Sunday, April 10, 2016

Buddhist Hodology

My obsession with coining new (or borrowing old) words for expressing certain ideas in Buddhist philosophy and religion continues. This time it is “Hodology.” It is supposed to mean “study of pathways.” The word is derived from the Greek hodos, meaning “path.” It is used in various contexts such as in neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, and geography. I wish to use this word in Buddhist philosophy and soteriology. Let us say “Buddhist hodology.” In the Buddhist context, it is supposed to include all reflections, explanations, descriptions, and systematization of topics all subsumed under what Tibetan Buddhist scholars would call “discourses of the spiritual stages and paths” (sa dang lam gyi rnam gzhag). This is an important topic. One could also call “Buddhist Mārgology.” Nowadays we use the expression “Meditation Theories” very vaguely to express the theories of bhūmis and mārgas. But the expression is perhaps too narrow. “Buddhist hodology” would include everything that is linked with Buddhist soteriology. It would deal with mundane (laukika) and supramundane (lokottara) paths, the correct and the wrong paths, the pitfalls and dangers on the way, regression and progression, signs, qualities, and achievements. In order to have a historically (or diachronically) and doctrinally (or synchronically) representative picture of Buddhist hodology, one has to consider hodology from the perspective of various schools and systems of Buddhism. At any rate, I feel that the use of the use of the term “Buddhist hodology” is justifiable.

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