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This-Worldly Nibbana

A Buddhist-Feminist Social Ethic for Peacemaking in the Global Community

Hsiao-Lan Hu

Publication Year: 2011

A Buddhist feminist social ethics for contemporary times. Offering a feminist analysis of foundational Buddhist texts, along with a Buddhist approach to social issues in a globalized world, Hsiao-Lan Hu revitalizes Buddhist social ethics for contemporary times. Hu’s feminist exegesis references the Nikaµya-s from the “Discourse Basket” of the Paµli Canon. These texts, among the earliest in the Buddhist canon, are considered to contain the sayings of the Buddha and his disciples and are recognized by all Buddhist schools. At the heart of the ethics that emerges is the Buddhist notion of interdependent co-arising, which addresses the sexism, classism, and frequent overemphasis on individual liberation, as opposed to communal well-being, for which Buddhism has been criticized. Hu notes the Buddha’s challenge to social hierarchies during his life and compares the notion of “non-Self” to the poststructuralist feminist rejection of the autonomous subject, maintaining that neither dissolves moral responsibility or agency. Notions of kamma, nibbaµna, and dukkha (suffering) are discussed within the communal context offered by insights from interdependent co-arising and the Noble Eightfold Path. This work uniquely bridges the worlds of Buddhism, feminism, social ethics, and activism and will be of interest to scholars, students, and readers in all of these areas.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page

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pp. ix-xi

In Chinese, a mentor or a friend who provides help at crucial points of one’s life is called guiren (or kuei-jen in Wade-Giles), often rendered “helpful friend.” I am extremely fortunate to have encountered an unusual number of guiren-s in my life. To say the least, I have yet to meet another person who would say she or he had four advisors...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-29

Having renounced the conventional ways of thinking and behaving, a human teacher gives the above advice about taking actions and accepting views. He is concerned with the prevalence and causes of dukkha (Sanskrit: duhkha), the unsatisfactoriness of ordinary life, the disease and anguish of conventional existence, the suffering particularly...

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2. Socio-Ethical Dimensions of Early Buddhism

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pp. 31-61

Contrary to the popular misconception that Buddhism is other-worldly oriented or that Buddhism is only about individualistic inner peace, the early Buddhist texts bear witness to the Buddha’s highly this-worldly ethical concerns and his unconventional social visions. The early texts show that the Buddhist path could not be reduced to individual inner...

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3. A Feminist Exegesis of Non-Self: Constitution of Personhood and Identity

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pp. 63-90

Buddhism and feminism appear to be two very different strains of thought. One originated in ancient Northeastern India and the other gained momentum in the modern West. Traditional Buddhist discourses have rarely tended to the issue of gender except in a handful of Mahåyåna scriptures whose authenticity is questioned by some...

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4. Person-in-Kammic-Network: Moral Agency and Social Responsibility

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pp. 91-125

Within the tradition of Buddhism, the term kamma has been used and misused in multiple ways. Many Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike have believed it to be a fatalistic doctrine that everything one experiences in life has already been determined by previous lives. A look at the Nikåya texts in the Påli Canon, however, will reveal that the...

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5. Buddhist Self-Reconditioning and Community-Building

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pp. 127-158

In the Buddhist worldview of interdependent co-arising, society and individuals condition one another, and neither one is the uncreated creator of the other. Depending on each other to exist, both are impermanent and subject to change. In fact, both need to be changed, according to the Buddhist teaching of the Four Noble Truths. The...

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6. Conclusion: This-Worldly Nibbåna and Participatory Peacemaking

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pp. 159-178

The Buddhist goal is nibbåna, the cessation of dukkha. In accordance with the Buddha’s practical concerns and the socio-ethical implications of interdependent co-arising, nibbåna can be understood to have a very this-worldly and dynamic character. If all persons are socio-psychophysical compounds whose actions are conditioning each...


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pp. 179-214


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pp. 215-232


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pp. 233-238

E-ISBN-13: 9781438439341
E-ISBN-10: 1438439342
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438439334
Print-ISBN-10: 1438439334

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2011