By Ralph Flores
Appears at a number of Buddhist sacred writings as literature and comprises insights from literary conception.
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Additional resources for Buddhist Scriptures as Literature: Sacred Rhetoric and the Uses of Theory
Again, the night of awakening depicts the private experience of a solitary individual; outsiders, even his contemporaries, are in no position to validate his experience. One can admire the way in which it is formulated, and certainly be persuaded that some sort of “awakening” took place. But we have no way of knowing, aside from Gautama’s enthusiastic proclamations, that the experience is an infallible indication of having reached “the deathless” in a permanent escape from suffering. We can reasonably conjecture, however, following Girard’s well-documented hypothesis, that Prince Gautama, a highly visible figure who isolates himself from his community (going into homelessness and practicing austerities), was turning into a victim (dying one last time) for a highly contentious society, giving teachings and founding an instititution (the sangha), thereby bringing some degree of detachment and peace to the world.
As for wife and family, he abandoned them in a radical reductionism, turning them into phantom figures as he sets out to live a free life, without props or property. In leaving home, however, there was nothing special, for at the time many ordinary young men did the same. ” An enormous rhetorical task incumbent upon the author(s) of the Buddhist text was to exalt, in any and all ways possible, this cipher of a figure. The splendor of the Buddhist text—deploying huge resources of stock epic phrases, prophecies, regal birth, charismatic speech, quick conversions, and supernormal powers—is to make a hero out of someone who was close to nothing.
The demise also means that, while competitiveness is crucial to demarking his achievements, his achievements are solitary: they are his alone, and no one can match him. True, yet not entirely so. The ongoing paradox, to be seen repeatedly, is that his followers will have a sense that the Buddha (despite a multitude of other Buddhas) was unique in his great accomplishments, but that those followers, flawed as they are, may with effort be able to accomplish the same. Ascetic Excess After studying with his teachers and abandoning them, Gautama’s solitary competitiveness continued in six years of austerities.