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Prescribing the DharmaPsychotherapists, Buddhist Traditions, and Defining Religion$
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Ira Helderman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469648521

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469648521.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

Research Tested, Science Approved

Research Tested, Science Approved

Filtering Religion Approaches

(p.79) Chapter Three Research Tested, Science Approved
Prescribing the Dharma

Ira Helderman

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter describes clinicians’ filtering religion approaches to Buddhist traditions. Contemporary psychotherapists often express a prodigious enthusiasm about neuroscientific research purporting to prove the healing potential of Buddhist practices. Here scientific experimentation is seen as filtering away the taint of the religious or as leaving only a religious essence that is compatible with science – a “filtered religion” akin to filtered coffee. The seeds of filtering religion approaches lie in the work of early psychologists of religion like William James and James Bisset Pratt who also sought to filter Buddhist teachings through the high-technology psychologies of their own day in a search for new therapeutic religious forms (epitomized by “mind-cure” and James’ “religion of healthy-mindedness”). Today, experimental research design is applied to Buddhist meditation and Christian petitionary prayer practices alike in order to validate their so-called secular biomedical use. The chapter thus concludes that therapists’ filtering religion approaches to Buddhist traditions destabilize religion/secular binaries even as they submit the religious to the scientific or biomedical.

Keywords:   Psychology of religion, Neuroscience of meditation, William James, Buddhist transmission, Mindfulness, Caroline Rhys Davids, Anagārika Dharmapāla, Alternative and complementary medicine, Mind-cure and the New Thought movement, Secularization narratives

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