Mysticism: Holiness East and West

By Denise Lardner Carmody; John Tully Carmody | Go to book overview

The Theravadists stressed the painful, fleeting, and selfless character of all dharmas, all items of existence. Mahayanist philosophers riveted this interest onto emptiness with an almost ruthless intensity. Vajrayanist masters assumed it in their tantric meditations and rituals. Significantly, emptiness fades when we come to mainstream devotional Buddhism, as though it were too daunting for ordinary layfolk, whose need for colorful deities and rituals to incarnate general Buddhist doctrine into daily life pushed emptiness to the background. Indeed, by the time of the Burmese development of "karmic Buddhism" (concentration on merit), emptiness lay beyond the practical pale.

Inasmuch as Buddhist mysticism loves emptiness, it stands apart somewhat from Hindu mysticism. Anatman, selflessness, moves a step away from the Vedantic equation of atman and Brahman. How different the experiences of ultimate reality need be is hard to determine, but Buddhist mystics, especially those shaped by East Asian cultural influences, strike us as more fluid, spontaneous, in tune with the flow of nature than their Indian counterparts. This characterization is more descriptive than evaluative. It says nothing immediate about the comparative depth or richness of the two mystical complexes involved. However, it suggests some of the key implications of the romance of the Buddhist mystics with emptiness.

The last summary question that we raise is how Buddhist mysticism in general and emptiness in particular ought to incline us to think about our working description of mysticism as direct experience of ultimate reality. Minimally, it ought to incline us to think that the descriptions that mystics themselves work with can vary considerably. "Emptiness" is not a term prominent in the usage of Western mystics (though a little probing can turn up cognate, analogous terms: "nothingness," "contingency").

The Buddhist use of emptiness does not oppose it to light or mind. he figure is therefore flexible, as well as provisional (nirvana is ineffable, all figures are inadequate, more or less convenient). Similarly flexible is the movement of the human spirit of many Buddhist meditators. Still, whole, alert, poised, it is more like a feather than a rock, a bird than a hippopotamus. It is a dancer, a pilgrim, a wanderer that just may find the world fully congenial because it places no conditions on the world, strives to let the world be, move, just as the world chooses to do.


NOTES
1.
See, for example, 1993 Britannica Book of the Year ( Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1993), 270. Figures on the supposed adherents of the religions vary widely; one can only hope that a scholarly authority uses its criteria consistently and evenhandedly.

-98-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Mysticism: Holiness East and West
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface *
  • Contents *
  • 1 - Introduction 3
  • Notes 26
  • 2 - Hinduism 28
  • Notes 57
  • 3 - Buddhism 60
  • Notes 98
  • 4 - Chinese and Japanese Traditions 101
  • Notes 135
  • 5 - Jewish Traditions 137
  • Notes 183
  • 6 - Christian Traditions 186
  • Notes 225
  • 7 - Muslim Traditions 226
  • Notes 269
  • 8 - Mysticism Among Oral Peoples 272
  • Notes 291
  • 9 - Conclusion 293
  • Notes 312
  • Index 313
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 323

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.