Buddhist Precepts and the Diagnosis of Women’s suffering in Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook

  •  Shaereh Shaereh Shaerpooraslilankrodi    
  •  Ruzy Hashim    


In Doris Lessing’s fictions, the effects of the world outside on the female self-transcendence are invariably lost, and instead the journey in the world within is notably emphasized. Similarly in The Golden Notebook the didactic bend of the female enlightenment is firmly entrenched to the world within where personal harmonies parallel the mystical patterns of self-development. Moreover, the detailed exploration of the novel foregrounds the female characters’ hard effort to end their suffering which is the core of Buddhist teachings. Hence, while Lessing is not specifically attempting to portray Buddhist principles in her novel, her vision captures the universal nature of humankind’s attempts to overcome suffering which is the most emphasized concept in Buddhism. Accordingly, the purpose of this paper is to use Buddhist philosophical thoughts, particularly the founding of the pioneer of Mahayana Buddhism, Nagarjuna, in his book Mulamadhyamakakarika to look more closely at the root of women’s suffering and their prescription to overcome it. The methodology appropriated entails depiction of clinging as the root of female suffering which is overtly discussed in Nagarjuna’s philosophy. After diagnosis of clinging disease as the root of suffering, this paper presents Nagarjuna’s prescription to end suffering through viewing the “empty” nature of beings and “dependent arising”. By examining the root of female suffering and offering the method for its eradication, we depart from other critics who examine Lessing’s works under Sufi mystic thoughts. This departure is significant since we reveal, unlike Sufi patterns within which the suffering is only diagnosed, Lessing’s mystic aim in shaping her female characters is not only to detect their suffering, but like Buddhism, to suggest a prescription for it. 

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