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DISCUSSION SUMMARY Sandor Goodhart: Great paper and response! I heard a great deal about the individual, and some about the political, but not much about the ethical. How does Buddhism, as a way of thinking, address this intersubjective—what in Judaism one calls intersubjectivity? Lefebure: Actually, the beginning ofthe eightfold path is morality. E.g. (from the story of the prince trying to trap Shakyamni Buddha) it's a question of when to tell the truth. Is it helpful/beneficial in this situation? There' s a whole set of principles of guidance, involving a nuanced backand -forth, in the Buddhist Pali canon. Ives: the Pali canon from early Buddhism stresses an ethics of selfcultivation , uprooting unwholesome factors. This does have social ramifications, butit's often more willy-nillythan systematically developed. Work needs to be done here. Is, e.g., the Buddhist notion ofcompassion an ethical category? It may involve something like a (Kierkegaardian) teleological suspension of the ethical—i.e., enlightenment requiring a seemingly unethical act. The lack of ethical "system" may contribute to Buddhism getting co-opted historically. Goodhart: There's still room for something in between the personalethical andthepolitical/social-ethical: responsibilitynotjustformyself, but also for the other. An unidentified speakerthen reflected on Buddhism's attractiveness to students. They like the notions of reincarnation and pacifism. But they never seemto mention Buddhism's demands to modify/extinguish all one's negative desires. Both Ives and Lefebure resonated with this comment. Andrew Marr: Commentingfromthepointofview ofChristianity, light can be blinding. It can lead one to think that, after Christ, there's nothing else one needs to listen to. Note the very big difference between Buddhism and Christianity: in Christianity the passion and resurrection of Christ; in Buddhism the story of the Buddha's journey from his sheltered 186 environment, a kind of founding narrative that, by contrast, seems to have nothingto do with violence, though poverty could be institutional violence. How, as Girardians, do we approach these basic narratives? Does a major religion need a narrative of violence? Diana Culbertson: In the history of religions, prohibitions and taboos are a second stage. The Buddhism that has been described to us is at the level of prohibitions and taboos. What is the foundational story out of which these emerged? There has to be some origin to the structure that Buddhism provides. Lefebure: Among the wide variety of Buddhist traditions, the most widely accepted is probably the Buddhacarita, written by Asvaghosa several centuries after the life of the Buddha. The prince, Siddhartha, as a young man, goes out on a famous series ofjourneys with his charioteer. On successivejourneys he confronts, forthe first time, old age, sickness, death, and then a wandering beggar, an ascetic. All of these are illusions created by the Hindu gods to shock him into the realization that the life he has been living is unreal. This seem to be the beginning ofthe foundational narrative for Buddhism. But it's not what we would now call a social narrative. Wolfgang Palaver: Both Buddhism and Christianity are very much aware of the problem of desire. Buddhism seems to try to overcome desire completely. Christianity, however, tries to aim one's desire at God, and to invite one's friends to do the same. This helps explain Buddhism's attractiveness to the Western World which is losing its belief in a personal God whom we can desire. But, giving up desire completely means giving up our human beingness. Does it also mean to abolish human beings as such? John Makransky: Very grateful for the fine analyses and comments of Ives and Lefebure. I suggest that the apparent lack of sophisticated social analysis forthe conditioning ofsuffering maybe linked to the apparent lack of prophetic voices within Buddhism. But this may be partly due to our radar screens which don't notice them; they are unusual voices, and we marginalize them. Mimetic theory may have something, perhaps a great deal, to bring to this. There are two hats that some of us wear: on the one hand the hat of Western social-scientific analysis, something that Buddhism needs to appropriate and, in face of which, Buddhism seems to be naive. But on the other...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1930-1200
Print ISSN
1075-7201
Pages
pp. 185-189
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-26
Open Access
No
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