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Relational Phenomenology: Individual Experience and Social Meaning in Buddhist Meditation

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Buddhist meditation practices presuppose that the abstract doctrines of Buddhist teachings can be transformed into individual experiences. In contrast to the assumption of a merely solipsistic phenomenology which focuses on first-person perspectives alone, we would like to propose a sociological extension of this perspective to a relational perspective that includes specific world- and selfreferences. With the empirical case of a long-time practitioner of Theravada Buddhism, we show how the primary focus on individual experiences may be misleading in terms of Buddhist training and how shifts in the first-person perspective only occur through social friction. In this way, we are able to present empirical insights into how individual qualities of meaning become linked to social qualities of meaning, which then can be understood as a process of co-production of individual and social meaning. The empirical basis of this contribution is part of the research project 'Buddhism in the West'.The solution of the problem of life is seen in the vanishing of the problem. (Is not this the reason why those who have found after a long period of doubt that the meaning of life became clear to them have been unable to say what constituted that meaning?) -- Ludwig Wittgenstein (1974, Proposition 6.522) However it is, however it is he touches the arising-and-passing of aggregates: he gains rapture and joy: that, for those who know it, is deathless, the Deathless. --Dhammapada (373/374, Translation: Venerable Thanissaro)
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University Witten/Herdecke, Germany., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2019

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