A question of ethics: the creative orthodoxy of Buddhist monks in the Mongolian gold rush

Mette M. High*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Addressing the intersections of economic opportunities and scriptural interpretation, this article examines how Buddhist monks involved in the Mongolian gold rush view the ethics of mining. Commonly regarded an act of theft and violence within Mahāyāna Buddhism, mining is locally subject to strong ethical denunciations. Drawing on historical connections and transnational devotional practices, the mining monks engage creatively with a method of meditation known as ‘breaking the mind’, which offers a competing way of knowing the world. Focusing on the universe within which they conceptualise action, they present a radical reinterpretation of ethical human life. I argue that the mining monks’ own conceptual framework highlights the analytical importance of attending to not only visible bodily action, but also people's self-reflection in our attempts to understand the place of the ethical in human life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-99
Number of pages20
JournalEthnos
Volume83
Issue number1
Early online date8 Feb 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018

Keywords

  • Ethics
  • Buddhism
  • Gold mining
  • Mongolia
  • Postsocialism
  • Epistemology

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