Mark McLaughlin is a Senior Lecturer of South Asian Religions. He holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies with a specialization in South Asian Religions and Sanskrit from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Before commencing his graduate work in Religious Studies, Mark spent six years living in a monastic community studying meditation, yoga, and the nondual Śaiva tantra and Vedāntic philosophical perspectives underpinning this tradition. For the past 25 years he has sustained a daily meditation practice that deeply informs his manner of being in the world and his approach to teaching.
Mark’s current research utilizes sacred space as a lens to better understand lived religion and its philosophical roots. In this regard, he is interested in notions of presence in sacred space, ritual interaction with space, tomb and relic worship, and sacred architecture as an expression of mythico-historical personality of place. He is currently working on a book project that explores the roots of samādhi (Hindu tomb-shrine) burial practice and the development of samādhi worship traditions through a case study of the samādhi mandir of a the thirteenth-century siddha and Varkari sant, Jñāneśvar Mahārāj in Āḷandī, Maharashtra.
Mark is also pioneering the capture and use of 360º video content of sacred space in India to give students an immersive experience of the spaces they are studying by means of Google Cardboard and Oculus Go VR headsets. Additionally, for several years now, Mark has been teaching an experiential course on the biomedicalization of meditation where students practice secular evidence-based meditation techniques while examining the Buddhist and Hindu philosophical perspectives of self that were shaped by these same practices.