Liberation upon Hearing: Voice, Morality, and Death in a Buddhist World
Article first published online: 12 MAR 2014
© 2014 by the American Anthropological Association.
Special Issue: Moral Experience
Volume 42, Issue 1, pages 101–118, March 2014
How to Cite
Desjarlais, R. (2014), Liberation upon Hearing: Voice, Morality, and Death in a Buddhist World. Ethos, 42: 101–118. doi: 10.1111/etho.12041
- Issue published online: 12 MAR 2014
- Article first published online: 12 MAR 2014
- Tibetan Buddhism
This essay considers morally salient dimensions of dying, death, and mourning among Yolmo Buddhists of Nepal. It attends in particular to certain procedures of speech, touch, vision, and bodily and vocal guidance and copresence in times of dying and grief. An ethics of care informs the ways in which people comfort the dying and console the grief stricken. The moral responsibility that people observe here is a question of support and guidance, of providing attendant rhythms, and of a subtle “liberation upon hearing.” Through words and prayers, people create a gentle space for dying and accompany a person up to the moment of death. They also try to draw people back from the despair of grief. With these culturally informed arrangements of care and mourning, it is clear that language, prayer, music, and bodily presence serve as vehicles of moral support, attunement, and alteration.