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Buddhadharma : Spring 2009
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly spring 2 0 09 68 benefit of the dialogue. Lopez clearly sus- pects that by submitting to the legitimat- ing aegis of science, Buddhism is forced to relinquish too much of itself, includ- ing its claims to superlative knowledge. Lopez sides with the Dalai Lama when the latter expresses his unwillingness to relinquish supra-historical views of the Buddha, for then, “the Buddha would only be a nice person.” But why is Lopez, who aligns him- self with those who enlarge rather than reduce the Buddha, so indisposed toward a conversation that seeks to enlarge Bud- dhism in a different way? If “scientific Buddhism” was initially forged as part of an apologetic mission, it need not be reduced to an apology, and the persistence of interest (as well as the contributions of Buddhists like Gendun Chopel) suggests that there is something worth exploring. The conversation, which is dominated by personal practitioners, could benefit from the participation of scholars like Lopez. Aloofness from the endeavor puts Lopez in the position of the Orientalist scholar who never sets foot outside of Europe but lords his authority (and his musty texts) over the “amateur” and “igno- rant” practitioners. Lopez is perplexed by the many faces of Buddhism because he sees this as a question of power—of who gets to wield the authority to represent Buddhism. He denies that the Buddhist teaching of insubstantiality and essence- lessness is a legitimate explanation of Buddhism’s own multiple and variegated nature. Lopez purports to “give the Bud- dha the last word” by quoting from the Pali Canon—a section in which the Bud- dha declares that those who believe he hammers out the dharma through reason alone and does not possess superhuman knowledge will wind up in hell. But why reduce the Buddha to this passage? In another section of the Pali Canon, the Buddha rejects the extravagant claims made on his behalf and demands that his followers critically investigate the path and know for themselves, just as one closely examines the footprints and marks left by an elephant in order to be led to the elephant itself. It is possible to accept both versions of the Buddha. woodenBodhisattva,Chinesesongdynasty(960-1279)photo:shanghaiMuseuM Zen Mountain Monastery PETER FORBES March 13-15, 2009 Inspired to Respond Finding Your Activist’s Voice Photographer, farmer and longtime conservationist Peter Forbes explores how strong human relationships with the land can help us engage right action and positive change for our world. ANNE WALDMAN April 17-19, 2009 Dakini Poetics Experiments of Attention Join this renowned poet, performer, teacher and activist in an exciting foray into the principles that serve as catalysts between mind and action, imagination and creativity. 845.688.2228 WWW.MRO.ORG/ZMM/RETREATS mountains and rivers order of zen buddhism