By James A. Benn
Burning for the Buddha: Self-Immolation in chinese language Buddhism is the first book-length learn of the idea and perform of "abandoning the body"(self-immolation) in chinese language Buddhism. even if mostly neglected through traditional scholarship, the acts of self-immolators (which incorporated now not purely burning the physique, but additionally being wolfed via wild animals, drowning oneself, and self-mummification, between others) shape an everlasting a part of the spiritual culture and supply a brand new point of view at the multifarious dimensions of Buddhist perform in China from the early medieval interval to the current time. This ebook 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 imagine the significant significance of the brain and its cultivation, James Benn specializes in the ways that the heroic beliefs of the bodhisattva found in scriptural fabrics corresponding to the Lotus Sutra performed out within the realm of spiritual perform at the floor. His research leads him past conventional limitations among Buddhist stories and sinology and attracts on a wide selection of canonical, historic, and polemical resources, a lot of them translated and analyzed for the 1st time in any language. concentrating on an element of non secular perform that was once visible as either severe and heroic, Benn brings to the outside a few deep and unresolved tensions in the faith itself and divulges a few hitherto unsuspected elements of the continually transferring negotiations among the Buddhist group and the state.Self-immolation in chinese language Buddhism used to be arguable, and Burning for the Buddha provides weight to the feedback and protection of the perform either in the Buddhist culture and with out. It locations 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 huge mode of Buddhist perform because it used to be skilled and recorded in conventional China give a contribution not to merely the research of Buddhism, but additionally the examine of faith and the physique.
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Additional resources for Burning for the Buddha: Self-Immolation in Chinese Buddhism (Studies in East Asian Buddhism)
Although at ¤rst glance it may seem that Huijiao drastically reduced the overall number of self-immolators from that recorded in his predecessor’s work (nineteen), in fact only four were dropped from the compilation altogether and four other biographies of Mingseng zhuan self-immolators were assigned to other categories. In other words, all of the self-immolators in Huijiao’s collection have biographies in Baochang’s, but Huijiao does not acknowledge this fact. Because Baochang’s collection includes 425 main biographies and Huijiao’s only 257, the exclusion of four biographies cannot really be taken as a signi¤cant reduction in the coverage of self-immolation as a vocation for monks.
There are two appendices. The ¤rst provides synopses of all the biographies I have studied in the order in which they originally appeared in biographical collections. To give some idea of how biographies of selfimmolators were disseminated beyond the monastic community, I have included in the appendix details of the biographies that were reproduced in such popular Buddhist collections as the Shishi liutie 釋 氏 六 帖 (The Buddhists’ Six Documents) and the Liuxue seng zhuan 六學僧傳 (Biographies of Monks by the Six Categories of Specialization).
Sometimes these perspectives converge to bring aspects of Chinese Buddhism into clearer view, but at other times they diverge sharply, leaving us no more than fragmentary impressions. 19 20 Burning for the Buddha How, then, are we to comprehend self-immolation as represented in the biographies of medieval Chinese monks and nuns? We should not assume that because these sources now appear in three “books” they form no more than a collection of hagiographical clichés, legends, or literary tropes—although individual biographies may contain one or more of these elements.
Burning for the Buddha: Self-Immolation in Chinese Buddhism (Studies in East Asian Buddhism) by James A. Benn