Pub. Date:
Columbia University Press
Contemplative Science: Where Buddhism and Neuroscience Converge / Edition 1

Contemplative Science: Where Buddhism and Neuroscience Converge / Edition 1

by B. Alan Wallace, Brian HodelB. Alan Wallace


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Science has long treated religion as a set of personal beliefs that have little to do with a rational understanding of the mind and the universe. However, B. Alan Wallace, a respected Buddhist scholar, proposes that the contemplative methodologies of Buddhism and of Western science are capable of being integrated into a single discipline: contemplative science.

The science of consciousness introduces first-person methods of investigating the mind through Buddhist contemplative techniques, such as samatha, an organized, detailed system of training the attention. Just as scientists make observations and conduct experiments with the aid of technology, contemplatives have long tested their own theories with the help of highly developed meditative skills of observation and experimentation. Contemplative science allows for a deeper knowledge of mental phenomena, including a wide range of states of consciousness, and its emphasis on strict mental discipline counteracts the effects of conative (intention and desire), attentional, cognitive, and affective imbalances.

Just as behaviorism, psychology, and neuroscience have all shed light on the cognitive processes that enable us to survive and flourish, contemplative science offers a groundbreaking perspective for expanding our capacity to realize genuine well-being. It also forges a link between the material world and the realm of the subconscious that transcends the traditional science-based understanding of the self.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231138345
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 10/24/2006
Series: Columbia Series in Science and Religion
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

B. Alan Wallace spent fourteen years as a Buddhist monk, ordained by H. H. the Dalai Lama. He then earned his undergraduate degree in physics and the philosophy of science at Amherst College and his doctorate in religious studies from Stanford University. His Columbia University Press books are Hidden Dimensions: The Unification of Physics and Consciousness; Mind in the Balance: Meditation in Science, Buddhism, and Christianity; and Buddhism and Science: Breaking New Ground (editor). He is the founder and president of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies (

Table of Contents

1 - Principles of Contemplative Science
2 - Where Science and Religion Collide
3 - The Study of Consciousness, East and West
4 - Spiritual Awakening and Objective Knowledge
5 - Buddhist Nontheism, Polytheism, and Monotheism
6 - Worlds of Intersubjectivity
7 - Samatha: The Contemplative Refinement of Attention
8 - Beyond Idolatry: The Renaissance of a Spirit of Empiricism

What People are Saying About This

Richard J. Davidson

Provocative, challenging, and engaging, Contemplative Science should be read by all serious students of the mind, scientists, contemplatives, and religious scholars alike. Alan Wallace has a breathtaking command of knowledge rooted in Buddhism but embracing the physical and cognitive sciences and most importantly informed by meditation practice. This book will help set the stage for a unique development in the twenty-first-century—a genuine collaboration between the contemplative traditions and Western science.

Richard J. Davidson, William James and Vilas Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Arthur Zajonc

In Contemplative Science, Alan Wallace forcefully and properly challenges the materialistic presuppositions held by many scientists. He goes on to argue convincingly for the development of a contemplative science of consciousness based on a highly trained faculty of attention that can investigate the mind firsthand. Using his unique mastery of Buddhist philosophy and meditative practice, Wallace sketches for us the value of integrating contemplative methods with empirical research. I share his view of the unique importance of such an integration and recommend Contemplative Science as one of the first comprehensive presentations of that view.

Arthur Zajonc, Andrew Mellon Professor of Physics, Amherst College, and the author of The Dalai Lama at MIT

Letitia Campbell

Contemplative Science is an important addition to the growing body of scholarly literature on Buddhism, Western mind science, consciousness, and contemplation.

Letitia Campbell, Emory University

Paul Ekman

Contemplative Science is a must read for anyone interested in consciousness. Alan Wallace challenges neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, and Buddhists, with lucid, provocative scholarship.

Paul Ekman, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, University of California, San Francisco, and author of Emotions Revealed

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