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Text as FatherPaternal Seductions in Early Mahayana Buddhist Literature$
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Alan Cole

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520242760

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520242760.001.0001

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Vimalakīrti, or Why Bad Boys Finish First

Vimalakīrti, or Why Bad Boys Finish First

(p.236) 6 Vimalakīrti, or Why Bad Boys Finish First
Text as Father

Alan Cole

University of California Press

This chapter presents an overview of the text of early Mahayana literature, the Vimalakirti, which presents an example of textual patriarchy overcoming prior forms of Buddhism. Old-style Buddhists and their uncomplicated beliefs and practices are humiliated by the image of perfect tradition condensed in the figure of Vimalakirti. The narrative resolves with the Buddha explaining that the book form of this narrative of humiliation and overcoming should be revered as the font and totality of real Buddhism. The chapter also offers some reflection on what is implied by Mahayana authors rewriting each other's attempts to make texts into tradition. This kind of literary borrowing suggests a complex literary culture in which writers were reading each other in just the way that these texts hoped not to be read, that is, as literature.

Keywords:   Vimalakirti, textual patriarchy, Old-style Buddhists, Mahayana authors, complex literary culture

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