[Buddha-l] Current state of study of early Buddhist schools?

Richard P. Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Fri Dec 16 10:07:40 MST 2005

On Fri, 2005-12-16 at 11:17 +0100, Stefan Detrez wrote:

> Whatever happened to the study of those early schools eversince? It
> seems there's no interest to study early buddhist schools telling from
> the meager quantity of books published on that subject.

That's a good question. My own feeling is that progress in that area
will be slow, because it is impossible to do any research in that field
without having a very good command of Indic languages, Buddhist Chinese
(which is a specialty in itself) and Tibetan. Fewer and fewer people
have the necessary linguistic skills AND the interest of working in what
seems to many like a very dry area of research. We are living in deeply
anti-scholastic times, thanks in part to the post-modern allergy to
"grand narratives" and to such quaint ideas as "truth". 

Don't expect anything of value to come from the Americas. Our brief
flirtation with civilization finished sometime around 1835. Our
educational systems have been carefully tuned to produce nothing but
ignorant savages stupid enough to vote for neo-conservative Republicans.
Most American academics can't even write grammatical English, let alone
read Chinese and Sanskrit, or even and French, German and Russian
(without which most past research in Buddhism is inaccessible).

We have fallen on evil times, mon ami. Perhaps when the kali yuga is
over, there will be some good research in Buddhism again. Until then,
just keep mindful of your breathing.

Richard Hayes
Department of Philosophy
University of New Mexico

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