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Τρίτη, 16 Ιουλίου 2019

Dharma

Exchange and Transaction as a Form of Life and Meaning in the Logic of Tantric Concepts

Abstract

This essay examines conceptual metaphors from Śaiva-Śākta traditions of Hindu tantra. It explores how conceptual metaphors associated with heterodox ritual exchanges between humans and fierce divinities were employed and used to transform other ideas (bodily fluids, sacrificial products, sexualized symbols, celibacy, states of consciousness, ideas about kinship) to express a new kind of kinship or family (kula) that replaced or supplemented orthodox concepts (such as class and caste). It then considers the combination or blending of these conceptual systems with other ideas about concentration and miniaturization (intensifying something to its essence). The resulting conceptual metaphors are then directly related to the way that tantric traditions moved over time to semanticized, abstract, orthodox, and mystical expressions and concepts. There is a diverse body of scholarship that examines and interprets the historical traditions of Hindu tantra. This body of scholarship is seldom considered outside of conversations among area specialists. Some of this is due to the heterodox nature of some tantric practices, especially concepts or rituals that use sex or sexual symbolism. Tantric focus on these heterodox conceptual frameworks conflicts directly with purity-oriented conceptual systems of orthodox Hindu traditions. Through a kind of meta-analysis of some of these conceptual metaphors, this essay seeks to consider a kind of conceptual logic that makes their heterodox content more understandable and accessible to other areas of religious studies and philosophy. The study relies on certain insights drawn from metaphor theory to formulate the concepts (such as exchange metaphors) it examines.

Vajranŕtyam : a Phenomenological Look at the Cham or Lama Dance as a Meditative Experience

Abstract

Across cultures, in most parts of the world, one come across traditions that employ unique and unusual pedagogies as skilful means (termed as upāya in Sanskrit) to powerfully craft and re-craft our lives and in realizing the self. Using creative meaning-making, individuals evoke wholesome ideas and then motivate their personal selves to perform to them. The Vajranŕtyam or Cham is one of the unique expressions that has been employed from immemorial times to holistically convey the phenomenon of the dance form as a skilful spiritual tool. While the authors recognize that other cultures too engage in spiritual dances as skilful means, here they dwell in greater length on Cham dance or the Tibetan Lama dance, which is performed in the traditional Vajrayana or Tantric schools of Buddhism in India, Bhutan, Mongolia, Nepal, and Tibet. With the advent of various contemporary influences, there is an observable change in the attitude towards the traditional, impacting its pure form. Whether it is undesirable or acceptable is a matter of reflection in another place, yet there are some observations that authors choose to share in the last section of this paper. Also, arising from several yet similar cultural influences, the purists voice accusation of dilution and warn that the traditional Cham dance may be slowly dying and morphing into tourist-friendly theatrics that is pleasing to the eye. In this paper, the authors attempt to elucidate its historical and contemporary role and place, to instigate an inquiry that hopefully provides a robust narrative, rich in value, and with a substantive interpretation from which lessons could be culled or harvested. Authors look at Vajranŕtyam in a generic wisdom-method space cutting across religious and social-cultural spaces. They also seek possible alignments and connect with science, essentially to study, explore, propagate core beneficiaries of the Dharma dance in terms of a sacred mindful and meditative art form.

Shail Mayaram (ed): Philosophy as Saṃvāda and Svarāj: Dialogical Meditations on Daya Krishna and Ramchandra Gandhi (New Delhi: Sage, 2014) pp.305

Purushottama Bilimoria (with Amy Rainer Rayner) (Editor): History of Indian Philosophy

Sonic Liturgy: Ritual and Music in Hindu Tradition, by Guy Beck

Laghu Guru Upanishad, Spiritual Teachings of Sri Sivabala Yogi: Gurprasad

The Power of Suggestion: Rasa, Dhvani, and the Ineffable

Abstract

There is no denying the difficulty of expressing in words the meanings behind complex emotions. If they cannot be conveyed because they are personal and private, then how are they conveyed when they are neither entirely private nor personal, as in the case of generalized emotions, or the rasa experience? In Ānandavardhana’s Dhvanyāloka, we find a theory of suggestion (dhvani) which can be expanded beyond poetics to account for the evocative nature of emotion outside of all other modes of expression. The result of dhvani in art experiences is the manifestation of aestheticized emotions (rasadhvani). When language serves art, it neither negates nor dispenses with linguistic apprehension. Rather, it delivers more than language can: the ineffable essence of the subject who experiences love, compassion, grief, the comic, and more, including quietude. I argue the question of the sentient subject is conveyed all the better in aesthetic suggestion, precisely because whether or not an artistic construction makes use of linguistic devices, the arts, whether they be theater, dance, or poetry, defies the confines of language. The ineffable subject is made tangible, in ordinary as well as extraordinary ways.

