[Buddha-l] American Philosophical Society

Dan Lusthaus vasubandhu at earthlink.net
Sun Feb 24 22:28:41 MST 2013

For some reason Richard has decided to emerge from a protracted silence by 
attacking philosophers interested in Buddhism, and mischaracterizing the 
Dharma in order to do so. Erik has already pointed out that phenomenology, 
etc. may be a much more useful tool for examining Buddhism that Richard 
pretends, so I won't belabor that. (That I published a book titled Buddhist 
Phenomenology more than 10 years ago shows where I stand on that issue.)

That the anglo-american brand of philosophy laments that after concerted 
efforts to label everything philosophical that didn't happen in England or 
ancient Greece (with the exception of Kant's second critique and Frege) as 
"continental philosophy" and then, since the late 70s were largely 
successful in a deliberate campaign to ostrace "continental" philosophy from 
US academic philosophy depts. -- only to realize by the mid-90s that the 
anglo-american version was intellectually bankrupt and out of ideas, so it 
had to start paying attention to "asian" thought, taking a second look at 
Husserl, etc., hoping for some fresh blood and ideas, is a sad story. That 
those years were devoted to brainwashing devotees into thinking that 
everything from Descartes to Derrida was little more than sloppy, confused 
thinking, or incoherent barbarians at the gate is also sad, especially when 
we see the product: Prejudiced, closed-minded, narrow-minded frustrated 
ostracizers still believing they are on a mission to save "true" philosophy. 
But let's put that to the side.

The graver canard for a Buddhist list is the misinformation that Buddhism is 
easy, and that Buddha and Buddhists have always said so. Never so. Here are 
the terms Buddhists have used to characterize the Dharma:

甚深難解 = very deep and difficult to understand,
難可了 = difficult to understand,
難知 = difficult to know.
Skt: durvijñeya, durbuddhin, etc.
Pali: dujjāna (D i.170, 187; M i.487); duranubodhā, etc.

Two examples for the Pali Suttas:

Brahmajāla sutta

"There are, bhikkhus, other dhammas, deep, difficult to see, difficult to 
understand, peaceful and sublime, beyond the sphere of reasoning[*], subtle, 
comprehensible only to the wise, which the Tathāgata, having realized for 
himself with direct knowledge, propounds to others; and it is concerning 
these that those who would rightly praise the Tathāgata in accordance with 
reality would speak...."

37. ‘‘Ime kho te, bhikkhave, dhammā gambhīrā duddasā duranubodhā santā 
paṇītā atakkāvacarā[*] nipuṇā paṇḍitavedanīyā, ye tathāgato sayaṃ abhiññā 
sacchikatvā pavedeti, yehi tathāgatassa yathābhuccaṃ vaṇṇaṃ sammā vadamānā 

Dvayatānupassina Sutta -- (directly addressed to Richard, simultaneously 
correcting his mischaracterization of

Dhamma, but also explaining his difficulties with Husserl, etc.)
"See how difficult it is to understand the Dhamma! Herein those without 
insight have completely gone astray. For those under the veil (of ignorance) 
it is obscured, for those who cannot see it is utter darkness. But for the 
good and the wise it is as obvious as the light for those who can see. Even 
though close to it, the witless who do not know the Dhamma, do not 
comprehend it."

key passage:
766. Passa dhammaṃ durājānaṃ sampamuḷhettha aviddasu,
Nivutānaṃ tamo hoti andhakāro apassataṃ

(alternate translation)
What others say is blissful, the noble ones say is stress. What others say 
is stressful, the noble know as bliss. See the Dhamma, hard to understand! 
Here those who don't know are confused. For those who are veiled, it's 
darkness, blindness for those who don't see. But for the good it is blatant, 
like light for those who see. Though in their very presence, they don't 
understand it — dumb animals, unadept in the Dhamma. It's not easy for 
those overcome by passion for becoming, flowing along in the stream of 
becoming, falling under Mara's sway, to wake up to this Dhamma.
...That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted in the 
Blessed One's words. And while this explanation was being given, the minds 
of 60 monks, through lack of clinging, were fully released from 


More information about the buddha-l mailing list