Visiting Speakers

Emily McRae, University of Wisconsin - Madison

Monday, Jan. 17, 2011, 3:30 p.m., 607 Dale Hall Tower. Everyone is welcome!

The Passionate Life: A Buddhist Perspective

This paper addresses the ways that we can understand and transform our strong emotions and how this project contributes to moral and spiritual development.  To this end, I choose to think with two Tibetan Buddhist thinkers, both of whom take up the question of how passionate emotions can fit into spiritual and moral life: the famous, playful yogin Shabkar Tsodruk Rangdrol (1781-1851) and the wandering, charismatic master Patrul Rinpoche (1808-1887). Shabkar's The Autobiography of Shabkar provides excellent examples of using one's own passionate emotions to connect to others and gain insight into the world. Patrul Rinpoche's The Words of My Perfect Teacher (kun bzang la ma'i zhal lung) focuses on passionate empathy with the emotions of others. Drawing on these texts, I present a (distinctly Buddhist) conception of a passionate life and argue that passionate emotional experience is a central part of moral and spiritual development more broadly construed.