Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
David Loy's work has featured in a number of our discussions, both back on the old Gaia version of the forum and here as well, so I think it's about time that he gets his own thread. His erudite exposition of cross-cultural variants of non-duality, his critical engagement with postmodern thought (via Derrida, Caputo, and others) in his discussions of post-metaphysical spirituality (usually Buddhism), and his involvement in progressive political and ecological advocacy and activism, certainly qualifies him for inclusion among the "postmetaphysical visionaries" we've highlighted here.
Information on his background, his publications, and his current work can be found here (Wiki article) and here (personal website).
In the past, we have discussed several of the essays in which he compares the deconstructive approaches of Nagarjuna and Derrida, such as The Cloture of Metaphysics. (I will look later for links to past discussions in my Google IPS archives.) More recently, I posted a thread on his new book, The World is Made of Stories; Ed has discussed some of his political views on the Religion and Politics thread; and Dial has introduced his essay, Dead Words, Living Words, and Healing Words. I quote from Dial's post below:
"Which brings me to the marvelous David Loy, and his paper Dead Words, Living Words, and (in particular) Healing Words. In this paper Loy discusses Derrida, Eckhart, Hui-Neng, and Dogen, with some reference, along the way, to Nagarjuna and Caputo.Loy is with Derrida and Caputo in discerning ‘dead words’ from ‘living words’. The former mired in mistaken notions of self-presence/identity, the latter understood as able to move and play in accord with their true nature as disseminated traces. What Loy goes on to argue for and affirm are a third type of words - ‘healing words’ . These are the words used by Hui-neng, Dogen, and Eckhart that truly integrate reality by deconstructing the self/world boundary . These three – I’m sure you’ll agree it’s fair to call them, great masters - go beyond language as a means to deconstruct or even point to a true nature, and instead use language to actively realize true nature itself. Loy quotes Hee-jin Kim: “Metaphor in Dogen’s sense is not that which points to something other than itself, but that, in which something realizes itself.” (Which, as an aside, is exactly as Joshua Landy argues in regard to Proust). Kim again: “in spite of inherent frailties in their make-up, words are the bearer of ultimate truth. In this respect words are not different from things, events, or beings – all ‘alive’ in Dogen’s thought.” Sounds remarkably like OOO to me. Only, as Loy finishes saying: Dogen’s Buddhism and Eckhart’s Christianity are religious because they offer much broader critiques of attachment intended to inform and alter the ways we live in the world…… part of of a larger, indeed holistic practice – including moral precepts, ritual, meditation exercises etc. – that develops non-attachment in all our activities and is therefore able to discover and liberate the ippo-gujin (realization of buddha-nature) in all of them.
You’ll note that Loy’s sense of ‘religious’ differs from Bryant’s ‘religion’ in that it includes actual practices to transform being in the world. Bryant figures religion as an inevitable pair to philosophy’s constitutive inability to speak existence. Loy, and with him, I imagine, Dogen, Hui-neng, and Eckhart, figure the ‘religious’ as a means to heal the constitutive lack of the separate- self delusion. Bryant believes the answer will be found in philosophy. Well, if so, it will be a philosophy that includes actual practices of the body and mind that transform being in the world. I believe, with others here, obviously, that OOO has a lot to offer an IPM. What I believe an IPM has to offer OOO is a thought that includes the body of practice. Only right now that IPM contains little of this or the other bodies I speak of."
And several additional links of interest:
A review of Loy's Healing Deconstruction, and three texts on social activism: The Great Awakening, Money, Sex, War, Karma, and Awareness Bound and Unbound.
I'll add more links (to past discussions or other resources) as I find them. If others have links or resources to share, please do (we like to create a kind of "archive" here for postmetaphysical thinkers), but feel free also just to use this thread to discuss Loy's work in general.
Today I came across an interesting-looking essay, co-authored by Loy:
Momo, Dogen, and the Commodification of Time.
From the introduction:
"One of the most remarkable novels of the late twentieth century is Momo, by the German writer Michael Ende. Although apparently written only for children, it contains profound insights into our modern attitude toward time. Is it a coincidence that Ende later became interested in Buddhism? He visited Japan several times: the first trip in 1977 included a discussion with a Zen priest; the second time in 1989 to marry his second wife, SATO Mariko. This essay will explore the deep resonances between Ende's view of time in Momo and the Buddhist perspective on time, particularly as expressed by the Japanese Zen master Dogen (1200 - 1253). These resonances are of more than literary or historical interest: understanding what Ende and Dogen have to say about time gives us important insight into how we experience time today.
