Front cover image for Rethinking meditation : Buddhist meditative practices in ancient and modern worlds

Rethinking meditation : Buddhist meditative practices in ancient and modern worlds

David L. McMahan (Author)
"Rethinking Meditation provides a new theoretical and historical approach to Buddhist and Buddhist-derived meditative practices. It shows how, rather than coming down to us unchanged from the time of the Buddha, the standard articulation of mindfulness as bare, non-judgmental attention to the present moment is a distillation of particular strands of classical Buddhist thought that have combined with western ideas to create a unique practice tailored to modern forms of thought and ways of life. Part genealogical study and part philosophical argument, it inquires into some of the widespread assumptions about how meditation works and what it does, presenting a view of meditative practices as technologies of the self embedded in cultural forms of life. It shows that the relationship between meditative practices and cultural context is much more crucial than is suggested in typical contemporary articulations, which often emphasize transcendence of cultural conditioning and achieving "objective" internal access to the contents of consciousness. Meditation, McMahan argues, is always situated in social contexts and draws from repertoires of cultural categories, concepts, and values, sometimes accommodating them and sometimes resisting them. Rethinking Meditation also considers the scientific study of meditation and meditation in relation to modern articulations of secularism, freedom, authenticity, appreciation, and interdependence. It also examines the potential for meditation to enhance autonomy and addresses recent attempts to bring meditative practices to bear on social, political, and environmental issues"-- Provided by publisher
Print Book, English, 2023
Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 2023
xii, 246 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
9780197661741, 0197661742
I. Thinking about Meditation: 1. Introduction
2. Neural Maps and Enlightenment Machines
3. What Difference Does Context Make? Meditation and Social Imaginaries
II. Meditation in Context: 4. Meditation in the Pali Social Imaginary I: The Phenomenology and Ethics of Monastic Mindfulness
5. Meditation in the Pali Social Imaginary II: Corporeal and Cognitive Mindfulness
6. Meditation and Cultural Repertoires
7. Deconstructive Meditation and the Search for the Buddha Within
III. Meditation and the Ethical Subject: 8. Secularism and the Ethic of Appreciation
9. Meditation and the Ethic of Authenticity
10. Meditation and the Ethic of Autonomy
11. Affordances, Disruption, and Activism
12. Individualism and Fragmentation in the Mirrors of Secularism: the Ethic of Interdependence
Postscript: The Iron Age and the Anthropocene