Chapter

The Imaginary Experiment and The Buddhist Implications

Gananath Obeyesekere

in Imagining Karma

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2002 | ISBN: 9780520232204
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520936300 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520232204.003.0003
The Imaginary Experiment and The Buddhist Implications

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This chapter helps in constructing transformational models that deliberately reduce the rich complexity of the empirical world and then it narrows down and highlights the critical differences among the various rebirth theories. It shows how religious innovations are constrained within the limits of prior structures of thought. It emphasizes the logically expectable changes or transformations that emerge with the introduction of ethicization into the ideal type or topographical model of the rebirth eschatology. Ethicization entails the conversion of a moral code into a religious code that in turn affects a person's after-death destiny. In Buddhism and the great monotheisms virtually all morality is by definition religious and implicated in otherworldly recompense. Religions like Buddhism and Jainism simply continued this concern with ordinary or everyday ethics, but they projected these ethics onto a religious or eschatological plane. Buddhism does not prescribe asceticism or withdrawal from the world for the laity. Birth transfers the individual from some otherworld to the visible human world. Rites of passage at birth assist this transition, helping one to overcome the perils of the soul and of conception and fostering the nurture and protection of the fetus and the mother.

Keywords: rebirth theories; Buddhism; transformational models; ethicization; morality; rebirth eschatology

Chapter.  32035 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Buddhism

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