Meditations of a Buddhist Skeptic: A Manifesto for the Mind Sciences and Contemplative Practiceby B. Alan Wallace
Pub. Date: 12/06/2011
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Renowned Buddhist philosopher B. Alan Wallace reasserts the power of shamatha and vipashyana, traditional Buddhist meditations, to clarify the mind's role in the natural world. Raising profound questions about human nature, free will, and experience versus dogma, Wallace challenges the claim that consciousness is nothing more than an emergent property of the brain… See more details below
Renowned Buddhist philosopher B. Alan Wallace reasserts the power of shamatha and vipashyana, traditional Buddhist meditations, to clarify the mind's role in the natural world. Raising profound questions about human nature, free will, and experience versus dogma, Wallace challenges the claim that consciousness is nothing more than an emergent property of the brain with little relation to universal events. Rather, he maintains that the observer is essential to measuring quantum systems and that mental phenomena (however conceived) influence brain function and behavior.
Wallace embarks on a two-part mission: to restore human nature and to transcend it. He begins by explaining the value of skepticism in Buddhism and science and the difficulty of merging their experiential methods of inquiry. Yet Wallace also proves that Buddhist views on human nature and the possibility of free will liberate us from the metaphysical constraints of scientific materialism. He then explores the radical empiricism inspired by William James and applies it to Indian Buddhist philosophy's four schools and the Great Perfection school of Tibetan Buddhism.
Since Buddhism begins with the assertion that ignorance lies at the root of all suffering and that the path to freedom is reached through knowledge, Buddhist practice can be viewed as a progression from agnosticism (not knowing) to gnosticism (knowing), acquired through the maintenance of exceptional mental health, mindfulness, and introspection. Wallace discusses these topics in detail, identifying similarities and differences between scientific and Buddhist understanding, and he concludes with an explanation of shamatha and vipashyana and their potential for realizing the full nature, origins, and potential of consciousness.
- Columbia University Press
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Table of Contents
Prologue: Skepticism in Buddhism and Science
Part I: Restoring Our Human Nature 1. Toward a Revolution in the Mind Sciences2. Buddhism and Science: Confrontation and Collaboration3. Buddhism and the Mind Sciences4. A Three-Dimensional Science of Mind5. Restoring Meaning to the Universe6. What Makes Us Human? Scientific and Buddhist Views7. Achieving Free Will
Part II: Transcending Our Human Nature 8. Buddhist Radical Empiricism9. From Agnosticism to Gnosticism10. A Buddhist Model of Optimal Mental Health11. Mindfulness in the Mind Sciences and in Buddhism12. Shamatha and Vipashyana in the Indian Buddhist Tradition13. Shamatha and Vipashyana in the Dzogchen Tradition
Epilogue: The Many Worlds of Buddhism and ScienceNotesSelected BibliographyIndex
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