More on ‘Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism’ /2009/01/15/more-on-hinduism-jainism-buddhism/

More on ‘Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism’

Comment from Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism

It’s a deep and extremely confusing study. The later parts of the Rig Veda seem to contain the ideas of the Upanishads in an embryonic form (monism, panentheism, etc.). It remains unclear whether this was due to internal innovation or whether it was picked up from some other source. The Buddhist sutras also seem to indicate this influence:

“A second reason for regarding the paradoxes as requiring interpretation is that, in their use of puns and grammatical word-play, they follow an ancient Indian genre — the philosophical enigma — that by its very nature called for extensive interpretation. Evidence in the Rig Veda shows that ancient Vedic ritual included contests in which elder brahmans used puns and other word-play to express philosophical teachings as riddles that contestants were then challenged to solve.4 The purpose of these contests was to teach the contestants — usually students studying to become ritual experts — to use their powers of ingenuity in thinking “outside the box,” in the justified belief that the process of searching for inspiration and being illuminated by the answer would transform the mind in a much deeper way than would be achieved simply by absorbing information. 5

Although the Atthaka poems advise against engaging in intellectual contests, they imitate the Vedic enigmas in the way they use language to challenge the reader. Individual words — sometimes whole lines and stanzas — in the poems can be interpreted in a variety of ways, and it’s up to the reader to explore and consider all the various meanings to decide which ones are most helpful. Although our culture associates word-play with jokes, the Atthaka stands at the head of a long line of Buddhist texts — both Theravada and not — that use word-play with a serious purpose: to teach the reader to think independently, to see through the uncertainties of language and so to help loosen any clinging to the structures that language imposes on the mind.6 This type of rhetoric also rewards anyone who takes the text seriously enough to re-read and re-think what it has to say.”

From Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, 2009/01/15 at 2:50 PM

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