Annabella Pitkin (Ph.D. Columbia University, 2009) is Assistant Professor of East Asian Religions at Lehigh University. Her research explores early modern and contemporary Tibetan Buddhist yogic narratives; transregional identities in Asia; and modernity and social change in the Himalayan region and China.
This paper approaches the dynamics of secularization and post-secularism among Tibetan Buddhists through the lens of ‘miracle’ narratives, both oral and textual, arguing that such narratives function as a lightening-rod for complexities surrounding secularism and its religious doubles. Tibetan Buddhist genres of historical and biographical writing brim with accounts of extraordinary yogic abilities (Skt. siddhi, Tib. dngos grub and Skt. ṛddhi, Tib. rdzu ‘phrul)), ranging from clairvoyance to flight. Combining interviews with Tibetan Buddhist scholars and practitioners, oral commentaries, and textual analysis, I engage here with analyses of yogic power articulated by three contemporary, primarily diaspora-based Tibetan Buddhist scholar-practitioners. I argue that their analyses of yogic power offer approaches to negotiating secularism, modernity, and religious commitment using Tibetan Buddhist philosophical tools, in ways that resonate with contemporary debates about processes of secularism in Asia and elsewhere.
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Pitkin, Annabella C.
"The ‘Age of Faith’ and the ‘Age of Knowledge’: Secularism and Modern Tibetan Accounts of Yogic Power,"
Himalaya, the Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies:
1, Article 13.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.macalester.edu/himalaya/vol36/iss1/13