Cultural histories

meditation histories coverLarge waves of global interest in meditation over the last half century have all focused on techniques stemming from Hinduism, Buddhism and Daoism. This collection of essays explores selected topics from the historical traditions underlying such practices. It ventures far beyond the well-known Hindu repetition of sounds, Buddhist attention to breath and body, and Daoist movement of limbs and bodily energies. A picture emerges of meditative traditions that are much richer and more diverse than our modern viewpoint typically acknowledges. Many of the practices are also shown to be of greater current relevance than commonly recognized.
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Halvor Eifring (ed.)
Cultural histories

Halvor Eifring is Professor of Chinese at the University of Oslo and General Secretary of Acem International School of Meditation.


The Uses of Attention: Elements of Meditative Practice
Halvor Eifring and Are Holen

Can There Be a Cultural History of Meditation? With Special Reference to India
Johannes Bronkhorst

Words for “Meditation” in Classical Yoga and Early Buddhism
Jens Braarvig

“Creative Contemplation” (Bhāvanā) in the Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra
Bettina Bäumer ‘Sharada’

The First Absorption (Dhyāna) in Early Indian Buddhism: A Study of Source Material from the Madhyama-āgama
Bhikkhu Anālayo

Vipassanā in Burma: Self-government and the Ledi Ānāpāna Tradition
Gustaaf Houtman

Contemplation of the Repulsive: Bones and Skulls as Objects of Meditation
Bart Dessein

Red Snakes and Angry Queen Mothers: Hallucinations and Epiphanies in Medieval Daoist Meditation
Stephen Eskildsen

Daoist Clepsydra-Meditation: Late Medieval Quánzhēn Monasticism and Communal Meditation
Louis Komjathy


Bhikkhu Anālayo, Privatdozent, Numata Center for Buddhist Studies, University of Hamburg; Professor, Sri Lanka International Buddhist Academy; Researcher, Dharma Drum Buddhist College

Bettina Bäumer ‘Sharada’, Professor, Institute for the Study of Religions, University of Vienna; Fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced Studt, Shimla; Director, Abhinavagupta Research Library, Varanasi

Jens Braarvig, Professor of the History of Religion, Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo

Johannes Bronkhorst, Professor Emeritus of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

Bart Dessein, Associate Professor, Centre for Buddhist Studies, Ghent University

Halvor Eifring, Professor of Chinese, Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo; General Secretary, Acem International School of Meditation

Stephen Eskildsen, North Callahan Distinguished Professor of Religion, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Are Holen, Professor of Behavioral Medicine, Department of Neuroscience, Norwegian University of Science and Technology; Head of Acem International School of Meditation

Gustaaf Houtman, Senior Teaching Fellow, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; Editor, Anthropology Today

Louis Komjathy, Assistant Professor of Chinese Religions and Comparative Religious Studies, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of San Diego; Founding Co-Chair, Contemplative Studies Group, American Academy of Religion