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Nikāya Buddhism and Early Chan

ID: 3208 - View Book Page - Edit In OJS

This book is the first detailed comparative study of the meditative and soteriological ideas of early Chan and Nikāya Buddhism. It argues that both traditions share some important ideas which are not present in the mainstream of Buddhism and that these ideas represent a specific meditative paradigm, different from the mainstream Buddhist one.

The book deals with the following problems present in the texts of both traditions:
1. Why is there a surprising lack of detailed instructions on how to practice meditation, despite its general great importance?
2. Can altered states of consciousness be attained without a specific method requiring deliberate effort?
3. Can an apophatic meditative state of absence of ideations and thoughts be a cognitive state of insight at the same time?

In order to explain these issues, the author reconstructs a specific meditative model or paradigm implicit in the teaching of these traditions. The book uses an interdisciplinary approach and draws from relevant developments in modern philosophy of mind and cognitive science. It suggests that in comparison to mainstream Buddhism, both these traditions place less emphasis on meditation as a particular method, but rather see it as an extension of a pre-meditative way of life. Furthermore, there are several crucial meditative elements which cannot be straightforwardly "practiced” by following instructions.

Published: Mar 1, 2024