Journal of Buddhist Ethics

An online journal of Buddhist scholarship related to ethics.

Archive for the ‘Volume 20 2013’


Buddhist Self-immolation and Mahāyānist Absolute Altruism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Thresholds of Transcendence: Buddhist Self-immolation and Mahāyānist Absolute Altruism, Part One

Martin Kovan
University of Melbourne

In China and Tibet, and under the gaze of the global media, the four-year period from February 2009 to February 2013 saw the self-immolations of at least 110 Tibetan Buddhist monks, nuns and lay-people. Underlying the phenomenon of Buddhist self-immolation is a real and interpretive ambiguity between personal, religious, altruistic and political suicide, and political suicide within the Buddhist saṅgha specifically, itself reflected in the varying historical assessments of the practice and currently given by global Buddhist leaders such as His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and the Vietnamese monk and activist Thích Nhất Hạnh.

Part One of this essay surveys the textual and theoretical background to the canonical record and commentarial reception of suicide in Pāli Buddhist texts, and the background to self-immolation in the Mahāyāna, and considers how the current Tibetan Buddhist self-immolations relate ethically to that textual tradition. This forms the basis for, in Part Two, understanding them as altruistic-political acts in the global repertoire of contention.

Read article

The Gurudharma on Bhiksunī Ordination

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

The Gurudharma on Bhikṣuṇī Ordination in the Mūlasarvāstivāda Tradition

Bhikṣuṇī Jampa Tsedroen and Bhikkhu Anālayo
Academy of World Religions & Center for Buddhist Studies,
University of Hamburg

This article surveys the stipulation on bhikṣuṇī ordination made in the different Vinayas as part of a set of eight principles to be respected (gurudharma), and explores the possibility, indicated by the formulation of the relevant gurudharma, that a legally valid Mūlasarvāstivāda bhikṣuṇī ordination could be conducted by bhikṣus only.

Read article

Review: Religion and the Making of Modern East Asia

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Religion and the Making of Modern East Asia. By Thomas David DuBois. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011, xii+ 259 pages, ISBN 987-1107400405 (paperback), ISBN 978-1107008090 (cloth) $81.00.

Reviewed by Yueh-Mei Lin

Read article

Śāntideva on Gifts, Altruism, and Poverty

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

The Compassionate Gift of Vice: Śāntideva on Gifts, Altruism, and Poverty

Amod Lele
Boston University

The Mahāyāna Buddhist thinker Śāntideva tells his audience to give out alcohol, weapons and sex for reasons of Buddhist compassion, though he repeatedly warns of the dangers of all these three. The article shows how Śāntideva resolves this issue: these gifts, and gifts in general, attract their recipients to the virtuous giver, in a way that helps the recipients to become more virtuous in the long run. As a consequence, Śāntideva does recommend the alleviation of poverty, but assigns it a much smaller significance than is usually supposed. His views run counter to many engaged Buddhist discussions of political action, and lend support to the “modernist” interpretation of engaged Buddhist practice.

Read article

Cultivation of Virtue in Buddhist Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

The Cultivation of Virtue in Buddhist Ethics

Charles K. Fink
Miami Dade College, Kendall Campus

One question pursued in Buddhist studies concerns the classification of Buddhist ethics. Damien Keown has argued that Aristotelian virtue ethics provides a useful framework for understanding Buddhist ethics, but recently other scholars have argued that character consequentialism is more suitable for this task. Although there are similarities between the two accounts, there are also important differences. In this paper, I follow Keown in defending the aretaic interpretative model, although I do not press the analogy with Aristotelian ethics. Rather, I argue that Buddhist ethics corresponds to a more generic, act-centered virtue ethics. Buddhist moral reasoning is often strikingly consequentialist, but I argue that this does not support the consequentialist interpretation. Analyzing the concept of right action must be distinguished from providing a justification for living a moral life and from formulating a procedure for making moral decisions.

Read article

Review: Sanctity and Self-Inflicted Violence in Chinese Religions

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Sanctity and Self-Inflicted Violence in Chinese Religions, 1500-1700. By Jimmy Yu. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012, xiv + 272 pages, ISBN 978-0-19-984490 (paperback), $29.95.

