Volume 6, 2008
The Silence of the Buddha
The current paper reflects my own personal struggle between two different fields of my training and career: religious studies and philosophy. Scholars with training in religious studies are understandably less interested in philosophical issues and more interested in such issues as myth, ritual, practice, eschatology, and, in the case of Buddhism and other Indian religions, soteriology. I will mainly address the tension between soteriological and philosophical discourses. I do agree that philosophy, Eastern philosophy in particular, is a byproduct of religious activities. But I do not agree with a popular view among scholars of Buddhist studies that all the Buddhist philosophical discourses serve a soteriological goal. On my view, Buddhist philosophy may have been developed out of a
soteriological context, but it takes its own life and cannot be reduced too quickly to soteriology. I will illustrate this point with the well-known silence of the Buddha.