In Rick Repetti (ed.), Routledge Handbook on the Philosophy of Meditation. London, UK: Routledge (2022)

Authors
Matthew MacKenzie
Colorado State University
Abstract
Some meditative experiences are reported to involve a change in the meditator’s sense of self. For instance, some practitioners of body-scan meditation report a felt dissolution of bodily boundaries and a corresponding change in their bodily sense of self. In ‘pure-consciousness-events’ some subjects report a sense of self as pure consciousness, while others report a loss of the sense of self. In this chapter, I use recent philosophical and empirical work on the phenomenal self and the variability of self-experience to explore possible connections with particular types of meditative experience. In particular, I differentiate minimal subjectivity from the more complex and plastic phenomena of self-identification, self-location, and a strong first-person perspective. I discuss how certain reported meditative experiences transform key aspects of phenomenal self-experience, such as phenomenal (dis-)identification with the body, agency, spatial location, and the phenomenal field. I then discuss philosophical implications for the study of consciousness, the self, and meditation.
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