Reviewed by Nikolas Broy

Read article

Review: Theos Bernard, the White Lama

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Theos Bernard, the White Lama: Tibet, Yoga, and American Religious Life. Paul G. Hackett. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012, xxii + 494 pages, ISBN 978-0-231-15886-2 (cloth), $32.95.

Reviewed by David M. DiValerio

Read article

Review: Bodh Gaya Jataka

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Cross-disciplinary Perspectives on a Contested Site: Bodh Gaya Jataka. Edited by David Geary, Matthew R. Sayers, and Abhisek Sing Amar. London: Routledge, 2012, ISBN 978-0415684521 (hardback), $150.00.

Reviewed by Brooke Schedneck

Read article

Buddhism, Equality, Rights

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Buddhism, Equality, Rights

Martin T. Adam
University of Victoria

How might rights be grounded in Buddhist doctrine? This article begins by attempting to demonstrate the conceptual link between the idea of equality and the ascription of rights in Western philosophic thought. The ideas of Thomas Hobbes are taken as an example. The paper then proceeds to examine the possibility that Buddhist ideas of equality could serve as grounds for the attribution of rights in a similar manner. A number of senses of equality in Buddhism are identified. I argue that while these ideas of basic equality clearly underlie Buddhist morality, any attempt to found rights on such grounds should lead to a conception of rights that is truly universal in scope, notably including the animals. For a Buddhist believer in rights, rights-possession cannot be limited to human beings.

Read article

Consequentialism, Agent-Neutrality, and Mahāyāna Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Consequentialism, Agent-Neutrality, and Mahāyāna Ethics

Charles Goodman
Binghamton University

Several Indian Mahāyāna texts express an ethical perspective that has many features in common with Western forms of universalist consequentialism. Śāntideva, in particular, endorses a strong version of agent-neutrality, claims that compassionate agents should violate Buddhist moral commitments when doing so would produce good results, praises radical altruism, uses a critique of the self to support his ethical views, and even offers a reasonably clear general formulation of what we call act-consequentialism. Meanwhile, Asaṅga’s discussions of the motivation behind rules of moral discipline and the permissible reasons for breaking those rules suggests an interesting and complex version of rule-consequentialism. Evidence for features of consequentialism can be found in several Mahāyāna sūtras as well. In reading these sources, interpretations that draw on virtue ethics may not be as helpful as those that understand the texts as committed to various versions of consequentialism.

Read article

How Ethically Unstable Is Egocentrism?

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Impermanence, Anattā, and the Stability of Egocentrism; or, How Ethically Unstable Is Egocentrism?

Michael G. Barnhart
Kingsborough Community College/CUNY

Egocentrism has always been viewed as profoundly unethical, and thus a reason against ethical egoism. This paper examines the arguments for such claims and finds them somewhat wanting. It then considers the positions that egocentrism is psychologically untenable and that it is philosophically unstable. Though it appears true that egocentrism is a psychologically unappealing position for many, it isn’t universally so and may be adaptable to some dystopian situations. However, the claim that it is philosophically unstable may be more promising, and the paper turns to Owen Flanagan’s Buddhist-inspired discussion of the issue in his book The Bodhisattva’s Brain. Flanagan argues that the notion of anattā offers an important reason for not taking oneself seriously and thus fatally undermines the meaningfulness of privileging one’s own interests or concerns over others. The paper examines this reasoning, but concludes that Flanagan’s interpretation of anattā may be too weak to support his refutation of egocentrism. The paper concludes by suggesting a more extreme interpretation of anattā that Flanagan rejects and argues that it might both do the job and better resist philosophical criticism than its weaker cousin.

Read article

Buddha’s Maritime Nature

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Buddha’s Maritime Nature: A Case Study in Shambhala Buddhist Environmentalism

Barbra Clayton
Mount Allison University

This paper describes the Buddhist environmental ethic of Windhorse Farm, a Shambhala Buddhist community in Atlantic Canada supported by ecosystem-based sustainable forestry and organic farming. The values, beliefs and motives for this project are described and contextualized within the Shambhala Buddhist tradition, and these results are discussed within the context of the debate in scholarly discussions of environmental Buddhism over whether interdependence or virtues such as compassion and mindfulness are more significant for a Buddhist environmental ethic. The results of this study suggest that both areteic features and the metaphysical position of interdependence play key roles in the Shambhala approach to environmentalism. Results also suggest that the Shambhala environmental ethic defies the theoretical demand for a fact/value distinction, and that this case study may indicate why Buddhist traditions tend to lack systematic treatments of ethics.

