By Richard Cohen
Nearly all of books on Buddhism describe the Buddha utilizing the note enlightened, instead of woke up. This bias has led to Buddhism changing into ordinarily perceived because the eponymous faith of enlightenment.
Beyond Enlightenment is a cosmopolitan learn of a few of the underlying assumptions all for the examine of Buddhism (especially, yet no longer solely, within the West). It investigates the tendency of so much students to floor their research of Buddhism in those specific assumptions concerning the Buddha’s enlightenment and a specific figuring out of faith, that's traced again via Western orientalists to the Enlightenment and the Protestant Reformation.
Placing a special emphasis on Indian Buddhism, Richard Cohen adeptly creates a piece that would entice people with an curiosity in Buddhism and India and in addition students of faith and background.
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The terrible irony is that the lingering force of their analyses now only mystifies the public 21 A BENIGN INTRODUCTION imagination and fosters apologetic discourse by those very people who should be most committed to criticism. This is the discursive power of enlightenment. The social construction of enlightenment This benign introduction to the politics of enlightenment has reached the midway point. Now let us transit from the foregoing broad inquiry towards the particular substance of the book.
Rather, BR offers a scholarly apologetic for Buddhism that doubles as a crypto-apologetic for religion in general. 98 25 A BENIGN INTRODUCTION The social construction of Buddhism BR provides one example of the kind of discursive use of enlightenment against which this book is working. There are two Buddhisms: one began in Europe as a recent invention; one began in India with an enlightenment event. I would like to consider these two Buddhisms further, in a second example that will also conduct us towards a discussion of the later chapters.
Religious claims can be subjective and pragmatic, but never independent, objective, or true matters of fact. Religiosity is allowed to function unimpededly within the Enlightenment’s novus ordo saeculorum insofar as its power is directed to the private realm of conscience, commitment, and belief. Religious institutions may succor, edify, influence decisions, and suggest answers to ultimate questions. They may not require followers to swear any contract or oath that impedes collective progress toward Enlightenment; they may not require the suspension of doubt or rational public discourse.