Stuart Ray Sarbacker is Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Philosophy in the School of History, Philosophy, and Religion. His work is centered on the relationships between the religious and philosophical traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, especially with respect to the practices of mind-body discipline (yoga). He also works on issues related to method and theory in the study of religion, with a focus on religious experience and its interpretation. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has performed institutional study and fieldwork in India, Nepal, Thailand, and Japan. Before coming to Oregon State University, he served as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Religion at Northwestern University, where he received the Weinberg College of Liberal Arts Alumni Teaching Award for his distinguished teaching of undergraduate students.
At Oregon State, Professor Sarbacker was awarded the Bill and Caroline Wilkins Faculty Development Award for his innovative teaching and research, and he has served as a Fellow of both the Center for the Humanities and the Spring Creek Project. His research and teaching has been supported by the Hundere Endowment for Religion and Culture and by the Horning Endowment for the Humanities and Sciences. He recently completed a 3-year Luce Foundation funded program on religion and technology administered by the Institute for Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, California. His work in this sphere applies philosophical and ethical concepts associated with Indian contemplative traditions to emergent technologies, especially human augmentation. This includes research on the so-called “Psychedelic Renaissance” or “Second-Wave Psychedelic Movement,” especially the Oregon Psilocybin Initiative, as well as the role of psychoactive substances in the context of historical and contemporary yoga and meditation traditions. He is a graduate of the inaugural cohort of the first state-approved Psilocybin Facilitator training program in Oregon, InnerTrek.
His teaching focuses on topical issues in Indic philosophy and religion, spirituality and ecology, and on emergent technologies, along with broad introductory courses on World Religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. In many of his courses, Sarbacker utilizes innovative contemplative pedagogies that aim to bridge the gaps between academic study, self-reflection, and engagement in civic life.
Professor Sarbacker has worked with a variety of students on undergraduate and graduate-level research, including in Applied Ethics, Environmental Humanities, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. He has also served as a member of the Alternative Masculinities Seminar sponsored by the Center for the Humanities at Oregon State.
He is a co-founder and former co-chair of the American Academy of Religion’s Yoga in Theory and Practice unit, and has also served as a co-chair and steering committee member of the American Academy of Religion’s Mysticism unit. He currently serves on the executive editorial board of the Journal of Contemplative Studies.
In addition to his academic credentials, Professor Sarbacker is an active yoga practitioner and teacher, having trained extensively in contemporary yoga and meditation traditions in India and the United States.
His profile on Academia.edu, including select publications, can be found here.
Sarbacker has published extensively on the history and philosophy of yoga and on issues related to method and theory in the study of religion.
His third book, Tracing the Path of Yoga: The History and Philosophy of Indian Mind-Body Discipline (New York: State University of New York Press, 2021), provides a comprehensive and theory-rich investigation of the history and philosophy of yoga, from its Indian origins to the contemporary context.
His second book, The Eight Limbs of Yoga: A Handbook for Living Yoga Philosophy
(New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux/North Point Press, 2015),
co-authored with esteemed Oregon yoga teacher Kevin Kimple, presents a constructive approach to understanding yoga philosophy in light of its relevance to contemporary life and yoga practice.
His first book, Samādhi: The Numinous and Cessative in Indo-Tibetan Yoga
(Albany: State University of Press, 2005),
examines the psychological and sociological dynamics of
contemplative practices in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.