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Hallisey - Roads Taken and Not Taken in the Study of Theravada Buddhism (1995)

Hallisey - Roads Taken and Not Taken in the Study of Theravada Buddhism (1995)

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I
i
Itdoesnotmatterwhetheronegenerationapplaudsthepreviousgen-erationorhissesit-ineitherevent,itcarriesthepreviousgenerationwithinitself.
JoseOrtegayGasser
1
RoadsTakenandNotTakenintheStudyof
Theravada
Buddhism
CHARLESHALLISEY
MytitlealludestoanessaybyEdwardSaidinwhichheengaged"inausefulexercise,bywhichonedelineatesthecriticalfieldinordertoproposechangesinitorlacksin
it."!
In
afundamentalway,Said's
Orientalism-
wasasimilarexerciseconcernedasitwaswiththene-cessityformembersofanacademiccommunitytostrugglecon-stantlyforcriticaldistanceontheirownwork.AsSaidwarnedattheendof
Orientalism,
"TroublesetsinwhentheguildtraditionofOri-entalism[oranyacademicfield]takesoverth~~hoisnotvig-
'f.-.
ilant,whoseindividualconsciousnessasascholarisno!onguardagainst
ideesrecues
alltooeasilyhandeddowninthe~"
'f._
(p.326).
Troublecansetinevenforthoseofuswhoseektoextendthe.insightsof
Orientalism;
itisalltooeasytoreproduceunwittinglyakindof"latentOrientalism"3ascanbeseeninPhilipAlmond's
TheBritishDiscoveryofBuddhism."4
AsifheweretakingashispremiseSaid'strenchantcommentthatif"Orientalismmakessenseatall[it]dependsmoreontheWestthanontheOrient,"AlmondbuildsonSaid'sbasicargumentthatOrientalistdiscourseisasystemofrepre-sentationswhichisprimarilyembeddedinEuropeanculture."But
31
 
32CHARLE5HALLI5EY
Almond'sowncarefulanalysisoftheemergenceofthisdiscourseleadshimtomovebeyondthe"principles"ofOrientalismtothe"manyconcernsoftheVictorianage":6VictorianinterpretationsofBuddhism,whetherofitsfounder,itsdoctrines,itsethics,itssocialpractices,oritstruthandvalue,inconstructingBud-dhism,revealtheworldinwhichsuchconstructingtookplace....Dis-courseaboutBuddhismprovidesamirrorinwhichisreflectedanimagenotonlyoftheOrient,butoftheVictorianworldalso.?Itisworthnoting,however,thatwhileAlmondreferstoanimageoftheOrient,hemakesnoattempttoreconstructBuddhistthoughtandpracticeinnineteenth-centuryAsia.Althoughthisomis-sionwouldseemtomakegoodsenseforaprojectconcernedwith"theinternalconsistencyofOrientalismanditsideasabouttheOri-ent,"Sithastheunintendedconsequenceofonceagainhypostat-izingandreifyinganabsolutedi~ide-b~ween"theWest"and"theOrient"-abasicpremiseofOrientalistconstructionsofknowledge
9::":::"
byproceedingasifagenealogyoftheWest'saccountofBuddhismcouldbemadewithoutanyreferencetothepeopleandplacesfromwhichitisimaginedto
emanate.I?
Moreover,thisomissionhastheironiceffectofoncemoredenying_any-voiceto_"Orientals"intheWester~apprehensionofwhattheyareabouteve~~;;ft~akesusmoreawareofthehistoricityofourconceptsof
Buddhism."!
