Skip to main content Skip to search
Meditation and the concept of insight in Kamalasila's "Bhavanakramas"
Format: Thesis
Publication Year: 2003
Place of Publication: Canada
Pages: 290
Source ID: shanti-sources-22495
Abstract: This thesis is composed of two parts, one a translation, the other a commentary on the material that has been translated--a set of three well known identically entitled works by the famous Indian Buddhist scholar, Kamalasila (c. 740-795 C.E.). The Bhavanakramas are here translated from both Sanskrit and Tibetan sources. The commentary takes the form of an extended critical Prologue to the texts and is centred around an examination of the notions of meditation and insight as found therein. The first chapter of the commentary examines the various terms for meditation found in the texts and argues for a specific way of translating them that regards as normative only one of these, that is, bhavana . The argument is made that if one is to take the basic Buddhist distinction between intellectual and experiential wisdom seriously, no other concept of meditation will prove satisfactory. The concept of bhavana is contrasted with that of dhyana , and explained in light of other important terms, notably samadhi, samatha and vipasyana . Two different conceptions of samadhi are identified as existing within the texts, one corresponding with dhyana and one with bhavana . The latter is identified as predominant. This conception holds that meditation is not to be principally identified as non-conceptual in nature, but rather encompasses both nonconceptual states and conceptual processes. These latter, however, are not to be identified with ordinary reasoning processes ( cintamayi prajña ) but rather with a form of experiential knowing (bhavanamayi prajña, vipasyana ) that is conceptual in nature. It is in accordance with this conception that the actual translation of the texts has been undertaken.