Tag Archives: Tibetan Buddhism

Interlude #2 Play

Stephen Calhoun, fine artitst, Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Bardo B, a (Stephen Calhoun, 2014)

This re-intensification of the body, which restores our bond to an original intensity that resists traditional static notions of the cosmos and the human, of man and the universe, can best be called “spirit” or “spirituality” (thugs). Though the German words Geist and Geistigheit are admittedly better than their English equivalents, even they are not entirely free of substantialist and idealist nuance. To render thugs as “mind” or “consciousness” would only make matters worse. Not only do these terms miss out on the range of meanings that attach to “spirit” and “spirituality,” they perpetuate the fallacy of reducing to a “thing” what is really a dynamic center that radiates in all directions, animates the whole of our life, and “touches” us in every activity and dimension.

The consequences of seeing corporeality and spirituality as degrees of intensity are far-reaching. At one stroke, this standpoint demolishes the naive dualism that has inflicted upon us an obsession with things–material and immaterial–and opens us to the liberating idea of pure process in which all opposites are ultimately dissolved. Note the following passage in the SGra-thal-‘gyur-ba,

Since anyone endowed with a body (lus-can) is pervaded by mind/mentation (sems)
There does not exist anyone endowed with mind/mentation (sems-can) who does not [exemplify the process of the] dissipation [of old and worn-out structures, sangs] and the unfolding [of new dynamic regimes, rgyas]

Translating the passage into modern language, the living body is “matter” occupying space according to its degree of intensity. Insofar as this intensity is not perverted by the conceptualizing-reifying intellect, it is what we have called “spirituality” (thugs). Put in more experiential terms, our very corporeality is our spirituality in the sense that both are an expression of a single superordinate potentiality that has become real in our Befindlichkeit (roughly “contextuality” “situatedness”) and attunement to a wholeness into whose fullness we must grow.

(Herbert Guenther, Ecstatic Spontaneity. Saraha’s Three Cycles of Doha

HARRIET GRATWICK: Well, explain epistemology, it’s …

CHARLES OLSON: Oh, how you know. Or the belief that we–that there is knowing. And it was invented by a man named Plato. Episteme is his invention, and it’s one of the most dangerous inventions in the world is the idea that there is such a thing as knowledge. But if you take it the process way, again, to talk like any of us here that comes to this point in the century, [Arthur M.] Young here is wonderful talking how I mean process. I think he loses the other thing, the Real, by saying it, and involving himself with words like “determinism.” But, that’s O.K., I mean one is apt to overfall today because the work is so crucial.

(Under the Mushroom, anthologized in Muthologos Charles Olson Lectures and Interviews)

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Who’s There?

death barks

Abstract
Individuals who have been subtly reminded of death display heightened in-group favouritism, or
“worldview defense.” Terror management theory argues (i) that death cues engender worldview defense via psychological mechanisms specifically evolved to suppress death anxiety, and (ii) that the core function of religiosity is to suppress death anxiety. Thus, terror management theory predicts that extremely religious individuals will not evince worldview defense. Here, two studies are presented in support of an alternative perspective. According to the unconscious vigilance hypothesis, subtly processed threats (which need not pertain to death) heighten sensitivity to affectively valenced stimuli (which need not pertain to cultural attitudes). From this perspective, religiosity mitigates the influence of mortality-salience only insofar as afterlife doctrines reduce the perceived threat posed by death. Tibetan Buddhism portrays death as a perilous gateway to rebirth rather than an end to suffering; faith in this doctrine should therefore not be expected to nullify mortality-salience effects. In Study 1, devout Tibetan Buddhists who were subtly reminded of death produced exaggerated aesthetic ratings unrelated to cultural worldviews. In Study 2, devout Tibetan Buddhists produced worldview defense following subliminal exposure to non-death cues of threat. The results demonstrate both the domain- generality of the process underlying worldview defense and the importance of religious doctrinal content in moderating mortality-salience effects.

Unconscious threat and judgment bias in Tibetan Buddhists
Colin Holbrook
Center for Behavior, Evolution and Culture and Dept of Anthropology Univ. of California, Los Angeles

Paulo Sousa
Institute of Cognition and Culture and School of History and Anthropology
Queen’s University, Belfast

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