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The Sound of Two Hands ClappingThe Education of a Tibetan Buddhist Monk$
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Georges B.J. Dreyfus

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780520232594

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520232594.001.0001

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The Limits of the Inquiry

The Limits of the Inquiry

Chapter:
(p.306) 14 The Limits of the Inquiry
Source:
The Sound of Two Hands Clapping
Author(s):

Georges B. J. Dreyfus

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520232594.003.0015

Debate is not only an invaluable pedagogical tool, but also a way of reaching greater understanding. This inquiry required a certain degree of freedom. Although monks debate forcefully in the courtyard on any question relevant to the curriculum, controversies are rare outside this well-circumscribed area of inquiry. Is the freedom necessary to inquiry and experienced by participants in debate largely illusory? This chapter argues that in the Tibetan tradition the freedom to inquire is real but limited. Some of those restrictions are internal, arising from the conceptual system in which debate takes place. Others are external, deriving from the sociopolitical context of Tibetan scholasticism. But more important, it is incorrect to view inquiry and orthodoxy as polar opposites. The sociopolitical influences on Tibetan scholasticism are well illustrated by the story of Ge-dün Chö-pel (1904–1951), a gifted scholar from the province of Amdo in Northeastern Tibet. As the story of Ge-dün Chö-pel illustrates, monastic communities have ways of dealing with dissent and ensuring that it will not threaten institutional stability.

Keywords:   debate, inquiry, freedom, monks, curriculum, scholasticism, orthodoxy, Ge-dün Chö-pel, Tibet, dissent

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