Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness / Edition 1

Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness / Edition 1

by James H. Austin
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MIT Press
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Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness / Edition 1

A neuroscientist and Zen practitioner interweaves the latest research on the brain with his personal narrative of Zen.

Aldous Huxley called humankind's basic trend toward spiritual growth the "perennial philosophy." In the view of James Austin, the trend implies a "perennial psychophysiology" -- because awakening, or enlightenment, occurs only when the human brain undergoes substantial changes. What are the peak experiences of enlightenment? How could these states profoundly enhance, and yet simplify, the workings of the brain? Zen and the Brain presents the latest evidence. In this book Zen Buddhism becomes the opening wedge for an extraordinarily wide-ranging exploration of consciousness. In order to understand which brain mechanisms produce Zen states, one needs some understanding of the anatomy, physiology, and chemistry of the brain. Austin, both a neurologist and a Zen practitioner, interweaves the most recent brain research with the personal narrative of his Zen experiences. The science is both inclusive and rigorous; the Zen sections are clear and evocative. Along the way, Austin examines such topics as similar states in other disciplines and religions, sleep and dreams, mental illness, consciousness-altering drugs, and the social consequences of the advanced stage of ongoing enlightenment.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262511094
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 07/02/1999
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 868
Sales rank: 1,235,644
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.50(d)

