Buddhist Centre Features

Exploring Buddhist Modernism - New Podcast

On Thu, 6 February, 2020 - 18:45
Sadayasihi's picture

“I see philosophy as not only part of the great modernist, or western project of understanding, but feeding into the Buddhist project of bringing awakened values into the world” - Dhivan

Sanghadhara chats to Dhivan, Silavadin and Dr Matt Drage who recently led a philosophy symposium at Adhisthana called ‘Exploring Buddhist Modernism’. 

The premise of this symposium being that western Buddhism has been deeply conditioned and informed by assumptions of the modern age: in particular, by affective scientific naturalism, romantic expressivism, and the Protestant reformation. Therefore those who are practicing as western Buddhists need to engage with these three themes.

We hear about the talks and themes from this symposium as well as being given a framework in which we can position ourselves on the spectrum of Buddhist modernism. Celebrating the atmosphere of openness and friendliness, we are also given a glimpse into how events like this can help us both clarify our views and allow us get into dialogue with those who have opposing opinions to us.

Recorded at Adhisthana, January 2020.

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Silaratna's picture

Hi Dhivan, Silavadin and Matt

Thank you for this very informative synopsis of your intriguing seminar. It would have been great to attend but unfortunately a bit far from Gisborne NZ. Anyway a question.

Any chance you could share a pdf of the visual chart of the spectrums you spoke about?

I found the exercise of estimating where you might be on those spectrums a very useful source for reflection.

A very useful tool also for considering various aspects of Modern Buddhism and also where a number of modern Buddhist teachers may be teaching from.

A few reflections of mine. I think that it is important to look at the Buddhist tradition from as many different perspectives as possible because if you do take the Bodhisattva ideal at all seriously you need to have as many different approaches to being able to reach out to living beings in all kinds of ways and not just remain in your ‘zone of comfort and familiarity’ with the Dharma. It is said popularly somewhere that the Buddha had ‘84,000’ different ways he could express his enlightenment for the benefit of all. There is also that intriguing incident of the ‘simsapa leaves’ thus much have I shown, implying there could be so many more means he could have employed.

And also that incident in the Vimalakirti where it is revealed that in other Buddha fields other than our own, some Buddha’s teach through other means than rational discourse, smell I think was one that was mentioned.

Thanks again for your stimulating discourses.

All the best to you all


Dhivan Thomas Jones's picture

Thanks Silaratna. A photo of our ‘Spectrum of Buddhist Modernism’ diagram is attached. Thanks for your thoughts too. Our aim with exploring this diagram was more to do with our becoming aware of our own specific engagement with the Dharma as modernists. But such self-awareness would certainly then be important for being sensitive to the different ways in which others imagine things.

File NameSize
spectrum_diagram.jpg434.68 KB
Silaratna's picture

Thanks for that Dhivan

Hope you are well