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Desire for Self-healing

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Lay Practice of Satipaṭṭhāna in Contemporary China

image of Asian Medicine

This practice report describes how Chinese meditators understand the “four foundations of mindfulness” (satipaṭṭhāna, sinianzhu 四念住) as a remedy for both mental and physical suffering. In the tradition of Theravāda Buddhism, satipaṭṭhāna is particularly recognized as the core knowledge for understanding the relationship between mind and body, and the core practice leading to liberation from suffering. Based on interviews with Chinese meditation practitioners, this study develops three main themes concerning how they have alleviated afflictions through the practice of satipaṭṭhāna. The first theme highlights how practitioners learn to overcome meditation difficulties with “right attitude.” The second theme is about practicing awareness with “six sense doors” open in order to facilitate the balance of the “five faculties.” The third theme explores how practitioners cultivate daily life practice through an understanding of the nature of mind and body as impermanent and as not-self. This paper details how these themes and embodied practices of satipaṭṭhāna constitute ways of self-healing for urban educated Buddhists in the contemporary Chinese context.

Affiliations: 1: Lancaster University


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1. Chen Yu, Fang Wei, Li Liqing, Morrissey Paul, Chen Nie 2016 Social Attitudes in Contemporary China London; New York Routledge
2. Charmaz Kathy 2014 Constructing Grounded Theory Second edition London Sage
3. Gethin Rupert 1998 The Foundations of Buddhism Oxford Oxford University Press
4. Gombrich Richard. F. 1988 Theravāda Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo London and New York Routledge [Crossref]
5. Hutchison Andrew J., Johnston Lynne H., Breckon Jeff D. 2010"“Using QSR‐NVivo to Facilitate the Development of a Grounded Theory Project: An Account of a Worked Example”" International Journal of Social Research MethodologyVol 13 4 283 302 [Crossref]
6. Ji Zhe 2011"“Buddhism in the Reform Era: A Secularized Revival?”" Religion in Contemporary China Chau Adam Abingdon Routledge
7. Pritzker Sonya. E. 2016"“New Age with Chinese Characteristics? Translating Inner Child Emotion Pedagogies in Contemporary China”" EthosVol 44 2 150 170 [Crossref]
8. U Tejaniya Sayadaw [Dejianiya Chanshi] 2014 Bie qingshi fannao [Don’t Look down on the Defilements: They Will Laugh at You] Li Mingqiang Jianxi Jianxi Buddhist Academy
9. U Tejaniya Sayadaw [Dejianiya Chanshi] 2014 Yiqie doushi fa [Dhamma Everywhere] Li Mingqiang Jianxi Buddhist Academy
10. U Tejaniya Sayadaw [Dejianiya Chanshi] 2016 When Awareness Becomes Natural Boulder Shambhala
11. Welch Holmes 1967 The Practice of Chinese Buddhism 1900–1950 Cambridge Harvard University Press

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