In the early days of Hi-fi, one would be invited, sometimes, to a little concert in a room surrounded by speakers of various kinds.

Listening to the music, the host would be constantly jumping up and making some adjustment, and then sitting down and listening intently. He was disturbing the enjoyment of the music, but in fact he himself was not listening to it at all: he was listening to the hi-fi.

In the same way, some scholars study texts in which they have no interest whatever in the real meaning; they simply compare the vocabulary, syntax and themes with those of other texts in the same field, and record borrowings and conflicts: ‘Here he is making a concession to the vijnana-vadin Buddhist, a possible influence from his presumable early study of gaudapada.’

He is not interested in the texts themselves except for cross-cataloguing the themes. There is an unspoken assumption that it is all naïve speculation. It never occurs to him to wonder whether there might be a working reality there.

 

© 1999 Trevor Leggett

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