Friday, May 02, 2014

Generalist

Oh, the pleasures (and stretches) of the generalist! I'm going up to Princeton this afternoon to participate in a day-long symposium tomorrow on dāna, rendered in its title as "Buddhist charity." I'm just a respondent, and a sub to boot, but am thinking of making that central to my remarks. Buddhist giving goes "upward" - it's more meritorious the purer the recipient of your giving - so I may derive the most merit from my contributions to the august company's discussion. (Indeed, if nothing I say is of use to anyone, so much the better, as in the best dāna nothing is really received, as the perfected being has no need of anything.) But as a troglodytic "Buddhological sympathizer" or "nightstand Buddhologist" (the terms I'm using for myself, tweaking Thomas Tweed's "Buddhist sympathizer" and "nighstand Buddhist") I'll also be in a position to wonder how Buddhist discourses of pure giving obscure actual need - or leave it out of the picture by consigning its treatment to the laity, the state, and miracle working supernatural beings. Those weeks we've spent in "Buddhism and Modern Thought" on the critiques of engaged Buddhism have got to me!

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