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Towards a Buddhist placemaking


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Limburg, Chris










Buddhist practice engages place as a fundamental tool. A Tibetan pilgrim marches into sacred valleys aware and in touch with local spirits. His journey is an ascent into a divine residence: a mountain and its roots. As a guest, the pilgrim offers gifts and proceeds with caution and awakened senses. These and other practices weave together a world of places physically present, socially powerful, and personally meaningful. This paper looks forward towards a sense of Buddhist placemaking by laying out groundwork based on geographic thought and Buddhist practices of pilgrimage.

Buddhist understandings of humanity’s place in the world (and its manipulation thereof) are tied up with the way in which Buddhists make place. The narrative vision with which Buddhists both receive and act upon the world manifests itself in their meditative techniques, spiritual discourse with divine beings, and the conduct of their physical bodies. What can a Buddhist place or event tell us about the way in which Buddhists exist in the world and perceive that existence?

With a geographic understanding of place and its making, this paper explores the nuanced notions of place embedded in Buddhist practice. Buddhist placemaking presents a challenge for literature concerning place in current geography. How does a transcendentally desirous individual live happily and meaningfully in place? Observation, clear understanding, compassion, and intention all factor in the operation of the tool of place for Buddhists. Buddhist places encourage individuals to see through to the real condition of their situation as humans in the world thereby working out their goal of awakening.