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Cruel Theory - Sublime Practice: Toward a Revaluation of Buddhism (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 23. Juli 2013

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Von Sukkha am 10. August 2013
Format: Taschenbuch
WARNING!

"This book might be bad for you. If you are new to Buddhism, you may want to bookmark this link, and return in a few years.

The aim on this book is to inspire people to reorient themselves to Buddhism in the ways discussed here. Given the place of “Buddhism” in this project (namely, as “non-buddhism”), that reorientation involves a radically, even disasterally (we make up bad new words, too), reordered relationship to Buddhist values and institutions.

You can’t reorient yourself until you’ve spent some time orienting yourself. So, you might want to stop reading and go meditate, or recite the Heart Sutra, or visualize your perfect guru. After a few more years’ worth of Dharma talks, you should be open to my message.

For those of you who have explored the Buddhist globe, from the tropical Achans to the mountainous Zens, read on! If you have been practicing, if you have been paying attention, then you know that Buddhism has been taking you on a grand ride. Buddhism is, after all, just a vehicle, right? A few, no some, no most–bulls***!–virtually every single human being who hangs his/her shingle as “Buddhist teacher” would like you to believe that Buddhism is itself the goal. Buddhism is not the goal of Buddhism (according to Buddhism); liberation is. Abandon the raft! etc., etc.

See what I mean? Bad.

So: BE WARNED!"

[...]
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Format: Taschenbuch
Ein klassisches dummbatziges Pamphlet, dessen Argumente nur jemand vertreten kann, der religionswissenschaftlich nichts zu melden hat oder sich ein Spielzeug sucht, an dem er sich abreagieren kann. Kein bisschen fundamentales Verständnis über Sachzusammenhängen der Religion Buddhismus und der Religionen allgemein. Schlimmste Phrasendrescherrei und Argumente, die aus dem Mittelalter stammen und beliebige Allgemeinpätze pflastern. Da sind selbst athteistische Diskurse gescheiter.
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Inhalt

Bücher, die erklären wie man "buddhistisch" denkt gibt es bereits sehr viele. Dieses Buch befasst sich mit einer anderen Fragestellung, nämlich mit der wie man über Buddhismus nachdenken kann. Eine Sache, die selbst vermeintlich kritische Strömungen im Buddhismus häufig vernachlässigen.

Dazu werden im Buch drei Texte vorgestellt, die jeweils einen anderen Ansatz wählen, aber dennoch auf einer gemeinsamen Grundlage aufbauen:

Im ersten Text stellt Tom Pepper seine Interpretation des Buddhismus als Wissenschaft der Ideologie (im Sinne Althussers) dar. Dazu zitiert er geisteswissenschaftliche Theorien und Erkenntnisse aus unterschiedlichen Strömungen (griechische Philosophie, Marxismus, Psychoanalyse) und erklärt warum eine solche Auseinandersetzung mit der Ideologie überhaupt relevant ist und vor allem was der Buddhismus dazu beitragen kann (bzw. wann er eine solche Auseinandersetzung gerade verhindert).

Nach diesem bereits relativ theoretischen Teil folgt ein noch abstrakterer Text von Glenn Wallis. In diesem wird zuerst die Non-Philosophie von Laruelle (eine Art Meta-Philosophie) eingeführt und daraus dann der Spekulative Non-Buddhismus (Speculative Non-Buddhism) entwickelt. Dabei liefert Wallis zum einen bereits eine Charakterisierung des Buddhismus zum anderen stellt er dem Leser eine Heuristik zur Verfügung. Diese ermöglicht es den Buddhismus von außen zu betrachten und über ihn nachzudenken.

Im dritten Teil beschreibt Matthias Steingass die Verflechtung des Buddhismus mit der Geschichte und der jeweiligen Kultur und zeigt anhand mehrerer konkreter Beispiele auf wozu es führt, dass der Buddhismus selbst für diese Verflechtungen blind ist.
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Amazon.com: HASH(0x95829198) von 5 Sternen 8 Rezensionen
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HASH(0x9583dd20) von 5 Sternen In-depth review: challenging Buddhist convention 9. September 2013
Von John L Murphy - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Glenn Wallis, Matthias Steingass, and Tom Pepper reevaluate Buddhism. Dismissing quiescent and supernatural states, they seek a practice grounded in liberating socially engaged agents, committed to intellectual rigor, ideological application, and political confrontation. If they push Buddhism to the brink, they may glimpse an abyss, or play among the ruins if the tipped, upended dharma shatters. Expanding ideas discussed at the Speculative Non-Buddhism online project, they deny world-transcendence while affirming a collective mind--outside the individual brain--as liberated subjects revitalized, after a truth-event named as Buddhadharma.

