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Buddhist Modernism and the Rhetoric of Meditative Experience

In: Numen
Author: Robert Sharf1
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  • 1 The University of Michigan Department of Asian Languages and Cultures 3070 Frieze Building Ann Arbor MI 48109, USA
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Abstract

The category “experience” has played a cardinal role in modern studies of buddhism. Few scholars seem to question the notion that Buddhist monastic practice, particularly meditation, is intended first and foremost to inculcate specific religious or “mystical” experiences in the minds of practitioners. Accordingly, a wide variety of Buddhist technical terms pertaining to the “stages on the path” are subject to a phenomenological hermeneutic—they are interpreted as if they designated discrete “states of consciousness” experienced by historical individuals in the course of their meditative practice.

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