Abstract

abstract:

The Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the most influential contemporary Buddhist protagonists, and also a famous interpreter of Christianity. In this paper, I will focus on Thich Nhat Hanh's reading of the Holy Spirit. Nhat Hanh's Buddhist pneumatology is mainly informed by the cornerstone of his teaching, mindfulness, which in turn closely connects with the doctrine of Buddha-nature. The doctrinal framework of Nhat Hanh's conception of mindfulness is grounded in the psychology of the Yogācāra school, particularly in its eight aspects of consciousness and the notion of seeds. According to Nhat Hanh, the transformation of unwholesome and the nourishing of wholesome seeds via mindfulness practice is crucial to overcome the hindrances to enlightenment. This is possible because the seed of awakening or Buddha-nature is already ingrained in sentient beings. Nhat Hanh discerns the Holy Spirit as a functional equivalent to the Buddha-nature. I will argue that his reading of the Spirit can be described by three mutually interconnected main characteristics: as an innate, salvific potential, an all-embracing, dynamic force, and further as a foundation for ethical conduct. Finally, I will reflect on a crucial hermeneutical issue emerging from Nhat Hanh's Buddhist pneumatology: Does the right to interpret the Holy Spirit belong to Christians alone?

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9472
Print ISSN
0882-0945
Pages
pp. 279-293
Launched on MUSE
2021-11-18
Open Access
No
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