[Buddha-l] Loving your object of study

Dan Lusthaus vasubandhu at earthlink.net
Tue Dec 4 18:49:07 MST 2007

Richard, you silly coyote, if you have to feel right at the expense of
distorting the import of what I wrote, go right ahead.

My point was simple. If one wants to reach some conclusion about the
feasance of being a committed Buddhist -- or not being a committed
Buddhist -- for the practice of the academic study of Buddhism, it would
make little sense to leap to conclusions without first clarifying what being
a "committed Buddhist" entails.

Does it mean anyone who self-identifies as a "Buddhist," so that, for
instance, one fills out official forms (hospital forms, govt. forms,
employment forms, etc.) by placing the word "Buddhist" in the slot for

If so, then my experience tells me that mere self-identification as a
Buddhist does not entail that one has a very deep or accurate understanding
of Buddhism per se, including among many Asian Buddhists. So this by itself
would neither hinder nor help one perform academic tasks, such as thinking
critically, knowing how to access and judiciously use resources, etc. Those
skills would be a separate matter, acquired by academic training.

If "committed" means not just self-identification, but commitment to certain
practices, or a life-style, or commitment to certain perspectives, and so
on, then -- and this was my claim -- having some idea of what those things
are would be something one should clarify before deciding whether such
qualities, properties, skills, etc., are or aren't conducive to academic

Without clarifying that, the jury remains out. It may, for instance, NOT be
the case that being a committed Buddhist involves any sort of infatuation at

Dan Lusthaus

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