A Buddhist view of History

For some reason, we thought we’d start talking about the Seven Masters. But we get immediately sidetracked by Herbert Güenther, a Buddhist scholar who wrote about the Madhyamaka and Yogacara schools of Buddhism. Interestingly, his discussion of the development of these schools isn’t exactly historically accurate from a Western point of view — but it is from a traditional Tibetan scholastic one! This different way of reading history sets us off on a discussion of how our understandings of history itself is colored by our often uncritical acceptance of a Western/European/progressive view of history that suggests human civilization is getting better all the time. But this raises all sorts of ethical and philosophical and even Buddhist problems that we take up in this episode.

In this episode, we also make mention of the Spring 2011 Ryukoku Lecture happening at the Institute of Buddhist Studies. Check out the IBS website for details and the IBS podcast in the coming weeks for audio and video from this event.