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Buddhadharma : Fall 2007
fall 2007| 78 |buddhadharma best – but because it was a living tradition. Western philosophy, as it was presented at my American high school, always seemed rather inapplicable, while Bud- dhism seemed alive, experiential. Ricard expresses as much when trying to explain to his father why he ordained: “You can’t go and meet Socrates, listen to Plato debating, or sit at St. Francis’ feet. Yet suddenly, here were beings who seemed to be living examples of wisdom.” Though Revel maintains firm alle- giance to his Western lineage, he seems to understand the sentiment: “Nowadays, in our scientific age,” he responds, “phi- losophers have abandoned the ideal of wisdom, in which the philosopher would provide his readers or listeners with reci- pes to help them attain such wisdom. So it’s perhaps not surprising that Buddhism has acquired a certain authority in the West these days.” I almost always sided with Ricard, but listening to Revel compare Buddhist ideas to old Western ones, I realized that West- ern philosophy can be extremely vibrant, and that most of the ideas contained in Buddhism also existed in the West, scat- tered throughout the works of Socrates, Kant, the Epicureans, the Stoics, and oth- ers. The philosophies simply were not put together in the same cohesive, experien- tial way that the Buddha and his follow- ers laid out. As I warmed to the West, I began to see that France had one of the richest philosophical traditions in Europe, and it became a part of my practice to delve into French philosophy (as well as French food and art) with the same enthusiasm I felt for Buddhism. I joined the local Café Philo, a club and café where high school students gathered with scholars to discuss philosophy simply for the joy of it. Along with some visits to Plum Village, the Café Philo meetings became the focal point of an enchanting year abroad. Soon, the words of Albert Camus, Michel Foucault, Jean Paul Sartre, and others became daily meditation topics, in addition to the Bud- dhist ones. Buddhist meditation remained my favorite methodology, but I felt that I was finding my own truth–a balance of East and West. I felt I had found the dying embers of a roaring fire that had once existed in Europe, and by combining it with Buddhist practice, I imagined myself fanning those dying embers, perhaps even reigniting them into real flames. 3-4 year intensive, part-time, hands-on, experiential, psychotherapy skills training program, grounded in the perspectives of western psychology and the spiritual wisdom traditions of East and West. (October - June) Various experiential workshops www.transpersonalcanada.com or 416 481 6777