AABS Seminar | Thresholds of transcendence: Tibetan self-immolation, Western responses and the bodhisattvic path

9 April, 2013
5.30 - 7.00pm

Speaker: Martin Kovan

Presented by the Australian Association of Buddhist Studies (AABS)

As of March 1st 2013, 107 Tibetans (lay and monastic Buddhists) have self-immolated in protest at continuing Chinese persecution. What is less known is that a young English Tibetan Buddhist monk self-immolated last November in solidarity with them. The political nature of his act went unremarked by his monastic authority, and there has been no official recognition of his principled self-immolation. This raises a number of urgent questions for Western Buddhism and the self-representation of Buddhist social-political engagement, concerning the assumed parameters, rationales and scale of that engagement, in the Mahāyāna normative context of ‘alleviating the suffering of all sentient beings.’ This paper will consider the Tibetan and Western cases, some theoretical and ethical conditions of self-immolation in Buddhism, along with its current status in the ‘global repertoire of contention.’

About Martin Kovan:
Martin Kovan is a writer and scholar in Buddhist ethics. In 2010 and 2011 he travelled in Burma and researched the Buddhist non-violent political engagement of the Burmese monastic and diaspora movement for democracy, and subse
quently published an article on this research in the Journal of Buddhist Ethics. He is currently based at Melbourne University researching the meta-ethics of Buddhist pacifism in its potential relation to the ethics of intentional killing in war and counter-terrorism. (Online and print versions of this seminar paper will also be appearing in Overland Journal in March, 2013.)

Location: Woolley Common Room

Contact:Wendi Adamek
Phone: 61 2 9350 3083