By Gananath Obeyesekere
The good pilgrimage middle of southeastern Sri Lanka, Kataragama, has turn into in recent times the religious domestic of a brand new type of Hindu-Buddhist spiritual devotees. those ecstatic clergymen and priestesses continually reveal lengthy locks of disheveled hair, and so they show their devotion to the gods via hearth strolling, tongue-piercing, placing on hooks, and trance-induced prophesying.The expanding acclaim for those ecstatics poses a problem not just to orthodox Sinhala Buddhism (the authentic faith of Sri Lanka) but in addition, as Gananath Obeyesekere exhibits, to the conventional anthropological and psychoanalytic theories of symbolism. Focusing firstly on one image, disheveled hair, Obeyesekere demonstrates that the traditional contrast among own and cultural symbols is insufficient and naive. His designated case experiences of ecstatics convey that there's regularly a reciprocity among the personal-psychological size of the emblem and its public, culturally sanctioned position. Medusa's Hair therefore makes a major theoretical contribution either to the anthropology of person adventure and to the psychoanalytic realizing of tradition. In its analyses of the symbolism of guilt, the adaptational and integrative value of trust in spirits, and a bunch of similar matters bearing on ownership states and religiosity, this e-book marks a provocative develop in mental anthropology.
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Additional info for Medusa's Hair: An Essay on Personal Symbols and Religious Experience
Thus it means rightness, justice, goodness, purpose rather than chance. Underlying this idea is the oneness of life: the Upanishadic discovery that all things are interconnected because at its deepest level creation is indivisible. This oneness bestows a basic balance on the whole of nature such that any disturbance in one place has to send ripples everywhere, as a perfect bubble, touched lightly in one place, trembles all over until balance is restored. The implications are caught perfectly by those famous lines from John Donne, which deserve to be read now with a fresh eye as not merely great rhetoric but a faithful representation of reality: No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.
The most useful part of this vocabulary comes from Sankhya, the philosophical system whose practical counterpart is the school of meditation called Yoga. Both are traditionally traced to one towering authority, Kapila, and have much in common with Buddhist philosophy. ” The Gita does not belong to the Sankhya school or to any other; it is as comprehensive as the Upanishads. But Sankhya provides a precise vocabulary for describing the workings of the mind, and the Gita draws on that vocabulary freely.
The Gita does not belong to the Sankhya school or to any other; it is as comprehensive as the Upanishads. But Sankhya provides a precise vocabulary for describing the workings of the mind, and the Gita draws on that vocabulary freely. Sankhya philosophy posits two separate categories: Purusha, spirit, and prakriti, everything else. This is not the Western mind-matter distinction. Prakriti is the field of what can be known objectively, the field of phenomena, the world of whatever has “name and form”: that is, not only of matter and energy but also of the mind.