“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Monday, September 20, 2010

Object-Oriented Buddhism 4

Traditionally the Buddha is said to have given three cycles of teachings, or “turnings of the wheel of dharma”:

1) First turning. Theravada teachings. Egolessness of self.
2) Second turning. Mahayana. Emptiness (of self and other).
3) Third turning. Luminosity.

Tibetan Buddhist schools are divided as to whether 2) or 3) is the highest teaching, the definitive one. (Sorry not enough space or time to go into the full intensity here. But there is a very good book: Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso, Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness.)

One group, which reminds me of deconstruction, say it's 2). Any positive statement about reality whatsoever contains traces of ontotheology. 3) lapses into theism.

Another group, which reminds me of OOO, say it's 3). Things exist, but not in an ontotheological way. Emptiness is the basis for their existing. 2) lapses into nihilism.

If we were Tibetans living in about 1800 the recent discussions of Derrida would be precisely about whether luminosity was just a way for less smart people to understand something about Buddhism (the position of (2) types) or whether it's the shizzle (3).

(2) considered (3) a regression to ontotheology. (3) considered itself a progression from nihilistic tendencies.

We'll leave the final word to Nagarjuna, the philosopher who devised the Middle Way (Madhyamika), very very close to deconstruction, commenting on (2):

“Whoever assumes my philosophy to be a belief system is incurably insane.”


ai said...

I love this Buddhist turn in your work, Tim. Looking forward to more of it. (And curious about the reception by the OOO-ists...)


daz hastings said...

it's the shizzle grizzle jizzle