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Buddhism and Science: Breaking New Ground / Edition 1

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Overview

Buddhism and Science brings together distinguished philosophers, Buddhist scholars, physicists, and cognitive scientists to examine the contrasts and connections between the worlds of Western science and Eastern spirituality. This compilation was inspired by a suggestion made by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, himself one of the contributors, after one of a series of cross-cultural scientific dialogues in Dharamsala, India, sponsored by the Mind and Life Institute. Other contributors such as William L. Ames, Matthieu Ricard, and Stephen LaBerge assess not only the fruits of inquiry from East and West but also shed light on the underlying assumptions of these disparate worldviews. Their essays creatively address a broad range of topics: from quantum theory's surprising affinities with the Buddhist concept of emptiness, to the increasing need in the West for a more contemplative science attuned to the first-person investigation of the mind, to the important ways in which the psychological study of "lucid dreaming" maps similar terrain to the cultivation of the Tibetan Buddhist discipline of dream yoga.

Reflecting its wide variety of topics, Buddhism and Science is comprised of three sections. The first presents two historical overviews of the engagements between Buddhism and modern science or, rather, how Buddhism and modern science have defined, rivaled, or complemented one another. The second describes the ways Buddhism and the cognitive sciences inform each other; the third addresses points of intersection between Buddhism and the physical sciences. On the broadest level this work illuminates how different ways of exploring the nature of human identity, the mind, and the universe at large can enrich and enlighten one another.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Buddhadharma
My brief remarks cannot do justice to the wide-ranging sweep of these papers and their thoughtful treatment of often difficult concepts. Wallace's volume is an important contribution to the emerging dialogue between Buddhism and science, and to the larger rapprochement between science and spirituality.

— Arthur Zajonc, Professor of Physics, Amherst College

The Scientific and Medical Network
Are religion and science completely autonomous, and hence incommensurable universes of discourse? Does the examination of meditation practice by scientific means dehumanise and despiritualise it? The importance of this book lies in the fact that it confronts questions such as these, and offers us a wide range of studies that... [show] ways in which seemingly diverse cultural traditions can enrich and enliven each other.

— John Clarke

Leonardo Reviews
...the book is a crucial work that provides a foundation for future efforts...

— Aparna Sharma

Theology and Science
An important contribution to the area of Buddhism and science.

— Richard K. Payne

Southeastern Naturalist

Qantum theory's affinities with the Buddhist concept of emptiness...and consciousness are amoung some of the enlightening and thought-provoking subjects explored in this book.

Inquiring Mind
Those drawn toward and committed to exploring contemplative practices firsthand in an open, dedicated and more rigorous fashion will find here assistance on their journey toward fulfillment.

— Marcia Howton

Buddhadharma - Arthur Zajonc

My brief remarks cannot do justice to the wide-ranging sweep of these papers and their thoughtful treatment of often difficult concepts. Wallace's volume is an important contribution to the emerging dialogue between Buddhism and science, and to the larger rapprochement between science and spirituality.

The Scientific and Medical Network - John Clarke

Are religion and science completely autonomous, and hence incommensurable universes of discourse? Does the examination of meditation practice by scientific means dehumanise and despiritualise it? The importance of this book lies in the fact that it confronts questions such as these, and offers us a wide range of studies that... [show] ways in which seemingly diverse cultural traditions can enrich and enliven each other.

Leonardo Reviews - Aparna Sharma

...the book is a crucial work that provides a foundation for future efforts...

Theology and Science - Richard K. Payne

An important contribution to the area of Buddhism and science.

Inquiring Mind - Marcia Howton

Those drawn toward and committed to exploring contemplative practices firsthand in an open, dedicated and more rigorous fashion will find here assistance on their journey toward fulfillment.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231123358
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 3/10/2003
  • Series: Columbia Series in Science and Religion Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 751,963
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