Table of Contents

Chapters Containing Testable Hypotheses
List of Figures
List of Tables
By Way of Introduction
Part I Starting to Point toward Zen
1 Is There Any Common Ground between Zen and the Brain?
2 A Brief Outline of Zen History
3 But What Is Zen?
4 Mysticism, Zen, Religion, and Neuroscience
5 Western Perspectives on Mystical EXperiences
6 Is Mysticism a Kind of Schizophrenia in Disguise?
7 The Semantics of Self
8 Constructing Our Self
9 Some ABCs of the IMeMine
10 The Zen Mirror: Beyond Narcissism and Depersonalization
11 Where Does Zen Think It's Coming From?
Part II Meditating
12 What Is Meditation?
13 Ryokoin, Kyoto, 1974
14 Zazen at Ryokoin
15 Attention
16 The Attentive Art of Meditation
17 Restraint and Renunciation
18 Zen Meditative Techniques and Skills
19 Physiological Changes during Meditation
20 Brain Waves and Their Limitations
21 The EEG in Meditation
22 Breathing In; Breathing Out
23 The Effects of Sensorimotor Deprivation
24 Monks and Clicks: Habituation
25 The Koan and Sanzen: Kyoto, 1974
26 A Quest for NonAnswers: Mondo and Koan
27 The Roshi
28 The Mindful, Introspective Path toward Insight
29 Inkblots, Blind Spots, and High Spots
30 Sesshin and Teisho at Ryokoin, 1974
31 Sesshin
32 The Meditative Approach to the Dissolution of the Self
Part III Neurologizing
33 Brain in Overview: The Large of It
34 Brain in Overview: The Small of It
35 Brain in Overview: Coordinated Networks Synthesizing
Higher Functions
36 The Orienting RefleX and Activation
37 Arousal Pathways in the Reticular Formation and Beyond
38Acetylcholine Systems
39 The Septum and Pleasure
40 The Attachments of the Cingulate Gyrus
41 The Amygdala and Fear
42 Remembrances and the Hippocampus
43 Visceral Drives and the Hypothalamus
44 Biogenic Amines: Three Systems
45 GABA and Inhibition
46 Peptides
47 The Brain's Own Opioids
48 Ripples in the NeXt Cell: Second and Third Messengers
49 The Aplysia Withdraws
50 Matters of Taste
51 The Mouse in Victory and Defeat
52 The Central Gray: Offense, Defense, and Loss of Pain
53 The Third Route: Stress Responses within the Brain
54 The Large Visual Brain
55 Where Is It? The Parietal Lobe Pathway
56 What Is It? The Temporal Lobe Pathway
57 What Should I Do About It? The Frontal Lobes
58 Ripples in Larger Systems: Laying Down and Retrieving
59 The Thalamus
60 The Reticular Nucleus
61 The Pulvinar
62 Higher Mechanisms of Attention
63 Looking, and Seeing Preattentively
64 Laboratory Correlates of Awareness, Attention,
Novelty, and Surprise
65 Biological Theories: What Causes Mystical EXperiences?
How Does Meditation Act?
Part IV EXploring States of Consciousness
66 Problems with Words: "Mind"
67 Ordinary Forms of Conscious Awareness
68 Variations on the Theme of Consciousness
69 Alternate States of Consciousness: Avenues of Entry
70 The Architecture of Sleep
71 Desynchronized Sleep
72 Other Perspectives in Dreams
73 Lucid Dreaming
74 Conditioning: Learning and Unlearning
75 Other Ways to Change Behavior
76 The Awakening from Hibernation
77 Tidal Rhythms and Biological Clocks
78 The Roots of Our Emotions
79 The Spread of Positive Feeling States
80 Pain and the Relief of Pain
81 Suffering and the Relief of Suffering
82 Bridging the Two Hemispheres
83 The Pregnant Meditative Pause
Part V Quickening
84 Side Effects of Meditation: Makyo
85 The Light
86 Bright Lights and Blank Vision
87 Faces in the Fire: Illusions and Hallucinations
88 Stimulating Human Brains
89 The Ins and Outs of Imagery
90 The Tachistoscope
91 The Descent of Charles Darwin: Computer Parallels
92 Bytes of Memory
93 Where Is the Phantom Limb?
94 The Feel of Two Hands
95 The Attentive Cat
96 Emotionalized Awareness without Sensate Loss
97 Seizures, Religious EXperience, and Patterns of Behavior
98 The Fleeting "Truths" of Nitrous OXide
99 The Roots of Laughter
100 How Do Psychedelic and Certain Other Drugs
Affect the Brain?
101 Levels and Sequences of Psychedelic EXperiences
after LSD
102 The Miracle of Marsh Chapel
103 How Do Psychedelic Drugs Affect Amine Receptors?
104 NearDeath EXperiences; FarDeath Attitudes
105 Triggers
106 The Surge
107 First ZenBrain Mondo
Part VI Turning In: The Absorptions
108 Vacuum Plenum: Kyoto, December 1974
109 The Leaf: Coda
110 The Semantics of Samadhi
111 The Vacuum Plenum of Absorption: An Agenda
of Events to Be EXplained
112 The Plunge: Blankness, Then Blackness
113 The Hallucinated Leaf
114 Space
115 The Ascent of Charles Lindbergh: Ambient Vision
116 The Ambient Vision of Meditative Absorption
117 The Sound of Silence
118 The Loss of the Self in Clear, Held Awareness
119 The Warm Affective Tone
120 Motor and Other Residues of Internal Absorption
121 The When and Where of Time
122 Gateway to ParadoX
123 Second ZenBrain Mondo
Part VII Turning Out: The Awakenings
124 Dimensions of Meaning
125 Authentic Meanings within WideOpen Boundaries
126 Word Problems: "Oneness" and "Unity"
127 How Often Does Enlightenment Occur?
128 A Taste of Kensho: London, 1982
129 What Is My Original Face?
130 Major Characteristics of InsightWisdom in Kensho
131 Prajna: InsightWisdom
132 Suchness
133 Direct Perception of the Eternally Perfect World
134 The Construction of Time
135 The Dissolution of Time
136 The Death of Fear
137 Emptiness
138 Objective Vision: The Lunar View
139 Are There Levels and Sequences of "Nonattainment"?
140 Preludes with Potential: Dark Nights and Depressions
141 Operational Differences between Absorption
and InsightWisdom
142 Reflections on Kensho, Personal and Neurological
143 Selective Mechanisms Underlying Kensho
144 Third ZenBrain Mondo
Part VIII Being and Beyond: To the Stage of Ongoing Enlightenment
145 The State of Ultimate Pure Being
146 The Power of Silence
147 Beyond Sudden States of Enlightenment
148 The EXceptional Stage of Ongoing Enlightened Traits
149 Simplicity and Stability
150 An Ethical Base of Zen?
151 Compassion, the Native Virtue
152 Etching In and Out
153 Aging in the Brain
154 The Celebration of Nature
155 EXpressing Zen in Action
156 The Other Side of Zen
157 StillEvolving Brains in StillEvolving Societies
158 Commentary on the Trait Change of Ongoing Enlightenment
In Closing
AppendiX A Introduction to the Heart Sutra
AppendiX B Selections from Affirmation of Faith in Mind
AppendiX C Suggested Further Reading
References and Notes
Source Notes

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Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is very heavy reading but is full of interesting observations. I would highly recommend it to people who are somewhat familar with scientific research in the brain. If you are not familiar with it and are interested in these types of experiences from a theoretical perspective, I suggest you read an absolutely amazing book called 'The Ever-Transcending Spirit' by Toru Sato. This one requires very little background knowledge and is accessible to anyone. Although I do not question the pure brilliance of this book, I think I must disagree with the basic assumption that spiritual experience is caused by the mind. This is often a confusing thing because the mind-body dualism problem is something that we have not completely overcome as a culture. Certain states in the brain reflect the spiritual experience but they are not causes of it. They are one and the same thing. But overall, an excellent read!