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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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The History of Jaina Meditation

The History of Jaina Meditation

(p.93) 5 The History of Jaina Meditation
Asian Traditions of Meditation

Johannes Bronkhorst

University of Hawai'i Press

This essay argues that the many discontinuities and innovations in the history of Jaina meditation stem from the confusing descriptions of meditation in canonical texts, including the Āyāraṅga and the Uttarajjhayaṇa. The term used to denote meditation, dhyāna (or jhāna), is also used for non-meditative mental activity, but canonical lists of four types of dhyāna were typically, and confusingly, read as types of meditation. The only truly meditative type of dhyāna in these lists, “pure meditation”, was often seen as occurring only in the last moments before death, and even came to be considered altogether inaccessible in the present age. The resulting vacuum was filled in different ways by various post-canonical writers, among them Hemacandra, sometimes basing themselves on experience and influence from sources outside Jainism.

Keywords:   pure meditation, Jainism, canon, death, Uttarajjhayaṇa, Āyāraṅga, Hemacandra

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