This esoteric, exacting study demands concentration. In cruelty, via Antonin Artaud's theater, it unnerves the practitioner. With practice, invigorated by theory, the informed and radicalized subject revives. After Wallis' précis about its individually authored chapters, Tom Pepper rejects an "ultimate cosmopolitan anti-intellectual aesthetic practice" which comprises most of Western Buddhism. In "The Radical Buddhist Subject and the Sublime Aesthetics of Truth," he equates postmodernism with "sophisticated anti-intellectualism." (22) While this appears to be applied to philosophical rather (or arguably to me better) than literary varieties, this equation would benefit from more support.

Pepper prefers to dismantle philosophical constructs which ease disengaged, dissatisfied audiences away from "the desolate landscape of postmodern thought." He castigates those Western Buddhists who eschew thought within meditation, and those who further "global capitalism" by choosing a more comforting "aesthetic negotiation" which prefers the comfort of beauty to any confrontation with an edgy, uneasy "sublime" harnessed to economic reform and radical change. (23)

Moving from David Hume's aesthetics, through Pali texts, past Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics into Louis Althusser's "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses," Pepper promotes as a corrective Alain Badiou's version of the sublime. He reflects on ways to start remapping worlds which stop reifying false premises.

This "sublime" may not soothe, but it can awaken. No-self, dependent arising, and conventional truth provide markers by which humans can achieve consciousness rather than submission to "reactionary or obscurantist subjectivity." (83) How this will be achieved pragmatically, as in many manifestos, remains nebulous, but the promise of philosophical and political change lingers.

Elaborating his scrutiny on the Speculative Non-Buddhism site, Glenn Wallis has moved beyond his translations of the Dhammapada (2004) and sixteen suttas as Basic Teachings of the Buddha (2007, both reviewed by me). He devises "non-buddhism" inspired by the procedures of François Laruelle. Wallis alters "critical operations" to produce "theorems that are buddhistically uninterpretable." (91) He seeks to expose the hidden syntax, the viability of the propositions, and the "ideological excess" within Buddhism. (92)

Non-buddhism, neither negating nor affirming Buddhism, incorporates a concerted strategy which "aims to stimulate the cognitive and affective conditions that render decision intelligible." (105)

X-buddhism (endless varieties of the dharma produced and perpetuated) resists these radical terms. As a counter-measure, Wallis adapts Althusser's formulation of interpellation, to show how a "contemporary Westerner" refashions into an "x-buddhist subject." (115) Liberation lets go of the "thaumaturgical refuge of x-buddhism" full of "ventriloquized subjects," as the one unthinking one's self as a non-buddhist enters into exile. (121)

Eager to defeat Buddhism as a "particular variety of sameness," Wallis escorts "x-buddhism's representatives" (136) to his "Great Feast of Knowledge." (144) There, these claimants can hold their own, albeit democratically, under the "same rules of engagement as all of the sciences and the humanities, as all local knowledges."

A digressive approach follows from Matthias Steingass. "Control" pinpoints in Thurman's salvific, Tibetan version of Buddhism a lack of ethical embedding in a "social context." (165) A disengaged version cannot impel followers to awaken.

Dissenting from Thurman's viral, slapdash "Neo-Buddhism," Steingass notes that neither a Shangri-La fairytale nor a dynastic clash of titans reveal a realistic approach towards Tibet, drifting as "oscillations in a fantasmatic landscape" mirroring a Western gaze. He nods at Tibet's noble savage as the West's preferred reflection, using Chogyam Trungpa as a case study. After looking at music and art, Steingass tries to assemble a critique of the drive in the West for an inner "authenticity" which denies any political or social reality.

Winding back to what disturbed him in finding a war photography volume in an elegant bookstore, Steingass reflects that the sudden encounter "shifted my perception and intensified it." (208) Instead of acceptance or resignation, Steingass concludes, we as liberated spectators turned wise subjects can look at each other differently, as he looked at war photos, or how museum goers look at an artist setting herself up as an installation.

Similarly, Steingass reminds us as do his co-contributors separately (this volume would have benefited from sustained cross-references), Buddhism pulses with a potency that jolts a witness. (The sublime is achieved, not the aesthetic, to apply Pepper's terms, albeit unspecified by Steingass.) Freeing viewers as actors, as those liberated from consumers to appropriators who own the art, and who create their own, radical reclamation beckons.

