WEDNESDAY 13 Jan ~ Travels & Discussions

Truly Simple Faith
Today we travelled once again to Belgium and stayed with our good friends in Mons. It is a lengthy journey but we pass through quite pleasant countryside, have stops every so often and share the driving. It has been a day of rich discussions. In the car en route we started of with a discussion of the phrase “wishing to live a religious life in truly simple faith” from the Summary of Faith & Practice and looked at the Buddhist treatment of wishing and intention, ideas of religion and Dharma, and at the various meanings of faith in Buddhism. We also discussed parallels and differences between Buddhist and Christian metaphysics.

An Eleusinian Tribe?
Later we continued our discussion of relationships and the question of the future development of Eleusis and whether there will emerge an Eleusinian tribe and what that might mean, what it might consist of, how it might function, or be structured, and so on. These are the sorts of questions where it is interesting to dream and speculate while, at the same time, knowing that the future will actually depend upon events that one cannot predict and, especially, upon who is most involved. In the dynamics of small groups one or two individuals can make a huge difference. However, we are developing concrete plans about what to do with the buildings and that means having some rough idea of what the future usage might be.

Written Works of Lasting Value?
Then, this evening, in Mons, discussion over dinner ranged over various subjects. One that caught my interest particularly is the question whether anything that is being written today in the field of Buddhism in the West will survive the test of time. It rather seems that the great bulk of contemporary writing, even by leading figures, is essentially apologetic in the technical sense of the term, being material that seeks to popularise or to make available the received tradition. Writing of that kind, however popular, effective and useful it is at the time, is unlikely to endure or contribute much in the longer term. We reflected on how major writers in Buddhist history - Nagajuna, Honen, Dogen, etc.,-  were all writing against the background of well established tradition in which there was already sufficient confidence for intense debate within the tradition itself (rather than between the tradition and the ambient culture) to be a subject of major interest. Perhaps we have not reached this stage yet.

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