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Religious Studies
Joe Larose

Oct.24.2012 RELIGION TEST #2 – REVIEW NOTES Corresponding readings: The Buddha Makes his Case for the Homeless Life The Buddha makes his Case for the Homeless life C. the third teaching is called the Mahāsīhanāda Sutta: The Great Lion’s Roar -again, it is a kind of game of redefinition -a practitioner of severe asceticism, Kassapa, ask the Buddha whether it is true that the Buddha has disapproved of the practice of severe asceticism -in return, the Buddha says no, of course not -but then goes on to define what he means by asceticism -we get a list in paragraph 14 of a variety of ascetic practices -read para.15: “a practiser of self-mortification may do all these things, bit if his morality, his heart and his wisdom are not developed and brought to realization, then indeed he is still far from being an ascetic or a Brahmin” -in paragraph 16, the Buddha makes the point that anyone can go around naked – “any householder or householder’s son – even the slave-girl who draws water – could do this” -but the type of asceticism the Buddha advocates for is hard to do -read from para.16: “But, Kassapa, because there is a very different kind of asceticism beside this, therefore it is right to say: ‘It is hard to be an ascetic, it is hard to be a Brahmin.’ But, Kassapa, when a monk develops non-enmity, non-ill-will and a heart full of loving kindness, then that monk is called an ascetic and a Brahmin” -we should return to some of what I said last class -I said that one way of understanding the way that these texts are structured is to see them as somehow relating the Buddhist path to outside, or non-Buddhist traditions -the Kūṭadanta sutta essentially draws a continuum between brahminic sacrifice and Buddhist sacrifice -the Mahāsīhanāda sutta relates Buddhist practice to outside ascetic practices – and redefines them in particularly Buddhist ways Oct.24.2012 -I suggested that we might understand this recurrent feature of the texts as a way of making Buddhism make sense to an outsider – as a way of selling the religion, as a way of gaining converts -but I also suggested that perhaps this is not the case -would a brahmin read the Kūṭadanta sutta and say, “Yes, that is a better way to do a sacrifice”?-I suggested also that the texts might be read more simply as an argument in favour of, or at least an assertion of, Buddhism’s superiority relative to other traditions -as a way of saying that the other traditions are misguided -that others might think their sacrifices might be proper, but the Buddhist way of sacrificing is actually the proper way -that others might think their way of practicing asceticism is proper, but it is the Buddhism understanding of asceticism that is actually the best way -in this reading, we might then reconceive our understanding of the audience as those who are not experts per se in a particular tradition, but might be evaluating the merits of various traditions -that is, the texts are still “selling Buddhism” but maybe the target audience is not brahmins who are going to rethink their idea of sacrifice -instead, the potential “convert” is s
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