Saidhimselfwasuneasyaboutpositinganabsolutedividebe-tweentheWestandtheOrient,asisclearattheendof
Orientalism
whenhereiteratesaquestionthatrunsthroughouthisbook:"Isthenotionofthedistinctculture(orrace,orreligion,orcivilization)ausefulone?"Thenotionthattherearegeographicalspaceswithindigenous,radically"different"inhabitantswhocanbedefinedonthebasisofsomereligion,cul-ture,orracialessenceproper
to
thatgeographicalspaceis...ahighlydebat-ableidea_!2SaidindicatedwhichsideofthisdebatehewasonbyshowingthatitisimpossibletodefinethemodernWestwithoutreferencetotheOri-ent.ReferringtotheworkofRaymondSchwab,hesaysthat"histhesisin
LaRenaissanceorientale
isasimpleone:Romanticismcan-notbeunderstoodunlesssomeaccountistakenofthegreattextualandlinguisticdiscoveriesmadeabouttheOrientduringthelateeigh-teenthandearlynineteenthcenturies."13Said'ssuggestionsofthissortcanhelpustoseethathisbasicconcernis,asJamesCliffordhas
J
R0ADSTAKENANDNOTTAKEN33
noted,"notsomuchtounderminethenotionofasubstantialOrient\asitistomakeproblematic"theOccident."14Thisrearrangementof
j
/'
receivednotionsabouttheconstitutionofthemodernWesthasbeencontinuedbymanyothersinrecentyears,and"detailingtheprocessbywhichtheWestbecameitselfbyconfrontingtheRestisoneofthe...importantstepsforwardinpostorientalistintellectualhistory."15Butalthoughsignificantprogresshasbeenmadeindisplayinghowtheself-imageoftheWestinthenineteenthcenturydependedonpro-jectingontoothersthenegationorinversionofwhatwastakentobedistinctiveof"European-ness,"thislineofinquirycanstillparadox-icallyleavetheWest-Orientdivideinplaceasaparadigminsteadofproblematizingitorremovingitaltogether.16WherecanwebegintodevelopmorenuancedaccountsoftheinteractionbetweenEuropeansandnon-Europeans,oneswhichareabletoavoidaManichaeandivisionbetweenEastandWestandre-mindusthatculturesarenotonlydifferentbutalsoconnected?Onewayofatle.<1st~ak1ngsp;!~eforaccountsofthistci~distoshowtheheterogeneity'on~te;e~tswithinthosecommunitiescalled"Europe"and"theOrient"astheyencounteredeachother,"?andespeciallyamongOrientaliststhemselves.ISWemightalsoaddressourtaskmoredirectlyandlookforrela-tionsbetween"theWest"and"theOrient"thatarenotcharacterizedbynegationorinversion,butinsteadseemtorepresentakindof"iI1-terculturalmimesis."Thatis,weshouldconsideroccasionswhereitse~~~-~h-;t;sp~~~~ofacultureofasubjectifiedpeopleinfluencedtheinvestigatortorepresentthatcultureinacertainmanner.l?Suchanexercisewouldnotchall~ngebutr<1tl1erwouldnuanceSaid'sargu-mentthatthelinl~sbetween_knowledgearidinequa.litiesofpowerprovidedsomebasicconditionsofOrientalistdiscourse.IntherestofthischapterIwillexploresomediverseexamples~----__....ofthiskindof"igt_e_t:culturalmimesis."
It
canbefoundintheworkofT.W.RhysDavids,whosecareerasastudentofBuddhismre-
')J{-
presentsacrucialstageinthestudyofBuddhisminEurope.s?butinordertorecognizeitwewillalsohavetoexaminetheworkofsomelesser-knowncontemporariesofRhysDavids:R.SpenceHardy,PaulBigandet,andAdhernardLeclere.
An
awarenessofthesepatternsof
-----
im.e_i.S.n._~!onlywillhelpustoappreciatecritic.allythelegacyof_0..ri--:...entalisminheritedbycontemporarystudentsofBuddhism,~l:l~will
J/
a:Iso
'suggesrastrategy,fromwithinthatlegacy,forpassingbeyondit..--Wewillseethata~oadrarely,
if
atall,takeninthestudyofTheravadaBuddhismisindeedaviableoptionforus.
)
/
 
34CHARLESHAlliSEY
T.W.RhysDavidsandtheBiographyoftheBuddhaThenameofT.W.RhysDavids
(1843-1922)
iswellknowntoallstudentsofBuddhism.PThis"greatorientalist,"accordingtoRich-ardGombrich,"didmorethananyoneelsetointroduce[Buddhism]totheEnglish-speakingpublic,influencingevenEnglish-speakingSinhaleseBuddhists,"andthus"seriousstudentsofBuddhismwillneverallow[his]nametodie."22ButRhysDavidsisnotonlyafigureofhistoricalinterest.HeiswhatSaidcallsan"inauguralhero,"someonewho"carved...outafieldofstudyandafamilyofideaswhichinturncouldformacommunityofscholarswhoselineage,traditions,andambitionswereatonceinternaltothefieldandexter-nalenoughforgeneralprestige."23Andasaninauguralhero,RhysDavidshasrecentlybeensubjectedtoscornforpromulgatinga"PaliTextSocietymentality"which"essentializedBuddhismintermsofits'pristine'teachings."24Still,wecannotignorethefactthathepro-ducedtools,suchasaPali-EnglishDictionaryandeditionsofPalitexts,whichremaintothisdayunsurpassedandindispensableforre-
I
earch.Hiseffortsresultedinthecreationofinstitutions,suchasthePaliTextSocietyandtheSchoolofOrientalandAfricanStudies,from""whichallstudentsofBuddhismstillbenefit,eitherdirectlyorindi-rectly.Moreover,manyofhisideascontinuetobereproducedun-acknowledgedinthewritingsofothers,anindicationoftheextenttowhichhisideashavebeennaturalizedwithinthetraditionofBud-dhist
Studies.P
AmongRhysDavids'slesserwritingsaretwoencyclopediaen-tries,"Buddhism"and"Buddha,"whichhewroteforthe
Encyclo-paediaBritannica
atdifferentpointsinhisscholarlycareer.Theyareamonghismoreminorandephemeralwritings,andtheirspecificcontentsareoflittleinteresttoushere.Theyarestillusefultous,however,becausebythenatureoftheirgenre,theygiveanindicationofthescholarlyresourcesavailabletoRhysDavidsatthetimetheywerewritten,anditistheseresourceswhichwilldrawourattention
<.
