Thinking Out Loud

Wednesday August 1, 2007


Due to the flurry of the last few days arriving here in Sofia and getting myself organised, I overlooked the fact that a couple of days ago was thinkBuddha’s second birthday. This, of course, calls for some kind of a celebration, so when I’ve finished this I’ll go and search out some baklava or some other similarly tasty dish to mark the happy day.

So it’s two years now since I decided to blog on the subject, very loosely, of Buddhism without Buddhism , and it’s been a highly pleasurable ride. Perhaps these days I am less inclined to identify myself as Buddhist, or even as Buddhish, and the blog has perhaps become less saffron-tinged and more wide ranging in its philosophical interests.

This drift is in part the result of the many conversations I have had through thinkBuddha. Blogging itself is a curious activity, and there are many kinds of blogs out there, but for me it has always been a process of thinking out loud, a way of trying to think in conjunction with others. This thinking with others is something I have found extremely valuable. Not for me the Cartesian philosophical ideal of the solitary meditating sage returning to their own resources, turning away from the marketplace. I prefer the way of the early Greeks, who liked to philosophise in the marketplace, with groups of friends in the garden, in public. And I wonder whether the first false move in philosophy was in writing above the door of Plato’s academy that none should enter who had not studied geometry. All at once the public thought of Socrates becomes private, and esoteric knowledge is required before one may entered the hallowed precincts. Indeed, the Academy, back then as now, seems at times the most peculiar place to do philosophy.

Perhaps in more than one sense, the thinking out loud that can go on in a blog is far from the Academy, and that is why, I think, I have found it so extremely useful. I am still uncertain, to be honest, whether I have any other than a faint grasp on the esoteric knowledge demanded by academic philosophy. I read most philosophers’ works (and – even more so – the secondary works of most of those who comment on them) with something approaching bafflement. I have difficulty in following a line of argument. My mind is far too magpie-like for the kind of ascetic intellectual heroism that some identify with philosophy. Yet I find this process of thinking alongside others that deeply valuable, not because it allows me to come closer to some imagined idea of absolute truth, but because it gives many ways of navigating through the perplexities of living.

So, on the occasion of thinkBuddha’s second (belated!) birthday, I just want to say that I am grateful for those of you who read this and who pitch in from time to time, and for the many conversations I have enjoyed. Best wishes to you all!

# · Tom

Hmmm. Happy as I am that your blog has entered the Terrible Twos and that your novel career is moving along, briskly, I don’t like this desaffronizing of your blog thing.

Reading your Buddhism without Buddhism post from a couple years ago, I am with you bro. [High fives, all around.] Buddha was not a Buddhist, after all, and I do wonder [not that it would make any difference] what he might think of all the bother in the basketful of centuries since his death what all has been done with his legacy.

Huineng wanted his words, which became the Platform Sutra, destroyed, believing, if I may paraphrase, that Buddhism should always be discovered anew.

Yours may be THE MOST Buddhist blog. Besides, I have you and yours categorized thus. Please don’t mess up my files!

# · Will

Desaffronizing? Desaffronification? Fear not, Tom. I have no intention of messing up your nicely categorized files, and I don’t have any intention of systematically driving out all traces of anything vaguely saffron tinged from this here blog. All the best, Will :-)

# · Dave

Congratulations, Tom, and thanks for sticking around. In general I find talk about Buddhism tiresome, but this blog is almost always engaging, so…

# · Dave

Uh, make that “Will”. (Clearly, the Preview function is wasted on guys like me!)

# · Will

Thanks Dave!

# · anukriti

Very nice and clean layout.Congrats on completing two years. Keep blogging.

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