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Religions 2016, 7(5), 49; doi:10.3390/rel7050049

Transforming Adverse Cognition on the Path of Bhakti: Rule-Based Devotion, “My-Ness,” and the Existential Condition of Bondage

Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Iowa State University, 431 Catt Hall, Ames, IA 50011, USA
Academic Editors: Glen A. Hayes and Sthaneshwar Timalsina
Received: 30 December 2015 / Revised: 23 April 2016 / Accepted: 28 April 2016 / Published: 6 May 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Science and the Study of Yoga and Tantra)
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Abstract

Early Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava theologians developed a unique path of Hindu devotion during the 16th century through which an aspirant cultivates a rapturous form of selfless love (premā) for Kṛṣṇa, who is recognized as the supreme and personal deity. In the course and consequence of cultivating this selfless love, the recommended practices of devotion are claimed to free one from the basic existential condition of bondage that is of concern for a wide range of South Asian religious and philosophical traditions. One of the principle cognitive tendencies characterizing this condition is to have thoughts and feelings of possessiveness over objects of the world, or what is referred to as the state of “my-ness” (mamatā), e.g., my home, my children, or my wealth. Using the therapeutic model of schema therapy as a heuristic analogue, this article explores the relationship between recommended practices of rule-based devotion (vaidhi-bhakti) and the modulation of thoughts and feelings of possessiveness towards mundane objects. I argue that such practices function as learning strategies that can systematically rework and modulate how one relates to and responds to these objects in theologically desirable ways. I conclude by suggesting that connectionist theories of cognition and learning may offer a promising explanatory framework for understanding the dynamics of this kind of relationship. View Full-Text
Keywords: renunciation; bhakti; Gaudīya Vaiṣṇava; sādhana; Hinduism; cognitive science; cognitive historiography; religion and cognition; connectionism; comparative religion renunciation; bhakti; Gaudīya Vaiṣṇava; sādhana; Hinduism; cognitive science; cognitive historiography; religion and cognition; connectionism; comparative religion
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Chilcott, T. Transforming Adverse Cognition on the Path of Bhakti: Rule-Based Devotion, “My-Ness,” and the Existential Condition of Bondage. Religions 2016, 7, 49.

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