Submitted Proposals (2020-2021)
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Proposal # 8
||When Sickness is not Sickness: How the
Proposal Number: 8
Paper Title: When Sickness is not Sickness: How the
Going back to its earliest Indian forms, the Buddhist tradition (as stated in the first Noble Truth of the Buddha) attests that "Life is suffering." But through a dazzling use of philosophy and dialogic narrative, the later Mahayana text "The Vimalakirti Sutra" posits a level of non-duality in which pain, suffering, and sickness are seen as the flip-sides and necessary preconditions of joy, contentment, and health. The title character Vimalakirti uses his powers of enlightened awakening to magically feign illness and draw to his sick-bed Buddhist individuals he can then instruct in the teaching of non-duality. The text serves as a meditation on the critical Mahayana Buddhist concept of non-duality and, in its teaching on the possibility of a greater meaning and context to sickness, a foundation for re-conceptualizing times of illness, both for individuals and the larger society.