Category Archives: Buddhism’s Black Holes


This blog is a mini-study into the nature of Icons, particularly within the Eastern Orthodox tradition and sundry Buddhist traditions as well. Perhaps when one first brings to mind the image of an icon, one is immediately drawn to those Orthodox representations. Within Eastern Orthodoxy precedence is given to apophatic-theology: read more

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Śarīra is a beautiful word essentially connoting a Buddhist relic, “although in common usage it usually refers to pearl or crystal-like bead-shaped objects that are purportedly found among the cremated ashes of Buddhist spiritual masters.” (Wiki) The Mahaparinibbana Sutta makes reference to them after the Buddha’s cremation, after which they are referred to as dhātu and are “held to emanate or incite ‘blessings’ and ‘grace’ (Sanskrit: adhiṣṭhāna) within the mindstream and experience of those connected to them.” (Wiki) A Greater breakdown would signify the following: read more

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Buddhism’s Black Holes

The title for this blog-series is in reference to Bernard Faure’s excellent article, Buddhism’s Black Holes: From Ontology to Hauntology. In actuality it all has to do with the nature of Buddhist Icons and Relics, which also will be the main thrust of this series. Faure’s special focus in his article concerns the “practice of inserting miscellaneous things (relics or śārīra, fragments of stone and crystal, cloth viscera, texts, written incantations, list of donors, coins, etc.) inside Buddhist statues, known in Korea as bokjang 腹蔵.” He begins by relating certain doubts concerning this kind of ritual, as particularly expressed by another scholar in the field, Robert Sharf. Sharf argues, in his review of Helmut Brinker’s book on icons and relics, that this has much to do with “western projections”—that its mere conjecture on what is otherwise simply ethnographic practices that has very little to do with some mystic significance. He writes: “I sense that there is something almost voyeuristic or prurient in our fascination with relics… It may be a little more than yet another projection of contemporary needs and concerns onto the complex ink blot that is Buddhism. Except that this time, instead of projecting our own rationality as did the previous generation of scholars, we now project our irrationality.” Faure counters this with, “Even if they were, why would their interest have to be “voyeuristic or prurient,” and what kind of dark purposes would they be projecting? Why would scholarly fascination, say, with “Storehouse consciousness” (ālaya-vijjñāna) or any other doctrinal topic fare any better in that respect?” Indeed, Faure further expresses his disagreement with Sharf: read more

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