Speaker Series: DAVID L. MCMAHAN - Contemplation and Culture: Self-Cultivation, Context, and Social Imaginaries
The Contemplative Research and Scholarship Speaker Series hosts leading scholars, scientists, and practitioner-teachers in the study of contemplative practices. The series is hosted on Grounds at the University of Virginia.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2023 - DAVID L. MCMAHAN
Contemplation and Culture: Self-Cultivation, Context, and Social Imaginaries
This talk is sponsored by the Virginia Center for the Study of Religion.
Meditation is often described in terms of internal mental states that presumably arise in anyone who practices them diligently, whether they are an ancient monastic or a contemporary professional. Much of the work these practices do, however, may be quite different in divergent contexts. This talk analyzes the role of culture in contemplative practices and theorizes them as methods of cultivating ways of being in particular cultural contexts constituted by repertoires of concepts, attitudes, social practices, ethical dispositions, institutions, available identities, structures of authority, and conceptions of the cosmos. Taking greater account of these cultural contexts in which meditation occurs is necessary to understanding the potential benefits and problems involved in modern contemplative practices.
About David L. McMahan
David L. McMahan is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Rethinking Meditation: Buddhist Meditative Traditions in Ancient and Modern Worlds (2023, Oxford); The Making of Buddhist Modernism (2008); Empty Vision: Metaphor and Visionary Imagery in Mahayana Buddhism (2002); and several articles on Mahayana Buddhism in South Asia and Buddhism in the modern world. He is also the co-editor of Buddhism, Meditation and Science (2017), editor of Buddhism in the Modern World (2012).