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By Peter Moran

How do modern Westerners and Tibetans comprehend not just what it capability to be 'Buddhist', yet what it capacity to be hailed as one from 'the West' or from 'Tibet'? This anthropological research examines the come across among Western travelers and Tibetan exiles in Bodhanath, at the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal and analyses the significance of Buddhism in discussions of political, cultural and spiritual identification. in line with broad box study in Nepal, Buddhism saw questions conventional assumptions approximately Buddhism and examines the not often thought of phenomenon of Western conversions to a non-Western faith. students of Anthropology, faith and Cultural experiences will locate right here a clean perception into how one can technique 'other' societies, religions and cultures.

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Extra resources for Buddhism Observed: Travellers, Exiles and Tibetan Dharma in Kathmandu (Anthropology of Asia)

Example text

Wangyal is now, at age eighteen, just one tulku among several others in one of Bodhanath’s largest monasteries. For many tulkus without illustrious pedigrees it is not until later in life, when they are able to prove their own individual mettle through skill in scholarship, ritual arts or prolonged retreats that their status will increase. There is an obvious correspondence between the economic activity of important lamas (often carried out in their name by retainers) and their political power (Samuel 1993; Goldstein 1973, 1989).

Representations that work only in the religious register, privileging Tibet’s spirituality, void of context and history, can subtly work to serve the West. While the agentive trajectory of emanation bodies is compelled by historic and cultural specificities, the Western representations examined here subtly or overtly sever such indexical links. The tulku’s body is read as a symbol of alterity – yet an alterity that is de-localized and domesticated into an ultimately enlightening (sacralizing) presence.

7 The tulku is the form Body of the Buddha – His physical manifestation in this world – whereas the longs-sku and chos-sku aspects are more subtle ‘bodies,’ analogically paired with the Speech and Mind respectively of the Enlightened One. Sprul-sku/tulku thus refers to that aspect of the actual nature of things (chos-nyid) which appears to our deluded perceptions as most concrete or physically apparent. The three ‘bodies’ therefore form a sort of continuum ranging from the most grossly material (the emanationbody aspect) to the most subtle and immaterial (the chos-sku, Dharma-body aspect, associated with the Buddha’s Mind).

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