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Practicing the Religious Self: Buddhist-Christian Identity as Social Artifact

Practicing the Religious Self: Buddhist-Christian Identity as Social Artifact ARTICLES Duane R. Bidwell Phillips Theological Seminary It is somewhat paradoxical to write or speak about identity formation in two religious traditions that ultimately deny the reality of any identity that we might claim or fashion for ourselves. In the Christian traditions, a person's true (or ultimate) identity is received through God's action and grace in baptism; to foreground any other facet of the self, or to anchor identity in anything but baptism, could be considered a form of idolatry. In the Buddhist traditions human identity is empty, woven not from an inherent or externally granted essence but through the interdependent arising of all things; 1 to cling to self and to identity as independent, enduring, immutable, or autonomous signals a mistaken understanding of reality.2 Indeed, as religious scholar Alice Keefe has written, "belief in the self as independent and self-existent is our fundamental delusion and root poison." 3 Yet day by day most of us experience our identities, including our religious, cultural, and social identities, as neither empty nor erased. On the contrary: they seem to be inscribed with enduring meaning. Knowledge has been chiseled into them through our participation in the rituals and relationships of the http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Buddhist-Christian Studies University of Hawai'I Press

Practicing the Religious Self: Buddhist-Christian Identity as Social Artifact

Buddhist-Christian Studies , Volume 28 (1) – Nov 14, 2008

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 University of Hawai'i Press
ISSN
1527-9472
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Abstract

ARTICLES Duane R. Bidwell Phillips Theological Seminary It is somewhat paradoxical to write or speak about identity formation in two religious traditions that ultimately deny the reality of any identity that we might claim or fashion for ourselves. In the Christian traditions, a person's true (or ultimate) identity is received through God's action and grace in baptism; to foreground any other facet of the self, or to anchor identity in anything but baptism, could be considered a form of idolatry. In the Buddhist traditions human identity is empty, woven not from an inherent or externally granted essence but through the interdependent arising of all things; 1 to cling to self and to identity as independent, enduring, immutable, or autonomous signals a mistaken understanding of reality.2 Indeed, as religious scholar Alice Keefe has written, "belief in the self as independent and self-existent is our fundamental delusion and root poison." 3 Yet day by day most of us experience our identities, including our religious, cultural, and social identities, as neither empty nor erased. On the contrary: they seem to be inscribed with enduring meaning. Knowledge has been chiseled into them through our participation in the rituals and relationships of the

Journal

Buddhist-Christian StudiesUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Nov 14, 2008

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