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Buddhadharma : Fall 2014
68 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY FALL 2014 Second, Vélez de Cea points out that the Buddha’s openness is evident from his delineation of three kinds of fully awakened beings: disciples, or hearers (savakas); solitary buddhas (pacceka- buddhas); and fully enlightened buddhas (sammasambuddhas). Fully enlightened buddhas, who periodically found the sangha, and disciples who have joined the sangha and learned the dharma from a fully enlightened buddha or his successors, presumably are Buddhists. But the solitary buddha does not join the sangha, study with the Buddha, or teach others. Yet the solitary buddha is accepted as enlightened, implying, says Vélez de Cea, that lib- eration may be attained by persons outside the Buddhist order. Third, because in Vélez de Cea’s view the Buddha of the Pali canon made no claims to omniscience of the sort later attributed to him by both orthodox Theravada and Mahayana traditions, he could not and would not claim to have knowledge of all possible permutations of the dharma, let alone of religion more broadly. Thus, there might well have been instances of the true dharma outside his order of which he was unaware. More importantly for contemporary Buddhists, the Buddha could not foresee the future course of religion, leaving open the possibility that there might be valid non-Buddhist paths to liberation in eras after his passing—including our own. It is important to reiterate that Vélez de Cea does not see the Buddha as a pluralist, let alone a relativist, for whom all spiritual paths are equally valuable. He is, rather, a pluralistic-inclusivist, and as such only will acknowledge the validity of those traditions in which such “nonnegotiable doctrinal claims” as the four noble truths, the eightfold path, and so forth are in play. For Vélez de Cea, the Buddha’s approach provides a model for contemporary Buddhists who no longer need to be prey to the dogmatic out- look of exclusivism, the condescension implicit in many forms of inclusivism, or the relativism suggested by pure pluralism. By adopting pluralistic-inclusivism, they can remain open to non- Buddhist instances of the dharma, so long as certain doctrinal requirements are satisfied. In the course of his argument, Vélez de Cea avoids many com- mon traps. He does not claim that the Pali canon is equivalent to the views of the historical Buddha but rather only seeks to uncover an “early Buddhist” position, of which the Buddha of the Pali canon is a representative. He does not assert that his interpretation of the Buddha’s outlook is the only plausible one but rather just one of many possible readings in a tradition rich with debate. He does not boil down Buddhism, or any religion, to a single set of doctrines and practices, recognizing instead that traditions may be as diverse internally as they are in relation to one another. REVIEWS Nowadays Buddhists may be less interested in how dharmakaya compares to God than how it relates to a particular brain state. santa fe, new mexico 505-986-8518 www.upaya.org firstname.lastname@example.org september 26 - october 5 Fall Zen Circle Zazenkai (september 26 - 28) Sesshin: Living and Practicing in Vow ( sept. 30 - oct. 5) Sensei Do-On Robert Tomas and Shinzan Palma, Dharma Holder october 31 - november 9 Fall Practice Period: Cultivating the Boundless Field Zazenkai (october 31 - november 2) Sesshin: Silent Illumination (november 4 - 9) Shinzan Palma, Dharma Holder and Joshin Brian Byrnes come to santa fe, new mexico this fall for a meditation retreat upaya zen center upaya zen center see entire calendar, teachings, & more at www.upaya.org