are given in Gotama’s meditation blueprint, the Anapanasati Sutta. The premise of that text is that being arises not in the abstract (as life or existence), but as particular phenomena in particular locations: the body, feelings, thoughts, and sensorium. This, then, is the Buddhist periodical table. Anything and everything that arises in your life, says Gotama, arises as a thing-event in/on/with/through the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind. So, awakening is, in the first instance, awakening to precisely the nature of these elements — their function, weight, gravitational force, trajectory, flavor, content, duration, conditioning mechanisms, interrelations. The lab for investigating these thing-events (dharmas/dhammas) is the meditation room. The posture is upright, solid, still, and silent. The lab is empty. Because none are required, there are no paraphernalia. Because none is required, there is nothing superfluous to the investigatory process.

A "Buddhist periodical table!"

The whole post is worth a close look.



  1. Who builds the lab/meditation room? Who pays for it? Who staffs it? What inspires people to go there? How do ordinary people with jobs and families find the time to spend there? It seems to me that secular Buddhism needs to become a little more humanist, and to put human beings in the picture a little more.

  2. In reply to Jayarava: I 'built' mine by putting a cushion on a mat in our spare room. I split rent with my wife and the cushion was a gift. I feed my dogs and cook for my wife and I, and my wife and I split the chores - so I guess we staff it? I have spent a lot of time and energy developing discipline and nurturing my faith in meditation practice - sometimes I fail. I wake up earlier than I "have to", and sometimes have to sacrifice fun time in the evening to go to bed early enough to wake up to sit in the morning.

    If you need someone else to motivate you to make the changes in your life that will allow you to alleviate your own suffering and the suffering of those around you...well, now you know where to start. No one else can meditate for you. Other people are not here for you, to staff your temple, to inspire you, to wake you up in the morning and make sure you stay on the cushion. You are here for other people.

  3. I'm trying to understand your point, Jayarava, but I'm having trouble. Are you saying that it is unrealistic to expect people to meditate; and hence the notion of Gotama as a scientist of the real training others to be scientists of the real is unrealistic?

    Are you implying that a more ritualized or devotional Buddhism is less "secular," and thus more humanistic?

    It seems to me that both Adam and Charles (and Wallis) show the possibilities of "secular Buddhism" cum humanism. Or have I misunderstood your point?