Quarks of Consciousness and the Representation of the Rose: Philosophy of Science Meets the Vaiśeṣika-Vaibhāṣika-Vijñaptimātra Dialectic in Vasubandhu’s Viṃśikā

Abstract

The representation of a rose varies considerably across philosophical, religious, and scientific schools of thought. While many would suggest that a rose exists objectively, as a physical object in geometric space reducible to fundamental particles such as atoms or quarks, others propose that a rose is an emergent whole that exists meaningfully when experienced subjectively for its sweet fragrance and red hue, its soft petals and thorny stem. Some might even maintain that a rose is “consciousness-only,” having no existence apart from conscious perception. Thus, we find a spectrum of realist to idealist perspectives. Even in Dharma studies, with a common basis in Indian thought, the Vaiśeṣikas, Vaibhāṣikas, and the vijñaptimātra doctrine of the Yogācārin-Vijñānavādins entertain diverging perspectives. On one hand, the Vaiśeṣikas, a school of Vedic philosophy, propounded a theory of reality in the form of indivisible, eternal atoms, a metaphysical approach counter to the doctrine of not-self (anātman) in Buddhism. The Vaibhāṣikas, a school of early Buddhist atomism, on the other hand, denied the existence of a true self or eternal soul (ātman) as substratum for reality but maintained their own theory of atomism. For the Vaibhāṣikas, the flow of consciousness may be segmented into discrete moments, yet unlike many of their Buddhist contemporaries from other schools, they asserted that all cognizable phenomena are truly existent insofar as they consist of physically irreducible atoms. Among their objectors were the Yogācārin-Vijñānavādins who proposed the theory of consciousness-only (vijñaptimātra), rejecting the independent existence of indivisible atoms and discrete moments of time. This paper introduces the dialectic that formed between these schools through Vasubandhu’s fourth century C.E. text Twenty Verses on Consciousness-Only (Viṃśikāvijñaptimātratāsiddhi). While the gulf between the realist and idealist positions may seem, at times, irreconcilable, we integrate findings from the field of physics, particularly quantum mechanics (and several philosophical interpretations thereof) within the realm of modern science as a possible bridge between these otherwise seemingly disparate systems of Dharma.

Female Buddhist Adepts in the Tibetan Tradition. The Twenty-Four Jo Mo, Disciples of Pha Dam Pa Sangs Rgyas

Abstract

The Tibetan term jo mo, generally translated as ‘noble Lady,’ ‘female adept,’ or ‘nun’ and documented from the very beginning of Tibetan history, has a mainly religious meaning (and to a lesser degree a social one). Besides various women adepts referred to as jo mo present throughout Tibetan tradition up to the present day, a hagiographic text from the late thirteenth century entitled Jo mo nyis shus rtsa bzhii lo rgyus, “The Stories of the Twenty-four Jo mo,” has preserved the short life stories of twenty-four female Tibetan adepts (Tib. jo mo) of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, disciples of the Indian Tantric master Pha dam pa sangs rgyas (d. 1117). The realizations attained along the Path by the jo mo in question were mainly attested to by relics (Tib. ring bsrel) and other miraculous objects or events witnessed at the time of their deaths. The aim of this paper is to analyze the religious identities of the twenty-four jo mo as described in the JMLG, while exploring some of the ways in which the Tibetan Buddhist tradition has negotiated the ambiguous religious status of these female Buddhist adepts.

The Power of Place: the Transfer of Charismatic Authority to an American Ashram

Abstract

It has largely been assumed that when an intentional community loses its charismatic leader for one reason or another, the group will most likely disband unless that individual’s charisma has become routinized. The Kashi Ashram in Sebastian, Florida, is a spiritual community that was established, thanks to the vision of their Guru, Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati. Her students were so devoted to her that her physical death in 2012 could have initiated a crisis in the community. Although bureaucratic offices had been established to carry out some of the necessary functions of the Ashram, no one came close to filling her role as a spiritual teacher. And yet, more than 6 years later, new members are still joining the community and the way they describe Ma’s presence in their lives is little different from how older members that knew Ma in this lifetime talk about her. While I do not disagree that the routinization of charisma is an important step in ensuring the longevity of new religious movements, in this paper, I argue that an individual’s charisma may be transferred to a geographic place such that the Ashram becomes an active agent in the attraction and retention of new members.

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