Article

Buddhism and the Body

John Powers

in Buddhism

ISBN: 9780195393521
Published online March 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195393521-0114
Buddhism and the Body

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Unlike some Indian religions that posit an eternal “self” (atman) that serially inhabits bodies during the course of beginningless lifetimes, Buddhism conceives of sentient beings as psychophysical continuums comprising psychic and material components. Physical processes are connected with mental functioning, and awareness of both physical and mental events is a core component of Buddhist meditation practice. Moreover, the relative beauty and vitality of one’s body (kāya) indicates how successful one has been in cultivating virtue: beautiful, healthy people (particularly males) enjoy their physical endowments as a result of past generosity, ethical behavior, and religious practice. Those who are ugly, deformed, or otherwise physically deficient are reaping the consequences of negative deeds. The Buddha is said to have possessed the most perfect of all bodies, which stood as a testament to his outstanding virtue and the vast store of merit he accumulated during innumerable past lives.

Article.  6992 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism ; Tibetan Buddhism ; Zen Buddhism

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