Meditation Book Grant to Dr. Jonathan Shear of Virginia Commonwealth University

Dr. Jonathan Shear's Book on the Major Meditation Systems of the World

I. The Project

Meditation has become mainstream in America, as a part of many health programs, as a method of relaxation, and for spiritual growth, and as a topic in college courses around the country. There are, of course, already many books on the subject of meditation. Some discuss practices within a given tradition in a serious way. Others discuss meditation in a general way, but these are often superficial and misleading, if not simply inaccurate. But to date there is no book that presents in a clear, comprehensive, and systematic way the mechanics, theories and effects of the various major meditation systems now practiced and discussed in America. The book sponsored by this grant should fill this gap. Its contents and structure should enable it to serve as a readily accessible, cross-traditional textbook for a wide variety of college courses (e.g., religion, psychology, philosophy, multicultural studies, etc.), and as an authoritative reference for scholars. In addition, the book should be of interest to the many people who practice various forms of meditation and would like to know something about procedures other than their own, as well as those who are simply curious about the topic. The Infinity Foundation is delighted to announce its support of this project.

Each of the chapters will deal with a single tradition of meditation. In order to facilitate inter-traditional comparisons, each chapter will cover the following topics:

(1) historical background
(2) mechanics of the techniques
(3) basic experiences and states
(4) further results (psychological and/or behavioral effects, higher states, etc.)
(5) interpretations and implications

The book will be edited by Dr. Jonathan Shear, who will also write an essay for inclusion within it.

The authors and topics of the chapters are expected to include:

Robert Thurman and David Gray (Tibetan meditation traditions)
Georg Feuerstein (Sankhya/Yoga)
Jeffrey Schwartz (Therevada Vipasana)
Don Salmon (Sri Aurobindo)
Sri Daya Mata (Kriya Yoga/Yogananda)
Liang Shou Yu and Wu Wen-Ching (Taoism/Qigong)
Llewelyn Vaughn Lee (Sufism)
Basil Pennington (Centering Prayer)
Jonathan Shear (Transcendental Meditation)

II. About the Editor

Jonathan Shear received a BA in Philosophy and Mathematics summa cum laude from Brandeis University, and was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow in Philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley where he received his Ph.D. While a Fulbright Scholar in Philosophy of Science at the London School of Economics in the early 1960's, Dr. Shear became interested in Eastern accounts of aspects of mind not ordinarily discussed by Western philosophers and psychologists. This led to examination of how Eastern experiential procedures could provide an expanded empirical base for our Western theories of mind, knowledge and values, as well as regular practice of such procedures themselves, and the significance of such procedures and the experiences they produce has remained the focus of Prof. Shear's work for nearly forty years. He is author of The Inner Dimension: Philosophy and the Experience of Consciousness (Peter Lang), coeditor of The View from Within: First-Person Methodologies (Imprint Academic), coeditor of Models of the Self (Imprint Academic), and editor of Explaining Consciousness: The Hard Problem (MIT). Prof. Shear is also a founding Editor of the multi-disciplinary Journal of Consciousness Studies, and an Affiliated Associate Professor of philosophy at Virginia Commonwealth University.