When I Was Dead

I’m working on a new “real” post for this blog. This one is just kind of an interim thing.

The other day I was at Amoeba Records and found a CD called Spectre by Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians. It is a CD sent out by A&M Records to radio stations to promote Hitchcock’s 1993 album Respect. It contains all the songs from Respect preceded by short introductions by Hitchcock explaining each song’s origins.

This is one of my favorite tunes from the album, When I Was Dead. What’s amazing is that near the end of the introduction, Hitchcock gives the most concise explanation I have ever come across of the Buddhist concept of skandhas. As far as I know he never studied Buddhism, or if he did he isn’t keen to publicize it. Here’s what he says:

“Given the existence of the universe, all the molecules in it — nuclear fission apart and black holes apart — have been here for billennia or something. They just keep juggling around. So you’ve got three of Shakespeare’s molecules and you’ve got two of Himmler’s or whatever it is, you know. Part of your fingernail was part of St. Joseph of Aramathea’s frontal lobe or something. And you know, large parts of you were once a daffodil in Nova Scotia or something. You know, your feet used to be Winston Churchill. The same things keep getting recycled. It could be that when we pass away our psyches dissolve into lots of sort of strips of feeling. All the things that comprised us that were held together by our bodies dissolve. You know, hence ‘I wasn’t me to speak of just a thousand ancient feelings.’ Feelings that have been around since the beginning of human time.”

A skandha is usually clumsily explained as a “heap” of physical/psychic substance that makes up a human being. It is Buddhism’s answer to the idea of atman or the soul. The five skandhas as I first learned them are 1)form 2)feelings 3)perceptions 4)impulses and 5)consciousness. There are a number of other English translations. Most agree on numbers 1 and 5 and disagree on the rest. But it’s not terribly crucial to the concept to get all the specific divisions correct. Each of the skandhas bleeds into the others anyway. They’re just categories, places to make lines in the sand and pretend they’re borders until the wind or the sea comes and wipes the lines away.

I don’t really have permission to upload this. But I’ve noticed A&M Records doesn’t seem to police these things terribly thoroughly. In any case, they might come along and yank this video down so listen soon.

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87 Responses

Page 1 of 2
  1. Mumbles
    Mumbles March 24, 2013 at 2:49 pm | |

    “Clear your mind of cant.” -Johnson

  2. SoF
    SoF March 24, 2013 at 6:46 pm | |

    Sanskrit “aggregates”
    P?li Khandha
    According to Buddhist thought, the five elements that sum up the whole of an individual’s mental and physical existence. The self (or soul) cannot be identified with any one of the parts, nor is it the total of the parts. They are: (1) matter, or body (r?pa), the manifest form of the four elements—earth, air, fire, and water; (2) sensations, or feelings ( vedan?); (3) perceptions of sense objects (Sanskrit: sa?jń?; P?li: sańń?); (4) mental formations (sa?sk?ras/sankh?ras); and (5) awareness, or consciousness, of the other three mental aggregates (vijń?na (vijń?na-skandha)/vińń??a).

    All individuals are subject to constant change, as the elements of consciousness are never the same, and man may be compared to a river, which retains an identity, although the drops of water that make up a river are different from one moment to the next.

    http://universalium.academic.ru/248478/skandha

  3. SoF
    SoF March 24, 2013 at 6:50 pm | |

    The part I like is the:

    individuals are subject to constant change; the elements of consciousness are never the same. (Hu)Man(s) may be compared to a river, which retains an apparent identity even though the molecules of water that make up a river are different molecules as the river flows by (passes through time).

  4. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote March 24, 2013 at 9:34 pm | |

    Birth, old age, sickness, death- in short, the five groups of grasping.

    “Whatever… is material shape, past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, mean or excellent, or whatever is far or near, (a person), thinking of all this material shape as ‘This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self,’ sees it thus as it really is by means of perfect wisdom. Whatever is feeling… perception… the habitual tendencies… whatever is consciousness, past, future, or present… (a person), thinking of all this consciousness as ‘This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self,’ sees it thus as it really is by means of perfect wisdom. …(for one) knowing thus, seeing thus, there are no latent conceits that ‘I am the doer, mine is the doer’ in regard to this consciousness-informed body.”

