The Awakened Ones: Phenomenology of Visionary Experience

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Columbia University Press, 2012 - Religion - 622 pages
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While a rational consciousness grasps many truths, Gananath Obeyesekere believes an even richer knowledge is possible through a bold confrontation with the stuff of visions and dreams. Spanning both Buddhist and European forms of visionary experience, he fearlessly pursues the symbolic, nonrational depths of such phenomena, reawakening the intuitive, creative impulses that power greater understanding.

Throughout his career, Obeyesekere has combined psychoanalysis and anthropology to illuminate the relationship between personal symbolism and religious experience. In this book, he begins with Buddha's visionary trances wherein, over the course of four hours, he witnesses hundreds of thousands of his past births and eons of world evolution, renewal, and disappearance. He then connects this fracturing of empirical and visionary time to the realm of space, considering the experience of a female Christian penitent, who stares devotedly at a tiny crucifix only to see the space around it expand to mirror Christ's suffering. Obeyesekere follows the unconscious motivations underlying rapture, the fantastical consumption of Christ's body and blood, and body mutilation and levitation, bridging medieval Catholicism and the movements of early modern thought as reflected in William Blake's artistic visions and poetic dreams. He develops the term "dream-ego" through a discussion of visionary journeys, Carl Jung's and Sigmund Freud's scientific dreaming, and the cosmic and erotic dream-visions of New Age virtuosos, and he defines the parameters of a visionary mode of knowledge that provides a more elastic understanding of truth. A career-culminating work, this volume translates the epistemology of Hindu and Buddhist thinkers for western audiences while revitalizing western philosophical and scientific inquiry.

 

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Contents

Book
6
Book1
19
The Buddha Nietzsche and Freud
35
Schreber and the Pictorial Imagination
62
Book2
75
Visionary Knowledge
94
The Waking Dream in a Buddhist Text on Illusion
108
Book 3
127
The Cure at Felpham
276
The Work of the DreamEgo
289
Back to Blake and the Wide Realm of Wild Reality
303
Poetry and the Dreaming
316
WEST MEETS EAST
325
The Production of Psychic Phenomena
342
Blavatsky and the Hindu Consciousness
355
Rethinking Manifest Dreams and Latent Meanings
376

Secular Spirituality in the Metaphysics of Physicists
156
Book 4
169
The Case of Teresa of Avila
186
Deep Motivation and the Work of Culture in Christian
201
The Participatory Visualizations of Margery Kempe
217
Book 5
243
William Blake and the Theory of Vision
263
On Synchronicity
402
The Dark Night ofJungs Trance Illness
427
Book 8
441
Eroticism and the Dream Ego
455
THE ETHNOGRAPHERS
473
Glossary
597
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About the author (2012)

Gananath Obeyesekere is professor emeritus of anthropology at Princeton University. His books include Cannibal Talk: Man-Eating Myth and Human Sacrifice in the South Sea; Imagining Karma: Ethical Transformation in Amerindian, Buddhist, and Greek Rebirth; Land Tenure in Village Ceylon; Medusa's Hair: An Essay on Personal Symbols and Religious Experience; The Cult of the Goddess Pattini; Buddhism Transformed; The Work of Culture: Symbolic Transformation in Psychoanalysis and Anthropology; and The Apotheosis of Captain Cook: European Mythmaking in the Pacific, which won the prize for most outstanding book in sociology and anthropology from the Association of American Publishers and the Gottschalk Prize from the American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies.

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