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Ritualdiskurs, Ritualkritik und Meditationspraxis: Das Beispiel von Vipassanā nach S. N. Goenka im "Westen"

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By analysing primary sources, I show in this paper how the Vipassanā meditation movement publicly objects to being categorized as a religious movement that teaches a certain form of ritual. I argue that the application of the meta-language terms "ritual" or "religion" to the practices taught by this movement, even though it is doubtlessly possible, does not help us solve the problems in explaining this fact; nor does it help in analysing the movement and its history. I argue that it is more appropriate to understand the polemic differentiation by Vipassanā as a strategy in a "modern" public discourse on religion and ritual. It seems that the reason for applying this strategy lies in the wish to avoid being identified with negative connotations of the terms "ritual" and "religion," such as inefficacy, irrationality and exaggerated rigidity. Instead, the protagonists stress rationality, efficacy and adaptation to the necessities of modern Western society. On the other hand, the movement also draws a line between itself and a so-called modern "esotericism" in which "rituals" are regarded as highly positive in their effects on humans.

Affiliations: 1: Religionswissenschaftliches Seminar, Universität Luzern, Kasernenplatz 3, 6003 Luzern, Switzerland


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