    (MN III 18-19, Pali Text Society MN III pg 68)

    “The untaught manyfolk… might well be repelled by this body, child of the four great elements, might cease to fancy it and wish to be free from it. Why so? Seen is the growth and decay of this body, child of the four great elements, the taking on and the laying down of it. Hence well might the manyfolk be repelled by it, cease to fancy it, and wish to be free of it.

    Yet this… that we call thought, that we call mind, that we call consciousness, by this the untaught manyfolk are not able to feel repelled, they are not able to cease fancying it or to be freed from it. Why so? For many a long day… has it been for the manyfolk that to which they cleave, that which they call ‘mine’, that which they wrongly conceive thinking:–that is mine; this I am; this is my spirit. Hence the untaught manyfolk are not able to feel repelled by it, are not able to cease fancying it, are not able to be freed from it.

    It were better… if the untaught manyfolk approached this body, child of the four great elements, as the self rather than the mind. Why so? Seen is it… how this body, child of the four great elements, persists for a year, persists for two years, persists for three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty years, persists for forty, for fifty years, persists for a hundred years and even longer. But this… that we call thought, that we call mind, that we call consciousness, that arises as one thing, ceases as another, whether by night or by day.”

    (SN II 93-94, Pali Text Society II pg 66)

    Goes on to describe how a monkey swings from one branch and ends on another without touching the ground, as an analogy for thought. Probably the origin of the famous Zen “monkey-mind”. Deliverance from thought , without grasping- the Gautamid’s non-attainment.

  5. PuggyJJones
    PuggyJJones March 24, 2013 at 10:14 pm | |

    This reminded me of a Neil deGrasse Tyson video I saw last night. He gives a description of the formation of our atoms in the following video. It’s not as all encompassing as Robyn Hitchcock’s explanation, but goes into how the matter in our bodies is made up of the most common stuff in the universe in the exact same proportions-nothing special.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDRXn96HrtY&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  6. Fred
    Fred March 25, 2013 at 6:21 am | |

    When I was dead the Aghoris invited me over for supper.

  7. Fred
    Fred March 25, 2013 at 6:38 am | |

    If this self is an illusion and composed of elements much like the drops of water
    in a moving stream, what exactly finds enlightenment?

    1. sri_barence
      sri_barence March 29, 2013 at 3:55 am | |

      Good question!

  8. Domyo
    Domyo March 25, 2013 at 8:02 am | |

    Funny you should mention Robyn, Brad. I’ve been logging a lot of off-cushion time with his newest album (Love From London) and there’s a whole lot of dharma there. Then again …

  9. shade
    shade March 25, 2013 at 9:56 am | |

    This is pretty much the same theory promoted in Lucretius’ Nature of Things, no? About half a century before the birth of Christ. There’s nothing new under the sun, I guess… or anyway, you don’t have to be a buddhist or a quantum physicist to see things such ways.

    Myself, I don’t quite buy it.

  10. mtto
    mtto March 25, 2013 at 11:42 am | |

    Buddha came up with the skandhas formulation five centuries before the birth of christ, so maybe Lucretius borrowed the idea from the Buddhists. The Buddhists developed and used the idea in useful ways over the next 2,500 years. You don’t have to be a Buddhist to use the idea in a useful way.

    re: not buying it. The skandhas aren’t for sale.

    re: not buying Neil deGrasse Tyson, well, some people aren’t persuaded by evidence. I don’t know what to say to those people. Good luck, I guess!

