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Negotiating Intimate Social Relations

Negotiating Intimate Social Relations

(p.93) 5 Negotiating Intimate Social Relations
Michal Pagis
University of Chicago Press

This chapter analyzes the ways meditators and their significant others negotiate intimate social relations. Building on Max Weber’s typology of religions, the chapter tracks the “world-rejecting” traces that are embedded in the practice of vipassana. The chapter returns to the meditation center, illustrating how meditation retreats serve as unique social spaces for training in a specific mode of social interaction. In the meditation center, participants learn to be with others while decreasing awareness of the self that is projected to them from the eyes of others, keeping such awareness tacit. They learn to disengage from the self that is outlined for them by their significant others and focus on the inner lining of experience. This meditative interaction mode tends to seep into everyday life and into different social circles, sometimes in resonance and sometime in tension with the anticipations of intimate others. While management of anger is considered a positive and useful use of vipassana, significant others also attribute to vipassana a level of social withdrawal, of reduced motivation for playing the social game. The chapter follows the perspectives and interpretations of both meditators and their significant others, and the tensions and debates that arise from conflicting demands and expectations.

Keywords:   meditation, Max Weber, social interaction, self awarness, significant others, social circles, world rejecting, religion, social withdrawal, anger management

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