Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Reflection on the role of Subhuti as the Buddha's sidekick.

Had some more thoughts in the role of Subhuti. Functionally, the personae of Subhuti, enables the presentation of a new aspect of teaching, on which the Buddha has not done himself. In this respect Subhuti becomes the Buddha's sidekick. He is does not approach the Buddha, it is the Buddha who invites Subhuti to assist and contribute using based upon his own experience and understanding. Subhuti, like the Buddha is a disseminator and not recipient of ideas. His keynote address provides an alternative point of view, one which the Buddha has not presented but later develops. Subhuti is providing guidance to would-be-Buddhas, and so his message, more so than that of the Buddha himself, provides a range of topics more relatable to the audience that that of the Buddha. In, brief, whilst the bodhisattvas in the assembly aspire to be like the Buddha. they can more realistically imagine themselves as being like Subhuti.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

What textual evidence of the syntagmatic displacement of Sakra?

Looking at broader patterns in the changing mythology is a simpler process that looking for specific comments within text supportive of such an intent. The former is essentially statistical and deals largely with the shifting of classes, the latter require explicit comments that would substantiate the statistical analysis. Textual analysis, of course, is not a physical science, a text unlike nature be cannot be 'put to the question'. The best that can be expected is the occurrence of passage which would support the interpretations made. Whilst these are not many,  some notable incidences can be found:

1) In the Lalitavistarasutra, the infant bodhisattva is reported as declaring that he will become worshipped by men and gods alike, becoming the recipient of their offerings.

2) The Asta provides Sakra describing how the devas approach him, or in his absence, his throne, the 'seat of his power'. This is in the same manner often described when devotees approach the Buddha or even, amongst many faith communities, still circumambulate around the images of the Buddha and stupas. This absent worship is also typical of the earliest iconography of the Buddha, an empty seat beneath the tree.


Monday, 28 February 2011


In his translations Xuang Cang uses 界 'world' to denote the term 'dhatu' as in 意識界. Ordinarily this would translated into English as 'mind-element' but this is problematic. First of all, it implies that whatever the mind is, is irreducible as it is elementary and possesses some atomistic quality. This is not implied in the Buddha's teaching. Dhatu means 'world', in the sense of the older, non-mathematical use of the term 'sphere' similar associations exist. Indeed, as with the Sanskrit, sphere has a number of meanings and in some ways the uncertainty of meaning acts to facility the insubstantial nature of the dhatus as implies in Buddhist thought. Amongst 'senses' found in the OED we find: '..the visible vault of heaven, in which the celestial bodies appear to have their place.' And, 'a place of abode different from the present earth or world; a heaven.' Clearly implied in such terms as rupadhatu etc.  When describing the features 'Of deities, persons, or things'. We also find: 'A province or domain in which one's activities or
faculties find scope or exercise, or within which they are naturally
confined; range or compass of action or study.' The more abstract the defintion, the more appropriate it becomes for use:  'The whole province, domain, or range of some quality, thing, etc.' and '..of action, activity, operation, etc.'

The notion of concentric spheres also applies, 'One or other of the concentric, transparent, hollow
globes imagined by the older astronomers as revolving round the earth
and respectively carrying with them the several heavenly bodies (moon,
sun, planets, and fixed stars).'  Whilst the skandha model is not concerned with cosmology the creation of the world as lived as a psychological process can be depicted as a set of rings.