2011/05/05 by Glenn Wallis
I am experimenting with a new blog. It is called “Speculative Non-Buddhism.” I am using it to flesh out some thinking I’ve been engaged in on the nature and prospects of Buddhism in 21st century North America. I see the blog as an exercise in critical-constructive inquiry. Here is an explanation of what I mean by “speculative.” It is from the blog, which can be see here.You will find there, as well, an explanation of what I mean by “non-Buddhism.” But please, don’t take it all too seriously. I am playing, jamming, experimenting, trying out, considering, and, most of all, just wondering . . .Speculation as Rupture and DisruptionGlenn Wallis
What use is Buddhism in the 21st century? The ideas, doctrines, practices, and institutional structures of Buddhism are largely relics of the ancient and medieval past. The relevance of religious forms of Buddhism, with their dogmas, rites, rituals, priests, and monks, is particularly questionable. Doesn’t science provide more satisfying models for, for instance, perception and cognition, than does Buddhism? Doesn’t philosophy better articulate the questions that seem to animate Buddhist discourse on meaning, language, and being? Doesn’t psychology offer more effective forms and models of mental health? In short, is “Buddhism” an archaic relic of the past? Are its institutions and beliefs too cumbersome and unsophisticated to satisfy us today? Is Buddhism fit for modern life?
I think the answers to those questions are not clear. Yet, they, and many like them, must be posed if Buddhist teachings are ever to mature in the West. Neither those who embrace the teachings nor those who reject them are inclined toward such questioning. To the former, querying is threatening. Why? Because genuine questioning involves the possibility of unforeseen and undesirable transmutation. To the latter, such questioning is irrelevant, for they have already foreclosed on Buddhism’s viability.
Speculation, as its cognate perspicuity reveals, implies a clear, plain, and intelligent seeing through of a matter. Such seeing presupposes, however, a unique relationship to the matter at hand. In our case, the matter at hand is “Buddhism.” A speculative position toward Buddhism neither embraces nor rejects Buddhism’s postulates. Speculation operates in the mode of interrogation. Therein lies its function as precursor of rupture. Speculation breaks open the closed systems of Buddhism. It is not difficult to see, then, how rupture of Buddhism also includes its disruption: the normative claims underlying Buddhism’s ostensible continuity and unity, is, in the interrogation of speculation, interrupted. What ensues from an interruption? Perhaps discontinuity or even disassembly. Certainly disruption of some form and extent.
This blog is meant to serve as a forum for speculation on Buddhism (more properly, on what I call “non-Buddhism“). Perhaps you will use it for discussions and as a source of information regarding this issue of Buddhism’s maturation, rupture, and disruption. The blog neither takes for granted the salubrity of Buddhist teachings for the contemporary world nor forecloses on the possibility of adaptation, renovation, and application. It sees, rather, in the very questioning a speculative opportunity. . .
Please visit the new blog at: http://speculativenonbuddhism.wordpress.com. I hope you’ll consider participating. Thanks!