Buddhist Philosophy: Essential Readings (book review) William Edelglass

200620: in the mahayana interpretation of buddhist thought, i must note the vital difference between the terms ‘nothingness’ and ‘emptiness’, that has led many commentators, western and eastern, to mistake this way as essentially nihilistic. there is not an opposing metaphysics common to the ‘west’ of ‘being’ and ‘nothingness’, not negation, rather the contention is that all is ‘empty’ of ‘inherent being’, that is, only has qualified essence relative to everything else. there is no god, no source, from which ‘essences’ derive but only the interplay of emptiness...


240320: great resource for a lot of the buddhist reading you need, excellent commentaries on sutras as primary texts this includes part 1 metaphysics and ontology, 2 language and hermeneutics, 3 epistemology, 4 philosophy of mind and person, 5 ethics. all of which support each other and clarify the goal of buddhist liberation. technical, challenging work, i recognize certain recurrent themes in mahayana buddhism because i have read so many texts (62), so might seem repetitive, but i love this way of thought... i am only going to try and clearly review one i (thought?) understood...


favourite early chapter is 12, chinese buddhist zongmi offers 'yuaren iren', 'inquiry into the origin of the human condition', which is examined as 'hermeneutics of doctrinal classification' by peter gregory. this covers the buddha's teaching from the superficial to the profound, through five categories 1) teaching of humans and gods, 2) teaching of the lesser vehicle, 3) teaching of phenomenal appearances of the Dharmas within the great vehicle, 4) teaching that refutes the phenomenal appearances in the great vehicle, 5) teaching of the one vehicle that reveals the nature


1) 3 periods of time, past, present, future, karma as origin of being. according to which reborn as god, human, animal, demon etc critiqued as incoherent because body is empty of being

2) time without beginning, rebirth, karma continues like wind, water, fire but what is it that experiences 3 poisons if empty of self, if 5 sensations do not arise absent conditions

3) time without beginning, 8 kinds of consciousness, the rest are not important, this is the one when one is dreaming and holding onto dreamed objects

4) refuting critically 3- if objects illusory, how so not consciousness? and all thing must be born of causes, conditions- therefore empty, critique this: if mind and objects both nonexistent who knows they do not exist?

the four views must not be clung to: from the superficial to the profound, they are partial,

5) all sentient beings have buddhahood, merely obscured, unaware, deluded etc, we have clung to illusory phenomenal appearances, must be unconditioned return to buddha


there are other chapters i enjoyed reading as well, but as i am not sure if i understood this one i do not want to compound mistakes. i can simply say i have enjoyed over the months reading these... there are so many books to read and so little time...

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if you like this review, i now have website: www.michaelkamakana.com 220611: this is probably the most academically accurate of the translations I have read of this book, but still prefer commentary o