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NAIVE SENSUALISM, DOCTA IGNORANTIA. TIBETAN LIBERATION THROUGH THE SENSES

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Liberations through the senses are the soteriological practices of the Tibetan Buddhists, a counterpart to and an elaboration on what in Europe is occasionally described, somewhat contemptuously, as "rattling off one's prayers". Linked with folk beliefs and rituals and labelled "naive sensualism" in European ethnographic terminology, Tibetan "liberation through senses" are all those religious behaviours (as well as related sacred objects) - such as listening to and repeating mantras, circumambulation of stūpas, looking at sacred images, tasting relics, smelling and touching sacred substances - which are accompanied by a belief that sensual contact with a sacred object (sculpted figure, painting, mandala, stūpa, holy man, tree, mount, book, substance, etc.) can give one hope and even certainty of achieving liberation. This study argues against ethnological conclusion, classifying such a kind of behaviour as a typical example of non-reflective folk-religiousness. The text is concerned with an in-depth interpretation of "liberations through the senses." The soteriological idea of endless repetition, associated with the process of destroying the discursive consciousness, is projected on the background of comparative religion. Subsequently, the full soteriological cycle, beginning with rattling off prayers and ending with "a borderline experience," is traced in the Tibetan and other religious materials.

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/content/journals/10.1163/156852700511432
2000-01-01
2015-08-01

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