Traditional Theravada Meditation and its Modern-Era Suppression

Crosby, Kate. Traditional Theravada Meditation and its Modern-Era Suppression. Hong Kong: The Buddha-Dharma Centre of Hong Kong, 2013.

This ground-breaking book explores the once dominant traditional Theravada meditation known as borān kamaṭṭhāna. This esoteric meditation system differs radically from the reform, text-based meditations that are now taught around the Theravada Buddhist world: Vipassanā, mindfulness etc. Drawing on a quarter century of research, the author offers the first ever holistic exploration of this meditation system, which has previously been known outside of Asia only to a few scholars. She explains the ‘technologies of transformation’ that made it effective, surveys the surviving evidence, and summarises the historical events and cultural processes by which it has been suppressed in the modern era. In doing this she begins to depict the complex, sophisticated Theravada culture that predated modern reforms, and for the first time is able to explain the coherence of apotropaic practices such as yantra and traditional healing. This book changes our understanding of Theravada and its history.

Kate Crosby is Professor of Buddhist Studies at King’s College, London. She has previously held posts at Edinburgh, Lancaster, Cardiff and SOAS, London universities. She works on Sanskrit, Pali and Pali-vernacular literature, and on Theravada practice in the pre-modern and modern periods. Her publications include The Bodhicaryavatara; The Dead of Night & The Women; and Theravada Buddhism: Continuity, Diversity, Identity. She is co-editor of the journal Contemporary Buddhism.