It is so well-known that Buddhist philosophers in India argued with their non-Buddhist opponents that it is hardly worth mentioning. Yet, despite the centuries-long history of such polemics, Buddhist philosophers in India rarely explained what they hoped to gain in critically engaging their opponents through such arguments. In this lecture, I discuss why Buddhist epistemologists at Vikramaśīla thought it was important to argue with their Brahmanical opponents.
In this seminar, we will explore what was at stake, both philosophically and otherwise, for Brahmanical philosophers in debates with Buddhist opponents. We will focus, in particular, on Nyāya arguments for the existence of Īśvara and Buddhist counterarguments.
In attempting to refute the Buddhist doctrine of no-Self, Ramakantha absorbed many features of Buddhism. For example, he sided with Buddhism against Nyaya and Vaisesika in denying the existence of property-possessors (dharmins) over and above properties (dharmas), and in denying a Self as something that exists over and above cognition. For him the Self simply is cognition (jnana, prakasa, samvit) and so he has to prove that cognition is constant and unchanging. I will present those arguments of Ramakantha's that strike me as his strongest and most original.
The status of categories within Madhyamaka philosophy is a curious one. On the one hand there is a strong tendency to reject philosophically refined analyses of the constituents which make up the world, thereby rejecting systems of categories as well. The Madhyamika, it seems, accepts whatever conventions the world accepts at the merely conventional level but does not propose any conventions of his own. In fact there appear to be good reasons for such a view.
This lecture examines a Buddhist meditation tradition exemplified particularly by visualisation text from central Asia. This is a seminar in our series on Comparative Mystical Traditions.
Lance Cousins is an expert in Buddhism, particularly the Theravada tradition and Pali commentarial literature, and Buddhist meditation traditions. He taught for many years at the University of Manchester where, among other things, he taught a course in comparative mysticism.
Interdisciplinary Seminar in the Study of Religions/Mysticism Seminar
Full Name (inc. titles):
Professor Richard Gombrich
Friday, February 18, 2011 - 14:00 to 15:00
This seminar examines accounts of religious experience in early Buddhism as gleaned from our textual sources. Of particular importance here has been the role of meditation and living an upright and ethical life.
Professor Gombrich was the Boden Professor of Sanskrit for many years. He is a world authority on Buddhism and has written definitive works on early Buddhism and the Theravada tradition. Among his publications are What the Buddha Thought, How Buddhism Began andTheravada Buddhism.