As neuroscience and contemplative studies “come of age,” researchers are increasingly inquiring into non-Asian traditions, particularly Abrahamic ones. This paper addresses some of the methodological concerns implicated by this westward turn, focusing on Jewish contemplative practice. First, it provides an introduction to the major phenomenological types of Jewish mystical/contemplative practice. Second, it addresses the nature of methods of Jewish contemplative practice, and third, the experiences (if any) such practices are designed to bring about, as well as the points of similarity and difference from “Buddhist” (chiefly Buddhist modern) practices, as they have been understood (and constructed) by contemplative science. Finally, and focusing primarily on the dissonances between the different approaches, the paper presents a tentative method for including Jewish practitioners in contemplative studies and contemplative neuroscience.

Jay Michaelson

Brown University

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