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Buddhism and Science [Hardcover]

B. Alan Wallace
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

April 15, 2003 0231123345 978-0231123341

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.

Editorial Reviews


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 Buddhadharma)

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 The Scientific and Medical Network)

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

(Aparna Sharma Leonardo Reviews)

An important contribution to the area of Buddhism and science.

(Richard K. Payne Theology and Science)

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.

(Southeastern Naturalist)

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 Inquiring Mind 1900-01-00)

About 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.

Product Details

  • Series: Columbia Series in Science and Religion
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (April 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231123345
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231123341
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,550,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Trained for ten years in Buddhist monasteries in India and Switzerland, Alan Wallace has taught Buddhist theory and practice in Europe and America since 1976; and he has served as interpreter for numerous Tibetan scholars and contemplatives, including H. H. the Dalai Lama. After graduating summa cum laude from Amherst College, where he studied physics and the philosophy of science, he earned a doctorate in religious studies at Stanford University.

He has edited, translated, authored, or contributed to more than thirty books on Tibetan Buddhism, medicine, language, and culture, as well as the interface between religion and science. He teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he is launching one program in Tibetan Buddhist studies and another in science and religion. His published works include The Bridge of Quiescence: Experiencing Buddhist Meditation), Choosing Reality: A Buddhist View of Physics and the Mind, and Tibetan Buddhism From the Ground Up.

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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting collection of essays May 31, 2009
This is an interesting and informative collection of essays illustrating some of the many facets of the relationship of Buddhism and modern science.

Not only does it capture the harmony and complementarity of Buddhist & scientific understanding of the self and nature, it also argues decisively against the pseudo-scientific and relativist ideas found in the New-Age and "post-modernist" fads.

In the end, one is impressed with the degree to which this ancient methodology of self knowledge is compatible with the scientific method. It really offers a spirituality that does not fly in the face of the evidence around us.
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