Tag Archives: Bernard Faure


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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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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The Vajrasamādhi Sutra


Our next text for study from our sūtra-series is the Vajrasamādhi Sūtra. Firstly, a thank-you is in order for one of our readers, JB, who recently brought this magnificent text to our attention. We are also indebted to Robert E. Buswell, Jr. for his excellent scholarly texts, The Formation of Ch’an Ideology in China and Korea, The Vajrasamādhi Sūtra—A Buddhist Apocryphon; and his Cultivating Original Enlightenment: Wŏnhyo’s Exposition of The Vajrasamādhi Sutra. His first work focuses on the doctrinal and historical position of this uniquely “Korean” Ch’an-Sŏn Sutra. (1) Buswell draws the conclusion that the Sutra’s author (circa 685 C.E.) was the legendary monk, ŏmnang, who is reported to have studied under Daoxin, the primary founder of the East Mountain School. As we shall discover within this series its doctrinal and contemplative/meditative dimensions are highly attuned with the East Mountain School—particularly on the notion of “Keeping the One”—Shou-i: read more

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The Samādhi of One-pointedness of Mind


“The samādhi of oneness is straightforward mind at all times, walking, staying, sitting, and lying. The Ching-ming ching says: ‘Straightforward mind is the place of practice; straightforward mind is the Pure Land.’ Do not with a dishonest mind speak of the straightforwardness of the Dharma. If while speaking of the samādhi of oneness, you fail to practice straightforward mind, you will not be disciples of the Buddha. Only practicing straightforward mind, and in all things having no attachments whatsoever, is called the samādhi of oneness.The deluded man clings to the characteristics of things, adheresto the samādhi of oneness, [thinks] that straightforward mind is sitting without moving and casting aside delusions without letting things arise in the mind. This he considers to be the samādhi of oneness. This kind of practice is the same as in insentiency the cause of an obstruction to the Tao. Tao must be something that circulates freely; why should he impede it? If the mind does not abide in things the Tao circulates freely; if the mind abides in things, it becomes entangled . If sitting in meditation without moving is good, why did Vimalakirti scold Śāriputra sitting in meditation in the forest? “Good friends, some people teach men to sit viewing the mind and viewing purity, not moving and not activating the mind, and to this they devote their efforts. Deluded people do not realize that this is wrong, cling to this doctrine, and become confused. There are many such people. Those who instruct in this way are, from the outset, greatly mistaken.” read more

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