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Meditation offers, in addition to its many other benefits, a method for achieving previously inconceivable levels of concentration. Author B. Alan Wallace has nearly thirty years' practice in attention-enhancing meditation, including a retreat he performed under the guidance of the Dalai Lama. An active participant in the much-publicized dialogues between Buddhists and scientists, Alan is uniquely qualified to speak intelligently to both camps, and The Attention Revolution is the definitive presentation of his knowledge. Beginning by pointing out the ill effects that follow from our inability to focus, Wallace moves on to explore a systematic path of meditation to deepen our capacity for deep concentration. The result is an exciting, rewarding "expedition of the mind," tracing everything from the confusion at the bottom of the trail to the extraordinary clarity and power that come with making it to the top. Along the way, the author also provides interludes and complementary practices for cultivating love, compassion, and clarity in our waking and dreaming lives. Attention is the key that makes personal change possible, and the good news is that it can be trained. This book shows how.
Distinguished philosophers, Buddhist scholars, physicists, and cognitive scientists examine the contrasts and connections between the worlds of Western science and Buddhism. Contributors, the Dalai Lama among them, assess not only the fruits of inquiry from East and West, they shed light on the underlying assumptions of these disparate world views.
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.
Bridging the gap between the world of science and the realm of the spiritual, B. Alan Wallace introduces a natural theory of human consciousness that has its roots in contemporary physics and Buddhism. Wallace's "special theory of ontological relativity" suggests that mental phenomena are conditioned by the brain, but do not emerge from it. Rather, the entire natural world of mind and matter, subjects and objects, arises from a unitary dimension of reality that is more fundamental than these dualities, as proposed by Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung. To test his hypothesis, Wallace employs the Buddhist meditative practice of samatha, refining one's attention and metacognition, to create a kind of telescope to examine the space of the mind. Drawing on the work of the physicist John Wheeler, he then proposes a more general theory in which the participatory nature of reality is envisioned as a self-excited circuit. In comparing these ideas to the Buddhist theory known as the Middle Way philosophy, Wallace explores further aspects of his "general theory of ontological relativity," which can be investigated by means of vipasyana, or insight, meditation. Wallace then focuses on the theme of symmetry in reference to quantum cosmology and the "problem of frozen time," relating these issues to the theory and practices of the Great Perfection school of Tibetan Buddhism. He concludes with a discussion of the general theme of complementarity as it relates to science and religion. The theories of relativity and quantum mechanics were major achievements in the physical sciences, and the theory of evolution has had an equally deep impact on the life sciences. However, rigorous scientific methods do not yet exist to observe mental phenomena, and naturalism has its limits for shedding light on the workings of the mind. A pioneer of modern consciousness research, Wallace offers a practical and revolutionary method for exploring the mind that combines the keenest insights of contemporary physicists and philosophers with the time-honored meditative traditions of Buddhism.
"B. Alan Wallace displays courage in raising central Buddhist themes such as past-life recall, extrasensory perception, other paranormal abilities, and the realization of emptiness and buddha nature. In his description of the tenets and practices of Buddhism, Wallace is a true master. His range and depth of knowledge to the presence and views of science is nearly unique. Book jacket.
By establishing a dialogue in which the meditative practices of Buddhism and Christianity speak to the theories of modern philosophy and science, B. Alan Wallace reveals the theoretical similarities underlying these disparate disciplines and their unified approach to making sense of the objective world. Wallace begins by exploring the relationship between Christian and Buddhist meditative practices. He outlines a sequence of meditations the reader can undertake, showing that, though Buddhism and Christianity differ in their belief systems, their methods of cognitive inquiry provide similar insight into the nature and origins of consciousness. From this convergence Wallace then connects the approaches of contemporary cognitive science, quantum mechanics, and the philosophy of the mind. He links Buddhist and Christian views to the provocative philosophical theories of Hilary Putnam, Charles Taylor, and Bas van Fraassen, and he seamlessly incorporates the work of such physicists as Anton Zeilinger, John Wheeler, and Stephen Hawking. Combining a concrete analysis of conceptions of consciousness with a guide to cultivating mindfulness and profound contemplative practice, Wallace takes the scientific and intellectual mapping of the mind in exciting new directions.
In life and in death, in meditation and in sleep, every transitional stage of consciousness, or bardo, provides an opportunity to overcome limitations, frustrations, and fears. The profound teachings in this book provide the under- standing and instruction necessary to turn every phase of life into an opportunity for uncontrived, natural liberation. Like the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Natural Liberation is a term, a "hidden treasure" attributed to the eighth-century master Padmasambhava. Gyatrul Rinpoche's lucid commentary accompanies the text, illuminating the path of awakening to the point of full enlightenment. Natural Liberation is an essential contribution to the library of both scholars and practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism.