  11. Fred
    Fred March 25, 2013 at 4:22 pm | |

    Words to ” When I was Dead ”

    “The sea of cream is what I beam
    Into her as her eyeballs gleam
    She a wafflehead

    The strawberries above her knees
    Are chiefly what I love to seize
    Love on ya, baby — she a wafflehead

    Her sugar mound is what I found when
    When I began to look around

    I love her stuff, can’t get enough
    I’d rather die than treat her rough
    Love on ya, baby — she a wafflehead

    Her calabash is where I crash
    Love on ya, baby — she a wafflehead

    She’s on my plate, she’s what I ate
    I ate her up, I couldn’t wait
    Love on ya, baby

    I slurp that cone down to the zone
    Where everybody leave their bone

    The sea of cream is what I beam
    Into her as her eyeballs gleam
    Love on ya, baby — she a wafflehead — she a wafflehead”

  12. Pat from Iowa
    Pat from Iowa March 25, 2013 at 4:50 pm | |

    I first ran into it in Shakespeare:

    Alexander died, Alexander was buried,
    Alexander returneth into dust; the dust is earth; of
    earth we make loam; and why of that loam, whereto he
    was converted, might they not stop a beer-barrel?
    Imperious Caesar, dead and turn’d to clay,
    Might stop a hole to keep the wind away:
    O, that that earth, which kept the world in awe,
    Should patch a wall to expel the winter flaw!

    I’m pretty sure most cultures have a version: maybe it all started during the life of the “original” Buddha, but I bet not.

  13. Fred
    Fred March 25, 2013 at 6:09 pm | |

    Alexander was Alexander the Great who brought the Greeks into contact with
    Buddhism in northern India.

    How did the two cultures influence each other, and what were their shared
    beliefs in the Indo-Greek states.

  14. anon 108
    anon 108 March 26, 2013 at 4:12 am | |

    The Five Skandhas (Pali khandas) –

    “Form” or “matter” (Skt, P?li r?pa): external and internal matter. Externally, rupa is the physical world. Internally, rupa includes the material body and the physical sense organs.

    “Sensation” or “feeling” (Skt, P?li vedan?): sensing an object as either pleasant or unpleasant or neutral.

    “Cognition”, “perception”, “conception”, “apperception”, or “discrimination” (Skt. samjń?, P?li sańń?): registers whether an object is recognized or not (for instance, the sound of a bell or the shape of a tree).

    “Mental formations”, “impulses”, “volition”, or “compositional factors” (Skt. samsk?ra, P?li sa?kh?ra): all types of mental habits, thoughts, ideas, opinions, prejudices, compulsions, and decisions triggered by an object.

    “Discernment” or “consciousness” (Skt. vijń?na, P?li vińń??a):
    In the Nikayas/?gamas: cognizance,that which discerns
    In the Abhidhamma: a series of rapidly changing interconnected discrete acts of cognizance.
    In some Mahayana sources: the base that supports all experience.

    – adapted from wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skandha

    That’s all fine and dandy. For an ancient culture attempting to refine its understanding of the mental aspects of human experience, impressive even. But its a hardly an exact, complete, unambiguous analysis. So I’m dismayed that many contemporary Buddhists cling to this model of what comprises a human being as if it were fact, the final word – for example in debates about rebirth, where the answer “The 5 skandhas, silly!” is trotted out in response to the question “If not the ‘soul’ or ‘mental essence,’ what is it that’s reborn?”

    Re-birth aside, isn’t “No clue” a more honest, accurate response the questions “What are we made of, where do we come from, where do we go?” That, or the latest provisional, partial, scientific model – cautiously referenced?

    1. anon 108
      anon 108 March 26, 2013 at 4:49 am | |

      In the interests of things done properly, here’s your 5 skandhas in Sanskrit and English, without diactriticals -

      rupa (form)

      vedana (feeling)

      samjna (cognition)

      samskara (mental formations)

      vijnana (discernment)

  15. Fred
    Fred March 26, 2013 at 4:48 am | |

    “That, or the latest provisional, partial, scientific model – cautiously referenced?”

    Yeah, like quantum foam. In vast emptiness virtual particles come into being
    and interact with other virtual particles and leave a record of their existing in a
    time frame.

    Sort of like arising and decaying over time in the Buddhist world of impermanence.

