body in discussions of the soul

Jonathan Silk silk at HUMNET.UCLA.EDU
Thu Apr 14 03:06:17 UTC 2005

If for no other reason than that this thread was initiated by my
query, let me respond very briefly to the following suggestion:

>The ancient triad probably originated with the Zoroastrians: "good thoughts,
>good words, good deeds." In Buddhism it got translated/transferred as "body,
>speech and mind." That phrase recurs often in much of the Buddhist

If the implication is that the Buddhist idea was borrowed from
Zoroastrians, I very much doubt this. The analysis of possible
actions into those of body, speech and mind is a rather obvious and
logical one; in fact, as I tell my students, there is really no other
reasonable reductive analysis possible. Whether this can in some way
translate to another triad, mapping as it were on to
body-spirit-mind, seems to me problematic. At least as far as I know,
in Indian Buddhist traditions no such triad exists (although, I
hasten to add, I have not read, and doubtless never will read, all
Indian Buddhist literature).
Jonathan Silk
Department of Asian Languages & Cultures
Center for Buddhist Studies
290 Royce Hall
Box 951540
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1540
phone: (310)206-8235
fax:  (310)825-8808
silk at

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