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Enacting the violent imaginary : reflections on the dynamics of nonviolence and violence in Buddhism

journal contribution
posted on 2016-04-01, 00:00 authored by Leesa DavisLeesa Davis
In this paper, I explore the complex ethical dynamics of violence and nonviolence in Mahāyāna Buddhism by considering some of the historical precedents and scriptural prescriptions that inform modern and contemporary Buddhist acts of self-immolation. Through considering these scripturally sanctioned Mahāyāna ‘case studies,’ the paper traces the tension that exists in Buddhist thought between violence and nonviolence, outlines the interplay of key Mahāyāna ideas of transcendence and altruism, and comments on the mimetic status and influence of spiritually charged texts. It is the contention of this paper that violent scriptural metaphors can create paradigms of enactment that are paradoxically illustrative of the core ‘non-violent’ Mahāyāna virtues of compassion (karuṇā), giving (dāna), patience (kṣānti), and vigor (vīrya). The discussion will show that these virtues are underpinned by the Mahāyāna philosophical mainstays of non-duality (advayavāda), bodhisattvic transcendent altruism, skillful means (upāya), and dependent co-origination (pratītyasamutpāda).

History

Journal

Sophia

Volume

55

Pagination

15-30

Location

Berlin, Germany

ISSN

0038-1527

eISSN

1873-930X

Language

eng

Publication classification

C Journal article, C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2016, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

Issue

1

Publisher

Springer