Read article

Resources for Buddhist Environmental Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Resources for Buddhist Environmental Ethics

Christopher Ives
Stonehill College

In recent decades Buddhists have been turning their attention to environmental problems. To date, however, no one has formulated a systematic Buddhist environmental ethic, and critics have highlighted a number of weak points in Buddhist arguments thus far about environmental issues. Nevertheless, Buddhism does provide resources for constructing an environmental ethic. This essay takes stock of what appear to be the most significant of those resources, including the Buddhist anthropology, the tradition’s virtue ethic, elements in Buddhist epistemologies, doctrines that make it possible to determine the relative value of things, the Four Noble Truths as an analytical framework, and bases for action if not activism.

Read article

The Dalai Lama and the Nature of Buddhist Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

The Dalai Lama and the Nature of Buddhist Ethics

Abraham Vélez de Cea
Eastern Kentucky University

This article clarifies the nature of Buddhist ethics from a comparative perspective. It contends that the Dalai Lama’s ethics is best understood as a pluralistic approach to virtue ethics. The article has two parts. The first part challenges Charles Goodman’s interpretation of Mahāyāna Buddhist ethics as an instance of consequentialism. This is done indirectly, that is, not by questioning Goodman’s reading of Śāntideva and Asaṅga, but rather by applying to the Dalai Lama’s ethics the same test that Goodman uses to justify his reading of Mahāyāna ethics as a whole. The second part examines the Dalai Lama’s ethics in comparison to Christine Swanton, a representative of a pluralistic approach to virtue ethics in contemporary analytic philosophy. By comparing the ethics of the Dalai Lama and Swanton, the article does not wish to suggest that her pluralistic approach to virtue ethics is the closest western analogue to Buddhist virtue ethics. I use comparison, not to understand the Dalai Lama’s ethical ideas from the perspective of Swanton’s ethics, but rather to highlight what is unique about the Dalai Lama’s approach to virtue ethics, which is pluralistic in a characteristically Buddhist way.

Read article

Rethinking Buddhist Materialism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Liberation as Revolutionary Praxis: Rethinking Buddhist Materialism

James Mark Shields
Bucknell University

Although it is only in recent decades that scholars have begun to reconsider and problematize Buddhist conceptions of “freedom” and “agency,” the thought traditions of Asian Buddhism have for many centuries struggled with questions related to the issue of “liberation”—along with its fundamental ontological, epistemological and ethical implications. With the development of Marxist thought in the mid to late nineteenth century, a new paradigm for thinking about freedom in relation to history, identity and social change found its way to Asia, and confronted traditional religious interpretations of freedom as well as competing Western ones. In the past century, several attempts have been made—in India, southeast Asia, China and Japan—to bring together Marxist and Buddhist worldviews, with only moderate success (both at the level of theory and practice). This paper analyzes both the possibilities and problems of a “Buddhist materialism” constructed along Marxian lines, by focusing in particular on Buddhist and Marxist conceptions of “liberation.” By utilizing the theoretical work of “radical Buddhist” Seno’o Girō, I argue that the root of the tension lies with conceptions of selfhood and agency—but that, contrary to expectations, a strong case can be made for convergence between Buddhist and Marxian perspectives on these issues, as both traditions ultimately seek a resolution of existential determination in response to alienation. Along the way, I discuss the work of Marx, Engels, Gramsci, Lukàcs, Sartre, and Richard Rorty in relation to aspects of traditional (particularly East Asian Mahāyāna) Buddhist thought.

Read article

Some Problems with Particularism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Some Problems with Particularism

Damien Keown
Goldsmiths College, University of London

This article suggests that due to a restricted understanding of the nature and scope of ethical theory, particularism discounts prematurely the possibility of a metatheory of Buddhist ethics. The textual evidence presented in support of particularism is reconsidered and shown to be consistent with a metatheoretical reading. It is argued that writers who have adopted a particularist approach based on W. D. Ross’s “Principalism”—such as Tessa Bartholomeusz in her study of just war ideology in Sri Lanka—have failed to give a satisfactory analysis of the moral dilemmas they have identified. Although particularism rightly draws attention to stories as important sources of moral data, it fails to disprove that the diversity of such evidence can be explained by a single comprehensive theory.

