PHILOSOPHY & MEDITATION
Exploring ancient Buddhist thought and practice, and more.
Open access resources about
meditative practices and contemplative skills
in daily life and in higher education.
Independent, non-sectarian, 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 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.
IN INDIAN CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICES
Indian contemplative practices discovered very early on a form of consciousness that has no object, no content, and it is not directed at anything in particular, but it is 'pure'. Various practices have been devised to pursue and refine this experience of pure consciousness and disentangle it from the more ordinary form of consciousness, which is usually preoccupied and shaped by concerns for this or that object. But how, and to what extent, is it possible to experience pure consciousness without living an embodied life? And what sorts of challenges and problems are raised when the experience of pure consciousness receives soteriological overtones? This book seeks to answer these and related questions, by reconstructing the dialectical unfolding of the debate on pure consciousness among Indian contemplative traditions, and looking in particular at early Buddhism, Yoga, and devotional movements.
(Forthcoming in 2024)
Training and group workshops
Beginning 23 January 2023
This workshop aims to provide a basic introduction to some of the fundamental ingredients of meditation practice: the role of embodiment for the framing of experience, the way in which attention can be used, misused, or collected, and the importance of developing certain emotional attitudes such as friendliness. For the philosophically-inclined ones, these practices have the further advantage of providing a laboratory for exploring how one’s own experience is constructed, shaped, and how it can be transformed by the dynamics of attention and intentionality.
SANGHA MEDITATION WORKSHOP
Wednesdays, from Sept. 28 to Oct. 26, 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.
Faculty of Philosophy, Oude Boteringestraat 52, Groningen, Room OMEGA. Each Friday, 5:00-6:00pm.