oa Litnet Akademies : 'n Joernaal vir die Geesteswetenskappe, Natuurwetenskappe, Regte en Godsdienswetenskappe - Die verhouding tussen religie en mag in Tibettaanse Boeddhisme

Volume 5, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1995-5928



The relationship between religion and power in Tibetan BuddhismThe role of religion in promoting the political aspirations and interests of individuals or groups is well documented within the social sciences. The history of the most influential civilisations in the world speaks to the ability of political aspirants to utilise religion for the legitimation of their imperialistic and/or expansionistic ambitions. But the willingness of religious institutions to serve the needs of political aspirants is seldom value free. In return for the legitimating role that the institution of religion offers, political protection and economic advantages are often the expected reciprocity. This relationship of mutual advantage between these institutions often leads to the systematic fusion of religious symbols with political interests to a point where the division between religious authority and political interests becomes blurred. In fact, often the manifestation of such a relationship leads to attempts by religious institutions to attain the highest levels of political and economic power. A good example of this is the political role and aspirations of the Church over the centuries, and on most continents. The idea that Buddhism, a religion grounded in this-worldly renunciation as a cosmology, could have the same aspirations as the other world religions is less known. Furthermore, that material ambition is strongly displayed in the person and role of the Dalai Lama of Tibet is a concept less known to a world that usually strongly romanticises Buddhism as the spiritual antithesis of Western materialism.

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