Religion and the Subtle Body in Asia and the West: Between Mind and Body

Front Cover
Geoffrey Samuel, Jay Johnston
Routledge, Apr 12, 2013 - Religion - 282 pages

Subtle-body practices are found particularly in Indian, Indo-Tibetan and East Asian societies, but have become increasingly familiar in Western societies, especially through the various healing and yogic techniques and exercises associated with them. This book explores subtle-body practices from a variety of perspectives, and includes both studies of these practices in Asian and Western contexts.

The book discusses how subtle-body practices assume a quasi-material level of human existence that is intermediate between conventional concepts of body and mind. Often, this level is conceived of in terms of an invisible structure of channels, associated with the human body, through which flows of quasi-material substance take place. Contributors look at how subtle-body concepts form the basic explanatory structure for a wide range of practices. These include forms of healing, modes of exercise and martial arts as well as religious practices aimed at the refinement and transformation of the human mindbody complex.

By highlighting how subtle-body practices of many kinds have been introduced into Western societies in recent years, the book explores the possibilities for new models of understanding which these concepts open up. It is a useful contribution to studies on Asian Religion and Philosophy.


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General introduction
Subtle bodies in China and India
Subtle bodies in the Tibetan tradition
Subtle bodies in Europe and Islam
Subtle bodies and modernity

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About the author (2013)

Geoffrey Samuel is Professor of Anthropology in the School of History, Archaeology and Religion at Cardiff University, UK, and Honorary Associate in the Department of Indian and Subcontinental Studies, University of Sydney, Australia.

Jay Johnston is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Studies in Religion at the University of Sydney, Australia, and Senior Lecturer in the School of Art History and Art Education, College of Fine Arts at the University of New South Wales, Australia.

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