    1. anon 108
      anon 108 March 26, 2013 at 5:05 am | |

      Yeah, like that.

      1. anon 108
        anon 108 March 27, 2013 at 5:28 pm | |

        Or like what Mr Hitchcock said.

  16. Fred
    Fred March 26, 2013 at 4:51 am | |

    ““The 5 skandhas, silly!” is trotted out in response to the question “If not the ‘soul’ or ‘mental essence,’ what is it that’s reborn?”

    Nothing is reborn. There is no causal agent that is not an illusion.

    1. anon 108
      anon 108 March 26, 2013 at 5:00 am | |

      B+

      Please see me.

  17. minkfoot
    minkfoot March 26, 2013 at 6:01 am | |

    “If this self is an illusion and composed of elements much like the drops of water
    in a moving stream, what exactly finds enlightenment?”

    Nothing.

  18. minkfoot
    minkfoot March 26, 2013 at 6:03 am | |

    Lest one take that too nihilistically, consider how space is the matrix of matter. A most wondrous Nothing is this pregnant Void.

  19. Proulx Michel
    Proulx Michel March 26, 2013 at 7:00 am | |

    Anyway, one of the characteristics of Buddhism, is that it was atomistic from the very beginning.

  20. everglade1
    everglade1 March 26, 2013 at 7:31 am | |

    I often dream of trains is probably my fave Robyn Hitchcock album. Simple, folky and yet still full of the absurd psychedelic kookiness that is his trademark and charm. I admire those lone artists working on the fringe of accepted forms of pop music, the mad scientists and experimental hermits who toil away making art, not because they make money, but because they have to. The lead singer of Dimentia 13 was once one of those brave cerebral pioneers. ;)

  21. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote March 26, 2013 at 7:43 am | |

    The five skandas, the four fields of mindfulness- what’s the difference, you ask?- the fourth skanda, the habitual activities. Mindfulness is set up with regard to body, feeling, mind, and state of mind, the skandas concern form, feeling, perception, habitual (or volitive) activity, and consciousness. Happiness apart from the six senses, the relinquishment of ignorance, the cessation of volition of speech, of body, and of mind. Grasping in the five groups, in short suffering, cut off through the cessation of ignorance. The Gautamid’s practice the “intent concentration on in-breaths and out-breaths”, a thing complete in itself, and quite a pleasant way of living too (as he said).

  22. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote March 26, 2013 at 7:44 am | |

    pauww! (hack)

  23. Mumbles
    Mumbles March 26, 2013 at 8:30 am | |

    “…in-breaths and out-breaths”

    I quit breathing when I was dead.

  24. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote March 26, 2013 at 1:46 pm | |

    sense of location in space?

  25. A-Bob
    A-Bob March 26, 2013 at 2:26 pm | |

    Chogyam Trungpa is dead yet here he is speaking on THE FIVE SKANDHAS

  26. Mumbles
    Mumbles March 26, 2013 at 2:27 pm | |

    Objects are what is unalterable and substantial; their configuration is what is changing and unstable.

    Author?

  27. minkfoot
    minkfoot March 26, 2013 at 4:55 pm | |

    Democritus?

    Doesn’t sound like most Buddhists to me, who would be saying there’s nothing unalterable and substantial, and there’s just configurations changing and unstable.

    1. anon 108
      anon 108 March 26, 2013 at 5:42 pm | |

      Wittgenstein.

      One googles, doesn’t one?

  28. Fred
    Fred March 26, 2013 at 6:19 pm | |

    “Democritus spent the inheritance which his father left him on travels into distant countries, to satisfy his thirst for knowledge. He traveled to Asia, and was even said to have reached India and Ethiopia”

  29. Mumbles
    Mumbles March 26, 2013 at 6:47 pm | |

    Yeah, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. I think it means “it is logical that philosophers should ride tractors.” Uh, “and cuss.”

    1. anon 108
      anon 108 March 26, 2013 at 7:09 pm | |

      LOL

  30. minkfoot
    minkfoot March 26, 2013 at 7:24 pm | |

    I thought Wittgenstein was supposed to be sort of Buddhist-like. or was that Schopenhauer?

