The View from Somewhen: Events, Bodies and the Perspective of Fortune around Khawa Karpo, a Tibetan Sacred Mountain in Yunnan Province

In: Inner Asia
Giovanni Da Col
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Similarly to the Amerindian model, in Tibetan cosmology humans and nonhumans share an inner principle under the form of consciousness (rnam shes). Corporeal differences and perspectival access are nevertheless determined by the economy of a ‘field of fortune’. This fieldmay be regarded as a formof ‘clothing’ a being ‘wears’: a ‘body’ that may provide cosmological mobility, a ‘poor man ’s way’ to assume nonhumans’ points of view and transcending ontological domains without having to be a shaman. Nevertheless, the field is unstable and his configuration fragmented and folded. Each ‘perspective’ needs an event in order to be transiently activated and unfolding the configuration of forces composing a body of fortune. The absence of ideas of fortune and karma among Amerindians results in a perspectivism as being predominantly a spatial view from somewhere.Among Tibetans, an economy of merit and fortune produces an evenemental perception, a view from somewhen where perspectives are also points of view on one’s karmic continuum. After discussing notions of fortune, merit and the Tibetan perceptual propensity in relation to other living beings, this paper will examine the ontology of some key Tibetan bodies and their relation with perspectivism: the zombie (ro langs), the mountain god (yul lha), the reckless hunter (rngon pa), the ‘living Buddha’ (sprul sku) and the idiom of ‘emanation’ (sprul pa), commonly known as ‘incarnation’.

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