To See the Buddha: A Philosopher's Quest for the Meaning of Emptiness

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Overview

Malcolm David Eckel takes us on a contemporary quest to discover the essential meaning behind the Buddha's many representations. Eckel's bold thesis proposes that the proper understanding of Buddhist philosophy must be thoroughly religious—an understanding revealed in Eckel's new translation of the philospher Bhavaviveka's major work, The Flame of Reason. Eckel shows that the dimensions of early Indian Buddhism—popular art, conventional piety, and critical philosophy—all work together to express the same religious yearning for the fullness of emptiness that Buddha conveys.

Boston University Professor Malcolm David Eckel takes us on a contemporary quest to discover the essential meaning behind the Buddha's many representations. Eckel shows that the dimensions of early Indian Buddhism--popular art, conventional piety, and critical philosophy--all work together to express the same religious yearning for the fullness of emptiness that Buddha conveys.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of the American Academy of Religion
Eckel has masterfully drawn on the richness of the Indian language of the senses to shed light on the multiple voices being heard in the philosophical chorus.
Journal of the American Academy of Religion - Daniel Boucher
Eckel has masterfully drawn on the richness of the Indian language of the senses to shed light on the multiple voices being heard in the philosophical chorus.... Eckel has given us a truly fascinating way by which to rethink the Buddhist philosophical enterprise.... To See the Buddha has done more than 're-vision the Buddha.' It has made some pioneering steps toward appreciating the Buddhist philosophical tradition as a polyphony of pious voices. In the end, we are reminded that Buddhist scholastics envisioned their world with the eyes of devout Buddhists. And Eckel has done much to make that world visible to us.
From the Publisher
"Eckel has masterfully drawn on the richness of the Indian language of the senses to shed light on the multiple voices being heard in the philosophical chorus."—Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"Eckel has masterfully drawn on the richness of the Indian language of the senses to shed light on the multiple voices being heard in the philosophical chorus.... Eckel has given us a truly fascinating way by which to rethink the Buddhist philosophical enterprise.... To See the Buddha has done more than 're-vision the Buddha.' It has made some pioneering steps toward appreciating the Buddhist philosophical tradition as a polyphony of pious voices. In the end, we are reminded that Buddhist scholastics envisioned their world with the eyes of devout Buddhists. And Eckel has done much to make that world visible to us."—Daniel Boucher, Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Journal of the American Academy of Religion
Eckel has masterfully drawn on the richness of the Indian language of the senses to shed light on the multiple voices being heard in the philosophical chorus.... Eckel has given us a truly fascinating way by which to rethink the Buddhist philosophical enterprise.... To See the Buddha has done more than 're-vision the Buddha.' It has made some pioneering steps toward appreciating the Buddhist philosophical tradition as a polyphony of pious voices. In the end, we are reminded that Buddhist scholastics envisioned their world with the eyes of devout Buddhists. And Eckel has done much to make that world visible to us.
— Daniel Boucher
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691037738
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 11/29/1994
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 5.96 (w) x 9.12 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Abbreviations
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
Ch. 1 The Story of the Asuras' Cave 11
Ch. 2 The Structure of Bhavaviveka's Thought 22
Philosophy as a Cognitive Quest 23
The Three-Part Structure of Bhavaviveka's Argument 29
Points of Transition from One Stage in the Argument to Another 42
Bhavaviveka's Ironical Point of View 44
Ch. 3 Interpreting the Signs of the Buddha 51
Hsuan-tsang's Encounter with the Indian Landscape 51
The Buddha as a Place Where an Absence Is Present 65
Ch. 4 The Diachronic Dimension of the Buddha's Absence 73
The Buddha's Previous Vows 74
The Buddha's Manifestations 84
The Buddha's Sustaining Power 90
Ch. 5 The Synchronic Dimension of the Buddha's Absence 95
The Dharma Body 97
The Eternal Buddha 109
Ch. 6 Bhavaviveka's Theory of the Buddha 114
The Ultimate Buddha: A Negative Version of the Two-Body Theory 115
The Conventional Buddha: A Positive Version of the Two-Body Theory 122
The Three-Body Theory 125
Ch. 7 Buddhahood and the Language of the Senses 131
Hsuan-tsang's Encounter with the Pirates 131
Bhavaviveka and the Philosopher's Eyes 137
Structural Similarities Between Different Kinds of Vision 141
The Ranking of the Different Senses 147
Translation: Bhavaviveka's Account of the Buddha in Chapter III of The Verses on the Essence of the Middle Way with the Commentary in The Flame of Reason 153
1 The Ultimate Buddha 158
2 The Bodhisattva Path 172
3 The Conventional Buddha 189
Notes 197
Bibliography 242
Index 259
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