The phenomenology of meditation: commonalities and divergences between Christian meditatio and Hindu Dhyāna

Carlos Henrique Do Carmo Silva*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

The aim of the chapter is to compare meditation in the Western Christian tradition with the Hindu tradition, particularly from the Yoga Sūtras. Its main focus is to highlight the essential differences between meditation in these two traditions. One can find various contrasts as well as unexpected convergences, such as the description of exercises involving focused concentration and the development of a hierarchy of states of consciousness where the sense of self is progressively transformed. The chapter ends with a critical appraisal of how meditation is popularly understood today, with its healing and psychobiological emphasis. Although meditation is not a science, it can be considered an art of mind transformation: Ultimately desiring and thinking minds are no longer in control but become the ferment that meditation operates on. To use St. Teresa of Ávila’s metaphor, this meditative process is like watching “a windmill that grinds without stopping” independently of the will. It is in this sense of mind transformation that meditatio and dhyāna can be conceived as rich traditions of creative human spirituality, which are radically different from the domesticated versions used today for well-being purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Meditation
EditorsMiguel Farias, David Brazier, Mansur Lalljee
PublisherOxford University Press
Pages384-400
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780191846564
ISBN (Print)9780198808640
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

Keywords

  • Contemplation
  • Dhyāna
  • Lectio divina
  • Meditatio
  • Samādhi
  • Yoga

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