[INDOLOGY] Visualisation of Buddha/Guru

Rupert Gethin Rupert.Gethin at bristol.ac.uk
Tue Jan 21 17:51:23 UTC 2014

Dear James,

> Can anyone advise me as to how common visualisation of the Buddha or Guru is in Buddhist meditative practice?
> Can anyone also suggest the period in which such practices were likely to have developed? It is not something I associate with Pali sources (but I am no Buddhologist).
> I am particularly interested in materials that are likely to date to the first millennium of the common era.
> If there are any striking examples of this practice in other early Indian religious traditions, I would also be grateful to hear of them.

I think the problem is determining when precisely 'visualization' is 
assumed or intended in accounts of the practice of buddhānusmṛti. The 
following give some pointers:

YAMABE Nobuyoshi , The Sūtra on the Ocean-like Samādhi of the 
Visualization of the Buddha: the Interfusion of the Chinese and Indian 
Cultures in Central Asia as Reflected in a Fifth Century Apocryphal 
Sūtra (doctoral thesis, Yale University, 1999). See especially the 
chapter 'Calling to mind, seeing and visualizing the Buddha: the Indian 
background', pp. 125-184.

Paul Harrison, 'Commemoration and Identification in Buddhānusmṛti', in 
In the Mirror of Memory: Reflections on Mindfulness and Remembrance in 
Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, ed. by J. Gyatso (Albany: State University 
of New York, 1992), pp. 215-238.

Paul Harrison, 'Buddhānusmṛti in the 
Pratyutpanna-buddha-saṃmukhāvasthita-samādhi-sūtra', Journal of Indian 
Philosophy, 6 (1978), 35–57.

Rupert Gethin, 'Mythology as Meditation: From the Mahāsudassana Sutta to 
the Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra', Journal of the Pali Text Society, (2006), 
63–112 (93–102).

Best wishes,


Rupert Gethin

University of Bristol
Department of Religion and Theology
Email: Rupert.Gethin at bristol.ac.uk

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