Champions of Buddhism, IV


[IV] [9]

What Kind of Buddhism ...?

Steven Collins


p. 217 Bauddha doctrine and practice (and therewith the definitions of them) are much-disputed

"one might use W. B. Gallie's well-known phrase, and describe Buddhism, Theravada, etc. as essentially-contested concepts (Gallie 1955-56). Gallie used the phrase, examples of which were ... Christian doctrine (also : Christian life), to refer to concepts which are of such a kind that ...

There can be no resolution of such debates or contests ... ."

{That is to say, there is to be no such resolution until the divine entities involved (fravas`i-s, guardian-angels, or spirit-guides) themselves deign to supply such a resolution in a non-ambiguous manner.}

Gallie 1955-56 = W. B. Gallie : "Essentially Contested Concepts". PROCEEDINGS OF THE ARISTOTELIAN SOC, n.s., 56:167-98.

p. 218 Points of Controversy : an earlier (a Hina-yana one) display of "essentially contested concepts"

"There is a tradition of doxography, starting with the Abhidharma text Katha-vatthu, translated as Points of Controversy, and its commentary,

which do demarcate a conceptually delimited field of discourse, which they call "Theravada," in one of the ... ways that word is used in pre-modern Pali texts".

{In such texts, it is understood that the term /Sthavira-vada/ is to be applied to quaestions not capable of being logically resolved.}

pp. 219-20 metaphysics

p. 219

"In Pali texts, ... samsara, the world(s) of rebirth -- is seen as beginningless and endless; it is populated by individually distinct sequences of consciousness, each of which is reborn serially, in conjunction with different physical bodies, in the two (of three)

spheres of the universe which contain bodies (those of "Desire" {kama} and "Form" {rupa}),

{A body-of-desire (kama-kaya) would imply retention of a praedilection for choosing-and-rejecting (of alternatives); whereas a body-of-form (rupa-kaya) would imply retention of a praedilection for the general category of spatial form-context.}

or else in the third, the "Formless," {a-rupa} where individual continuity is solely immaterial." {N.B. The author would seem to have overlooked (missed, skipped, ignored) the fact that any subtle body (,whether it be a kama-kaya or a rupa-kaya, is already immaterial, simply because astral, mental, and causal bodies are all varieties of subtle/immaterial bodies.} {It is slightly obscure to consider formless continuity of individuality; but this could imply non-separation of the skandha-s, which needs must be mutually severed.}

{This term is in-and-of-itself ambiguous, for it could mean while maintaining a vantage-point whence to view a particular plane-of-existence (or subplane thereof), yet lacking a body observable either to one's self (which is the case in so-called "remote viewing") or to others; but beyond any of these there may be an absence of any such vantage-point while, of course, retaining absence of a material body : and such beyondness may be spaceless even when not timeless (there, furthermore, being several variants of timelessness).}

p. 220

"Each Fully-Enlightened Buddha's Dispensation is, like all else in the world of space and time, impermanent, and will one day disappear.

The final event of such a Dispensation is when the relics of a Buddha, long after his physical death, come again together for a final moment, giving a final sermon, and/or performing a miracle, before disappearing at last in what is called the nirvana of the relics (dhatu-parinibbana). ...

{Is one of a buddha-s motivations in instructing his disciples to retain observable relics of his material mortal cadavre : to shield, behind the front of those relics, his consciousess from being detected by any of the Mara-s? If so, then in due time he could substitute other devices.}

After some varyingly long interval of time, another Fully-Enlightened Buddha arises to inaugurate his own Dispensation."

{Would this not be needed when the Mara-s, having lost all interest in finding the last buddha, are instead harassing ordinary beings, who then need a buddha for distracting the Mara-s?} [written 6 May 2017]

p. 220 varieties of kalpa : empty-of-buddha-s and nonempty-of-buddha-s

"Some eons of the world are empty of Buddhas; others, like others, have one or more.

