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An examination of Buddhist elements in The waste lands “The Fire Sermon”
2001 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor)Student thesis
Abstract [en]

T.S. Eliot’s long poem The Waste Land is well known for containing influences from both the literary and religious world. This paper will examine elements of Buddhism found in the third section of the poem. This section is called “The Fire Sermon.” The title for “The Fire Sermon” is taken from Buddha’s first sermon as a newly enlightened individual. The characters in the section, of which Tiresias is the most significant, are living the extreme of sensual indulgence. This, according to Buddha’s sermon, was one of the extreme’s the will keep an individual from becoming enlightened. Tiresias, who appears for the first time in “The Fire Sermon,” witnesses a mechanical sex scene between an unnamed bored typist and a “carbuncular” clerk. Interpreting the text with the basic teachings of Buddhist philosophy in mind, we discover that the character Tiresias (and therefore the other characters as well) are going through the process of realizing the Four Holy Truths of the Buddhist teaching. Upon fully realizing those truths one can then begin on the path which leads towards enlightenment. Tiresias and the other characters though are not capable of realizing the fourth Holy Truth. Because of this they will never attain Buddhist enlightenment. This leads to a type of enlightenment at the end of the section, but only when faith is put into a power higher than themselves.

Abstract [en]

T.S. Eliot’s long poem The Waste Land is well known for containing influences from both the literary and religious world. This paper will examine elements of Buddhism found in the third section of the poem. This section is called “The Fire Sermon.” The title for “The Fire Sermon” is taken from Buddha’s first sermon as a newly enlightened individual. The characters in the section, of which Tiresias is the most significant, are living the extreme of sensual indulgence. This, according to Buddha’s sermon, was one of the extreme’s the will keep an individual from becoming enlightened. Tiresias, who appears for the first time in “The Fire Sermon,” witnesses a mechanical sex scene between an unnamed bored typist and a “carbuncular” clerk. Interpreting the text with the basic teachings of Buddhist philosophy in mind, we discover that the character Tiresias (and therefore the other characters as well) are going through the process of realizing the Four Holy Truths of the Buddhist teaching. Upon fully realizing those truths one can then begin on the path which leads towards enlightenment. Tiresias and the other characters though are not capable of realizing the fourth Holy Truth. Because of this they will never attain Buddhist enlightenment. This leads to a type of enlightenment at the end of the section, but only when faith is put into a power higher than themselves.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2001. , 19 p.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-53638Local ID: ENG C-11OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-53638DiVA: diva2:1102198
Subject / course
English
Available from: 2017-05-29 Created: 2017-05-29

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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf