Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The fourth turning in Buddhism?

Balder started an IPS thread on the topic here, based on 'new' material by Kennilingam claiming his integral model is tantamount to the next great turning of the dharma wheel in Buddhism. Although Balder, having read a booklet on the topic, didn't find anything new. But he has yet to see all the new material so is withholding judgment.

In the thread is a link to the ad for this momentous achievement and it contains a couple videos, one by the Lingam. In that one, speaking of Nagarjuna, he said:

"The idea being to clear the mind of any and all concepts about reality so that reality itself could be directly experienced" (5:20).

Recall this from Batchelor:

"As soon as the seductive notion of 'truth' begins to permeate the discourse of the dharma, the pragmatic emphasis of the teaching risks being replaced by speculative metaphysics, and awakening comes to be seen as achieving an inner state of mind that somehow accords with an objective metaphysical 'reality'" (92).

Immediately following Kennilingam goes on to say that every branch of Mahayana agreed with the last above statement. (Wrong, see the Batchelor thread.) And he then admits that the third turning was Yogacara, which also is in agreement with that statement. That is true, but again it is a continuation of a of metaphysics of presence, not at all the kind of postmetaphysics Batchelor talks about. Or Nagarjuna of Tsongkhapa, for that matter. At 7:00 he notes it's time for the fourth turning, and with that I'll agree. But it's Batchelor's sort of postmetaphysical turning, not the metaphysical rehash he's talking about in the above quote that he apparently wants to retain.

As to what a more postmetaphysical fourth turning might look like, I just attended a secular Buddhism study group last night. Secular Buddhism is one of those innovations in the West. Here's a website devoted to it. Batchelor figures prominently in it but there are others, like Jay Michaelson (IPS thread here), Ted Meissner and others. It's also organized as a P2P sangha. The next Buddha is a sangha, after all.* I'm guessing though that this movement would likely be swept under a Boomeritis Buddhism rug by the kennilinguists, and/or at least some kind of green relativism. But they're wrong, as usual.

* “The Buddha, Shakyamuni, our teacher, predicted that the next Buddha would be Maitreya, the Buddha of love…. It is possible that the next Buddha will not take the form of an individual. The next Buddha may take the form of a community, a community practicing understanding and loving kindness, a community practicing mindful living. And the practice can be carried out as a group, as a city, as a nation.”

—Thich Nhat Hanh, “The Next Buddha May Be A Sangha” in Inquiring Mind journal, Spring 1994.

Also see this P2P Foundation wiki on that idea. This is the fourth turning in my mind. Btw, Balder under his real name (Bruce Alderman) is referenced in this article.

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