toanaspectofRhysDavids'spracticeasascholarinwhichwecansee,aninstanceofinterculturalmimesis.
In
hisfirstentryon"Buddhism,"writtenin
1876,
RhysDavidswaslimitedtofour"authoritiesonthelifeofBuddha,"whichhecouldrecommendtohis
readers.se
ThesewereR.SpenceHardy's
A
ManualofBuddhism,
whichcollectedbiographicalnarrativesdrawnfrommedievalSinhalaliterature;BishopP.Bigandet's
TheLifeorLegendofGaudamatheBuddhaoftheBurmese,
atranslationofanearlymodernBurmesetext;Fausbell'seditionofthePalibiography
R0ADSTAKENANDNOTTAKEN35
foundinthe
[dtaka
commentaryfromthefifthcentury
C.E.;
andFoucaux'sFrenchtranslationofaTibetantranslationofthe
Lalitauistara,
aSanskrittextcomposedearlyinthecommonera.BythetimeRhysDavidsrevisedthisentryaquarterofacenturylater,EuropeanstudentsofBuddhismhadgatheredenoughmaterialthatRhysDavidswasabletoaddasecondentryinthe
EncyclopaediaBri-tannica,
whichfocusedonthelifeoftheBuddhaalone.Thedifferencebetweenthetwoentries,however,isnotonlythequantityofsourcesavailablebuttheinterpretativeframeworksinwhichRhysDavidsor-deredhissources.Inthefirstentry,twoofthefoursourceswereinvernacularlanguages,SinhalaandBurmese,andtwowereinthe"classical"languagesofPaliandSanskrit.Bythetimeofthesecondentryin
1910,
thenumberofresourcesintheclassicallanguageshadincreaseddramatically.ThiswasespeciallytrueofthecanonicalPalisourceswhichwereofuniqueimportancetoRhysDavids.
In
addi-tion,hewasalsotomakeuseofthe
Mahduastu
and
Buddhacarita,
twoSanskritsources,aswellasRockhill'stranslationsfromtheTibetan(whichthemselveswerealmostexclusivelytranslationsfromSanskrit)in
TheLifeoftheBuddha.
Incontrast,theresourcesfromvernacularlanguageshadhardlyincreasedatallandRhysDavidsonlyaddedAdhemardLeclere'sFrenchtranslationoftheKhmertext
PathamaSambodhian
in
LivressacresduCambodge
tohisbiblio-graphies.Unliketheearlierentry,wherenodistinctionsweremadeamongthefourworkscited,inthelaterarticle,RhysDavidscreatedtwodistinctcategories:onefor"modernworks,"whichgroupedLeclereandRockwelltogetherwithHardyandBigandet.s?andasecondfortheaccountsofthelifeoftheBuddha,whichheconsideredmoreauthoritative.Theassumptionsbehindthisdistinctionareclearinthecontentsoftheentry:RhysDavidslimitedhisattentiontothenumerous,albeitfragmentary,accountsoftheBuddha'slifeinthePalicanonwhichhadbeeneditedandpublishedinthemeantimebythePaliTextSociety.ThisapproachtothebiographyoftheBuddhaisanaspectofRhysDavids'sscholarshipforwhichheisstillremern-bered,28althoughitistakenasanapproachappreciatedmoreforhis-toricalinterest,andmoststudentsofBuddhismareconfidentthattheyhavemovedbeyondit.29Inonerespect,however,thereisaremarkableunanimitybe-tweenRhysDavids'sapproachtothebiographyoftheBuddhaandcurrentscholarlyconsensus.AstudentinterestedintheBuddha'sbiographytodayisinabetterpositionthanRhysDavidstoconsid-eritsearlydevelopment,havingthebenefitofresearchbyschol-arsasdiverseasE.J.Thomas,JeanFilliozat,AlfredFoucher,Erich
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