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.



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I haven't seen this yet, but it sounds interesting..

The Cosmos Wakes Up: A New Buddhist Story?

A new article by Loy:  Towards a New Buddhist Story

"Is a new Buddhist story beginning to develop out of the interaction between Buddhism and the modern world? Both need such a new story. It's not only a matter of seeing the problems with modernity: we need to become aware of the difficulties with traditional Buddhist worldviews as well.

Anyone who is paying attention knows that we are living in a time of crisis -- most obviously, severe ecological and economic challenges. They are interconnected: an economy based on consumerism and perpetual growth is incompatible with the well-being of our biosphere. What is less obvious is that there are also fundamental problems with the story that underlies these crises. By "story" I mean our basic way of understanding who we are, what the world is, and our role in it."

Continued here.

Hi Bruce - I appreciate the scope and framing of Loy's article - values, meaning, and how things are.

I like being reminded in the last paragraph and the sentence in the prior paragraph of this increasingly obvious fly in the ointment of profound understanding.

"We who have language assume we are superior to animals: in fact, our linguistic representations of the world are superior to the world itself, since they can control it.

Ironically, the sense of a self that uses language is itself an artefact of language -- a linguistic construct. Indo-European languages are dualistically structured in the way they distinguish nouns from verbs, subjects from predicates. To believe that words like I, me, mine, you, yours, etc., correspond to something real ("self-existing" is the Buddhist term) is to be trapped within a linguistic schema. Today we have neuro-scientific explanations of this process that are consistent with what Buddhism has been describing in its own way for 2500 years. And if the entanglement of language and our nervous system is what maintains the self, then we can appreciate why meditation is so important. Meditation enables us to let go of those dualistic linguistic patterns that largely determine our ways of thinking. Meditation helps us to transcend transcendence."

One can imagine of course that the prescribed/suggested meditation can be or become another reinforcement of the seemingly inexorable reaching for avoidance via transcendence as well as worldviews that are necessarily limited. Unless one can actually live in a state of meditation that is boundless. Also, of course, I don't know what I am talking about :)

This coming Sunday, David Loy will join Terry Patten in conversation on The Politics of Buddhism (Awakening from Institutionalized Greed, I...

Recall this.

I did not have time Sunday to attend the live discussion. One can listen to it here at their leisure.

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

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