Meditation is a hot commodity in contemporary American popular culture. Ever widening circles of people are becoming interested in the benefits that meditation can offer in stress-relief, regulation of blood pressure, pain control, and so on. While meditation can be seen as a neutral technology, free of ties to any one spiritual path or worldview, we will examine these practices through the cultural and religious contexts that gave rise to them. This 360 course comprises three classes plus an independent study (fourth class) that share an interest in contemplative or mindfulness traditions and practice. The courses weave together historical, cultural, psychological and religious perspectives. Mindfulness is an important aspect of Eastern religious and Christian monastic traditions. With its recent introduction as a key component of Western therapeutic attempts to remediate psychological difficulties or cope with stress, it has also become a central focus of much psychological research and theory. The courses:
The History and Rhetoric of Buddhist Meditation [Hank Glassman] This course examines a great variety of discourses surrounding meditation in traditional Buddhist texts. While meditation may seem to be something that there is not much to say about, we shall find that in ancient texts as well as in modern scholarship, much ink has been spilled on the topic.