Each section contains documentation but each remains autonomous. A few introductory paragraphs by Wallis and three synopses of the chapters by each contributor provide a cursory overview. The authors could have transcribed a panel discussion on "what is to be done," sifting and refining their collective ideas. If appended with a cogent articulation of their plans to transform their ideological critique into a practical agenda to make headway among those students and critics of Buddhism dissatisfied with so many x-buddhisms, this anthology would have increased its utility. Moving from in theory from "x" to "non-," the next step stays shadowed in practice.

The reader, after examining three expansive exegeses, will find a few hints how to put non-Buddhism into action, in either the virtual or real worlds. Wallis's revised vocabulary as a thought-experiment coda, Pepper's admonition for an ideologically aware cadre, or Steingass's wish for an invigorated viewer's insight to adapt as a common vision offer suggestions, if inclined toward subtlety or density. The adamant tone of two-thirds of this treatise may daunt some readers, however familiar with Buddhist and philosophical concepts.

By contrast, Steingass roams into popular culture and recent history widely, but he shrouds several thematic links. What deserves keeping and what needs discarding from the dharma, after such fierce scrutiny, waits as tenuous. Context may be gleaned by inspecting the Speculative Non-Buddhism website, but this book does not duplicate (cf. a claim by another reviewer) that material--beyond the numbered elements underlying Wallis's section-- the objectives of that online project.

Pepper's hopes for a revolutionary vanguard and Steingass's concluding appeal to passive consumers turned engaged appropriators of art tend not to intersect on their respective paths to pursue the possibilities of non-Buddhism. However, with Wallis's ambitious formulations as the book's pivot, the patient reader will uncover his or her own suggestive resonances and correspondences. A tighter connection between essays and a bit more proofreading (I tally a few slips in the first section and the last) would have amplified the long-range impact of Cruel Theory/ Sublime Practice. All the same, as a reevaluation and valuation of the hidden drives within Buddhism, this strategy invites those in search of radical renewal.
6 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x95889114) von 5 Sternen Original, discomforting, 'enlightenening' rethink of Buddhism 22. Februar 2014
Von M. J. O'Connell - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Many intelligent Buddhists may unfortunately stay away from this book. It provides a door out of identification with Buddhism as a self-referential system of meaning-making and therefore acts simultaneously as a door that leads to possibilities, and as a means for exiting a wall-less prison. It is an explosive work that has the potential to damage and harm, but through such harshness it can liberate in a way that few are willing to see through and take seriously.
The three sections of the book are all worthy of careful reading for those deeply embedded in Buddhism to any meaningful degree, but I find most value in Glen Wallis' work that lays out a system for rethinking Buddhism and for thinking about the hidden costs of adopting Buddhism as `the' path to salvation. If you're a happy Buddhist, this book will likely disturb you, and is best avoided unless you want to deflower your passion for the Buddha. If you are one of those that has travelled some way with Buddhism, and found yourself inspired by Buddhism's aims, but defeated by the inability of Buddhists to realise those aims, this book may provide a stimulating rethink of Buddhism as a cultural, historical and ideological machine that has immense wealth, but also many, many hidden costs.
For being such an original work, I had to give it 5 stars. It is not an easy read, however, and for us mere mortals without grounding in western philosophy, it does require patience and a dictionary. If you appreciate and, hopefully, enjoy intellectual stimulation and love a challenge, this book will definitely pay great dividends. The ideas inside do not have to be taken on as a new doctrine and one does not have to end up agreeing with all of the authors' conclusions: that would be lazy thinking and symptomatic of a lack of character. But such originality of ideas and such a commitment to seeing them through makes this a truly original work worthy of attention for anybody capable of thinking outside of the box and questioning received wisdom, not as transcendent knowledge/wisdom, but as the work of other human beings and therefore worthy of critique and much more careful consideration than is usually warranted.
It is not an exaggeration to state that Wallis' work is an act of daring intellectual adventure and sports moments of genius. It is also the most original, contemporary approach to considering Buddhism I have come across. It takes the difficult notion of Non-Philosophy as a starting point, a repositioning of one's relationship with ideas and their consequences also found in Religious Studies, and uses it to breathe fresh air into an approach to Buddhist thought that liberates the individual from the trappings of Buddhist ideas and language, whilst avoiding facile, binary opposition.
Wallis provides readers with a series of explosives that penetrate the hidden shell of Buddhist allegiance. These ideas hack away at the veneer of Buddhist identification and build on the sense of doubt concerning Buddhism's ideas as `the' ideal - the be all and end all of a human life and questioning. It challenges us to be more courageous, to think for ourselves, and not take Buddhism's claims as given truths, but as material to be explored on their own merits without the holy assumptions that usually accompany collective involvement with Buddhism across traditions.
In short, if you want a book that displays a serious commitment to understanding why Buddhism can be so wrong and why intelligent folk that investigate it often leave it on the shelf in spite of its potential, this is the book for you. It does not destroy Buddhism, but it does have at its heart the destruction of popular ways of viewing, interpreting and living Buddhism. For some, this is an horrendous prospect, for others it will be an arousing, exciting panorama to explore.
5 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x958436c0) von 5 Sternen Thinking about Buddhism 20. Oktober 2013
Von Bernd - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Preface: I originally wrote this review for the german version of amazon. I recommend reading the review by Fionnchú as it is more in-depth and I mostly share his opinion.

