Journal of Indian Philosophy 49 (5):913-929 (2021)

Authors
Bronwyn Finnigan
Australian National University
Abstract
The Buddhist Nikāya Suttas frequently mention the concept of fear (bhaya) and related synonyms. This concept does not receive much scholarly attention by subsequent Buddhist philosophers. Recent scholars identify a ‘paradox of fear’ in several traditions of classical Indian Buddhism (Brekke 1999, Finnigan 2019, Giustarini 2012). Each scholar points out, in their respective textual contexts, that fear is evaluated in two ways; one positive and the other negative. Brekke calls this the “double role” of fear (1999: 443). Each also identify fear as purposely elicited to motivate acts aimed at achieving fearlessness, where freedom from fear is characteristic of nibbāna. They all find this puzzling. Finnigan asks: “Why would one purposefully incite fear if one’s goal is its elimination?” (2019: 221). Giustarini says that fear has a “contradictory nature” (2012: 513); Brekke calls it “the paradox of fear” (1999: 442). This article introduces the ‘paradox of fear’ as it appears in the Bodhicaryāvatāra of Śāntideva and the Nikāya suttas. It then critically examines Brekke and Giustarini’s proposed solutions. It argues that they get some things right in ways that are both supported by the Nikāyas and relevant to Śāntideva but that they leave some important questions unanswered. The article contends that these questions are best answered if fear is analysed as appropriate when its objects are related to karma and rebirth.
Keywords Buddhism  Fear of death  Mindfulness  karma
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DOI 10.1007/s10781-021-09485-y
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Śāntideva and the Moral Psychology of Fear.Bronwyn Finnigan - 2019 - In Jonathan Gold & Douglas Duckworth (eds.), Readings of Santideva's Guide to Bodhisattva Practice. Columbia University Press. pp. 221-234.

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