Philosophia 45 (2):773-787 (2017)

On the basis of many years of personal experience the paper describes Buddhist meditation as a mystical practice. After a short discussion of the role of some central concepts in Buddhism, William James’ concept of religious experience is used to explain the goal of meditators as the achievement of a special kind of an experience of this kind. Systematically, its main point is to explain the difference between a craving for pleasant ‘mental events’ in the sense of short-term moods, and the long-term project of achieving a deep change in one’s attitude to life as a whole, a change that allows the acceptance of suffering and death. The last part argues that there is no reason to call the discussed practice irrational in a negative sense. Changes of attitude of the discussed kind cannot be brought about by argument alone. Therefore, a considered use of age-old practices like meditation should be seen as an addition, not as an undermining of reason.
Keywords Experience   Mood Meditation   Mysticism   William James   Rationality
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DOI 10.1007/s11406-016-9783-y
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