Our eon is a Fortunate Eon (a bhadda-kappa), having five : "our Buddha," Gotama Siddhattha, was the fourth, and the fifth will be Metteyya (Sanskrit Maitreya)." "Metteyya ... is currently embodied in one of the heavens, as a god."

pp. 220, 226 bodhi-sattva

p. 220

"First, individuals can aspire to Fully Enlightment Buddhahood, thus seeing themselves as Bodhisattvas (Pali bodhisatta,

best glossed as Future Buddha),

{In Maha-yana, wherein a bodhi-sattva is usually described as a person who hath produced a resolution, and made a firm vow, never to become a buddha until at least a-samkhyeya ('incalculable') number kalpa-s shall have elapsed after making such resolution-and-vow, the gloss "Future Buddha" would, to all practicality, be quite a misnomer.}

which is, for example, standardly found in royal inscriptions

as a status claimed by and for kings." {But how could this claim be effectively reconciled with the legend that Siddha-artha himself refused to become a king? Delaying resignation until some future life must certainly sound like insincere hypocrisy.}

{This status is already effectively contradicted by the legend about Siddha-artha himself, for he is therein described an a prince, heir-praesumptive to the throne, who voluntarily resigned this claim to royal privilege.}

p. 226, n. 5

"See Collins 2009:11-2 for the etymology of this word, which was misunderstood by many Buddhists in India writing in Sanskrit as

"Enlightenment-Being," which makes no grammatical sense." {Any compound term can be taken to make grammatical sense in Samskr.ta. The quaestion is, instead, whether it make any pragmatic sense to rely on a dead, departed person instead of on a praeternatural entity with whom we can communicate in this life.}

{In Vajra-yana, at any rate, the main sort of bodhi-sattva is the dhyani-bodhisattva : where the term / dhyani/ 'pertainting to trance' is intended to indicate a praeternatural entity to be encountred by a living mortal who is ensconced in a trance.}

Collins 2009 = Steven Collins : A Pali Grammar for Student. 2nd edn, with corrections. Chiang Mai : Silkworm Bks.

{As concerning royalty who declare their intention to delay resigning until some distant, unspecified lifetime in the vague, unknown future :- We are reminded of certain modern insincere politicians (in Russia, mainland China, or wherever) who, though designating themselves as "Communnist", declare that they intend to delay establishing any actual Communism anywhere on Earth until some vast, unspecfied amount of time (at least many centuries, perhaps) shall have elapsed in the vague, unknown future.}

p. 220 Maleyya Sutta [p. 226, n. 6 : "See Denis 1993; Collins 1993; and Brereton 1995."]

"A very popular text, the Maleyya Sutta, has the monk Maleyya visiting the future Metteyya in heaven and hearing from him ... that listening to the great Vessantara-jataka is one means of assuring rebirth as a human being at the time when Metteyya Buddha is on earth. ... Second, it has become a common aspiration in South and Southeast Asia, as recommended in the Maleyya Sutta, to aspire to rebirth as a human at the time of Metteyya, with a chance of attaining nirvana through his Teaching."

Denis 1993 = Euge`ne Denis : Brah. Maleyyadevattheravatthum. J OF THE PALI TEXT SOC 18:1-64.

Collins 1993 = Steven Collins (transl) : "The Story of the Elder Maleyyadeva". J OF THE PALI TEXT SOC 18:18:65-96.

Brereton 1995 = Bonnie Brereton : Thai Tellings of Phra Malai. Tempe (AZ) : AZ State Univ, Program for Southeast Asian Studies.

p. 221 s`asana ('a teaching')

"It is said .... of the Three Characteristics (lakkhan.a [Skt /]) ... , that ... the third characteristic (of both conditioned and unconditioned existence, i.e., nirvana), ... is non-self (anatta [Skt /an-atman/]), {and} requires a Buddha to rediscover and promulgate it.

