This paper first reviews key Buddhist concepts of time anicca , khanavada and uji and then describes the way in which a particular form of Bhuddist meditation, vipassana, may be thought to actualize them in human experience. The chief aim of the paper is to present a heuristic model of how vipassana meditation, by eroding dispositional tendencies rooted in the body-unconscious alters psychological time, transforming our felt-experience of time from a binding to a liberating force.
In a book geared toward the younger generation, the author explains techniques to sharpen alertness, quiet the mind, increase awareness, strengthen positive mental states and develop insight. Original.
The paper argues that empirical work on Buddhist meditation has an impact on Buddhist epistemology, in particular their account of unity of consciousness. I explain the Buddhist account of unity of consciousness and show how it relates to contemporary philosophical accounts of unity of consciousness. The contemporary accounts of unity of consciousness are closely integrated with the discussion of neural correlates of consciousness. The conclusion of the paper suggests a new direction in the search for neural correlates of state (...) consciousness or creature consciousness. (shrink)
This paper interprets Buddhist meditation from perspectives of Western psychology and explores the common grounds shared by the two disciplines. Cognitive operations in Buddhist meditation are mainly characterized by mindfulness and concentration in relation to attention. Mindfulness in particular plays a pivotal role in regulating attention. My study based on Buddhist literature corroborates significant correspondence between mindfulness and metacognition as propounded by some psychologists. In vipassan? meditation, mindfulness regulates attention in such a way that attention is directed (...) to monitor the ever-changing experiences from moment to moment so that the practitioner attains the ?metacognitive insight? into the nature of things. In samatha meditation, mindfulness picks an object as the focus of ?selective attention' and monitors whether attention is concentrated on the chosen object so as to attain the state of ?concentration?. Nimitta that appears in a deep state of concentration resembles ?imagery? in psychology. Mindfulness consists in the wholesome functioning of saññ?. A finding by psychologists supports my view that saññ? can act as perception on the one hand and, on the other hand, it can produce nimitta ?imagery? in deep meditation where perception is suspended. (shrink)
I first attempt a taxonomy of meditation in traditional Indian Buddhism. Based on the main psychological or somatic function at which the meditative effort is directed, the following classes can be distinguished: (1) emotion-centered meditation (coinciding with the traditional samatha approach); (2) consciousness-centered meditation (with two subclasses: consciousness reduction/elimination and ideation obliteration); (3) reflection-centered meditation (with two subtypes: morality-directed reflection and reality-directed observation, the latter corresponding to the vipassanā method); (4) visualization-centered meditation; and (5) (...) physiology-centered meditation. In the second part of the essay I tackle the problem of the epistemic validity and happiness-engendering value of Buddhist meditation. In my highly conjectural view, the claim that meditation represents an infallible tool for realizing the (Supreme) Truth as well as a universally valid method for attaining the highest forms of happiness is largely based on the crēdō effect, that is, a placebolike process. I do not deny that meditation may have some positive effects on mental and physical health or that its practice may bring changes to the mind. Meditation may be a valuable alternative approach in life and clinical treatment, but it is far from being a must or a panacea. (shrink)
One of the major aims of this article is to provide the theoretical account of mindfulness provided by the systematic Abhidharma epistemology of conscious states. I do not claim to present the one true version of mindfulness, because there is not one version of it in Buddhism; in addition to the Abhidharma model, there is, for example, the nondual Mahāmudrā tradition. A better understanding of a Buddhist philosophical framework will not only help situate meditation practice in its originating (...) tradition, but it will also clarify a Buddhist perspective on consciousness. In this article, I present the Abhidharma account of mindfulness—as explicated in the Abhidharmakośa, the root text for the Abhidharma tradition—and the theoretical model of the mind that underlies its practice. Abhidharma–Yogācara model of the mind, I believe, contains critical philosophical insights relevant to contemporary concerns while at the same time placing mindfulness meditation in its proper philosophical context. (shrink)
Within The Varieties of Religious Experience lies the germ of a truly radical idea. It is that religious experience has something important and basic to contribute to the science of psychology. Yet now, a hundred years after the publication of James's monumental work, the mainstream academic fields of psychology are no closer to considering, let alone implementing, this idea than they were in James's day. Why? Surely one aspect of this is the way in which the categories and imagery of (...) our society envisage an otherworldly religion and a naturalistic psychology which are on different planes of existence and cannot communicate with one other. I believe that the Eastern meditation traditions can bridge this divide and that had William James been as familiar with Eastern religions as he was with Christianity, he would have had a great deal more specifically to say about what religion had to offer science. The purpose of this paper is to look again at James's material through the lens of Eastern, particularly Buddhist, thought and meditation. Ideally this will serve not only to provide a new perspective on James's classic work but to show a new direction in which the study of religious experience can impact research in psychology and in the emerging cognitive sciences. (shrink)
