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Reading: Can the Western Tourist Gaze be deconstructed through Buddhist Ontology?

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Can the Western Tourist Gaze be deconstructed through Buddhist Ontology?

Authors:

Mahesh Hapugoda ,

Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka, LK
About Mahesh
Department of Languages
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Iraj Ratnayake

Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka, LK
About Iraj
Department of Tourism Management
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Abstract

This theoretical review argues that the western tourist gaze can be deconstructed through the Buddhist ontology of avidyā and prajnā. If Buddhism is about discovering the truth of ‘self’ (end of self and everyday ego) in which emptiness in life is enveloped in a fictional darkness of ignorance (avidyā), its ontology unfolds to overcome that emptiness and to bring in awareness about the illusion that covers the above truth (prajnā). When the ordinary consciousness is based on the sensory perception of subject-object dichotomy, the foundation of the western way of looking at a phenomenon becomes incomplete, since such experience, according to Buddhist ontology, belongs to a cosmic illusion that disturbs prajnā (true wisdom). ‘The knowing of not-knowing’ (prajnā) and understanding the emptiness of ego are the true Buddhist home grounds of ‘being’ rather than ‘becoming’. In this context, with the philosophical insights advanced by the Kyoto School of Thoughts, this paper articulates that the western gaze in the discovery of the outer world can become meaningless. Hence, the western tourist gaze that seeks pleasure or leisure or even newness would be futile as it leads to avidya, the manifestation of the ego. The conclusion is that ‘the union of the seer and the seen’ gets deconstructed when the individual deeply realizes the fundamental nothingness that creates the above subjective-objective illusion (avidyā) - the foundation of the western tourist gaze. Reaching the Buddhist metaphysical assumption of sûnyatâ (zero or permanent void), where the ego is dissolved is only possible when one realizes that nothingness is the thread that ties both subject (tourist) and object (site) together.

How to Cite: Hapugoda, M., & Ratnayake, I. (2021). Can the Western Tourist Gaze be deconstructed through Buddhist Ontology?. South Asian Journal of Tourism and Hospitality, 1(1), 102–116. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/sajth.v1i1.29
Published on 26 Jan 2021.
Peer Reviewed

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