Faculty Publications

Publication Date



Social and Cultural Anthropology


This paper explores the stoicism of Taiwanese monastics and argues that, in this context, emotions are believed to be dangerous in part because they interfere with spiritual cultivation. A stoic exterior further represents an inner state of calm and a lack of emotionality. Since women are believed to have more emotional problems than men, nuns in particular seek to control their emotions, in part by studying the example of monks. Women’s emotions are contrasted with the trait of compassion, which is associated with men and thought to be selfless. Cultivating compassion is the focus of much of their spiritual practice and at the center of the vow taking ceremony, wherein they burn scars into their foreheads, signaling their compassion and willingness to endure the world’s suffering, and also concretizing the abstract emotion of compassion through bodily pain.

Document Type

Published Version


This article is the publisher-created version, also considered to be the final version or the version of record. It includes value-added elements provided by the publisher, such as copy editing, layout changes, and branding consistent with the rest of the publication.

Original Citation

HIllary Crane
The stoic monastic: Taiwanese Buddhism and the problem of emotions.
Asian Anthropology, 2006, volume 5, pages 85-110



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