The Skillful Handling of Poison: Bodhicitta and the Kleśas in Śāntideva’s Bodhicaryāvatāra

Journal of Indian Philosophy 45 (2):331-348 (2017)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
This essay considers the eighth century Indian Buddhist monk, Śāntideva’s strategy of using the afflictive mental states for progress towards liberation in his Introduction to the Practice of Awakening. I begin by contrasting two images from the first chapter that represent the power of bodhicitta: the fires destroying the universe at the end of time, and the mercury elixir that transmutes base metals into gold. The first of these, I argue, better illustrates the text’s predominant strategy of destroying the afflictive mental states directly by their antidotes. The second, in contrast, represents an alternative strategy in which afflictive mental states like anger, craving and delusion, are manipulated for liberative gain. I offer several examples of Śāntideva’s use of the kleśas in his text, and argue that they can be understood as a continuation of the logic of skillful means, in which destructive actions, and here destructive mental states, are used to lessen suffering. Finally, I suggest that one reason Śāntideva employs the kleśas in this way is because of his realization that many practitioners early on the bodhisattva path will lack the motivation necessary to successfully pursue the difficult training of the bodhisattva.
ISBN(s)
PhilPapers/Archive ID
EHATSH
Revision history
Archival date: 2017-03-09
View upload history
References found in this work BETA

View all 13 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Added to PP index
2017-01-14

Total views
60 ( #37,890 of 47,160 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
16 ( #37,748 of 47,160 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.