This article is an exploration of the nature of consciousness. The author draws in depth from works of philosophy, psychology, literature, and meditation practice to examine a subject so subtle that we may overlook it. Consciousness, in the Buddhist tradition, cannot be held as merely another object of knowledge, a thing to be known, because it is not located in time or in space. Some modern philosophers seem to arrive at the same conclusion. Consciousness cannot be discovered through common (...) scientific strategies. Only presence-being conscious of being conscious of something-allows one to realize what consciousness is. And this can only be discovered by an exploration in the first person. Buddhist meditation offers a skillful means of investigation. (shrink)
These, and many other related questions have continued to rise in the minds of meditation practitioners of Chan, Sôn and Zen Buddhism since the earliest stages in the development of these traditions, and it is in response to such questions that the Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment was composed. In addition to detailed guidance on the undertaking of Chan contemplation, the sutra offers concise discussions of the fundamental philosophical grounds which underlie such practices, in the form of question and (...) answer sessions between the Buddha and twelve prominent bodhisattvas. While long a popular text throughout the East Asian meditative tradition, the Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment attained to a special canonical status in the Korean Chogye school where it was favored by such luminaries as Chinul, T'aego and Hyujông, and where it is used down to the present day as a basic text for monastic instruction. The. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
Zen students described their experiences when working with koans, and a phenomenological method was used to identify the structure of those experiences. Zen koans are statements or stories developed in China and Japan by Zen masters in order to help students transform their conscious awareness of the world. Eight participants including 3 females and 5 males from Southern California with 1 to 30 years of experience in Zen answered open-ended questions about koan practice in one tape-recorded session for each participant. (...) Refl ection yielded the following thematic clusters: (a) motivation, (b) approaches to working with koans, (c) experiences while working with koans, (d) experiences of insight into koans, (e) working with a teacher, and (f ) transformation. Participants described positive transformations including better control of emotions and concentration, better awareness of prejudices and biases with the ability to suppress those types of habitual associations, and a new relation to and acceptance of spiritual questions and doubts. (shrink)
A confluence of increasing interest in popular culture as a source for religious inspiration and the growing interest, both popular and scholarly, in zombie-fiction bring together several possibilities for scholarship in the context of religious studies. This paper will present one aspect of the zombie-craze in the light of Buddhist philosophy. The Buddha taught that the illusion of self-ish-ness, and resulting attachments, are the greatest hurdles to achieving nibbana. Through meditating on the decomposing corpse, Buddhists may come to realize the (...) Ten Impurities of the Body, and so come to grips with the impermanence of the self. I will illustrate how George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, recognized as the watershed film of the modern zombie sub-genre, unintentionally conveys the Buddhist teachings of dukkha (suffering by attachments), anatta (no-self), and anicca (impermanence). (shrink)
This essay considers the way in which 'The Tale of Genji' by Murasaki Shikibu is wholly conceived within a Buddhist world-view, much as 'The Divine Comedy' is conceived within that of Christianity. The entire plot instantiates Buddhist views. Unlike another great work of literature on the theme of time, Proust's 'A la recherche du temps perdu', Lady Murasaki, consistently with her Buddhist outlook, offers us no consolation for the sufferings of this world.
As scientists advance knowledge of the brain and develop technologies to measure, evaluate, and manipulate brain function, numerous questions arise for religious adherents. If neuroscientists can conclusively establish that there is a functional network between neural impulses and an individual’s capacity for moral evaluation of situations, this will naturally lead to questions about the relationship between such a network and constructions of moral value and ethical human behavior. For example, if cognitive neuroscience can show that there is a neurophysiological basis (...) for the moral appraisal of situations, it may be argued that the world’s religions, which have traditionally been the keepers and purveyors of ethical values, are rendered either spurious or irrelevant. The questions point up broader dilemmas in the interface between science and religion, and raise concerns about the ethics of neurological research and experimentation. Since human beings will still arbitrate what is “moral” or “ethical,” how can religious perspectives enrich the dialogue on neuroethical issues and how can neuroscience enrich dialogue on religion? Buddhist views on the nature of consciousness and methods of practice, especially meditation practice, may contribute to discussions on neuroscience and theories about the interrelationship between consciousness and ethical awareness by exploring the role that karma, intentionality, and compassion play in Buddhist understandings of the interrelationship between consciousness and ethics. (shrink)
Owen Flanagan's important book The Bodhisattva's Brain presents a naturalized interpretation of Buddhist philosophy. Although the overall approach of the book is very promising, certain aspects of its presentation could benefit from further reflection. Traditional teachings about reincarnation do not contradict the doctrine of no self, as Flanagan seems to suggest; however, they are empirically rather implausible. Flanagan's proposed “tame” interpretation of karma is too thin; we can do better at fitting karma into a scientific worldview. The relationship between eudaimonist (...) and utilitarian strands in Buddhist ethics is more complex than the book suggests. Flanagan is right to criticize incautious and imprecise claims that Buddhism will make practitioners happy. We can make progress by distinguishing between happiness in the sense of a Buddhist version of eudaimonia, and happiness in the sense of attitudinal pleasure. Doing so might result in an interpretation of Buddhist views about happiness that was simultaneously philosophically interesting, historically credible, and psychologically testable. (shrink)