How do we experience time? What social scientists have termed a "time-compression" effect means that today we seem to have much less time to do the things we need or want to do. This contributes a "manic" quality to much of life: increased stress at work and in school, sleep deprivation, up to half the U.S. work population suffering from burnout, workaholism and sometimes death from overwork, no time for family and friends, children left by themselves...
A 1992 survey by the U.S. National Recreation and Park Association found that 38 percent of Americans report "always" feeling rushed, up from 22 percent in 1971. In The Overworked American (also1992) Juliet Schorr argued that Americans are working much longer hours, and more recently Joe Robinson in the Utne Reader (Sept-Oct 2000) claims that the United States has now passed Japan as the most overworked land in the industrialized world. He says that the husband and wife of an average US household are now working an average of 500 more hours a year than they did in 1980. Lou Harris public opinion polls have shown a 37 percent decrease in Americans' reported leisure time over a twenty year period, leading him to assert that "Time may have become the most precious commodity in the land" (Levine 107). But what if commodifying time is itself the problem?
One of the most amazing things about Momo is that it was published in 1973. Since then, the temporal nightmare it depicts has become our reality."
After listening to the first few minutes a couple of comments. He starts by noting that Buddhism's defining characteristics are impermanence and co-dependent arising. (I'd even call these characteristics of postmetaphysics, in that there is no utterly transcendent, permanent or unchanging anything.) Then he discusses how Buddhism must itself exemplify those characteristics when it enters new cultures. Hence it syncretized with Taoism in China and with Bon in Tibet. However if in the syncretization process it takes on characteristics that are not impermanent and/or co-dependent arising then it cease to be Buddhism per se. It could be a mix of Buddhism and something else, part of each, but it loses that essenceless 'essence' or groundless 'ground,' at least in some respects and contexts. We see this is kennlingus, for example, which mixes Vedanta and Buddhism and thereby the model has both elements of metaphysics and postmetaphysics.
Too funny. The quote from Searle I posted in the Integral Semiotics thread was lifted from Loy's book on Nonduality (getting some mileage out of it btw).
Yeah I like him too. I overlook his limited familiarity and sometimes misunderstanding of early Buddhism because the point he is trying to make is so important (I must be getting older).
I wonder why impermanence is a characteristic of 'post-metaphysics' or how impermanence doctrine imply in being the core of Buddhism doctrine
'' that Buddhism's defining characteristics are impermanence and co-dependent arising. '' Well, this could be only his interpretation of what may be Buddhism? maybe you are more familiar then me, but, is always good to remember that the 'kennlingus' of Wilber has a evidence and is not only Advaitin mixture of Buddhism(you could in the Tathāgata sutras, Zen in general, and some earlier theravadins texts that speak of luminous mind or mindstrem)
Even so that the essential characteristic of Buddhism is impermanence, this would not imply that Buddhism do not speak of transcendence or a absolute reality(at least not in positive terminology) or that reality is invalid.
See this thread: What is postmetaphysical?
I finished the Loy video and commented on the socio-economic aspects in another thread. Here I'd like to focus on his comments about duality. He finds it to be a particular problem for western (Abrahamic) religion, the eternal battle between good and evil. Whereas Buddhism is free of that duality he does admit that it too divides liberation from ignorance and strives to overcome delusion, greed and something else. While he doesn't go into the 'nonduality' aspect of Buddhism so much in this talk I'd be interested how he argues that Buddhism overcomes duality when there is such an obvious dualistic split between nirvana and samsara. And to which he admitted elsewhere. (See this post, then this one and following.
To comment on Buddhist duality then might lead to the inevitable conclusion that nonduality is a myth. But only in how we define it. If by duality whereby the compliments are completely separate and in opposition, either/or, the sure, that is 'bad' duality. But if by nonduality we mean that the compliments are in mutual entailment, including nirvana and samsara, that's a different story. And even the latter duality is dual, in that there is a healthy, balanced and functional way for nirvana/samsara to operate and also the dysfunctional variety. Formal (metaphysical) duality is duality per se; postformal (postmetaphysical) duality is nonduality per se. Maybe?
spiritualseeker21 said: But back in the point that I was trying to making. I still wanna know how impermanence(anicca) would imply in the 'core' of the Buddhism and the real deal of Buddhism is impermanence, and everything aside from that is not Buddhism.
The 3 characteristics of existence (AKA the 3 or 4 seals) are accepted by all the yanas.
Here is an attempt to come up with a core.
I shared this on the Evolving Dharma thread, but it is more appropriate here (and relevant today, as the delicate and perilous work on Reactor 4 at Fukushima begins today): Loy on the Three Nuclear Poisons.