Professor Antoon Geels, now retired, is an Internationally recognised authority in the field of Psychology of Religion. Over the years he has done a lot of research connected to South Asia, most notably on Nepal.
In October, 2001, he arranged a Symposium on ”Mysticism and Psychology”, with the psychoanalyst and writer Dr Sudhir Kakar as key guest (Kakar then also held a SASNET lecture on ”Globalisation and Hindu Nationalism” – referred to at our page on local SASNET activities).
In the Fall 2004 the department arranged a 5 credits part time course on Traditions of Mysticism, dealing with basic mystic texts from Hindu, Buddhist, and Tao traditions, including studies of specific yoga techniques and their psychological effects.
In January 2008, Prof. Geels published a book titled ”Religiös besinning och besinningslös religion. Tankar om terror i Guds namn, Buddhism och global andlighet” [Religious Sense and Senseless Religion. Thoughts About Terror in the Name of God, Buddhism, and Global Spirituality]. The book deals with the fact that even though religion can motivate people to altruistic activity in the service of mankind, it can also instigate terror attacks. When does religion become senseless?
Several chapters are devoted to a discussion of Buddhism and its contribution to well-being. In a final chapter the author presents his ideas about global spirituality. Representatives of the five great world religions come together in order to prepare a (fictive) interreligious dialogue, focusing on controversial issues as well as on common spiritual denominators, which can lay a foundation for a new global spirituality. More information.
In 2008, Antoon Geels also published another book titled ”Medvetandets stilla grund: mystik och spiritualitet i världens religioner” [The peaceful foundation of consciousness: Mysticism and Spirituality in the World religions]. It contains four extensive chapters on Hinduism and Buddhism. More information.
Prof. Geels has also had a research interest in studying Westerners visiting Indian Ashrams. In January 2008, he visited Sri Ramanasramam, an ashram in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu dedicated to spreading the teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Many Westerners – most of them above 50 years of age – regularly return to this specific South Indian ashram. More information about Sri Ramanasramam.
The journalist Göran Frankel, working for Lund University’s Communications department, made a TV documentary about Prof. Geels’ research in Tiruvannamalai for the programme Vetenskapslandet, broadcasted by Swedish TV/Kunskapskanalen in October 2008. The film was entitled ”Andlighet och stillhet i Indien”.