Visual Imagery In Mahayana Buddhism

In this video, John talks about visual imagery in the Mahayana sutras. Nowadays this can strike us as confusing – obstructing us from getting to the clear ideas we expect to be there. However, early Buddhism grew up in an oral culture without written records. Then, hearing was associated with intellect since this was how the sutras were transmitted and debated. By contrast, sight was associated with a kind of wholeness coming all at once without the mediation of the intellect. The imagery of the Pranjnaparamita sutras, then, is not making fantastical claims about the nature of reality. It’s a description of the ways in which different beings can see, in the full meaning of this.

Video adapted from Kusen 324 given on 10th December 2020