Absorption: Human Nature and Buddhist Liberation by Johannes Bronkhorst

By Johannes Bronkhorst

This publication argues for the critical function performed by way of absorption within the functioning of the human brain. the significance of absorption makes itself felt in several methods; the 2 experiences mixed during this booklet pay attention to of them. the 1st learn, The Symbolic brain, argues that, principally due to language acquisition, people have degrees of cognition, which in basic situations are concurrently energetic. Absorption is a (or the) potential to bypass a few, probably all, of the institutions that represent this type of degrees of cognition, leading to what's occasionally often called mystical event, yet which isn't constrained to mysticism and performs a task in a number of "religious" phenomena, and somewhere else. within the moment learn, The Psychology of the Buddha, Prof. Bronkhorst presents a theoretical context for the remark that absorption is a resource of delight, grapples with Freud, and illustrates his observations via translations of old Buddhist texts from the Pali and Sanskrit languages with his mental statement. Johannes Bronkhorst is emeritus professor of Sanskrit and Indian stories on the college of Lausanne. He has released greatly within the historical past of Indian spiritual, philosophical and medical suggestion, and in spiritual experiences mostly. between his contemporary books: higher Magadha (2007), Aux origines de l. a. philosophie indienne (2008), Buddhist instructing in India (2009), Buddhism within the Shadow of Brahmanism (2011), Karma (2011).

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Rituals and ritual formulas have their role to play, but in the "higher" real­ ity that is concealed by symbolic representation rather than in our ordinary world. 43 Cpo Rappaport, 1 999: 390: "It may be suggested [ .. J that ritual . recaptures a state having its ontogenetic origin in the relationship of pre-verbal infants to their mothers. " 44 Cpo Deacon, 1997: 257: "In general terms, human information pro­ cessing should be biased by an excessive reliance on and guidance by the kinds of manipulation that prefrontal circuits impose upon the infor­ mation they process.

We will have more to say about this below. Having established that there appear to be ways of discard­ ing the web of symbolic representation, we may give some thought to the question of how this result is obtained. The aim is not to enumerate techniques and methods that are de facto used by mystics and others who succeed in having mysti­ cal experiences. Rather, we wish to consider what mechanism we would expect, in the light of our reflections so far, to lead to that result. In order to make progress, we have to abandon the image of a web woven by symbolic reference, and try to understand in a more factual way what happens when a person crosses the symbolic threshold.

24 Paper, 2004: 4. 26 §2 Mysticism reality that is experienced, but it is experienced so differently that the experiencer may have difficulty recognizing it. Indeed, recognition itself involves connecting the present cognition with earlier ones. In non-symbolic experience the link with constructed former and anticipated later experiences is weak­ ened, or absent. The subject is, as a result, easily convinced that he or she is confronted with a different reality, where in actual fact it is the same reality that is experienced differently.

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