Any and every Buddha's sasana has a historical beginning and an end-point : it always begins and ends in what is known as

Rose-Apple Island (Jambudipa [Skt /Jambu-dwipa/],

{This "slightly insipid, spongy" fruit (of the tree Syzygium samarangense or Eugenia javanica) is "pear-shaped" ("JFPF") and is often called the "wax apple".} {When ripe the fruit is (among its varieties) either red with white interior, or green with red interior.}

the southern of four islands

{According to the Puran.a-s, these four are not now, however, separate islands, but have been four of the eight vr.ta-s ('regions') adjoined to the central vr.ta ever since "eight extra countries were attached to it by the sons of Sagara" ("Jambu aka Jambu").}

surrounding the cosmically central Mt. Meru),

{in more detail : to the four sides of the central continent Ila-vr.ta, which is, in turn, centred at mt Meru}

and is taken thence elsewhere."

"JFPF" = "Jambu Fruit Plant Facts."

"Jambu aka Jambu" = Wisdom Library "Jambu aka Jambu".

p. 221 attainment of nirvan.a in the absence of any s`asana promulgated by any samyaksam-buddha

"The second way of escaping from samsara is by becoming a Pacceka {Skt /prati-eka/} Buddha. Standardly this is a person who, at a time when there is no sasana, discovers the Truth {i.e., the metaphysical doctrine of an-atman} ... for himself alone

(again it can only be a man [but not a woman -- this could only be intended as a consequence of the nature of natural feminine praedilections as applying to inhaerent limitations in metaphysics : for example, feminine mystification in women's consideration of abstract spatial co-ordinate systems]),

{This would be based on the feminine praedilection for a linear co-ordinate system (which cannot, in-and-of itself, naturally describe a finite universe) in praeference to a so-called "polar co-ordinate" system (which can readily and naturally do so); and therefore cannot automatically eliminate the possibility of infinitudes which can severely plague metaphysical systems with so-called "Points of Controversy" (as to whether the universe could be finite or not) such as a buddha must eliminate by refusing to even attempt to answer such invalid proposititions -- employing such refusal in order to arrive at the essentially non-propositional doctrine of an-atman.}

but who does not found a sasana, simply living out his natural term of life and then attaining final nirvana. But ... sometimes Pacceka Buddhas are described in stories as living in groups and even teaching dhamma".

even teaching dhamma".

{Praesumably, the dharma being taught by them to any cela-s would not include the doctrine of an-atman.}

{The way wherein a polar-co-ordinate system can readily be finite is to define the radius-co-ordinate as finite (viz., as a diameter returning from behind to its origin-point), and to express it as an angular term intended to describe [a specified fraction of] the diameter of a finite universe.}

p. 222 a samyaksam-buddha's (and a samyaksam-buddha's parampara's) cela-s as s`ravaka-s

"The third way of escaping samsara is to hear the Teaching of a Fully Enlightened Buddha, either during his life or afterward by means of ... the monastic lineage ... he inaugurates, and thus to attain enlightenment. ...

Because they hear the enlightening truth from a Buddha ..., such people are ... called S`ravaka (Pali savaka), literally a Hearer, ... often Arhat or Arahant, from the root \/arh, to be worthy, so literally Worthy Ones (Burmese yahanda).

{The s`ravaka-s would include not only arhant-s, but also cela-s who had not as of yet become arhant-s.}

The aspiration to be reborn as a human in the time of Metteyya is usually an aspiration to become an Arhat in his Dispensation, or sometimes to be able to make under him the Aspiration (adhit.t.thana) to become a future Buddha and to receive his prediction (veyyakaran.a) that it will be so."

pp. 223-4 invisible abode (located in the Hima-alaya mountain-range) of the vidya-dhara-s

p. 223

"When an individual has achieved the state of weikza, sooner or later he leaves the visible world, 'exiting' (htwet-) to an invisible realm and living in a place reserved for weikza,

{In Keltic lore, usually-invisible regions in the material world are said to have a "glamor" cast over them -- by fae:ries, wizards, or whomever of that ilk. Vidya-dhara-s are effectively aequivalent to wizards.}

located in forests and mountains of Burma or on the slopes of the Himalayas and Burma.

The maintenance of a body in the Himalayas until the appearance of Metteyya has one very clear antecedent in Buddhist Sanskrit texts, ... found ... in a Pali text [p. 226, n. 8 : "The Maha[-]sampin.d.a[-]nidana {'great together-heaped essence'}, discussed in H. Saddhatissa 1975:43-5. See also Strong 1992:61-4, 242-5."], from medieval Ceylon. This is the monk Mahakassapa (Sanskrit Maha-kas`yapa), a contemporary of our Buddha. ...

