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Use of the Criterion of Embarrassment in Buddhist Studies

Posted: Thu Mar 16, 2023 9:50 am
by ABuddhist
ABuddhist wrote: Thu Mar 16, 2023 9:47 am
neilgodfrey wrote: Wed Mar 15, 2023 8:27 am
ABuddhist wrote: Wed Mar 15, 2023 5:35 am But Nattier, if I recall correctly, used the criterion of embarrassment to try to reconstruct the situation which the author(s) of the Ugraparipṛcchā were dealing with - related to tensions between Mahayana and non-Mahayana Buddhist traditions.
Which sounds similar to the example of Horsfall's use of the criterion as shown us by Andrew Criddle: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=10524 .... On which, see my reply: viewtopic.php?p=151120#p151120
So, I read today Jan Nattier's book about Mahayana Buddhism "A Few Good Men: The Bodhisattva Path according to The Inquiry of Ugra (Ugraparipṛcchā)" [University of Hawaii Press; New edition (May 31 2005), and I report the following. Nattier uses the term "principle of embarrassment" and refers to the term as "commonly used in New Testament studies" on page 65. She claims that she was introduced to the term by David Brakke. Nattier describes the "principle of embarrassment" as useful for three categories of things in Buddhist studies

1. for assessing the reactions of non-Mahayana Buddhists to the claims made in Mahayana Buddhist scriptures. Thus, Nattier takes the admission in the Perfection of Wisdom in 8,000 Lines that many Buddhists asserted that the Perfection of Wisdom literature was not authentic Buddhist Scripture and the claim in the Lotus Sutra that some Buddhist stood up and walked away when the Lotus Sutra's teaching was first preached as reflecting genuine skeptical reactions by Buddhists to Mahayana Buddhist scriptures.

2. For assessing the accuracy of a story in the Mahavagga section of the Vinaya in which some Buddhist monks argue with each other so severely that the strike each other and refuse to accept Shakyamuni Buddha's offer to mediate. Nattier accepts this story as evidence that during Shakyamuni Buddha's lifetime, there were diputes and fights within his following of mendicants.

3. For assessing the accuracy of a tradition in Vinaya I.101-102 in which Shakyamuni Buddha's followers are criticized by lay people for not assembling on full and new moon days in order to preach to the lay people. Shakyamuni Buddha is portrayed as convoking such an assembly when invited to by King Bimbisara, but in the first such meeting the Buddhist mendicants only sat around resembling livestock. In response to further criticism by lay people, Shakyamuni Buddha implemented biweekly recitation of monastic rules and preaching to lay people. Nattier accepts that this story reflects an incident or series of incidents in which Buddhist monastics adjusted to public norms because of public pressure. Nattier even says (at p. 66), "Such a story - in which Buddhist monks are described as falling short of social expectations - would hardly have been viewed as flattering to the Buddhist community, but was presumably too widely known to be denied."

Criticisms of such reasoning can be made, but it is reasoning found outside studies about Jesus.