The Debate Between Wisdom and the Reifying Habit is the principal philosophical work of the renowned first Panchen Lama, Lobsang Chokyi Gyaltsen (1570-1662). The text is an original Tibetan masterpiece popular among philosophers of the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism and is styled as a sustained debate between shes rabs (wisdom) bdag 'dzin (the reifying habit). It is a literary tour de force, being structured as a philosophical comedy that employs the tension between the two protagonists as a dramatic resource. The text represents not only the.topics but also the form of Tibetan philosophical culture, and its wit and dynamic literary structure will earn for it a place among the texts of world-class literature.
KENNETH LIBERMAN is Professor Emeritus at the University Oregon. He is the author of Dialectical Practice in Tibetan Philosophical Culture (Rowman & Littlefield), Husserl's Criticism of Reason (Lexington Books) and More Studies in Ethnom,ethodology (SUNY Press) . He pirtntly divides his time among Sera Jey Monastic University Ita,Bylakuppe, India, where he serves as the Phd Proctor/Professor, and research assignments as the Hans Christian Anderson Visiting Professor at Suddansk Universitet in Denmark and University Research Fellow at the University di Trento in Italy.
The Panchen Lama's Debate Between Wisdom and the Reifying Habit' is a text that was begging to be translated. Not only does it convey most of the principal aspects of Tibetan Buddhist epistemology in a concise and even pithy form, it reformats philosophy as a dramatic play-a spirited conversation between wisdom (shes rab) and reifying egoistic habits (bdag 'dzin)-which makes its philosophical content highly palatable for the general reader. An artistic tour du force as much as a philosophical work, the book is poised to occupy a place in world literature, despite its having slumbered for more than three centuries in a few dozen Tibetan monastic libraries.
Some works invite being translated more than others do, and their content is not the only factor in this. What is vital is whether it is likely that the content will be heard, understood, and appreciated by readers of the host language. Especially with a culture like the Tibetans, who have lived remotely from Europe in space, time, and consciousness, not every text can be made intelligible to Europeans, and some may not be capable of attracting a readership.
Walter Benjamin (1997: 4-5) has observed that translations are more than transmissions of a message, and he has considered of the "translatability" of a text:
The Debate Between Wisdom and the Reifying Habit was shaped perfectly for translation into English, and it is my hope is that this translation will contribute to the text gaining a continuing life.
The first person to make the observation to me that this text was ideal for translation into English was one of my earliest Tibetan teachers, Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, who in the early 1980s suggested that this book was especially fit for an American audience. Because it is a witty intellectual contest filled with satire, derision and irony, Geshe-la insisted that American readers would find it engaging.
The certainty with which he voiced this opinion led me to seek out the text, and to consider its translation. It was nearly a decade later that the Abbot of Sera Je monastery, himself from Tashi Lhunpo, the home monastery of the author of the text, offered to teach me the text in a classical "pe-tri" (dpe skrid; guidance line-by-line) if I was really serious about translating it into English. " One must proceed with caution here, because it is the legacy of orientalism that the heart of Buddhist philosophical culture is thought to be capable of being transmitted by means of its texts. Written texts are only part of the story, and scholarship that never strays from working with docile texts is fated to never really encounter, or even come to understand, Tibetan philosophical culture.' What is important is not the texts but what the Tibetans do with texts.
One needs to at least witness, if not experience for oneself, the live dialectics of a Tibetan monastic university in order to discover how the ideas found in their texts are used by them to discipline their minds and their reasoning. It is not simply the benefits of formal analytic rigor that the Tibetans learn in the "chu-ra" (chos rva), their debating courtyards. They also learn the limits of what formal analysis is capable of accomplishing and some details about how one's own thinking, even logical thinking, continuously deludes itself. They learn how formal analysis can open their minds to new understanding but at the same time can confine their thinking within a prison of reason that scholars build for themselves. That is, not only do they learn in the debating courtyards the significance of the ideas they have read, they learn by means of the negative dialectics that is practiced there how to deconstruct the rigid forms of thinking that any philosophical practice must set up for thinkers and that necessarily constrains reflection. One cannot judge Tibetan philosophical culture by their text alone one has witness what they do in practice.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Item Code: NAT580 Author: Kenneth Liberman Cover: HARDCOVER Edition: 2014 Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd. ISBN: 9788120839519 Language: ENGLISH Size: 9.00 X 6.00 inch Pages: 212 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0.41 Kg
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