Other examples are ... the monk Upagupta, and

also indeed a group of four, eight or even 16 Arhats, who are worshipped {venerated, revered} as Buddhist "saints";

the fat monk

p. 224

Gavampati Mahakaccayana, and

the earth goddess known in Thailand as Mae Thorani (= Sanskrit Ma Dharan.i," "mother earth")."

Saddhatissa 1975 : H. Saddhatissa (transl) : The Birth-Stories of the Ten Bodhisattvas and the Dasabodhisattuppattikatha. London : Pali Text Soc.

pp. 224-5 traditional terms for 'esoteric lore' in Burma

p. 224

"weikza-lore ... is hermeneutically esoteric ... . There are parallels to this situation in the materials from Thailand and Cambodia which some people have called "Theravada tantra". ...

Kate Crosby calls it the yogavacara {yoga ava-cara} tradition, as its texts address themselves to its "practitioners," called yogavacara; ... practitioner of anything.

Olivier de Bernon calls it the kammat.t.hana tradition : ...

p. 225

subject of meditation ... is what the word means."

{This is the allegorical guhya ('secret') s`asana ('teaching, doctrine') in Kama-bhoja : "The twins Nan Citta[-]kumara {'thought-boy'} and Nor Citta[-]kumari {'thought-girl'} ... take leave of Yama, the god of death, to seek birth in the rose-apple land (Jambudvipa ...), but they get lost on the way. ... a god ... enourages them to search for ... the birth globe ..., ... a crystal globe ..., hidden in a fig tree ... . ... The crystal globe is guarded by Indriy birds (sense faculties), but its possession will confer great happiness". (in French, by Franc,ois Bizot 1976) Theravada Tantra in Cambodia - Hariharalaya}

{p. 146 "Yama explains ... death ... to the two children Cittakumara and Cittakumari. This pair, a boy and a girl, represent that aspect of us which is reborn, nama and rupa respectively. A god ... informs the pair that there is only one way to escape death : one must find the crystal gems that are the fruit of the fig tree ... .

p. 147 "These gems are guarded by birds of prey that represent the sense faculties ... . Anyone who manages to take one of the gems ... arrives at the city of Nibbana {Nirvan.a}. The crystal gem acts as a key to the gates through the walls of the city ... . ... Other features of the text include how one should understand the true identity of one's mother and father in terms of 12 water and 21 earth elements respectively." {A set of 12 is frequently mentioned in relation to a set of 21 in Taoist litterature; the 12th prime being 37, and the 21st prime being 73 : a relationship often cited in Taoist litterature.} Ordination at 12 and at 21 will assure salvation for one's mother and for one's father, respectively. {Achieving of salvation for one ancestors is a frequent objective in Taoist litterature.} "The text translated ... is called mul kammat.t.han in ... manuscripts".

(in French, by Franc,ois Bizot 1976. PEFEO, vol CVII, Paris) Crosby, Kate (2000).

p. 154 Ayodhya = seat of the citta. Rama-candra = citta. = cetasika (thought-factors).

p. 155 Hanumant = "embryonic breath" {a Taoist term}. Sita = "crystal sphere". {Sphairos is the ghost of Cillas (charioteer of Pelops the slayer of Oino-maos -- Cillas died at Lesbos, Greek Myths 109.g; decapitated head of Orpheus is displayed in Lesbos), to whom nocturnal sacrifice is made by heroine Aithra (Grimal : DCM, s.v. "Sphaerus"); translucent sphaire is employed by iyaska man at yuwipi festival for untying the rope which had been ritual binding the yuwipi man : possibly cf. "Rope Dance" brought from Ludia by retinue of Pelops (Graves : The Greek Myths 109.p).} Ravan.a + his 12 brethren = 13 "fetters of existence". {cf. the "thirteen princes" beheaded by Oino-maos at Pisa in Pisatis (Graves : The Greek Myths 109.e)}. Das`a-ratha and his wives = one's parents in one's praevious lifetime. {There is a Taoist spirit-possession rite for communicating with the kin in the praevious lifetime of newborn infant in this lifetime, instigated with this-lifetime parents of the infant.} crossing on floating bridge Rama-Setu, built by monkeys = intiation rite.

