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Taking Meditation Seriously (But Not Too Much): Lecture by Georges B. J. Dreyfus

In recent years the new mind sciences have provided new ways to study the mind in general and meditation in particular.  I will argue that the humanity scholars should take this new emerging paradigm seriously for it fills important gaps in our understanding of meditation and other religious phenomena.  In particular it offers a welcome break from extreme social constructivism and provides new tools to understand subjective experience and its place in religious practice.  I will also argue, however, that the reintroduction of notion of experience should not signal a return to the old mistakes and that the new paradigm, particularly in its embodied cognition form, provides ways to integrate the important insights of social constructivism within this new paradigm.

Location: Room 137, 1879 Hall, Dept. of Religion

Date/Time: 11/14/13 at 4:30 pm - 11/14/13 at 6:00 pm

Georges Dreyfus is a specialist in the history of religions and has been a professor of religion at Williams since 1992. Dreyfus has the honor of being the first Westerner to receive the title of "Geshe," traditionally the highest degree awarded by Tibetan Buddhist monastic universities and presented by the Dalai Lama himself. In addition to Tibetan Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy, his research interests include post-colonial and cross-cultural studies and the study of religious intellectual practices, traditions, and identity. He received his Baccalaureate at La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, and his Ph.D. in the history of religions from the University of Virginia.

He is the author of a number of books, including "Recognizing Reality: Dharmakirti's Philosophy and its Tibetan Interpretations." His most recent publication is "The Sound of Two Hands Clapping: The Education of a Tibetan Buddhist Monk." "The Sound of Two Hands Clapping" examines the role and nature of rationality in traditional Buddhist cultures and seeks to strip away much of the mysticism and romanticism that colors Westerners' perception of Tibet. As the title suggests, Dreyfus focuses on elements that can "literally be heard loud and clear" and provides an in-depth and rich analysis of the sophisticated intellectual culture that developed in the large monastic institutions and has been at the very center of traditional Tibetan life for centuries.

Category: Public Lectures

Department: Buddhist Studies Workshop