Monday, February 12, 2018

Buddhist Dharmology

Some venues for exploration: Buddhist Dharmology is the Buddhist theory and study of dharma. There are many meanings and usage of the word dharma. According to Vasubandhu, there are ten meanings of dharma (i.e. chos ni shes bya lam dang ni || mya ngan ’das dang yid kyi yul ||, etc.). If it is used in the plural, it usually means “phenomena.” And saddharma refers to the teaching of the Buddha. It is the dharmaratna, one of the Three Jewels. Thus all that is saddharma is dharma but not everything that is dharma is saddharma. Saddharma is said to be of two types: āgamadharma/deśanādharma and adhigamadharma. The first is instructional-scriptural and the latter realizational-experiential. The first is classified in many ways and on the basis of different criteria. Cf. gsung rab yan lag dgu or bcu gnyis, sde snod gsum, mdo sde snod gsum, sngags rgyud sde bzhi; bka’ ’khor lo rim pa gsum, 84,000 dharmaskandhas, etc. The relationship between buddharatna, dharmaratna, and saṃgharatna is interesting. According to some Mahāyāna sources, buddha can manifest as dharma and saṃgha. Each of the three can manifest as all three. Dharmology is as complex as Buddhology. What is criteria of the genuineness or authenticity of dharma in the sense of saddharma? Two kinds of criterion need to be discussed. What is the anti-thesis of dharma? Of course, adharma! Does dharma have any intrinsic value? Does it have any extrinsic value? What is the origin of saddharma? These are some points to reflect upon.