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Introduction - A Literary Genre and Some Questions about Self-Transformation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 March 2022

John D. Barbour
Affiliation:
St Olaf College, Minnesota
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Summary

This Introduction explains the characteristics of Western Buddhist travel narratives as a genre and their value as a source of religious insight. These stories are autobiographical accounts of a journey to a Buddhist culture. They often describe a transformative religious experience, “unselfing,” when a person’s sense of self is radically altered. The Buddhist concept of no-self helps authors interpret this kind of experience, and it also provokes and enables such events. No-self is a challenging idea for Westerners trying to understand and reconcile it with their culture’s understanding of the self. Autobiographical accounts, in particular travel narratives, disclose crucial features of self-transformation and interpret the meaning of no-self in diverse ways and in contrast to theoretical and philosophical forms of discourse. The structure and topics of the book’s chapters are outlined.

Type
Chapter
Information
Journeys of Transformation
Searching for No-Self in Western Buddhist Travel Narratives
, pp. 1 - 23
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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