New book: Absorption, by Johannes Bronkhorst

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New book: Absorption, by Johannes Bronkhorst

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Dec 02, 2012 5:51 pm

Absorption, by Johannes Bronkhorst

Absorption (paperback)
ISBN 978-3-906000-24-4. 263 pp.

This book argues for the central role played by absorption in the
functioning of the human mind. The importance of absorption makes
itself felt in different ways; the two studies combined in this book
concentrate on two of them.

The first study argues that, largely as a result of language
acquisition, humans have two levels of cognition, which in normal
circumstances are simultaneously active. Mental absorption is a (or
the) means to circumvent some, perhaps all, of the associations that
characterize one of these two levels, resulting in what is sometimes
referred to as mystical experience, but which is not confined to
mysticism and plays a role in various "religious" phenomena, and

The second study takes as point of departure some puzzling statements
in the early Buddhist canon that raises serious questions of a
psychological nature. An essential element in the psychological theory
proposed is the observation that mental absorption is a source of
pleasure. Since the human mind is in large part guided by pleasure,
which it seeks to repeat, states of absorption leave memory traces
that subsequently direct the mind. However, these memory traces do not
"recall" states of absorption themselves, but rather the objects or
circumstances that accompanied them. The resulting activity of the
mind differs in this way from person to person, and can pursue wildly
diverging goals.

Johannes Bronkhorst is emeritus professor of Sanskrit and Indian
studies at the University of Lausanne. He has published widely in the
history of Indian religious, philosophical and scientific thought, and
in religious studies in general. Among his recent books: Greater
Magadha (2007), Aux origines de la philosophie indienne (2008),
Buddhist Teaching in India (2009), Buddhism in the Shadow of
Brahmanism (2011), Karma (2011).

For details, see:

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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