Cooking Living Beings: The Transformative Effects of Encounters with Bodhisattva Bodies

Journal of Religious Ethics 32 (1):175 - 194 (2004)
Bodies play important and diverse roles in Buddhist ethics. Drawing upon an Indian Mahāyāna Buddhist compendium of bodhisattva practice, this paper explores the role bodhisattva bodies play in the ethical development of other living beings. Bodhisattvas adopt certain disciplinary practices in order to produce bodies whose very sight, sound, touch, and even taste transform living beings in physical and moral ways. The compendium uses a common South Asian and Buddhist metaphor to describe a bodhisattva's physical and moral impact on others. Bodhisattvas are said to "cook living beings." The paper considers how this metaphor suggests ways of nuancing modern Western conceptions of ethical self-cultivation, particularly as articulated by Michel Foucault in his studies of the technologies of the self
Keywords bodhicitta Śikāsamuccaya  Mahāyāna Buddhism  bodhisattva  Foucault
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DOI 10.1111/j.0384-9694.2004.00159.x
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