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Meditations of a Buddhist Skeptic


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Table of Contents

Prologue: Skepticism in Buddhism and Science Part I: Restoring Our Human Nature 1. Toward a Revolution in the Mind Sciences 2. Buddhism and Science: Confrontation and Collaboration 3. Buddhism and the Mind Sciences 4. A Three-Dimensional Science of Mind 5. Restoring Meaning to the Universe 6. What Makes Us Human? Scientific and Buddhist Views 7. Achieving Free Will Part II: Transcending Our Human Nature 8. Buddhist Radical Empiricism 9. From Agnosticism to Gnosticism 10. A Buddhist Model of Optimal Mental Health 11. Mindfulness in the Mind Sciences and in Buddhism 12. Shamatha and Vipashyana in the Indian Buddhist Tradition 13. Shamatha and Vipashyana in the Dzogchen Tradition Epilogue: The Many Worlds of Buddhism and Science Notes Selected Bibliography Index

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Renowned Buddhist philosopher B. Alan Wallace reasserts the power of shamatha and vipashyana, traditional Buddhist meditations, to clarify the mind's role in the natural world. Wallace challenges the claim that consciousness is nothing more than an emergent property of the brain with little relation to universal events. Rather, he maintains that the observer is essential to measuring quantum systems and that mental phenomena (however conceived) influence brain function and behavior. Wallace embarks on a two-part mission: to restore human nature, and then to transcend it. He begins by illustrating the value of skepticism in Buddhism and science and the difficulty of merging their experiential methods of inquiry. Yet Wallace also proves that Buddhist views on human nature and the possibility of free can liberate us from the metaphysical constraints of scientific materialism. He also explores the radical empiricism inspired by William James, applying it to Indian Buddhist philosophy's four schools and the Great Perfection school of Tibetan Buddhism. He concludes with an explanation of shamatha and vipashyana and their capacity? for realizing the full nature, origins, and potential of consciousness.

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, summa cum laude, 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 Mind in the Balance: Meditation in Science, Buddhism, and Christianity; Hidden Dimensions: The Unification of Physics and Consciousness; Contemplative Science: Where Buddhism and Neuroscience Converge; and Buddhism and Science: Breaking New Ground. A prolific writer and translator of numerous Tibetan Buddhist texts, he is the founder and president of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies (


The suggestion brought to the fore by Flanagan and Wallace-that Buddhism may be a source of insight in these areas-is a welcome and tantalizing one. -- Daniel Stoljar Nature This book is a stirring attack on the hubris and blind spots of the scientific establishment, combined with an engaging presentation of Buddhist wisdom as the antidote. -- Joseph S. O'Leary Japan Times

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