To See Directly: Vision, Place, and Writing in Tibetan Pilgrimage Literature


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


Committee on the Study of Religion


Buddhist thought posits that unwholesome actions result from fundamental misperception of reality, and as such Buddhists have developed various practices—including pilgrimage—that aim to reshape vision. My dissertation explores such practices, concentrating particularly on how language and landscape facilitate these goals in Tibetan pilgrimage literature. To do so, I analyze three categories of pilgrimage literature: polemic texts from a centuries-long debate over the authenticity of a particular holy mountain and the value of pilgrimage in general, guidebooks written for pilgrims about the site's special features, and autobiographical accounts written by pilgrims. In each case, I ask how they approach the problem of training people to see the holy place's theoretically invisible wonders.