    Anyway, that quote sounded much like the old Greek form and substance, which plagued Western philosophy forever, and is not yet fully past tense.

  31. Proulx Michel
    Proulx Michel March 27, 2013 at 12:17 pm | |

    Yet, it does seem that, at times, Western Philosophy did not limit itself to form and substance (that’s typically Aristotle) but Dante Alighieri, in two of his letters, indicates that the Scriptures must be understood under four aspects, one being historical, the other allegorical, the third tropological, and the fourth anagogical. Historical in the unfolding of the things being told, allegorical in that, when you say one thing, you are also saying another, tropological which is about the present moment, and anagogical which is an interpretation, a form of creation (greek poein, which gives poetry). Gershom Sholem seems to think that this fourfold technique of reading the Thorah (pshat: literal; remez: allusive; drash: allegorical; sod: mystical) was borrowed from the Xtians.

    However you look at it, you seem to find that almost everywhere and at any time, form and substance were seen as too limitative.

  32. minkfoot
    minkfoot March 27, 2013 at 8:51 pm | |

    Michel-—
    I was looking at it as too elaborate.

    Btw, saw your name at one of my favorite sites, “How to grow a lotus.” In my sixties, I am making progress in Padmasana, thanks to some tips from the article. Though I can sit over an hour in quarter-lotus, I am up to 6 minutes of full lotus comfortably.

  33. buddy
    buddy March 27, 2013 at 11:21 pm | |

    A number of years ago I saw Red Pine give a talk on the occcasion of the release of his translation of the Heart Sutra. He said that, rather than being the all-encompassing account of the truth of reality that we take it to be, it’s actually a very specific bit of polemics against a prevalent school of Buddhism at the time. This school held a narrow, fundamentalist view of the skandas as the essence of Buddhism, which the Heart Sutra sought to repudiate; hence all the ‘form is emptiness, no body, no feeling, no thought, no will, no consciousness’ stuff, even overplaying its hand by going on to say no pretty much anything.

  34. Proulx Michel
    Proulx Michel March 28, 2013 at 1:07 am | |

    I wouldn’t say it’s saying “no” to pretty much anything. If you read it carefully, you’ll realise it’s an abstract of something longer, where both options are always mentioned. Thus it says, that in emptiness, there is no, etc. Therefore, it’s like, “in form there are these things, in emptiness, there are none of them”. Same problem ever with abstracts: you can easily construe their opposite if you aren’t careful.

    Minkfoot, glad it was of use to you. But I was not the author. I just revamped it with new images, and assorted it with a couple more texts.

  35. anon 108
    anon 108 March 28, 2013 at 5:34 am | |

    buddy –

    Amazon’s “The Heart Sutra, Red Pine” page is ‘Look Inside’ clickable. When I just clicked I got the Introduction (short), which says some of what you said, kinda, and some other interesting things.

    http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Sutra-Red-Pine/dp/1593760825

    1. anon 108
      anon 108 March 28, 2013 at 6:21 am | |
      1. anon 108
        anon 108 March 28, 2013 at 6:30 am | |

        Sorry…That scribd upload may be a breach of copyright. Perhaps Mr Moderator can remove my previous post. Thanks.

  36. anon 108
    anon 108 March 28, 2013 at 7:10 am | |

    “Anything Is Possible” parts 1 +2
    Talks on The Heart Sutra by Ken McLeod and Bill Porter (Red Pine)

    http://www.unfetteredmind.org/category/traditional-podcaststranscripts/anything-is-possible-traditional-podcaststranscripts

  37. anon 108
    anon 108 March 28, 2013 at 9:02 am | |

    BTW

    About 23 minutes into talk 1 both Red Pine and Ken McLeod agree that the Sanskrit word ‘prajnaa’ means something like ‘pre-conceptual wisdom’. Why? Becuase ‘pra’ means before and ‘jnaa’ means knowing”. I think that’s wrong. Here’s something I wrote a while back on Mike Cross’s blog about it, slightly adapted:

    A thought or two about the suggestion that the etymology of ‘prajnaa’ shows that the word specifically refers to intuition, or some form of preconceptual understanding.

    The Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary clarifies that ‘pra’, when prefixed to a verb – primarily a verb of motion – does mean ‘before, forward, in front, on, forth’ etc, but its use is not confined to that sense. When prefixed to adjectives it can, and usually does, act as an intensive meaning ‘excessively/very/much’. So ‘pracaNDa’ (from the root ‘caND’, meaning to be ‘fierce, cruel’) means excessively violent, furious; ‘pramatta’ (from the root ‘mad’, meaning to gladden, exhilarate) means ‘drunken, intoxicated, insane’.

    MW also says: “according to native lexicographers it may be used in the senses of…superior, eminent (ut-karSa), priority (prAthamya) and so on.”

    Having come across many Sanskrit words, both verbs and nouns beginning with ‘pra-’ I’ve arrived at the firm view that the ‘pra’ of prajnaa functions like the ‘pre’ of ‘pre-eminent’ – an eminence that is to the fore, in front of; meaning chief, principal, best. And so the translation of prajnaa as ‘wisdom’, ‘intelligence’, ‘discrimination’, ‘judgement’ (a better, or more profound kind of knowing?) – with all the ambigious baggage those terms carry – seem to me appropriate and acceptable.

    Of course, it’s very possible to argue that ‘wisdom’ is a kind of intuition or preconceptual understanding – and vice-versa, but I think it’s a mistake to support that argument with very dubious etymology.

    So there.

  38. Fred
    Fred March 28, 2013 at 9:22 am | |

    It means to be in It without any conceptualizing of It.

    It is possible to know It by being It without the normal human conceptualizing
    interfering in the process.

    Whether etymology does or doesn’t support what this thing is, It is, and being human has nothing to do with it.

    Thank you for posting Mr. Pine’s work.

    1. anon 108
      anon 108 March 28, 2013 at 4:40 pm | |

      Just a question, is it sooo important to know all these things about the meaning of this and the meaning of that?

      Of course not. It’s a wonnerful woild, that’s all.

      1. anon 108
        anon 108 March 28, 2013 at 4:41 pm | |

        How the deuce did that get there? Remove please, Mod.

  39. Fred
    Fred March 28, 2013 at 9:47 am | |

    “When prefixed to adjectives it can, and usually does, act as an intensive meaning ‘excessively/very/much’. So ‘pracaNDa’ (from the root ‘caND’, meaning to be ‘fierce, cruel’) means excessively violent, furious; ‘pramatta’ (from the root ‘mad’, meaning to gladden, exhilarate) means ‘drunken, intoxicated, insane’. ”

    This works too.

  40. Proulx Michel
    Proulx Michel March 28, 2013 at 9:53 am | |

    Anon 108: In Red Pine’s introduction, one can read this:

    “The word prajna is Sanskrit for “wisdom” and is a combination of pra, meaning “before,” andjna, meaning “to know.” From the same combination, the Greeks got pro-gnosis. But while the Greeks referred to the knowledge of what lies before us, namely the future course
    of events, the Buddhists of ancient India referred to what comes before knowledge. Shunryu Suzuki called it “beginner’s mind.” “

    1. anon 108
      anon 108 March 28, 2013 at 10:28 am | |

      Yes, that what Red Pine and a few others believe.

      It’s very nice to think that the ancients agreed with those of us moderns who see true wisdom as pre-conceptual, so much so that they made up a word which means exactly that. But having studied Sanskrit in a committed fashion every day for a few years, it doesn’t ring true to me. Neither is it supported by the comments of Sanskrit grammarians and lexicographers.

      None of which should stop anyone seeing wisdom/prajna as intuition/preconceptual understanding/beginner’s mind – and vice-versa, but I think it’s a mistake to support that argument with very dubious etymology (did you read what I wrote?).

