Virtuous Bodies: The Physical Dimensions Of Morality In Buddhist Ethics

Hardcover | August 8, 2007

bySusanne Mrozik

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Virtuous Bodies breaks new ground in the field of Buddhist ethics by investigating the diverse roles bodies play in ethical development. Traditionally, Buddhists assumed a close connection between body and morality. Thus Buddhist literature contains descriptions of living beings that stinkwith sin, are disfigured by vices, or are perfumed and adorned with virtues. Taking an influential early medieval Indian Mahayana Buddhist text-Santideva's Compendium of Training (Siksasamuccaya)-as a case study, Susanne Mrozik demonstrates that Buddhists regarded ethical development as a process ofphysical and moral transformation. Mrozik chooses The Compendium of Training because it quotes from over one hundred Buddhist scriptures, allowing her to reveal a broader Buddhist interest in the ethical significance of bodies. The text is a training manual for bodhisattvas, especially monastic bodhisattvas. In it, bodies functionas markers of, and conditions for, one's own ethical development. Most strikingly, bodies also function as instruments for the ethical development of others. When living beings come into contact with the virtuous bodies of bodhisattvas, they are transformed physically and morally for the better. Virtuous Bodies explores both the centrality of bodies to the bodhisattva ideal and the corporeal specificity of that ideal. Arguing that the bodhisattva ideal is an embodied ethical ideal, Mrozik poses an array of fascinating questions: What does virtue look like? What kinds of physical featuresconstitute virtuous bodies? What kinds of bodies have virtuous effects on others? Drawing on a range of contemporary theorists, this book engages in a feminist hermeneutics of recovery and suspicion in order to explore the ethical resources Buddhism offers to scholars and religious practitionersinterested in the embodied nature of ethical ideals.

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From the Publisher

Virtuous Bodies breaks new ground in the field of Buddhist ethics by investigating the diverse roles bodies play in ethical development. Traditionally, Buddhists assumed a close connection between body and morality. Thus Buddhist literature contains descriptions of living beings that stinkwith sin, are disfigured by vices, or are perfu...

Susanne Mrozik is Assistant Professor of Religion, Mount Holyoke College
Format:HardcoverDimensions:192 pages, 6.18 × 9.21 × 0.91 inPublished:August 8, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195305000

ISBN - 13:9780195305005

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction to the Compendium of Training2. The Vital Points of the Bodhisattva Discipline3. Ripening Living Beings4. Virtuous Bodies: A Physiomoral Discourse on Bodies5. Foul Bodies: An Ascetic Discourse on Bodies6. Revisioning Virtue

Editorial Reviews

"Susanne Mrozik's Virtuous Bodies makes a valuable contribution by demonstrating, in a clear and compelling way, how morality is associated with the body in ancient Indian Buddhism. We learn that physical bodies, far from being just loathsome and defiling things, were sometimes viewed asbeautiful and capable of aiding others in the pursuit of liberation. As such, Mrozik's work represents an exemplary study whereby a single text-Santideva's Compendium of Training?in tandem with insights from feminist and critical theory can be used to illuminate an important, and often overlooked,facet of early Buddhist thought." --Stephen C. Berkwitz, author of Buddhist History in the Vernacular: The Power of the Past in Late Medieval Sri Lanka