A Lotus Blooms in the End Times: Cosmological Topography and the Tibetan State

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The ruler of the central Tibetan state, the Desi Sangyé Gyatso (1653-1705), recognized its capital city of Lhasa as having the radial form of an eight-petaled flower or eight-spoked wheel. This article examines the Desi's writings to reflect on the relationship between symbolically ordered space and cosmology. Scholars have often explained such spaces as representing a cosmological model, assigning that model the role of a static foundation and distancing it from human activity. This Tibetan case is read as evidence for another way of thinking about cosmological topography, namely as a creative process in a self-consciously critical relationship with its encompassing world. At stake is the general question of how humans both inhabit the cosmos and actively participate in ordering it.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1049-1086
Number of pages38
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Religion
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Academy of Religion. All rights reserved.


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