Read article

Why Buddhism and the West Need Each Other

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Why Buddhism and the West Need Each Other: On the Interdependence of Personal and Social Transformation

David R. Loy

The highest ideal of the Western tradition has been the concern to restructure our societies so that they are more socially just. The most important goal for Buddhism is to awaken and (to use the Zen phrase) realize one’s true nature, which puts an end to dukkha—especially that associated with the delusion of a separate self. Today it has become more obvious that we need both: not just because these ideals complement each other, but also because each project needs the other. The Western (now world-wide) ideal of a social transformation that institutionalizes social justice has achieved much, yet, I argue, is limited because a truly good society cannot be realized without the correlative realization that personal transformation is also necessary. On the other side, the traditional Buddhist emphasis on ending individual dukkha is insufficient in the face of what we now understand about the structural causes of dukkha. This does not mean simply adding a concern for social justice to Buddhist teachings. For example, applying a Buddhist perspective to structural dukkha implies an alternative evaluation of our economic situation. Instead of appealing for distributive justice, this approach focuses on the consequences of individual and institutionalized delusion: the dukkha of a sense of a self that feels separate from others, whose sense of lack consumerism exploits and institutionalizes into economic structures that assume a life (and motivations) of their own.

Read article

Mahāyāna Ethics and American Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Mahāyāna Ethics and American Buddhism: Subtle Solutions or Creative Perversions?

Charles S. Prebish
Pennsylvania State University & Utah State University (Emeritus)

“Mahāyāna Ethics and American Buddhism: Subtle Solutions or Creative Perversions?” initially explores the notion of two distinctly different forms of upāya, first presented by Damien Keown in his 1992 volume The Nature of Buddhist Ethics, in which one form of skill-in-means is available only to bodhisattvas prior to stage seven of the bodhisattva’s path and requires adherence to all proper ethical guidelines, while the second form of upāya is applicable to bodhisattvas at stage seven and beyond, and allows them to ignore any and all ethical guidelines in their attempts to alleviate suffering. This distinctly Mahāyāna interpretation of upāya is used to examine the presumably scandalous behavior of Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche and Richard Baker, Rōshi, two of the most popular and controversial figures in American Buddhism. The article concludes that we can at least infer that applied in the proper fashion, by accomplished teachers, the activities allowed by upāya do present possibly subtle explanations of seemingly inappropriate behaviors. On the other hand, if abused by less realized beings, we must recognize these acts as merely creative perversions of a noble ethical heritage.

Read article

Making Suffering Sufferable

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Suffering Made Sufferable: Śāntideva, Dzongkaba, and Modern Therapeutic Approaches to Suffering’s Silver Lining

Daniel Cozort
Dickinson College

Suffering’s positive side was elucidated beautifully by the eighth century Mahāyāna poet Śāntideva in his Bodhicāryavatāra. Dzongkaba Losang Drakpa, the founder of what came to be known as the Gelukba (dge lugs pa) order of Tibetan Buddhism, used Śāntideva’s text as his main source in the chapter on patience in his masterwork, Lam rim Chenmo. In this article I attempt to explicate Śāntideva’s thought by way of the commentary of Dzongkaba. I then consider it in the context of what Ariel Glucklich has called “Sacred Pain”—the myriad ways in which religious people have found meaning in pain. I conclude with some observations about ways in which some Buddhist-inspired or -influenced therapeutic movements such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Positive Psychology are helping contemporary people to reconcile themselves to pain or to discover that it may have positive value.

Read article

Buddhist Reflections on “Consumer” and “Consumerism”

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Buddhist Reflections on “Consumer” and “Consumerism”

Peter Harvey
University of Sunderland

This article starts with a characterization of “consumerism” and the idea of “the consumer.” It then explores Buddhist attitudes on wealth and “Buddhist economics” before drawing on these to develop a critical assessment of consumerism as an ineffective and wasteful route to human happiness.

Read article

The Legality of Bhikkhunī Ordination

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

The Legality of Bhikkhunī Ordination

Bhikkhu Anālayo
Center for Buddhist Studies, University of Hamburg
Dharma Drum Buddhist College, Taiwan

This paper examines the legal validity of the revival of the Theravāda bhikkhunī ordination that has had the 1998 Bodhgayā ordinations as its starting point.

Read article

Celebrating Twenty Years of the Journal of Buddhist Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Celebrating Twenty Years of the Journal of Buddhist Ethics

Damien Keown
Charles Prebish

An introduction to the special twentieth anniversary issue of the Journal of Buddhist Ethics by the founding co-editors.

Read article

A Determinist Deflation of the Free Will Problem

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

The Metaphysics of No-Self: A Determinist Deflation of the Free Will Problem

Vishnu Sridharan

For over two millennia, the free will problem has proven intractable to philosophers, scientists, and lay people alike. However, Buddhism offers us unique insight into how, when, and why human agency matters to us. In his 2009 book, Consequences of Compassion, Charles Goodman argues that the ultimate nonexistence of the self supports the ultimate nonexistence of free will. Recently in this journal, Riccardo Repetti has critiqued Goodman’s view and made the case that free will does, in fact, ultimately exist. This article first illustrates how Repetti’s view of the self is, actually, entirely consistent with Goodman’s. It goes on to argue that Repetti misconstrues elements of hard determinism as entailing that our wills have no influence on final outcomes. Lastly, it shows how, if Goodman and Repetti are in agreement on the ultimate nonexistence of the self, as well as the causal efficacy of the will, their disagreement about the ultimate existence of free will may be inconsequential.

Read article

Reimagining Buddhist Ethics on the Tibetan Plateau

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Reimagining Buddhist Ethics on the Tibetan Plateau

Holly Gayley
University of Colorado, Boulder

This article examines the ideological underpinnings of ethical reform currently underway in Tibetan areas of the PRC, based on a newly reconfigured set of ten Buddhist virtues and consolidated into vows taken en masse by the laity. I focus on texts of advice to the laity by cleric-scholars from Larung Buddhist Academy, one of the largest Buddhist institutions on the Tibetan plateau and an important source for an emergent Buddhist modernism. In analyzing texts of advice, I am interested in how lead-ing Buddhist voices articulate a “path forward” for Tibetans as a people, calling simultaneously for ethical reform and cultural preservation. Specifically, I trace the tensions and ironies that emerge in their attempts to synthesize, on the one hand, a Buddhist emphasis on individual moral action and its soteriological ramifications and, on the other hand, a secular concern for the social welfare of the Tibetan population and the preservation of its civilizational inheritance. In doing so, I view ethical reform as part of a broader Buddhist response to China’s civilizing mission vis-à-vis Tibetans and new market forces encouraged by the post-Mao state.

Read article

Review: Purifying Zen

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Purifying Zen: Watsuji Tetsurō’s Shamon Dōgen. Watsuji Tetsurō, translated by Steve Bein. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2011, 174 pages; ISBN 978-0824835569 (Paperback), $24.00.

Reviewed by Anton Luis Sevilla

Read article

Review: Purification Buddhist Movement of Korea, 1954-1970

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Purification Buddhist Movement, 1954-1970: The Struggle to Restore Celibacy in the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. By Ven. Chanju Mun. Honolulu, Hawai’i: Blue Pine Books, 2011, ISBN 978-0-9777553-6-3 (paperback), $35.

Reviewed by Ryan Anningson

Read article

Duality of Sexuality in Buddhist Ethics

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Irigaray’s Meditations on the Duality of Sexuality in Buddhist Ethics

Sokthan Yeng
Adelphi University

I suggest that the tension surrounding Irigaray’s interpretation of Tantric sexual meditation practices can be helpful for understanding how both Irigaray and Buddhist thinkers link sexuality to dualism—positively in the former and negatively in the latter. Contemporary Western debates about the merits or demerits of Irigarayan ethics can obfuscate this integral connection between sexuality and dualism. A Buddhist critique of Irigaray, however, can point to the problems within her ethics while being mindful of the relationship that she sought to establish. Likewise, Irigaray’s insightful reading of Buddhism can help show why Buddhists would resist sexuality not necessarily because it is associated with sin, as it often is in the West, but because of the dualism that they think accompanies it. In other words, contrasting Irigaray’s ethics of sexual difference with Buddhist ethics can provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of both.

Read article

Review: Colonialism and Modernity in Sri Lanka

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Locations of Buddhism: Colonialism and Modernity in Sri Lanka. By Anne M. Blackburn. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2010, xxii + 237 pages, ISBN-13 978-0-226-05 507-7 (cloth); ISBN-10 0-226-05 507-8 (cloth), $45.00.

