[Buddha-l] Loving your object of study

Richard Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Tue Dec 4 17:16:27 MST 2007

On Tuesday 04 December 2007 13:45, Dan Lusthaus wrote that it would be 
senseless to discuss the advantages of being a committed Buddhist for an 
academic career in Buddhist studies without understanding which Buddhist 
practices are necessary and sufficient for attaining nirvana.

For some reason, I just can't find any connection at all between 1) being a 
good historian of Buddhism, a good scholar of Buddhist philosophy, a good 
sociologist of Buddhism or a good editor of Buddhist texts and 2) knowing how 
to attain nirvana. Buddhist practice is aimed at attaining nirvana, and 
Buddhist studies is aimed at knowing things about those who strive to attain 
nirvana. The aims are not incompatible, as I see it, but surely they are such 
entirely different aims that one could easily aim at one without any interest 
at all in the other.

My original claim, if I recall well, was that being in love with something 
often impedes a clear understanding of the object of one's love. I was, of 
course, thinking of being in love as a state of infatuation that by its very 
nature serves as an obstacle to any kind of mental clarity. If one has fallen 
in love with Buddhism, then one is probably incapable of being either a 
decent scholar of Buddhism or an effective practitioner of it. But when 
infatuation fades, then I reckon one can be a good scholar of Buddhism, or an 
effective practitioner, or both.

Now that this long and desultory discussion has taken place, I see that I was 
right all along.


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