New Book: Meditation and Culture

The book Meditation and Culture: The Interplay of Practice and Context has been published by Bloomsbury Academic.

Table of Contents:

1 Meditative Practice and Cultural Context, Halvor Eifring

Section 1 Traveling Practices
2 The Daoist Adaptation of Buddhist Insight Meditation, Livia Kohn
3 Ignatian Visual Meditation in Seventeenth-Century China, Nicolas Standaert
4 Modern Meditation in the Context of Science, Øyvind Ellingsen and Are Holen

Section 2 Competing Practices
5 Mindfulness and Mindlessness in Early Chán, Robert H. Sharf
6 Reverence and Quietude in Neo-Confucianism, Rur-bin Yang
7 Meditative Pluralism in Hanshan Déqing, Halvor Eifring

Section 3 Competing Cultures
8 The Hindi Sants’ Two Yogic Paths to the Formless Lord, Daniel Gold
9 Inner Islamization in Java, Paul D. Stange
10 Cinnabar-field Meditation in Korea, Don Baker

Section 4 Cultural Mosaics
11 Tibetan Chöd as Practiced by Ani Lochen Rinpoche, Hanna Havnevik
12 Vedic Chanting as a Householder’s Meditation Practice in the Tamil Saiva Siddhanta Tradition, M. D. Muthukumaraswamy
13 Spontaneous Thoughts in Meditative Traditions, Halvor Eifring


Behind the stereotype of a solitary meditator closing his eyes to the world, meditation always takes place in close interaction with the surrounding culture. Meditation and Culture: The Interplay of Practice and Context explores cases in which the relation between meditative practice and cultural context is particularly complex.

The internationally-renowned contributors discuss practices that travel from one culture to another, or are surrounded by competing cultures. They explore cultures that bring together competing practices, or that are themselves mosaics of elements of different origins. They seek to answer the question: What is the relationship between meditation and culture?

The effects of meditation may arise from its symbolic value within larger webs of cultural meaning, as in the contextual view that still dominates cultural and religious studies. They may also be psychobiological responses to the practice itself, the cultural context merely acting as a catalyst for processes originating in the body and mind of the practitioner. Meditation and Culture gives no single definitive explanation, but taken together, the different viewpoints presented point to the complexity of the relationship.

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