Reviewed by Nathan McGovern

Read article

The Revival of the Bhikkhunī Order and the Decline of the Sāsana

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

The Revival of the Bhikkhunī Order and the Decline of the Sāsana

Bhikkhu Anālayo
Center for Buddhist Studies, University of Hamburg
Dharma Drum Buddhist College, Taiwan

In this article I study the revival of the bhikkhunī order in the Theravāda traditions and its supposed relation to a decline of the Buddha’s dispensation.

Read article

Review: Buddhism, Wealth, and the Dhammakāya Temple

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Nirvana for Sale?: Buddhism, Wealth, and the Dhammakāya Temple in Contemporary Thailand. By Rachelle M. Scott. Albany: SUNY Press, 2009, xiii + 242 pages, ISBN 978-1-4384-2784-3 (paperback), $29.95, ISBN 978-1-4384-2783-6 (hardcover).

Reviewed by Jordan Johnson

Read article

Vegetarianism in Tibet

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Buddhism Between Abstinence and Indulgence: Vegetarianism in the Life and Works of Jigmé Lingpa

Geoffrey Barstow
Otterbein University

Tibetan Buddhism idealizes the practice of compassion, the drive to relieve the suffering of others, including animals. At the same time, however, meat is a standard part of the Tibetan diet, and abandoning it is widely understood to be difficult. This tension between the ethical problems of a meat based diet and the difficulty of vegetarianism has not been lost on Tibetan religious leaders, including the eighteenth century master Jigmé Lingpa. Jigmé Lingpa argues repeatedly that meat is a sinful food, incompatible with a compassionate mindset. At the same time, however, he acknowledges the difficulties of vegetarianism, and refuses to mandate vegetarianism among his students. Instead, he offers a variety of practices that can ameliorate the inherent negativity of eating meat. By so doing, Jigmé Lingpa offers his students a chance to continue cultivating compassion without having to completely abandon meat.

Read article

Review: Social Dimension of Shin Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

The Social Dimension of Shin Buddhism. Ugo Dessi, Editor. Leiden: Brill, 2010, 286 pages; ISBN 978-90-04-18653-8 (Cloth), $153.00.

Reviewed by Glenn R. Willis

Read article

Bad Nun

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Bad Nun: Thullanandā in Pāli Canonical and Commentarial Sources

Reiko Ohnuma
Dartmouth College

In Pāli literature, Thullanandā is well known for being a “bad nun”—a nun whose persistent bad behavior is directly responsible for the promulgation of more rules of the Bhikkhunī Pātimokkha than any other individually named nun. Yet these very same sources also describe Thullanandā in significantly more positive terms—as a highly learned nun, an excellent preacher, and one who enjoys significant support among the laity. In this article, I analyze the Pāli traditions surrounding Thullanandā. I argue that her portrayal is quite complex in nature and often extends beyond herself as an individual to suggest larger implications for the nature of monastic life and monastic discipline. In addition, once Thullanandā is labeled as a “bad nun,” she becomes a useful symbolic resource for giving voice to various issues that concerned the early sangha. In both ways, Thullanandā reveals herself to be far more than just a “bad nun.”

Read article

Review: The Mind Sciences and Contemplative Practice

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Meditations of a Buddhist Skeptic: A Manifesto for the Mind Sciences and Contemplative Practice. B. Alan Wallace. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012. xi+292 pages, ISBN-13: 9780231158343 (pbk), $27.95.

Reviewed by Eric Haynie

Read article

Review: Race and Religion in American Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

Race and Religion in American Buddhism: White Supremacy and Immigrant Adaptation. By Joseph Cheah. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2011, 192 pages, ISBN 978-0199756285 (Hardcover), $65.00.

Reviewed by Brooke Schedneck

Read article

Review: Violence and Liberation in Tibetan Buddhism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 20, 2013

The Taming of the Demons: Violence and Liberation in Tibetan Buddhism. By Jacob P. Dalton. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011, x + 311 pages, ISBN 978-0-300-18796-0 (paper), $27.50; ISBN 978-0-300-15392-7 (cloth), $40.00.

Reviewed by Sarah F. Haynes

Read article