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Religions 2017, 8(9), 173; doi:10.3390/rel8090173

Dazzling Displays and Hidden Departures: Bodhisattva Pedagogy as Performance in the Biographies of Two Twentieth Century Tibetan Buddhist Masters

College of Arts and Sciences, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA 18015, USA
Received: 11 August 2017 / Revised: 17 August 2017 / Accepted: 23 August 2017 / Published: 5 September 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pedagogy and Performance in Tibetan Buddhism)
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Abstract

This article, part of a special issue on pedagogy and performance in Tibetan Buddhism, explores two closely-related yet apparently opposite Tibetan repertoires of virtuoso Buddhist mastery as sites of performative pedagogy. One of these modes of Buddhist mastery is connected with the ideal virtuoso figure of the yogic siddha, or druptop (Tib. grub thob), and with remarkable manifestations of yogic prowess (what are sometimes called yogic “miracles” in English). The other mode is connected with the ideal of renunciation, and the Tibetan Buddhist virtuoso figure of the renunciant hermit-wanderer, or chatralwa (Tib. bya bral ba). In Indic and Tibetan literature, both of these repertoires of Buddhist mastery are classically associated with a bodhisattva’s teaching activity in the world, and with a bodhisattva’s use of many kinds of skillful means (Skt. upāya; Tib. thabs) to develop individuals on the Buddhist path. (A bodhisattva, in Mahayana Buddhist terms, is someone who has vowed to achieve Buddhahood to benefit others.) I explore how these related modes of virtuoso pedagogical performance emerge in oral and textual life stories of two notable twentieth-century Tibetan masters. These modes of virtuoso Buddhist pedagogy and Tibetan ways of talking about them challenge our understandings of what it means to “perform” and what it means to “renounce,” with renunciation emerging as a guarantor of the genuineness of someone’s altruism. View Full-Text
Keywords: Tibetan Buddhism; pedagogy; performance; renunciation; yogic power; bodhisattva; 20th century Tibetan Buddhism; pedagogy; performance; renunciation; yogic power; bodhisattva; 20th century
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Pitkin, A. Dazzling Displays and Hidden Departures: Bodhisattva Pedagogy as Performance in the Biographies of Two Twentieth Century Tibetan Buddhist Masters. Religions 2017, 8, 173.

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