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A Brief History of Buddhist Absorption


This article presents a historical overview of developments in the construct of meditative absorption in Buddhist texts, with a particular emphasis on the Theravāda tradition. From pre-Buddhist antecedents via the Buddha’s own mastery of absorption until modern times, different constructs of absorption have developed which show considerable variation in terms of their concentrative depth and subjective experience. For this reason, research on psychological dimensions of meditative absorption needs to be based on first ascertaining what kind of absorption is being investigated.

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Chinese Buddhist Electronic Text Association


Dīrgha-āgama (T 1)




Ekottarika-āgama (T 125)


Madhyama-āgama (T 26)




Saṃyukta-āgama (T 99)

2 :

Saṃyukta-āgama (T 100)




Taishō edition




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Anālayo, B. A Brief History of Buddhist Absorption. Mindfulness 11, 571–586 (2020).

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  • Absorption
  • Concentration
  • dhyāna
  • Insight meditation
  • jhāna
  • Mahāsi Sayādaw
  • Right concentration
  • sutta-jhāna
  • vipassanā
  • vipassanā-jhāna
  • Visuddhimagga