Sunday, 5 October 2014


There is something deeply unsettling about extreme religiosity and radicality. In this case, I am thinking of Buddhist religiosity. Interestingly, the more radical one is the less rational one seems to be. Radicalism seems to leave no room for diversity, no room for reason, no room for insight.


  1. Hi,
    that´s a stimulating, alarming observation with several possibilities of interpretation…; allow me, by a short memo, to orientate our attention in a direction which, let´s hope so, could perhaps make sense for Dharma-seeking persons…; due to limited space I will split the message in three parts.

    1 part)
    For becoming increasingly strengthened to avoid a probably often unconscious sliding in any kind of radicalism we should train in rational reasoning to see/accept the “total reason“ (“logos = Weltvernunft“) – and no doubt, that´s what we all more or less culturally learn, persistently pretend to do or at least wish to apply. Unfortunately our instinctual and socially conditioned reasonings are highly/excessively ego-centered (in the sense of arriving at “own-advantage and own-profitability“, whether this designated “ego-focus“ might be considered as the person itself, a family-clan, a nation, a planet etc.) and precisely for that very reason multiple forms of ”radicalism“ [the subtlest thereof appears to be the identity-bafflement (svabhava-prapanca)] emerge (or can/will emerge).

    Do we have appropriate solutions for this cognitively overwhelming phenomenon?

    It seems that many great thinkers of each culture conceived, developed and proposed fine answers but why nevertheless we bullheadedly continue with our absurd behavior of subtly infiltrated and tacitly adopted radicalisms? Because in fact we become perplexed by the multiple views and arguments itself which often or for the greater parts remain incomprehensible.

    Let me try to speculate on the possibility about how, by a short hint on some particularly important buddhist authors and their views, we could eventually habituate our thinking´s thinking with an increasing infiltration of “compassionate reason“ (mahakaruna).
    In this respect I would propose the following four fundamental questions by which a thinker subtly “could make a fool of him/herself” and therefore will deceive/mislead others who follow his/her unperceived “hallucinations“:
    1) What exists  Ontological investigations
    2) How what exists?  Psychological/Epistemological investigations
    3) Why how what exists?  Ethical investigations
    4) Wherewith why how what exists  Aesthetical investigations

  2. 2 part)
    Such questions can provoke terrible and insane speculations, so that´s indeed a delicate subject. Now, with the intention to avoid possible ideological aberrations and if one wants (here attempted from an “Indian Buddhist Mahayana viewpoint”) to know something “reliable and trustworthy“ (sorry, unescapably valued from my humble personal ethos) with regard to the first question “What exists“, I think/suggest, he/she should look at Nagarjuna´s and Aryadeva´s Madhyamaka works (evidently with the caution not to fall in “annihilism“). Such analyses align the philosophical thirst for knowledge to recognize the “soteriological splitting“ of reality into the two truths. If one subsequently becomes interested concerning the big psychological/epistemological challenge about “How what exists“, the best address for a more psychological orientation would be Asanga/Vasubandhu´s tentative Vijnaptimatra descriptions (whereby here be warned not to sag in veiled “eternalism“). In addition, concerning the delicate validation of epistemic certainty, Dignaga and Dharmakirti´s Pramana-research should/could be our standard (again here especially greatest caution is needed for preventing enthusiastic theoreticians to fall in bossy “logical dogmatism“ or “scientific corruptness”). Finally, if one tries to justify reason or wants to explore methods of resolution concerning the third question “Why how what exists“ the complex Abhidharma elaborations (Vasubandhu and Samghabhadra) could perhaps appear as meaningful stimulations (of course without falling in “starry-eyed idealism“). And last but not least if one thereby becomes interested in the aesthetical realization (the practice) of philosophical insights (“Wherewith why how what exists”) one could take the exceptional chance and engage in tantric assimilations (and here, taking into account the risk of misunderstandings and immature expectations, a warning should be given not to slide in “religious fanaticism”). So far, so good, if this draft sketch of progressive explorations sounds somehow acceptable.

  3. 3 part)
    But thereby we immediately diagnose what really such an “ideally structured study-animation“ implies: namely, such a projected and safely considered graduation of philosophical investigations amounts to an enormous expense of personal striving supported by numerous favorable conditions provided by an immense collective business of uncountable cognitive creatures.

    Hence, no wonder that this philosophical proposition to “find liberation/satisfaction“ (bodhi) on the one hand not only is not everyone´s cup of tea owing to the tremendous effort to apply (what is still reasonable?, are we going too far?) but even more, on the other hand, thereby ”pops up“ a wishful thinking (precisely in duping our longing for the “cognitive perfection” with an immoderate, overzealous attitude of “anything goes”) that indeed all cognitive creatures, together and at the same time, could achieve the liberating vision (“the metaphysical insight/acceptability”) of awared acting.
    Thus rather (thanks to the collapsing actuality-cognition), it´s just owing to the epistemological impossibility to generate a “collective society-bodhi“ ( = unreachable explicit manifestation of collective-bodhi), that the “all-pervasive radiation/vision of individual bodhi“ ( = reachable implicit manifestation of collective-bodhi, hence the “cognitive tacit consent”) could be “understood“.
    The dialectically balanced tension of these two cognitive knowledge-poles (the impossibility of a collective simultaneous bodhi-awareness in relation to the possibility of an individually situated bodhi-awareness) decides about the ethical ambition and realization in our society. The aesthetical outcome of this philosophically aspired/acquired contemplation and validating pursuit for ethical authenticity leads (cherished from the Indo-Tibetan Buddhist perspective) to Vajrayana practicing confidentiality/discretion to respect, assure and transmit the sense of happiness in livingness.

    The bodhisattva, becoming capable to merge these somehow melancholic impressions with compensatory daring resolution, recognizes this insinuated “painstaking dialectical wisdom“ [or otherwise said, he/she becomes aware of the natural compassionate instinct/reason in being (“logos“ = Weltvernunft)] and therefore secretly/invisibly and imperturbably works for the ethical equilibrium in society.

    So meticulously envisioned, even though and indeed a philosophical solution can be fully recovered (bodhi) by individual thinkers equipped with extraordinary motivation (bodhicitta) nevertheless thereby the synchronously engendered vision of the compulsory fallacy of just the privately attested liberating intuition conceded for all creatures at the same time and place (the spatio-temporal collective awared immediacy) infuses the evolutionary, infinite bodhicitta-process of a bodhisattva´s psyche; hence, the bodhisattva-interest breeds the intelligent applicability of goodness-orientated intuition in collective unawareness (avidya/moha)! Since for the gentle bodhisattva the already ascertained “dialectical metaphysical tension in being” doesn´t matter, he/she withstands the “cognitive cramp of bodhi”, shoulders the incredible, the cognitive monstrosity of bodhi (sarvakarajnana = pervading omniscience/modality-awareness) and intrepidly goes on and on (bodhisattvabhumi)…- ...and this reflects the career of a bodhisattva (bodhisattvacaryavatara); sincerely mikael.