Sitting in Oblivion: The Heart of Daoist Meditation

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Paperback: $35.00 $24.50
ISBN-13: 9781931483162
Published: September 2010

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250 pages
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  • About the Book
  • This book is an expansion of Seven Steps to the Dao (1987). It outlines the history and intricacies of zuowang, an essential form of Daoist meditation. It divides into two parts. “Discussion” begins by placing the practice in the larger context of the phenomenology of meditation and Chinese religious history. It then has eight chapters, discussing historical forerunners in pre-Han and Twofold Mystery texts, Tang masters and main works, the theory and practice of Tang Daoist meditation, and its relation to Buddhism and modern science. “Translation” presents eight core texts, some translated here for the first time and all with ample annotation.

    Drawing on decades of Daoist scholarship and meditation experience, this book is the culmination of Kohn’s extensive, path-breaking work. It makes difficult materials accessible and greatly enhances our understanding of the complex methods and conceptualizations involved in attaining Dao.

  • About the Author(s)
    • Livia Kohn, Author

      Livia Kohn, Ph.D., is professor emerita of Religion and East Asian Studies at Boston University. The author or editor of over 40 books, she now lives in Florida, serves as the executive editor of the Journal of Daoist Studies, and runs various workshops and conferences. Her specialty is medieval Daoism and the study of Chinese longevity practices. She has written and edited numerous books and is a long-term practitioner of taiji quan, qigong, yoga, and meditation.
  • Reviews and Endorsements
    • Livia Kohn is a prominent scholar of Daoism and a pioneer in the comparative study of meditation; her rigorous academic approach is combined with long-term experience with various meditative practices. This book provides translations of the basic texts of the highly influential tradition of Daoist oblivion meditation, as well as a very readable discussion of its more than two thousand years of historical development. It gives a unique overview of the body and mind techniques, mental states and philosophical systems associated with this tradition from the beginning and up until today.
      Halvor Eifring, University of Oslo
    • Sitting in Oblivion provides a wealth of important and fascinating materials, accompanied with insightful analyses, about essential Daoist methods of contemplative practice. At the core of the book is a masterful translation of the Zuowang lun, a seminal treatise of the Tang era. There are also clear and reliable explanations of a number of important issues and pertinent developments, including the earliest formulation of ‘sitting in oblivion’ in classical texts such as the Zhuangzi, the teachings of the Twofold Mystery, the main elements of mature systematizations of Daoist meditation, and the influence of Buddhist models of contemplative practice. Livia Kohn’s extraordinary erudition and high level of scholarship are evident in both the discussion and translation sections, yet the book is eminently readable and will be readily appreciated by scholars, students, and practitioners alike.
      Mario Poceski, University of Florida