Who's Your Daddy Now?

Alan Cole

in Text as Father

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2005 | ISBN: 9780520242760
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520931404 | DOI:
Who's Your Daddy Now?

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This chapter inspects the Lotus Sutra and its sophisticated use of father–son motifs to explain its own identity. This Mahayana text inserts itself as the defining element in creating a new identity for the reader and his relationship to the Buddhist tradition by referring to all readers as ‘sons’. The text is designed as a pivot that achieves its own legitimation by offering legitimacy to the reader. Standing back from this play of paternity, the Lotus Sutra created the image of a hyper-Buddhist family that is formed by explicitly renouncing a previously established paternal Buddhist family, even as it borrowed many of its defining elements and logics. Throughout these narratives of conversion there is a ritual structure for killing off one identity in order to adopt a new one, though there is no ritual format or institutional setting provided to support this shift in Buddhist identity.

Keywords: Lotus Sutra; father–son motifs; legitimation; hyper-Buddhist family; narratives of conversion

Chapter.  25947 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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