Sunday, February 22, 2009

Samadhi: The Numinous And Cessative in Indo-tibetan Yoga - Stuart Ray Sarbacker

Samadhi: The Numinous And Cessative in Indo-tibetan Yoga - Stuart Ray Sarbacker
Explores yoga and meditation in Eastern religions, incorporating psychological and social aspects of these practices.

"This book, which is an elaboration of the author's doctoral dissertation, purports "to develop a new methodological approach to the study of yoga and meditation in the religions of South Asia, most notably in the context of Hinduism and Buddhism" (p. 1). Specifically, Sarbacker attempts to integrate psychological and sociological approaches into "a larger phenomenological model." He thus intends to move beyond Mircea Eliade's psychological orientation in explaining religious, yogic phenomena and more sociological approaches, such as I. M. Lewis's. His declared hope is that his study will contribute toward the development of "contemplative studies as a subdiscipline of the History of Religions methodology"
His chosen foci are Classical Yoga, Indian Buddhism, and Tantra. Fundamental to his model is the distinction between what he calls the "numinous" and "cessative" aspects of spiritual practice. By "numinous" he means "the manner in which a practitioner of yoga embodies the world-surmounting power of divinity," while "cessative" stands for the orientation of attaining freedom through separation from phenomenal existence.

Given the methodological nature of this book, the author is understandably preoccupied with definitional and hermeneutical matters, but the patient reader will be rewarded with a spate of helpful insights regarding the yogic process and the dynamics between theory and practice. The book's primary value, however, is in that it generates a host of questions that invite deeper analysis.



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