B. Alan Wallace, founder and director of the Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of Consciousness, studied physics as an undergraduate at Amherst College and received his Ph.D. in religious studies from Stanford University. Wallace trained for many years as a monk in Buddhist monasteries in India and Switzerland and has taught Buddhist theory and practice in Europe and America since 1976. He also served as interpreter for numerous Tibetan scholars and contemplatives, including the Dalai Lama. His other published works include Choosing Reality: A Buddhist View of Physics and the Mind, The Bridge of Quiescence: Experiencing Buddhist Meditation, and The Taboo of Subjectivity: Toward a New Science of Consciousness.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Buddhism and Science--Breaking Down the Barriers, by B. Alan WallacePart 1 Historical Context Buddhism and Science: On the Nature of the Dialogue, by Josc Ignacio CabezonScience As an Ally or a Rival Philosophy? Tibetan Buddhist Thinkers' Engagement with Modern Science, by Thupten JinpaPart 2 Buddhism and the Cognitive Sciences Understanding and Transforming the Mind, by His Holiness the XIV Dalai LamaThe Concepts "Self", "Person'', and "I'' in Western Psychology and in Buddhism, by David GalinCommon Ground, Common Cause: Buddhism and Science on the Afflictions of Identity, by William S. WaldronImagining: Embodiment, Phenomenology, and Transformation, by Francisco J. Varela and Natalie DeprazLucid Dreaming and the Yoga of the Dream State: A Psychophysiological Perspective, by Stephen LaBergeOn the Relevance of a Contemplative Science, by Matthieu RicardPart 3 Buddhism and the Physical Sciences Emptiness and Quantum Theory, by William L. AmesTime and Impermanence in Middle Way Buddhism and Modern Physics, by Victor MansfieldA Cure for Metaphysical Illusions: Kant Quantum Mechanics and Madhyamaka, by Michel BitbolEmptiness and Relativity, by David Ritz FinkelsteinEncounters Between Buddhist and Quantum Epistemologies, by Anton ZeilingerConclusion: Life As a Laboratory, by Piet HutAppendix: A History of the Mind and Life Institute

Columbia University Press

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2004

    A New Dawn for Science

    Since 1987, the Dalai Lama has hosted a series of select meetings between Buddhists and leading scientists. These Mind and Life Conferences have stimulated inquiry into a range of topics where Buddhism and science seem to attract, if not catalyze, one another. One example is the work of Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Using advanced imaging technology, Davidson's team has observed the power of meditation to alter brain functioning. Several prestigious universities have now hosted conferences exchanging insights between Buddhists and cognitive scientists. Last October, one such meeting was covered by the journal Science, which recognized the usefulness of religion-science dialog, a notion previously ignored, if not derided, by the scientific establishment. 'Buddhism and Science - Breaking New Ground,' is a collection of 15 essays, most by Mind and Life Conference alumni. The volume reveals a deepening relationship between two spheres once thought to be mutually exclusive and, given the brevity of this courtship, it records a number of refreshing breakthroughs. If nurtured, these could benefit future generations immensely. Is Buddhism a religion? Is science a rigorously objective revealer of an ultimately true physical reality? From the outset, the definitions of 'Buddhism' and 'science' are thrown into question. The Dalai Lama, in his essay, calls Buddhism a science of mind that has made a detailed investigation of consciousness. In his introduction, Alan Wallace points out that Buddhism comprises a systematic description of the natural world based on testable hypotheses regarding the mind and its relation to the physical environment. In Buddhism's contemplative tradition, specific meditative techniques have been monitored for repeatable results over two-and-a-half millennia by gurus, lamas, and realized masters. Scientists call this peer review. Science, according to Wallace and several other essayists, often operates under a set of unexamined metaphysical beliefs amounting to a religious credo. Those who adhere to scientific materialism - maintaining that there is an absolute physical reality whose exploration is the only valid goal of science - are hardly objective when it comes to research into such non-material matters as consciousness. Yet quantum mechanics, the most successful theory in modern physics, posits that the subatomic building blocks of matter are barely physical. The components of the atom seem to arise in dependence on the kinds of measurements being made and the attitudes (consciousnesses) of the measuring scientists - a curiously Buddhist idea. The essays by physical scientists demonstrate the usefulness of Madhyamaka philosophy in tackling problems in physics. Madhyamaka, developed in India by Nagarjuna (2nd cent. AD), Chandrakirti, and others, views phenomena as empty of absolute, isolated, or inherent identity. Rather, they exist in dependence, that is, in relationship with other phenomena. Victor Mansfield gives specific examples of how the concept of emptiness is useful in the field of thermodynamics. Michel Bitbol expands on this theme, envisioning a science freed from the prejudices of scientific materialism and the limitations of dualistic thinking. He believes the influence of Madhyamaka could introduce a form of life 'in which losing ground is not a tragedy (it can even promote enlightenment...) and in which an alternative (say pragmatic, integrative, and altruist) strong motivation can be given to science.' Taken as a whole, the six essays on Buddhism and the cognitive sciences could foster an educational revolution in the West based on a psychology of liberation. Psychiatric researcher David Galin presents an analysis of individual identity in modern society, systematically exposing the problems inherent in the terms 'self,' 'person,' and 'I.' These 'ad hoc approximations,' comprising a 'system of inconsistent metaphorical conceptions' can be dang

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2009

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