The Bhagavata Purana on Science & Religion

Aug 13,2017
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In the last two decades, the concept of mindfulness as a state, trait, process, and intervention has been successfully adapted in contexts of clinical health and psychology, especially with relation to treating stress and targeting emotion dysregulation. Operationalizing mindfulness has been somewhat challenging given the plurality of cultural traditions from which the concept originates, the difficulty with which it is measured, and its distinction from its common usage [see Baer (2003); Dimidjian and Linehan (2003); Brown and Ryan (2004); Grossman (2008); Gethin (2011)].

Generally speaking, there are two models for cultivating mindfulness in the context of meditation practice—a 2500-year old historical model that is rooted in Buddhist science and a 25-year old contemporary model that is heavily influenced by Jon Kabat-Zinn's Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course, an adaptation of specific Buddhist techniques intended for general stress reduction (Kabat-Zinn, 1990). The historical model for training the mind has similar goals to the contemporary western medical model: both are interested in reducing suffering, enhancing positive emotions, and improving quality of life.

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Jonathan Edelmann

Jonathan Edelmann received a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of California – Santa Barbara, an M.A. in Science and Religion from Oxford University, and Ph.D. (D.Phil.) from Oxford University in Religious Studies and Theology. While at Oxford he was affiliated with Harris Manchester College and the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies.

Edelmann’s fields of research are twofold. The first is the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, as well as the Sanskrit theological and philosophical tradition that surrounds it known as Gauḍīya or Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism. He has focused on thinkers like Śrīdhara Svāmin, Jīva Gosvāmin, and Viśvanātha Cakravartin, looking at their conceptions of bhakti (devotion), religious experience, and self-hood.

The second is the manner in which Hindu thought and Indian philosophy has interacted with and might further interact with Western thought in a constructive manner, especially the evolutionary sciences and Western philosophy. Edelmann has argued for a discussion (saṃvāda) between Hindu thought and the evolutionary sciences, one that respects the autonomy and value of multiple perspectives in our on-going discovery our world.

Edelmann is a section editor for the International Journal of Hindu Studies, and was an American Academy of Religion Luce Fellow in Comparative Theology and Theologies of Religious Pluralism. His book, Hindu Theology and Biology: The Bhāgavata Purāṇa and Contemporary Theory(Oxford University Press) won a John Templeton Foundation Award from the Forschungszentrum Internationale und Interdisziplinäre Theologie at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. He has been an invited speaker at, for example, Harvard University’s Center for the Study of World Religion, University of Notre Dame’s Theology Department, University of Heidelberg’s Theology Department, and University of Virginia’s Religious Studies Department. Edelmann has published book chapters with Columbia University Press, Oxford University Press, and the New Delhi Centre for Studies in Civilizations, as well as articles in journals like the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, theJournal of the American Oriental Society, Zygon, the Journal of Consciousness Studies, and theJournal of Vaishnava Studies.

Jonathan Edelmann is currently working on ethics in the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava tradition and the definitions of the three yogas (karma, jñāna, and bhakti). Some long-term plans involve making the Bhagavad Gītā’s commentarial tradition more accessible to students and scholars, evaluating various Western reductive theories of mind and consciousness in conversation with Hindu conceptions of self, and translating the writings of Viśvanātha Cakravartin.

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