"Becoming the Buddha" is the first book-length study of a key ritual of Buddhist practice in Asia: the consecration of a Buddha image or "new Buddha," a ceremony by which the Buddha becomes present or alive. Through a richly detailed, accessible exploration of this ritual in northern Thailand, an exploration that stands apart from standard text-based or anthropological approaches, Donald Swearer makes a major contribution to our understanding of the Buddha image, its role in Buddhist devotional life, and its relationship to the veneration of Buddha relics. Blending ethnography, analysis, and Buddhist texts related to this mimetic reenactment of the night of the Buddha's enlightenment, he demonstrates that the image becomes the Buddha's surrogate by being invested with the Buddha's story and charged with the extraordinary power of Buddhahood. The process by which this transformation occurs through chant, sermon, meditation, and the presence of charismatic monks is at the heart of this book.
Known as "opening the eyes of the Buddha," image consecration traditions throughout Buddhist Asia share much in common. Within the cultural context of northern Thailand, "Becoming the Buddha" illuminates scriptural accounts of the making of the first Buddha image; looks at debates over the ritual's historical origin, at Buddhological insights achieved, and at the hermeneutics of absence and presence; and provides a thematic comparison of several Buddhist traditions.
"Wide-ranging... Although this study concentrates on one ritual in one region of Thailand, Donald K. Swearer extrapolates from the relatively small area of focus to illuminate a large area of debate."--Catherine Newell, Journal of the Siam Society "A thorough and magisterial study... This book will be essential reading for anyone interested in Buddhism, Buddhist 'theology,' images, and the material culture of religions."--John E. Cort, Religious Studies Review
Series: Buddhisms: A Princeton University Press Series
Tertiary; University or College
Number Of Pages: 352
Published: 15th February 2004
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.93 x 16.82
Weight (kg): 0.64