on language

  • Tricycle Community 0 comments

    The Dakini's Womb Paid Member

    IN AN INVESTIGATION of language in Buddhism, no area is more perplexing than that of the Vajrayana tradition of Tibet. The philosophic texts often seem obscure and convoluted, and ritual Tantric texts employ enigmatic terms and phrases that are sometimes shocking to conventional sensibilities. Western interpreters, often scholars who have no Tantric training, offer explanations that may appear prurient, dismissive, or even contemptuous. More »
  • Tricycle Community 0 comments

    To Speech Paid Member

    This first, this last:there’s nothing you wouldn’t say. Unshockable inclusion your most pure nature,and so you are like an iron pot—whatever’s put in, it holds. We think it’s the fire that cooks the stew,but, speech, it’s also you:teacherof fire-making and stew-making,orator of all our plans and intentions.We think we think with a self.That also, it seems, is mostly you—sometimes a single spider’s thread of you,sometimes a mountain. The late sun paints orangethe white belly of a hawk overhead—that wasn’t you,though now and here, it is. If a hungry child says “orange,” her taste buds grow larger. If a person undamaged says “hungry child,”his despondence grows larger. More »
  • Tricycle Community 0 comments

    What’s in a Mantra? Paid Member

    SO YOU’RE SITTING there, reciting the Heart Sutra, either the long version or the short version. Perhaps you do so every day. It has been recited millions of times over the centuries, without the person reciting it necessarily paying much attention to the meaning (whatever that might mean). But today, let’s imagine that you do. After dutifully negating each of the major categories of Buddhist philosophy (“no eye constituent up to and including no mental consciousness constituent, no ignorance, no extinction of ignorance, no aging and death up to and including no extinction of aging and death. More »
  • Tricycle Community 0 comments

    The Dharma of Deconstruction Paid Member

    THE FUNDAMENTAL INSIGHT of what is known as the "linguistic turn" in twentieth-century Western thought is that language shapes our experience. Some of the most influential modern thinkers challenge our usual assumption that using language is merely a matter of attaching names to things that already exist in the world. In a very important sense, language creates the world as we know it. More »
  • Tricycle Community 0 comments

    What's in a Word? Paid Member

    Taking another look at the Buddhist roots of a much-maligned term. THIRTY YEARS AGO, the literary critic and cultural historian Raymond Williams published Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. In what would become a classic work in the field of cultural studies, Williams examined a long list of words, words like culture, society, nature, image, and work, tracing their etymology and describing how their meaning, their use, and their derivatives evolved over time. He selected words that he felt were significant, as he put it, for "certain forms of thought." Buddhism is, of course, filled with such terms. There are so many, in fact, that no one has produced a complete list of keywords for Buddhism; indeed, the Buddha is said to have taught 84,000 doctrines as antidotes to 84,000 afflictions. More »