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Asian Traditions of Meditation$
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Halvor Eifring

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824855680

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824855680.001.0001

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Types of Meditation

Types of Meditation

(p.27) 2 Types of Meditation
Asian Traditions of Meditation

Halvor Eifring

University of Hawai'i Press

This essay distinguishes between directive meditation, which seeks to bring about inner transformation by means of outside-in processes, and non-directive meditation, which builds on inside-out processes. The two types differ in terms of their meditation object (thematic vs. technical), mental attitude (concentrative vs. non-concentrative), and the context surrounding the practice (suggestive vs. non-suggestive). Most meditation practices include both directive and non-directive elements, but differ widely in their emphases, as illustrated by references to modern studies as well as traditional works on meditation. The suggested distinction differs from the widespread Buddhist-inspired contrast between “concentrative” meditation (or “focused attention”) and “insight” meditation (or “open monitoring”), which is shown to be problematic, especially when applied to non-Buddhist forms of meditation. The social constructivism that has long dominated cultural history tends to give preference to explanations based on directive working mechanisms and to disregard the equally important processes associated with non-directive meditation.

Keywords:   outside-in, inside-out, meditation object, mental attitude, context, samatha, vipassanā, attention, Hanshan Deqing (1546-1623), The Cloud of Unknowing

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