Text as Father
Paternal Seductions in Early Mahayana Buddhist Literature
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: University of California Press
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Title Page, Other Works in the Series, Copyright, Dedication
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Before thanking those who helped me to write this book, I would like toimagine who might/could/should be interested in reading it. Three groupsof readers come to mind. First are my colleagues in Buddhist studies whoknow these texts and, I hope, will Wnd my readings of interest and perhapsof value in their own reflections. Similarly, I hope that those of us who reg-...
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In the curious space of arguments before the arguments, let me introducethis book by acknowledging that some readers might at Wrst Wnd it strange:What could “text as father” mean, and what do fathers have to do with Bud-dhism in the Wrst place? The suitability of this topic will become clearer inthe course of these chapters, but let me promise here at the outset that sift-...
1. Text as Father
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Though Buddhism was constructed around the act of “leaving the family,”the motif of paternity is actually quite prominent in Buddhist discourse. Inthe early literature of the Mahayana, the so-called Great Vehicle of Buddhismthat arose several hundred years after Buddhism was founded, fathers of var-ious sorts, familial, monastic, and ontological, are arguably even more in evi-...
2. Who’s Your Daddy Now? Reissued Paternity in the Lotus Sutra
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One of the most striking things about the Lotus Sutra is its sophisticated useof father-son motifs to explain its own identity and then to insert itself as thedeWning element in creating a new identity for the reader and his relation-ship to the Buddhist tradition.1 The brilliance of the text lies in the way thatit is designed as a pivot that achieves its own legitimation by offering legiti-...
3. The Domino Effect: Everyone and His Brother Convert to the Lotus Sutra
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While the Wrst chapter of the Lotus Sutra developed an image of its legiti-mate history through doubling itself in order to explain its birth at the endof the lineage of the twenty thousand buddhas, the chapters that followprove the efWcacy, and fertility, of the “text” on various internal audiences.In particular, chapters 2 through 6 create several layers of audiences that...
4. “Be All You Can’t Be” and Other Gainful Losses inthe Diamond Sutra
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Just as the seductive literary strategies of the Lotus Sutra became clearerthrough a sustained narrative analysis, I hope to show that the Diamond Sutrais a suitable text for a similar kind of close reading that takes into account thebasic plotline of the work, the various kinds of self-imposed “needs” of the dis-course, and the multiple subject-sites that it creates for the reader to desire,...
5. Sameness with a Difference in the Tathagatagarbha Sutra
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Against the repetitious negations that made up most of the Diamond Sutra,this chapter takes up the issue of the internal buddha, that statuesque Wgureof perfect paternity that several Mahayana sutras posited as the only legiti-mate subject inside the body of each sentient being. Though insisting on aperfect and permanent truth-father within the ordinary subject would turn...
6. Vimalakirti, or Why Bad Boys Finish First
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In a sense, language is always about itself: in interior monologues, just as indialogue, there are no “thoughts”: there is only the speech that speech elicits.Of the texts selected in this survey of early Mahayana literature, theVimalakirti presents the brashest example of textual patriarchy overcom-ing prior forms of Buddhism. In an unusually hard-hitting narrative, the...
Conclusion: A Cavalier Attitude toward Truth-Fathers
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He had remembered: “Copulation and mirrors are abominable.” The text of theencyclopedia read: “For one of those gnostics, the visible universe was an illusion or,more precisely, a sophism. Mirrors and fatherhood are abominable because they mul-tiply it and extend it.” I said in all sincerity that I would like to see that article.The conclusions of this study flow in several directions. First, and most obvi-...
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Page Count: 369
Publication Year: 2005
Series Title: Buddhisms