Tuesday, February 25, 2014


I have been using the expression “Buddhist Sentientology” (to convey the idea of Buddhist theory of sentient beings). This seems desirable because none of the existing terms seems to be apt and adequate for expressing the idea. The idea of sems can gyi khams and ’dul ba’i khams (Bodhisattvabhūmi, Tib. p. 340f.) would be very much relevant here. It should be possible to avoid any undesirable association and connotation if one takes a closer look at the term and its definition.

“Buddhist Sentientology” may cover Buddhist ideas of (a) sattvaloka, (b) various types of sattvas (based on various criteria), (c) sentience (as studied by our teacher Schmithausen), and above all, of (d) gotra (“Heilsanlage”). (e) My own attempt to look at the notion of sattva in relation to the notions of bodhisattva and vajrasattva would be relevant as well. One gets a feeling that the traditional notion of an ordinary sattva (often called ’ching ba kun ldan) seems to have got modified or revised once the idea that all sattvas are possess tathagatagarbha came to be accepted. The idea that every sattva is actually a vajrasattva came to be accepted in most strands of Vajrayānic form of Mahāyāna Buddhism. In my view, Ratnagotravibhāga  1.47 can work as a justification for making a distinction between an ordinary sattva, a bodhisattva, and a vajrasattva.


1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    The expression “Sentientology” seems good, unfortunately the word sounds like, and reminds on a movement named, “Scientology”, and therefore I have an uncomfortable feeling about your proposition (which otherwise appears to be appropriate). I don´t know anything about this “Scientology”- movement but I have heard here and there about “manipulating practices” (a typical sign of “nonsense sectarian elitism”). So, I would be cautious not to become unconsciously associated with such kinds of highly problematic orientations…; but evidently, I know that´s not your intention.

    Perhaps, from the philosophical standpoint, the Bodhisattvabhumi could be seen/interpreted as “Lebensphilosophie” or “Erlebnisphilosophie” (philosophy of life) of which Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911) is considered as the authoritative developer and exponent. Also intimately related with Diltey would be the philosophical Hermeneutik. Other great occidental philosophers on this subject would be, for example, Heinrich Rickert, Karl Jaspers, Martin Heidegger, Heinrich Barth, Hans-Georg Gadamer…;
    but as always, to familiarize with such a “caliber of philosophers” takes time and effort, which most of us don´t have…; perhaps, when a complete translation of the Bodhisattvabhumi will become available we could begin to undertake an animating philosophical comparing (but again if fortunately enough equipped with corresponding affinity and time disposition...); best wishes; sincerely, mikael