This is an absorbing account of a dialogue between leading Western scientists and the foremost representative of Buddhism today, the Dalai Lama of Tibet. For modern science, the transitional states of consciousness lie at the forefront of research in many fields. For a Buddhist practitioner these same states present crucial opportunities to explore and transform consciousness itself. This book is the account of a historic dialogue between leading Western scientists and the Dalai Lama of Tibet. Revolving around three key moments of consciousness--sleep, dreams, and death--the conversations recorded here are both engrossing and highly readable. Whether the topic is lucid dreaming, near-death experiences, or the very structure of consciousness itself, the reader is continually surprised and delighted. Narrated by Francisco Varela, an internationally recognized neuroscientist, the book begins with insightful remarks on the notion of personal identity by noted philosopher Charles Taylor, author of the acclaimed Sources of Self. This sets the stage for Dr. Jerome Engel, Dr. Joyce MacDougal, and others to engage in extraordinary exchanges with the Dalai Lama on topics ranging from the neurology of sleep to the yoga of dreams. Remarkable convergences between the Western scientific tradition and the Buddhist contemplative sciences are revealed. Dr. Jayne Gackenbach's discussion of lucid dreaming, for example, prompts a detailed and fascinating response from the Dalai Lama on the manipulation of dreams by Buddhist meditators. The conversations also reveal provocative divergences of opinion, as when the Dalai Lama expresses skepticism about "Near-Death Experiences" as presented by Joan Halifax. The conversations are engrossing and highly readable. Any reader interested in psychology, neuroscience, Buddhism, or the alternative worlds of dreams will surely enjoy Sleeping, Dreaming, and Dying.
In his previous book, The Attention Revolution, bestselling author Alan Wallace guided readers through the stages of shamatha, a meditation for focusing the mind. In Stilling the Mind, he uses the wisdom of Dzogchen--the highest of all the meditation traditions--to open up the shamatha practice into a space of vast freedom. Here, Wallace introduces us to Dudjom Lingpa's Vajra Essence, one of the most cherished works of the Nyingma school from which Dzogchen stems. With his trademark enthusiasm and keen intelligence, Wallace makes obscure concepts intelligible to contemporary readers and allows us to glimpse the profound realizations of a great nineteenth-century spiritual adept.
As long as our minds are dominated by the conditions of the external world, we are bound to remain in a state of dissatisfaction, always vulnerable to grief and fear. How then can we develop an inner sense of well-being and redefine our relationship to a world that seems unavoidably painful and unkind? Many have found a practical answer to that question in the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. Here at last is an organized overview of these teachings, beginning with the basic themes of the sutras--the general discourses of the Buddha--and continuing through the esoteric concepts and advanced practices of Tantra. Unlike other introductions to Tibetan Buddhism, this accessible, enjoyable work doesn't stop with theory and history, but relates timeless spiritual principles to the pressing issues of modern life, both in terms of our daily experience and our uniquely Western world view. This fascinating, highly readable book asks neither unquestioning faith nor blind obedience to abstract concepts or religious beliefs. Rather, it challenges us to question and investigate life's issues for ourselves in the light of an ancient and effective approach to the sufferings and joys of the human condition.
Inspired by years of scholarly training and decades of solitary retreat, Tibetan monk Gen Lamrimpa offers a concise overview of all phases of the Kalachakra practice: the preliminaries, the initiation, and finally, the stages of generation and completion. With remarkable clarity, he makes the Six-Session Guruyoga practice accessible to all practitioners, and deepens our understanding and appreciation of this sublime teaching of the Buddha. Gen Lamrimpa begins this eminently practical explanation by emphasizing the importance of a compassionate motivation for spiritual practice. He then explores the nature of suffering and the cycle of existence that traps all living beings, and concludes with a detailed account of the Six-Phase Yoga, which is meant to be recited and contemplated three times during the day and three times at night. Alan Wallace's introduction illuminates both Kalachakra's rich history and Gen Lamrimpa's unique contribution to our understanding. This book provides a clear explanation of Kalachakra as set forth within the context of the Six-Session Guruyoga, a daily meditation practice for initiates. Transcending Time presents all phases of Kalachakra practice--the preliminaries, the initiation, and finally, the stages of generation and completion.
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