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Monks in the Age of Suffering: World Renouncers and World Conquerors

  • Peter Lehr
Chapter

Abstract

The discussion of Buddhist discourses on violence in theory and practice naturally leads to a discussion of the relationship between the Sangha and the state on the one hand, and, more generally, of the relationship between the Sangha and the people on the other, with the purpose to assess the Sangha’s role within society. Hence, this chapter will first explore what monks are supposed to do, and what roles they are meant to play within a society that usually awards them high respect. It will be investigated how monks as ideal-type ‘world renouncers’ have gradually been transformed into political actors, that is ‘world conquerors,’ in their own right. The focus here will be on the ‘second moment’ of Buddhist history, that is the traditional states, to demonstrate that ‘political monks’ are not a recent phenomenon, and also that the nature of politics, and hence the nature of the monks’ involvement in politics, has changed with the beginning of the ‘third moment’ for a variety of reasons to be discussed.

Keywords

Sangha Bhikkhu Traditional role of monks Monks and laity Monks as political actors Patimokkha Vinaya Pitaka 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Lehr
    • 1
  1. 1.School of International RelationsUniversity of St AndrewsSt AndrewsUK

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