Burning for the Buddha: Self-Immolation in Chinese Buddhism by James A. Benn

By James A. Benn

Burning for the Buddha: Self-Immolation in chinese language Buddhism is the first book-length examine of the idea and perform of "abandoning the body"(self-immolation) in chinese language Buddhism. even though principally missed through traditional scholarship, the acts of self-immolators (which incorporated now not in basic terms burning the physique, but additionally being wolfed through wild animals, drowning oneself, and self-mummification, between others) shape an everlasting a part of the non secular culture and supply a brand new viewpoint at the multifarious dimensions of Buddhist perform in China from the early medieval interval to the current time. This e-book examines the hagiographical debts of all those that made choices in their personal our bodies and locations them in historic, social, cultural, and doctrinal context.Rather than privilege the doctrinal and exegetical interpretations of the culture, which think the principal value of the brain and its cultivation, James Benn makes a speciality of the ways that the heroic beliefs of the bodhisattva found in scriptural fabrics equivalent to the Lotus Sutra performed out within the realm of spiritual perform at the flooring. His research leads him past conventional obstacles among Buddhist experiences and sinology and attracts on a wide selection of canonical, historic, and polemical assets, a lot of them translated and analyzed for the 1st time in any language. targeting an point of spiritual perform that used to be noticeable as either severe and heroic, Benn brings to the skin a few deep and unresolved tensions in the faith itself and divulges a few hitherto unsuspected facets of the continuously moving negotiations among the Buddhist group and the state.Self-immolation in chinese language Buddhism used to be arguable, and Burning for the Buddha supplies weight to the feedback and safeguard of the perform either in the Buddhist culture and with no. It areas self-immolation within the context of chinese language Mah?y?na suggestion and explores its a number of spiritual, social, and old roles. those new views on a massive mode of Buddhist perform because it used to be skilled and recorded in conventional China give a contribution not to basically the examine of Buddhism, but additionally the learn of faith and the physique.

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Extra resources for Burning for the Buddha: Self-Immolation in Chinese Buddhism (Studies in East Asian Buddhism)

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Mokuroku) and some excerpts from the biographies were copied out by a thirteenth-century Japanese monk by the name of Shûshô 宗性 (1202–1292). 12 The table of contents, which appears to be complete, indicates that the Mingseng zhuan contained the biographies of nineteen self-immolators under the 22 Burning for the Buddha category yishen kujie. 14 Given its signi¤cance, it is somewhat unfortunate that so little of the Mingseng zhuan survives. Compilers of biographies did not just collect and organize; they evaluated and commented on their material.

Sengqun 僧群 (¶. ca. 52 Huo shan’s solitary peak was surrounded by the sea, and on its summit was a large stone pond. According to legend, when “Sengqun the transcendent” (xian 仙 ) drank from it he did not experience hunger, and so he was able to “abstain from grain” (jueli 絕粒). Reports about Sengqun’s abilities came to the attention of the governor of Jin’an 晉安 , Tao Kui 陶夔 (¶. ca. 53 Sengqun sent him some, but it began to stink as soon as it left the mountain. Tao Kui tried to visit the mountain in person, but his boat was turned back by storms, which caused him to lament on being cut off from such a sage.

That difference is all too apparent to the twenty-¤rst-century scholar, who can survey a vast range of textual material, but must have been almost impossible to perceive at the time. The fact that Chinese Buddhists received the teachings of the Mahâyâna not as a single corpus of texts with a curriculum and reading guide attached, but piecemeal over many centuries probably only contributed to the problems of interpretation that came along with their sincere desire to make sense of material that was widely divergent and often ¶atly contradictory.

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