What do the scriptures of Theravada 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 endeavor central to Buddhist practice, while denying the existence of a self who wills? How can the texts 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 seeks 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.
Table of Contents:
- A Note on Transliteration
- Introduction: Cetana in Modern Theravada Scholarship
- Approaches to the Concept of Volition in Modern Theravada Scholarship
- Some Modern Interpretations of Cetana
- Cetana and the "Tthicization" of the Idea of Kamma
- Working Definitions of Key Terms
- Chapter I: Concept of Volition in the Upanisads
- Chapter II: Buddhist Debates with Early Jainas
- Chapter III: Conditioned Origination and Cetana
- Chapter IV: Cetana in the Sutta Literature
- Chapter V: Dynamics of Motivation in the Suttas
- Chapter VI: Cetana and Attitudes of Mind: Abhidhamma Perspectives
- Chapter VII: Cetana and the Mindís Dynamic Capacities
- Chapter VIII: Defining Cetana
- Chapter IX: Cetana and Other Pali Terms Indicating Motivation
- General Index.
About the Author:
Nalini Devdas was born in Bangalore, India. For over two decades she was an Associate Professor in the Department of Religion of Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. Her research continues to be focused on the relationship between psychology and ethics in the Pali texts of Theravada Buddhism.