There are plenty books explaining how to think "in a buddhist way". This book however starts with a different goal in mind: How to think *about* Buddhism. Surprisingly, this is done rarely and/or poorly by Buddhists themselves (even if they proclaim to be critical etc.).

In order to do so three texts are presented, each one using a significantly different approach, but sharing a common basis.

In the first text Tom Pepper gives his interpretation of Buddhism as a "science of ideology" (refering to Althusser). Therefore, he refers to various strands of thought (greek philosophy, marxism, psychoanalysis) and explains why such a examination of ideology is both necessary and useful and what Buddhism can add to this (or in which cases it prevents exactly such an examination).

Following this, Glenn Wallis presents an even more abstract approach. He introduces the non-philosophy of Laruelle and develops his own speculative non-Buddhism. By doing so, he provides both a characterisation of Buddhism itself and a heuristic for the reader to think about Buddhism without being trapped into the limitations of Buddhist thinking.

The third part by Matthias Steingass gives various examples by the influence culture had on Buddhism at a certain time and place. More importantly, he also shows the consequences of the fact that Buddhism itself is blind to these influences. Of all three parts this seems to be the less abstract one.

Preceeding these three parts is an introduction explaining the agenda of the book and each individual part. Although all parts are well structured and well written, the additional description given by the introduction is very helpful for it clarifies the point the authors try to make and how all three parts interconnect. To oversimplify things, all three parts are concerned with the following: First they analyse the underlying structures determining Buddhism. Each part uses different concepts (ideology by Althusser, "decision" by Laruelle and cultural influences and evolution theory). They demonstrate how Buddhism (often) fails to acknowledge these structures and show the consequence of this failure. After presenting this critique of Buddhism and pointing out why it is relevant, they provide examples how such a "praxis" of critique could be performed in the future and what results it can yield.

I give only 4 out of 5 stars mainly because the different approaches require different previous knowledge for the reader. Therefore, it is not possible to recommend the book unconditionally. Concerning the layout I think the book would have profited from using a serif font.

Besides that I recommend the book to anyone whos interested in thinking about Buddhism.
2 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9585b2e8) von 5 Sternen An excellent work which I would say is an important read ... 30. September 2014
Von nick - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
An excellent work which I would say is an important read for anyone involved in Buddhism- especially as practiced in the Western World. Glenn, Tom, and Matthias offer thoughtful and engaged analysis which is a breath of fresh air in comparison to the anemic discourse in Western Buddhism. I don't think the content is overly dense, albeit the intellectuals referred to in the book (Badiou, Deleuze, etc.) might be. As a college-educated individual equipped with a dictionary I was able to work through it, and gain many rewards along the way. You just have to be willing to think! If you are a Buddhist who is willing to engage with: new ideas, energy, creativity, the passion and pain of being alive- then read this book. If you prefer: ignoring the complexity of the world, delusion, comfort food, thoughtlessness disguised as depth- maybe it'd be better to stay away. Then again, maybe it's time for a challenge rather than a consolation.
2 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9585b498) von 5 Sternen 2013: the Year Punk Broke Buddhism (in Half) 9. Januar 2014
Von blurry zebra - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
This is, perhaps ironically, a book more true to dharma than any other I have read in ages. It's alternately scathing, funny, and deeply destabilizing but consistently heretical. Egged on by the ghosts of Artaud and EM Cioran, it's a devastating and necessary corrective to the hybrid secular Buddhism which predominates in the US and Europe today. Huge props to Matthias Steinglass for teasing out how this Buddhism implicitly mimics the most fundamental tenets of Christian salvation.

I'm calling 2013 the Year Punk Broke Buddhism.
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