Buddhist Scriptures as Literature explores the drama, lyricism, and compelling story lines in Buddhist sacred writings, while illustrating how rhetoric and ideology are at work in shaping readers' reactions. Ralph Flores argues that the Buddha's life story itself follows an archetypal quest-romance pattern: regal surroundings are abandoned and the ensuing feats are heroic. The story can be read as an epic, but it also has a comic plot: confusions and trials until the Prince becomes utterly selfless, having found his true element - nirvana. Making use of contemporary literary theory, Flores offers new readings of texts such as the Nikayas, the Dhammapada, the Heart Sutra, Zen koans, Shantideva's Way of the Bodhisattva, and the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Understanding these works as literature deepens our sense of the unfolding of their teachings, of their exuberant histories, and of their relevance for contemporary life.
Buddhist Scriptures as Literature, Ralph Flores, Suny Press, Hardcover, 2008, 212 Pages, $65.00
Ralph Flores teaches literature at Thammasat University in Thailand and is the author of A Study of Allegory in Its Historical Context and Relationship to Contemporary Theory.
1. Fictions of Reading: Westerners and Buddhist Texts
2. A Prince Transformed: The Nikayas, the Nidanakatha, Asvaghosa’s Acts of the Buddha
3. The Buddha Awakening: The Nikayas
4. Winning Conversions: The Nikayas
5. Passing on: The Nikayas
6. Figures of Right Speech: The Dhammapada
7. Joyous Negations: The Heart Sutra
8. Masters of Emptiness: The Gateless Barrier and Zen Folktales
9. Extreme Giving: The Vessantara Jataka and Shantideva’s A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life
10. Final Emergency Reading: The Tibetan Book of the Dead
Epilogue: Images in the Reader