Responsable: Jacques Leider

Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient
Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre
20 Borommaratchachonnani Road
Bangkok 10170
Tel: +66 2 433 12 68
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Peter Skilling @ Cardiff
07 JULY 12
Peter Skilling will visit Cardiff, Wales, to attend the international conference on Early Mahayana organized by the UK Association of Buddhist Studies at St Michael’s College, Llandaff, where he will present a paper, « Ensuring the continuity of the Three Jewels, or, Why become a bodhisatva? »  on Saturday, 7 July, 08h00.
Ensuring the continuity of the Three Jewels, or, Why become a bodhisatva?
Small phrases may be packed with big meaning – they can point to cognitive shifts that gave authority to new messages. Buddhist followers were enjoined to ‘see the Preacher as the Teacher’, that is, to look at the dharma-bhāṇaka as the Buddha (Skilling 2009). This opened new avenues of discourse, ritual, and praxis, and gave authority to the vaidalya texts that became ‘mahāyāna sūtras’.
Frequent among the modules that structure the architecture of mahāyāna sūtras is a phrase that invokes the non-interruption of the lineage or continuity of the Buddhas (buddha-vaṃśa), the lineage or continuity of the Three Jewels (triratna-vaṃśa: or, separately, buddha-vaṃśa, dharma-vaṃśa, saṃgha-vaṃśa). A bodhisatva should strive to ensure that this lineage is not interrupted. One of many strings in the exuberant verbal festoons that characterize the literature, this small phrase is rarely explained or elaborated; it seems to have been be taken for granted, transparent. The term is important to the self-identity of the bodhisatva: to preserve the lineage is the work of bodhisatvas, not that of śrāvakas or pratyekabuddhas – a point that is made in several vaidalya sūtras.
Can this small phrase help us to understand big issues? Can it help answer the question, why was the bodhisatva path increasingly regarded as necessary? Can it help explain the historical reorientation from the śrāvaka goals to that of buddhahood, or the rise of bodhicitta rituals as foundational to new avenues of Buddhist practice? The paper examines some of the strategies of authority through which new generations of preachers, both within and without the old saṃghas, deployed new teleologies, new ideological premises, to attract and inspire new textual and ritual communities. This was one of the many steps in the zigzag from vaidalya to mahāyāna.