Control, anxiety, and the progressive detachment from the self

Authored by: Bryce Huebner , Genevieve Hayman

Routledge Handbook on the Philosophy of Meditation

Print publication date:  May  2022
Online publication date:  May  2022

Print ISBN: 9780367647469
eBook ISBN: 9781003127253
Adobe ISBN:


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Buddhist philosophy has long identified meditative practices as crucial to cultivating an awareness of anātman (no-self or selflessness), and the pursuit of liberation from destructive patterns of attachment that perpetuate duḥkha (dissatisfaction). But upon closer examination, it seems that some experiences of selflessness are blissful and transformative, while others are uncomfortable and distressing; and empirical data suggest that the affective character of meditation-induced changes in self-related experience vary as a function of numerous situational and contextual factors. Drawing on these phenomena, this chapter explores the possibility that practices that facilitate a gradual letting go of self can be used to transform subjective experience, in ways that reveal a space of compassion and connectedness – and that while this process is not always pleasant, it does allow practitioners to progressively work through and reshape habituated forms of self-grasping in pursuit of soteriological goals.

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