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Religions 2016, 7(9), 113; doi:10.3390/rel7090113

Strange Bedfellows: Meditations on the Indispensable Virtues of Confusion, Mindfulness and Humor in the Neuroscientific and Cognitive Study of Esoteric and Contemplative Traditions1

Department of Religious Studies, Marshall University, One John Marshall Drive, Huntington, WV 25755, USA
Academic Editors: Glen A. Hayes and Sthaneshwar Timalsina
Received: 18 March 2016 / Revised: 17 August 2016 / Accepted: 17 August 2016 / Published: 6 September 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Science and the Study of Yoga and Tantra)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [241 KB, uploaded 6 September 2016]

Abstract

Several recent publications in the study of esoteric traditions have drawn together insights from scholars of religions and philosophy, contemplative communities, metaphor and conceptual blend theories, cognitive sciences, neurosciences, and physical anthropology. These interdisciplinary explorations revolve around contemplative practices (meditation, mindfulness, ritual traditions, etc.). This includes both ethnographic and textual expressions of these traditions. This paper is a response to the questions and insights of some recent articles, books, and two 2015 conference papers, with the specific purpose of contributing to what Glen Hayes (2014) called “the need to develop and ‘new vocabulary’ for this interdisciplinary study” of contemplative and esoteric traditions (Hayes’ call was specifically in reference to Hindu Tantra). To do this, I have referred to some other scientific approaches to which the scholars of esoteric and contemplative communities have not made much mention, and then to offer a form of reflection and meditation on what this new vocabulary and these research projects call us to do: their concepts, logic, and meaning. To this end, I have given some careful attention to the concepts of confusion, mindfulness, humor, and dispassionate vulnerability to help us better understand what we are doing, and where we should go from here. View Full-Text
Keywords: Tantra; Tantric sādhanā; Buddhist mindfulness; ritual trance; interdisciplinary contemplative studies; ethnographic neuroscience; humor in contemplative communities; philosophical confusion; conceptual confusion Tantra; Tantric sādhanā; Buddhist mindfulness; ritual trance; interdisciplinary contemplative studies; ethnographic neuroscience; humor in contemplative communities; philosophical confusion; conceptual confusion
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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Ruff, J.C. Strange Bedfellows: Meditations on the Indispensable Virtues of Confusion, Mindfulness and Humor in the Neuroscientific and Cognitive Study of Esoteric and Contemplative Traditions1. Religions 2016, 7, 113.

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