Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Shentong and Vedanta

Balder replied here on Wilber's possible shentong view. I replied:

Yes, I go into the history of the shentong/rangtong debate in the Batchelor thread. So technically shentong is 'Buddhism' but many within that tradition, including Batchelor, see shentong as a return to Vedanta. For example this post from the referenced thread specifically naming Wilber (though misspelled):

In the thread where Pepper criticizes Wallace, Batchelor commented in the original linked discussion. I copied some of Batchelor's comments in the Pepper thread below, with some additions. He said:

"What is striking in the case of Alan Wallace is that the position he appears to present in his book regarding an atman-like (yes!) consciousness that underpins all experience (and reality itself?) is strongly influenced by Dzogchen, a practice and philosophy found in the Nyingma school, but a view that is rejected vehemently by Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Geluk school.... The Prasangika-Madhyamaka philosophy of the Gelukpa has no time at all for any kind of primordial or pristine consciousness, which, correctly I believe, it regards as a return to Vedanta. Much of Tsongkhapa’s polemical writings are taken up with rejecting this practice and its philosophical corrollary of gZhan sTong ('Other Emptiness').... It has always struck me that the “Mind and Life” dialogues between the Dalai Lama and scientists have suffered from a strong, though often unstated, bias towards Dzogchen and its reified and idealistic notion of atman-like consciousness. Many of the leading Buddhist voices at these events have been Dzogchen practitioners: the Dalai Lama himself, Matthieu Ricard, and Alan Wallace. (On another note, this kind of view is becoming normative of much 'Eastern spirituality' in the West, particularly under the influence of the neo-Vedantist Ken Wilbur and his followers/admirers — it is hardly surprising that Wilbur practices and endorses Dzogchen).... I believe that by positing an atman-like consciousness, Dzogchen (and similar teachings found in Chan/Zen – and even in the Theravada Forest Tradition) are implicitly abandoning the a-theism of the Buddha and embracing another theos called Pristine Consciousness/ the One Mind/ the One Who Knows etc."

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