Sophia 55 (1):15-30 (2016)

Leesa S. Davis
Deakin University
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, giving, patience, and vigor. The discussion will show that these virtues are underpinned by the Mahāyāna philosophical mainstays of non-duality, bodhisattvic transcendent altruism, skillful means, and dependent co-origination.
Keywords Mahāyāna Buddhism  Violence and nonviolence  Self-immolation  Non-duality
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DOI 10.1007/s11841-016-0524-2
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References found in this work BETA

Mahāyāna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations.Paul Williams - 1990 - Religious Studies 26 (3):429-431.
Nonduality: A Study in Comparative Philosophy.Robert B. Zeuschner - 1990 - Buddhist-Christian Studies 10:300.

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