[Buddha-l] Process self - was Being unable to imagine dying[confused]

Dan Lusthaus vasubandhu at earthlink.net
Wed Jun 9 15:45:09 MDT 2010

> Dan, can you point me toward this "process self" work you mention?
> I'm interested.


The "process selves" theoreticians of the Buddhist fold were the 
pudgalavadins, whose theories were rejected by the other sects. One can find 
various discussions of "process" self theories in texts like Visuddhimagga, 
and invariably dangers and flaws are pointed out. I haven't time now to 
compile a list references, but they shouldn't be that hard to locate by an 
intrepid searcher.

Harshorne's process theology is very Quaker -- God is a friend. Whitehead's 
process god is very Anglican -- long-suffering and stoic. Whitehead is more 
analytic -- Hartshorne still smells like seminary.

Many Western thinkers act as if this were the 17th century and they've just 
discovered an alternate to thinking about things in terms of "substance," as 
if they just discovered the other day something inadequate in Aristotle. So 
"process" as the counterproposal (or God as Verb instead of as Noun) still 
strikes them as very new and liberating. University writing programs pretend 
that emphasizing "process" over "product" is a new discovery -- as if a 
writer ever learned how to write without learning how "to write". And so on.

Buddhists recognized that thinking in terms of substantives and processes 
(svabhava and akara; or dravya and karana; etc.) has strengths and 
weaknesses. Verbs are no more independent of nouns than vice versa -- they 
tautologically implicate each other. Turning the process into the 
substantive -- which is what process thought does -- only defers and 
camouflages the problems. The new question becomes: Which process, which 
causal relation, etc. obtains in this or that case? To ignore such 
questions, or resist carefuly analytic classification, is to put the mind to 
sleep while uttering meaningless phrases about "processes" -- a way of 
pretending to know what one doesn't want to know, while valorizing the 
non-knowing of what one claims to be important to know. Follow me?


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