- Series: Columbia Series in Science and Religion
- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Columbia University Press; Later Printing Used edition (October 24, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0231138342
- ISBN-13: 978-0231138345
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.8 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #883,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Contemplative Science: Where Buddhism and Neuroscience Converge (Columbia Series in Science and Religion) Later Printing Used Edition
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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-centurya 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)
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)
[From] one of the most prominent voices in the discussions... Contemplative Science is a useful primer. (Benjamin Bogin Buddhadharma)
Wallace makes a strong case. (George Scialabba Boston Globe)
A copy should go to every scientist - both physical and contemplative - in the land. (David Fontana The Scientific and Medical Network)
B. Alan Wallace, renowned Buddhist scholar, integrates the contemplative methodologies of Buddhism and Western science into a single discipline: contemplative science. The science of consciousness investigates the mind through Buddhist contemplative techniques, such as shamatha, 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 theories with the help of highly developed meditative skills of observation and experimentation. Contemplative science allows for a deeper knowledge of mental phenomena, 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 shed light on the cognitive processes enabling 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, transcending a traditional science-based understanding of the self.
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Buddhists don't talk about their personal progress, so it is difficult for an interested observer to see details of their path. This book contains the clearest explanation and illustration of what it is like to be at various stages of the path towards enlightenment that I've seen anywhere.
I especially like the notes section which gives extensive references. It is surprising just how many of the references that Dr Wallace uses are to his own books and his original translations.
I would not recommend this book for those interested in an introduction to contemplation. It is an excellent reference work and ties together many thoughts that are only hinted at in introductory works.
Disclaimer: I am an interested observer of Buddhism and follow several different meditative practices. I attended a one week Samatha retreat presented by Alan Wallace several years ago.
On the other hand it provides the fundamentals for an epistemology of Contemplative Science.
The book you want is Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain, by Sharon Begley. The unfortunate title suggests little more than standard pop-psych self-help, but Ms. Begley's book provides a solid, readable account of neuroscience research from the last 10-15 years that relates specifically to the potential changes brought about in the brain through the practice of meditation, including recent studies on the brains of highly experienced meditators. I cannot recommend that book highly enough.
There is a robust and growing literature on Buddhism, Western psychology and cognitive science, consciousness and the brain. And this book is a new installment that summarizes some of this work.
The author of this fine book is B. Alan Wallace who spent fourteen years as a Buddhist monk and was ordained by the Dalai Lama. He is also the founder and president of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies. He has also translated a number of Tibetan Buddhist texts and is the author of several other books.
His central thesis is that although objective science has long said that religion, faith, belief and other subjective experiences are no more than epiphenomena of physical processes, that can and should change. He proposes that Western science and contemplative practices of Buddhism, and for that matter Christianity and Taoism, can be integrated to create a single discipline that he calls "Contemplative science." Alan contends that the development of this science is already underway and promises to illuminate both objective Western science and contemplative practices. It will in all likelihood bear many other fruits as well.
I am persuaded by what he has to say. I have never felt that we could or should relegate important human experiences to epiphenomena. Not only does it belittle meaningful experiences, it diminishes science.
As Albert Einstein once said, "Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind." This book presents us with a roadmap to abolish both of those handicaps.
This is a must read for anyone interested in consciousness and human potential.
Richard G. Petty, MD, author of Healing, Meaning and Purpose: The Magical Power of the Emerging Laws of Life