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Zen-Brain Reflections

Overview

This sequel to the widely read Zen and the Brain continues James Austin's explorations into the key interrelationships between Zen Buddhism and brain research. In Zen-Brain Reflections, Austin, a clinical neurologist, researcher, and Zen practitioner, examines the evolving psychological processes and brain changes associated with the path of long-range meditative training. Austin draws not only on the latest neuroscience research and new neuroimaging studies but also on Zen literature and his personal experience ...

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Overview

This sequel to the widely read Zen and the Brain continues James Austin's explorations into the key interrelationships between Zen Buddhism and brain research. In Zen-Brain Reflections, Austin, a clinical neurologist, researcher, and Zen practitioner, examines the evolving psychological processes and brain changes associated with the path of long-range meditative training. Austin draws not only on the latest neuroscience research and new neuroimaging studies but also on Zen literature and his personal experience with alternate states of consciousness.Zen-Brain Reflections takes up where the earlier book left off. It addresses such questions as: how do placebos and acupuncture change the brain? Can neuroimaging studies localize the sites where our notions of self arise? How can the latest brain imaging methods monitor meditators more effectively? How do long years of meditative training plus brief enlightened states produce pivotal transformations in the physiology of the brain? In many chapters testable hypotheses suggest ways to correlate normal brain functions and meditative training with the phenomena of extraordinary states of consciousness.After briefly introducing the topic of Zen and describing recent research into meditation, Austin reviews the latest studies on the amygdala, frontotemporal interactions, and paralimbic extensions of the limbic system. He then explores different states of consciousness, both the early superficial absorptions and the later, major "peak experiences." This discussion begins with the states called kensho and satori and includes a fresh analysis of their several different expressions of "oneness." He points beyond the still more advanced states toward that rare ongoing stage of enlightenment that is manifest as "sage wisdom."Finally, with reference to a delayed "moonlight" phase of kensho,Austin envisions novel links between migraines and metaphors, moonlight and mysticism. The Zen perspective on the self and consciousness is an ancient one.

Readers will discover how relevant Zen is to the neurosciences, and how each field can illuminate the other.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"A monumental melding of wisdom from Zen and other contemplative traditions with modern neuroscience. This extraordinary synthesis will serve as an important resource for many years to come. A must-read for any serious student of the emerging discipline of contemplative neuroscience."—Richard J. Davidson,William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin—MadisonPlease note: I thought I had circulated this some time ago, but heard from a few people that they never saw it. Apologies for the omission. It did arrive a few days too late to make the book jacket.

"While the Decade of the Brain has ended cognitive neuroscience continues to flourish. The understanding of how parallel distributed modular networks mediate behavior is gained both by studying patients with brain injury-related disorders and by imaging the normal brain during cognitive activity. This remarkable volume organizes and synthesizes data from both of these paradigms for a variety of cognitive domains and helps the readerto better understand brain-behavior relationships."—Kenneth M. Heilman, James E. Rooks Jr. Distinguished Professor of Neurology, University of Florida College of MedicinePlease note: The first sentence may be omitted for space reasons.

"Following his monumental masterpiece Zen and the Brain, James Austin here presents further reflections on the koan 'How do neural mechanisms create enlightened consciousness?' This superb sequel not only reviews the most recent relevant neuroscience research but also stands alone as a readable survey of mind-brain relationships underlying the spectrum of mental states. Austin's unique expertise as a neurologist and Zen practitioner, as well as an articulate writer, makes him the perfect guide to elucidate the profound interrelationships between consciousness, the brain, and the world." Eberhard E. Fetz , Professor of Physiology & Biophysics,University of Washington

"In Zen and the Brain, James Austin quoted Einstein's dictum that 'Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.' Neurophysiological studies help us understand the biological bases of behavior, but attempting to understand experience is a heroic pursuit. In this sequel,Zen-Brain Reflections, Austin continues his quest of allowing us to better grasp how Zen practices influence and alter brain functions. His quest is not complete, but in this new book he reviews and synthesizes the substantial progress that has been made in understanding the biological basis of Zen experience,providing the reader with further enlightenment." Kenneth M. Heilman , James E. Rooks Jr. Distinguished Professor of Neurology, University of Florida College of Medicine

"In *Zen and the Brain*, James Austin quoted Einstein's dictum that 'Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.' Neurophysiological studies help us understand the biological bases of behavior, but attempting to understand experience is a heroic pursuit. In this sequel, *Zen-Brain Reflections*, Austin continues his quest of allowing us to better grasp how Zen practices influence and alter brain functions. His quest is not complete, but in this new book he reviews and synthesizes the substantial progress that has been made in understanding the biological basis of Zen experience, providing the reader with further enlightenment."—Kenneth M. Heilman, James E. Rooks Jr. Distinguished Professor of Neurology, University of Florida College of Medicine

"Following his monumental masterpiece *Zen and the Brain*, James Austin here presents further reflections on the koan 'How do neural mechanisms create enlightened consciousness?' This superb sequel not only reviews the most recent relevant neuroscience research but also stands alone as a readable survey of mind-brain relationships underlying the spectrum of mental states. Austin's unique expertise as a neurologist and Zen practitioner, as well as an articulate writer,makes him the perfect guide to elucidate the profound interrelationships between consciousness, the brain, and the world."—Eberhard E. Fetz, Professor of Physiology & Biophysics, University of Washington

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262514859
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 9/24/2010
  • Pages: 616
  • Sales rank: 832,947
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

James H. Austin, a clinical neurologist, researcher, and Zen practitioner for more than three decades, is Professor Emeritus of Neurology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and Courtesy Professor of Neurology at the University of Florida College of Medicine. He is the author of Zen and the Brain, Chase,Chance, and Creativity, Zen-Brain Reflections, Selfless Insight, and Meditating Selflessly, all published by the MIT Press.

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Table of Contents

Pt. I Starting to point toward Zen
Pt. II Meditating
Pt. III Neurologizing
Pt. IV Exploring states of consciousness
Pt. V Quickening
Pt. VI The absorptions
Pt. VII Insightful awakenings
Pt. VIII Openings into being; and beyond to the stage of ongoing enlightened traits
Pt. IX Pointing at moonlight : allusions and illusions
App. A Other links between the moon and enlightenment in the old Zen literature
App. B On wilderness poetry during the Tang and Sung periods
App. C Daio Kokushi "on Zen"
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