PHILOSOPHY & ANCIENT BUDDHIST MEDITATION
Open access resources about
meditative practices and contemplative skills
in daily life and in higher education.
Independent, non-sectarian, non-religious, open-minded.
Three related works that explore aspects of ancient Buddhist thought and practice,
from a broad cross-cultural context to some fine details of the teachings.
These are still works-in-progress. Each one is designed as the basis for a related course.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE SELF.
LECTURES ON GLOBAL HERMENEUTICS
Why do human beings interpret their overall experience in terms of selfhood? How was the notion and sense of self shaped at different times and in different cultures? What sort of problems or paradoxes did these constructions face? These lectures sketch address these and related questions by sketching a roadmap of possible theoretical avenues for conceiving of the self, bringing to the foreground its soteriological implications, while also testing this theoretical outlook against insights offered by various disciplines (including philosophy, cognitive science, anthropology, archaeology, psychology, religious studies, intellectual history, and contemplative practices) and in specific historical cultures (ancient India and Greece, the modern West). The resulting journey is a way of practicing hermeneutics, the art of understanding and interpreting experience in its multifarious manifestations (which include different genres of written texts, oral traditions, social structures and practices, various sorts and domains of experience, ideas and ideals). This form of hermeneutics is best understood as ‘global hermeneutic’ both because of its temporal and geographical scope, and because of its interest on a phenomenon so broad and deeply rooted as selfhood. The purpose of the journey is not only descriptive, though. Exploring the cross-cultural spectrum of possible ways of conceiving of the self invites the more existential question of whether any of these possibilities might offer resources for dealing with the tragedies of today’s world, or maybe even saving it from some of them.
(Forthcoming in 2023)
( N O W A V A I L A B L E !! )
AN INTRODUCTION TO FRIENDLINESS (METTĀ).
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE AND FREEDOM IN THE PĀLI DISCOURSES OF THE BUDDHA.
Friendliness (mettā in Pāli) is an emotional and intentional attitude of goodwill and non-aversion towards all sentient beings, including oneself. It is rooted in both feeling and understanding. In the Pāli discourses of the Buddha, friendliness is repeatedly stressed and encouraged for its numerous benefits. It supports and develops a form of emotional intelligence and provides an ideal pathway to explore deeper aspects of one’s experience and their philosophical implications. Friendliness is best understood not in isolation, but rather in the broader context of the Buddha’s teachings. In that context, it plays an essential role as a catalyst for the unfolding of the whole Buddhist path. Friendliness, then, can be a particularly interesting thread to follow in order to unpack the meaning and practical implications of the core teachings conveyed in the discourses. This introduction combines meditation practice, philosophy, and the reading of ancient texts in order to show how friendliness can function both as an entry point to explore the landscape of the discourses, and how that same landscape unfolds from the perspective disclosed by friendliness.
CONSCIOUSNESS WITHOUT EXISTENCE
THE GRAMMAR OF EXPERIENCE
IN THE PĀLI DISCOURSES OF THE BUDDHA
Consciousness and existence constitute the basic units in the grammar of ordinary experience. Like verbs and subjects in ordinary language, consciousness and existence are notions that can be used to capture the fundamental roles of different constituent components of experience. When there is experience, there is some consciousness of what is experienced. And when something is consciously experienced, ordinarily there are assumptions about its existence and the existence of the subject who is consciously experiencing it.
This book aims at problematizing this ordinary grammar of consciousness and existence, and thus introducing a non-ordinary alternative to it, articulated in the Pāli discourses of the Buddha, in which the subjective dimension of consciousness has no existential implications, and the notion of existence itself can be discarded. This does not entail that there is experience of nothing, or that nothing exists, but rather that existence is not a valid notion for spelling out the grammar of experience. Consciousness without existence is not a consciousness that is reduced to nothingness, nor a self-contained consciousness that is divorced from any other reality of world, but rather the way in which experience can be understood in its conditionality, contingency, groundlessness, and freedom.
(Forthcoming in 2024)
Training and group workshops
SANGHA MEDITATION WORKSHOP
Wednesdays, from 19:00 to 20:15,
Sangha Café, Van Oldenbarneveltlaan 6
Groningen (studio 2)
This workshop aims to introduce the fundamentals of Buddhist meditation, understood as a very flexible and open approach, mainly aimed at cultivating positive qualities, training attention, understanding how we construct our experiences, and how we might do that better. The practice is presented in a non-sectarian way, suitable for everybody, from absolute beginners to more experienced meditators.
Each meeting will take approximately 1h15’. We begin with a short explanation of relevant aspects of meditation, and we then try to put them into practice in a guided 30’ session. The rest of the time will be left for conversations, exchanges, questions, and sharing.
The workshop is offered for free. No registration required.
FRIENDLINESS MEDITATION WORKSHOP
Upcoming: Beginning 2023
The purpose of the workshop is to introduce and explain some basic skills in working with intentionality and attention.
Faculty of Philosophy, Oude Boteringestraat 52, Groningen, Room OMEGA. Each Friday, 5:00-6:00pm.