  41. anon 108
    anon 108 March 28, 2013 at 10:35 am | |

    …and while the Greek ‘pro’ is cognate with the Sanskrit ‘pra’ it doesn’t help in this case (as your example ‘prognosis’ shows).

  42. Fred
    Fred March 28, 2013 at 1:25 pm | |

    If ” dukkha, a Pali word for a bone out of socket and a wheel off its axle ” is true,
    then a violent, wrenching might be required to re-insert consciousness into its
    original state.

    1. anon 108
      anon 108 March 28, 2013 at 5:27 pm | |

      If ” dukkha, a Pali word for a bone out of socket and a wheel off its axle ” is true…

      It may not be.

      http://www.zenforuminternational.org/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=5863&hilit=duHkha

      -”What is Dukkha?” A re-titled thread split from a thread originally entitled “Studying Zen without Buddhism, is it possible?”

  43. Picard
    Picard March 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm | |

    Fred, one person’s account can be found in part three of this document:

    http://www.forestdhamma.org/ebooks/english/pdf/Mae_Chee_Kaew.pdf

  44. boubi
    boubi March 28, 2013 at 4:28 pm | |

    +++ Gershom Sholem seems to think that this fourfold technique of reading the Thorah (pshat: literal; remez: allusive; drash: allegorical; sod: mystical) was borrowed from the Xtians. +++

    Christians who, in turn, borrowed e v e r y t h i n g fundamental from judaism …

    Just a question, is it sooo important to know all these things about the meaning of this and the meaning of that?

  45. boubi
    boubi March 28, 2013 at 4:32 pm | |

    BTW when you’re on the “sod” (secret) reading i think your are talking about khabalah (received), which has not an equivalent in christian texts, seems to me, but once again … it seems to me we are still talking about those famous fingers, which one is more smelly and so on

  46. anon 108
    anon 108 March 28, 2013 at 4:42 pm | |

    Just a question, is it sooo important to know all these things about the meaning of this and the meaning of that?

    Of course not. It’s a wonnerful woild, that’s all.

  47. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote March 28, 2013 at 5:14 pm | |

    Pali Text Society offers “perfect wisdom” in a few places, don’t know if that’s prajna they’re translating or not.

    I think Red Pine is too enamoured of religiousity in his intro, but I like his translation. But then, if I were more of an adept, maybe I would want some nice robes too to go with the title. If I had the title. I have the title:

    “Letting Go in Action: the Practice of Zazen”

  48. Mumbles
    Mumbles March 28, 2013 at 6:24 pm | |

    I agree, Red Pine’s book on the Heart Sutra is excellent, if you like it you will also enjoy his The Diamond Sutra, and of course the little book on the zen teaching of Bodhidharma. I first ran across him as Bill Porter, author of
    Road To Heaven: Encounters With Chinese Hermits, which I quote from pretty early on in my (1990something) article for The Stone, “Some Notes on Jupiter, Cedar, and Pine Trees; and the Circulatum Minus”

    http://www.triad-publishing.com/stone27a.html

  49. Fred
    Fred March 28, 2013 at 6:51 pm | |

    Possum : ” the ancient world did not have objective measurements of happiness and unhappiness, any more than we do. ”

    One man’s/woman’s dukha is another man’s/woman’s sukha.

    The discussion about the axle hole went off the track

  50. Proulx Michel
    Proulx Michel March 29, 2013 at 1:08 am | |

    Anon 108: You’re probably right. It’s just that I didn’t truly see a large difference between what you say and Red Pine’s. But I probably read too fast.

    Boubi: You write: “Just a question, is it sooo important to know all these things about the meaning of this and the meaning of that?”
    Not truly. It’s just that, when I see so many variants of the fourfold method of reading, I think it must have some value. As for Gershom Sholem, he might be wrong after all. But I would not so fast exclude possible to-and-fro communication between xtian and jew exegesis, throughout history…

    To which Anon 108 replies : “Of course not. It’s a wonnerful woild, that’s all.”

    Right on, bro!…

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