A Buddhist Perspective on Energy Bending, Strength, and the Power of Aang's Spirit

In Helen De Cruz & Johan De Smedt (eds.), Avatar: The Last Airbender and Philosophy. Wisdom from Aang to Zuko. Wiley-Blackwell (forthcoming)
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During Aang's intermingling with Fire Lord Ozai, the voice of a Lion Turtle hints at the reason why Aang prevails. “In the era before the Avatar, we bent not the elements but the energy within ourselves. To bend another's energy, your own spirit must be unbendable or you will be corrupted and destroyed.” We use ideas from Buddhist philosophy to answer four questions about the world of Avatar: (1) What is it for a spirit to be unbendable? (2) What is it to bend another's energy? (3) Does Aang's ability to bend Ozai's spirit refute Ozai's accusation that Aang is weak? (4) What does Aang's ability indicate about what it means to be powerful?

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Nicholaos Jones
University of Alabama, Huntsville


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