Cetana and the Dynamics of Volition in Theravada Buddhism


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What do the scriptures of Thravada Buddhism have to say about the most basic psychological processes through which alternatives are assessed, purposes are developed, and goal-oriented acts are initiated? How can Theravada make volitional endeavour central to Buddhist practice, while denying the existence of a self who wills? How can the text emphasize ethical striving, and yet uphold the principle that all physical and mental acts arise through causes and conditions? This book adds another perspective to Theravada scholarship by exploring various subtle Pali terms that seek to display the nuances of human motivation. Cetana is shown to be the purposive impetus that links ethically good and bad attitudes of mind with corresponding acts of body, speech, and mind. The argument is made that Theravada does not posit a controlling will, but seek to establish the possibility of changing attitudes, purposes, and acts through holistic methods of training. Theravada maintains that changes in attitude are possible because the mind has the capacity to observe its own processes of conditioning, and is able to greatly diversify its responses to its own concepts and to factors in its environment.


About the Author(s)

Nalini Devdas was born in Bangalore, India. For over two decades she was an Associate Professor in the Deptt. of Religion of Carleton Univ., Ottawa, Canada. Her research continues to be focused on the relationship between psychology and ethics in the Pali texts of Theravada Buddhism.

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Weight 0.5 kg
Dimensions 10 × 11 × 12 cm
Book Author

Nalini Devdas

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