This proposal is for a multi-sited ethnographic study of the engagement between contemplative practice, modern psychology and global religious networks among Chabad Hasidim. Our research documents the promotion and adaptation of traditional contemplative practices and their transformation into secularized therapeutic forms through clinical psychology and professional life coaching. In addition, our research is framed by critical comparison with contemporary Buddhist Modernism (Garfield forthcoming; McMahan 2008, 2008b, 2004; Payne 2007; Quli 2008; Sharf 1995; Wilson 2008) and contemplative science (Ozawa-de Silva and Dodson-Lavelle 2011; Ozawa-de Silva, et. al 2012; Pace et al. 2010; Reddy et al. 2012; Wallace and Shapiro 2006). This is the first ethnographic study of its kind and also the only one that is informed by scholarly analysis of the Hasidic textual tradition alongside empirical ethnographic research. It will, moreover, be one of the first to present research in a non-Buddhist-derived religious tradition as a prism to investigate the relationship between science and contemplative practice. As such, we believe it will contribute not just to the opening of a new area of research in contemplative studies but also that it will lend a necessary comparative dimension to the already burgeoning literature on Buddhist-inspired contemplative science.

MENU