The first book in English to relate modern forms of Theravada meditational practice to its Indian roots, Theravada Meditation: The Buddhist Transformation of Yoga rectifies the publishing imbalance toward Mahayana and Zen. The classic Theravada pattern in Buddhaghosa's Path of Purification (circa A.D. 500) is shown to be relevant to the present Buddhist world.
Beginning with a general description of similarities and differences between the Upanisadic-Yogic and early Buddhist viewpoints, the author goes on to analyze Gotama's rejection-acceptance-modification of the Upanisadic-Yogic method of striving for moksa (salvation) in his search for Buddhahood (enlightenment), as related in the Pali Canon.
A second major section analyzes the meditational method of Buddhaghosa, showing the interaction between Upanisadic-Yogic jhanas (modes of concentration) and Buddhist vipassana (insight meditation). Attention is given to the highest attainable state, nirodha-samapatti (cessation of thought and perception), held by Theravada Buddhism to be an actual experience of Nibbana (world-escape) in this life.
The final chapter discusses the attraction of Theravada meditation in parts of the contemporary world, notably Burma, drawing upon materials little known in the West. In Burma and, to some degree, in Ceylon and Thailand, emphasis is on a simplified meditational method open to layman as well as monk, yet viewed as fully orthodox.
Preface, Yogic Factors in gotama Buddha's Enlightenment, Conditions, Preparations, and Lower Levels of Meditation, The Jhanic and Formless States, The Jhanic Related "Buddhist" Meditation, Vipassana Meditation, The Attainment of Cessation (Nirodha-Samapatti), Contemporary Theravada Meditation in Burma, Appendix "A Buddhist Pilgrim's Progress", Notes, Selected and Annotated Bibliography, Index.
About the Author(s)
Winston L. King (1907-2000) was one of those remarkable scholar-teachers of an older generation who never ceased to develop new intellectual and research interests. His two-year appointment with the Ford Foundation as the advisor to the International Institute for Buddhistic Studies in Rangoon (Yangon), Burma (Myanmar), from 1958 to 1960 proved to be a major turning point in his life and established his reputation as a significant interpreter of Theravada Buddhism in Southeast Asia. Three important monographs resulted from Winston's stay in Burma: Buddhism and Christianity : Some Bridges of Understanding (1963). In the Hope of Nibbana: An Essay on Theravada Buddhist Ethics (1964), and A Thousand Lives Away (1964).