Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Origin of Buddhist Meditation

The historic authenticity of the early Buddhist sources is a much disputed topic. Although many modern scholars of Indian Buddhism are highly sceptical about the possibility of identifying and recovering authentic early teachings, this book maintains that such an objective is possible. Having identified early material that goes back to the Buddha himself, the author argues that the two teachers of the Buddha were historical figures. Based on the early Brahminic literature, namely the early Upanishads and Moksadharma, the author asserts the origin of the method of meditation learned by the Buddha from these teachers, and attempts to use them to identify some authentic teachings of the Buddha on meditation.

The following claims are put forward in this book, which will stimulate a debate within the field of Buddhist Studies:

* The claim Buddha was taught by Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, as stated in the literature of numerous early Buddhist sects, is historically authentic.
* Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta taught a form of early Brahminic meditation.
* The Buddha must consequently have been trained in a meditative school whose ideology was provided by the philosophical portions of early Upanishads.
* This hypothesis is confirmed in the Parayanavagga, where the Buddha teaches an adapted practice of Alara Kalama's goal to some Brahmins, and appears to be fully conversant with the philosophical presuppositions of early Brahminic meditation.

The book will be of significant interest to academics in the field of Buddhist Studies, Asian Religion and South Asian Studies.

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