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The Dark Side of Dharma
Meditation, Madness and Other Maladies on the Contemplative Path
Anna Lutkajtis
ISBN: 9781913504595
Book (Paperback)
AEON Books, Aeon Books
6 x 9
177 pages
March 25, 2021


For Sale in North America Only

The Dark Side of Dharma, looks at why meditation side effects, also known as “adverse effects,” while well known in spiritual and religious traditions, have been ignored in contemporary secular contexts such as Western psychology.

For some meditators, adverse effects are completely unexpected and undesirable. Others believe that these effects are a normal part of the contemplative path, and as such they are a welcome sign of progress. Through her academic research Lutkajtis discovered that while the scientific studies and popular media coverage of meditation have been overwhelmingly positive, a small but growing number of studies also speak of meditation adverse effects.

Lutkajtis found that in religious traditions, such as Buddhism, these types of difficulties associated with meditation are acknowledged, and are usually understood to be either milestones on the path to enlightenment, the result of improper practice, or due to individual differences. In traditional contexts, meditation teachers are equipped to deal with adverse effects when they arise. However, in the modern West, meditation adverse effects have been largely ignored.

Given the current popularity and proliferation of secular meditation-related products and services, it is important to understand why meditation adverse effects have been overlooked, under-researched, and generally misunderstood. This book attempts to answer that question.

Anna Lutkajtis is a postgraduate researcher from Sydney, Australia. Her research focuses on mysticism, the dark night of the soul and the healing potential of altered states of consciousness. She is particularly interested in the relationship between mental illness and spirituality, mystical experiences, and how techniques that were originally designed for contemplative purposes have been integrated into modern Western psychology. Her master’s thesis, The Dark Side of Dharma, examined why meditation adverse effects, while well known in spiritual and religious traditions, have been ignored in contemporary secular contexts.
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AEON Books/North America Only