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The Numinous and Cessative in Indo-Tibetan Yoga

Stuart Ray Sarbacker

Publication Year: 2005

A historical and comparative study grounded in close readings of important works, this book explores the dynamics of the theory and practice of yoga in Hindu and Buddhist contexts. Author Stuart Ray Sarbacker explores the fascinating, contrasting perceptions that meditation leads to the attainment of divine, or numinous, power, and to complete escape from worldly existence, or cessation. Sarbacker demonstrates that these two dimensions of spiritual experience have affected the doctrine and cultural significance of yoga from its origins to its contemporary practice. He also integrates sociological and psychological perspectives on religious experience into a larger phenomenological model to address the multifaceted nature of religious experience. Speaking to a broad range of methodological and contextual issues, Samaµdhi provides numerous insights into the theory and practice of yoga that are relevant to both scholars of religious studies and practitioners of contemporary yoga and meditation traditions.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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p. vii

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pp. ix-xi

This work is, in part, the fruit of many academic connections and correspondences over a number of years. I believe it is a positive reflection of the collegiality of the academic community involved in the study of the religions of South Asia. Indira Junghare and Robert Tapp at the University of Minnesota provided a wealth of advice and encouragement that continues to inspire and...

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Introduction: Method and the Study of Meditation

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pp. 1-12

The primary goal of this work is to develop a new methodological approach to the study of yoga and meditation in the religions of South Asia, most notably in the context of Hinduism and Buddhism. This methodology attempts to establish a balance between psychological and sociological approaches to the study of religion by integrating them into a larger phenomenological...

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1 Sources and Definitions

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pp. 13-26

An appropriate starting point for our study is to establish some basic definitions of the philosophical concepts that are foundational in the practices of meditation and yoga in the Hindu and Buddhist context. Primary among these are, dhyana, “meditation,” and samadhi, “meditative absorption” or “contemplation.” Dhyana and samadhi are terms that are well represented in the literature...

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2 Reinterpreting Religious Experience

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pp. 27-52

The concepts of “mysticism” and “religious experience” have been particularly important and controversial with respect to how meditation has been interpreted in the academic study of religion. The notion that there may be a crosscultural basis for asserting a common foundation for religious experiences found throughout the world has been an ongoing and a provocative aspect of...

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3 Yoga, Shamanism, and Buddhism

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pp. 53-74

In two of his most famous works, Yoga: Immortality and Freedom and Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, Mircea Eliade attempts to elucidate the distinctiveness of shamanic and yogic typologies of religious belief and practice. Through this process, Eliade notes at several points what he believes is a fundamental distinction between shamanic and yogic practice and experience that...

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4 The Debate over Dialogue

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pp. 75-110

Scholarship in religious studies over the past century has identified a great range of issues regarding the relationship between Indian forms of yoga and the development of Indian and Tibetan Buddhism. As we have demonstrated, this is a particularly important issue regarding the relationship between conceptions of meditation found in the Classical Yoga system and in Buddhism,...

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5 Traditions in Transition Meditative Concepts in the Development of Tantric Sadhana

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pp. 111-126

The goal of this chapter is to examine the relationship between the development of Buddhist sadhana and broader conceptions regarding the nature of meditation theory and the place of tantra within the greater Buddhist cultus. It will be argued that Vajrayana Buddhist sadhana, rather than divorcing itself from earlier Buddhist conceptions of meditation (dhyana), has adapted and...

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pp. 127-136

Over the preceding pages two principal aims have been accomplished. The first was the development of a more satisfactory methodology for the study of meditation, and the second was the demonstration of the utility of such a methodology in concrete cases. The methodology developed in this study has been described as a new approach to phenomenology and has been applied...


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pp. 137-162


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pp. 163-178


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pp. 179-189

E-ISBN-13: 9780791482810
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791465530
Print-ISBN-10: 0791465535

Page Count: 201
Publication Year: 2005

OCLC Number: 63148909
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Samadhi

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Subject Headings

  • Meditation -- Hinduism.
  • Meditation -- Buddhism.
  • Yoga.
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