01 Mar KATE CROSBY ON WHY TRADITIONAL THERAVADA MEDITATION LOOKS LIKE TANTRA
Kate Crosby from King’s College, London discusses a “pre-reformed” Theravada meditation tradition, which employs techniques involving initiations, offerings, and somatic properties, and has parallels with certain tantric practices. Using energies of the breath and body, the practitioner generates positive mental states, draws them in on the breath, experiences them in the body, moves them about, and thereby creates a healing space for the development of an enlightened being within. Against accusation of unorthodoxy by some Theravada meditation traditions, Crosby argues these practices are thoroughly Theravada, grounded in Abhidharma texts, and have medicinal implications for the body. The practices are said to produce radical alchemical transformations, much like her analogy of growing an embryonic buddha in the womb. Abhidharma is not used in these practices for scholastic analysis, but as a practical manual for healing. We have lost connection with these practices due to the influence of modern medical technologies and the rise of the Vipassana movement.