(in French, by Franc,ois Bizot 1989.)

p. 170 "80 groups of worms in the body" {This would be Taoist.}

p. 174 "one should take into one's body from the flowers of the fig tree the jewels ... . These empower the yogavacara to reach the city of Nibbana. The city is encircled with seven walls. {cf. the series of concentric walls surrounding city Hagmatana (Ekbatana).} . Holding firmly to the crystal gems the yogavacara reaches the wall of crystal that shatters, leaving a closed door. The yogavacara then uses a set of eight keys that open the gate of the crystal wall of Nibbana."

p. 175 ordinations at ages of 12 and 21 in order to achieve salvation for one's mother and one's father. respectively.

p. 177 "cycle of twelve animal years" : the 12 animals originated as living toys given, by the primaeval parents, to their children for playing withal.

(in French, by Bizot & Lagirarde 1997, translation of the partially Lan-Na (its capital at C^ian-mai), and partially Lao, text Sadda-vimala)

"Tantric Theravada : A Bibliographic Essay on the Writings of Francois Bizot and others on the Yogavacara-Tradition". CONTEMPORARY BUDDHISM vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 141-198. (cited in WIKIPEDIA article "Tantric Theravada")}

pp. 225, 227 syllables symbolically located at sites on the human body {as likewise according to the Kala-cakra Tantra}

p. 225

"one might point to a certain somatification of Buddhist practice, in which ... syllables from Pali mantra ... are imaginatively located in various parts of Buddha images, or the human body."

p. 227, n. 10

"the best places to start are Bizot and von Hinu:ber (1994) and Bizot & Lagirarde (1996). ... For overviews in English, see Crosby (2000); Crosby et al. (2012); Cousins (1997)."

Bizot & von Hinu:ber 1994 = Franc,ois Bizot & Oskar von Hinu:ber : Itipisoratanamala : la guirlande de Joyaux. Paris : E'cole franc,aise d'Extre^me-Orient.

Bizot & Lagirarde 1996 = Franc,ois Bizot & Franc,ois Lagirarde : La purete' par les mots. Paris : E'cole franc,aise d'Extre^me-Orient.

Crosby 2000 = Kate Crosby : "Tantric Theravada ...". CONTEMPORARY BUDDHISM 1.2:141-98,

Crosby et al. 2012 = Kate Crosby, Andrew Skilton, & Amal Gunasena : "The Sutta on Understanding Death in the Transmission of Boran Meditation from Siam to the Kandyan Court". J OF INDIAN PHILOSOPHY 40.2:177-98.

Cousins 1997 = Lance Cousins : "Aspects of Southern Esoteric Buddhism". In :- Peter Connolly & Sue Hamilton (edd.) : Indian Insights : Brahmanism and Bhakti. PAPERS FROM THE ANNUAL SPALDING SYMPOSIUM ON INDIAN RELIGIONS. London : Luzac Oriental. pp. 185-207.

p. 225 communication from vidya-dhara at a distance, similar to radio-transmission

"Brac de la Perrie`re reports ... that weikza possession is like the working of electromagnetic waves.

{Radio-controlled electronic devices would make an adequate analogue for remote-control (via deity-possession) of a mortal human by a deity who is in heaven.}

Rozenberg, in his Les Immortels (2010b), stresses the analogy of radio, where weikza messages are transferred "magically" over distances."

{Such "magical" (praeternatural) messages are commonly known as "thought-transference", and (especially when only sentiments are being conveyed) as "telepathy".}


Be'ne'dicte Brac de la Perrie`re; Guillaume Rozenberg; and Alice Turner (edd.) : Champions of Buddhism : Weikza Cults in Contemporary Burma. National Univ of Singapore Pr, Singapore, 2014.