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Buddhism & Science : Breaking New Ground
Wallace, B. Alan (Edt)
Columbia University Press / Softcover / 2003-04-01 / 0231123353
price: $52.00 (may be subject to change)
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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.


"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, BuddhadharmaProfessor of Physics, Amherst College

"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


Introduction: Buddhism and Science--Breaking Down the Barriers, by B. Alan Wallace

Part 1 Historical Context

Buddhism and Science: On the Nature of the Dialogue, by Josc Ignacio Cabezon

Science As an Ally or a Rival Philosophy? Tibetan Buddhist Thinkers' Engagement with Modern Science, by Thupten Jinpa

Part 2 Buddhism and the Cognitive Sciences

Understanding and Transforming the Mind, by His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama

The Concepts "Self", "Person'', and "I'' in Western Psychology and in Buddhism, by David Galin

Common Ground, Common Cause: Buddhism and Science on the Afflictions of Identity, by William S. Waldron

Imagining: Embodiment, Phenomenology, and Transformation, by Francisco J. Varela and Natalie Depraz

Lucid Dreaming and the Yoga of the Dream State: A Psychophysiological Perspective, by Stephen LaBerge

On the Relevance of a Contemplative Science, by Matthieu Ricard

Part 3 Buddhism and the Physical Sciences

Emptiness and Quantum Theory, by William L. Ames

Time and Impermanence in Middle Way Buddhism and Modern Physics, by Victor Mansfield

A Cure for Metaphysical Illusions: Kant Quantum Mechanics and Madhyamaka, by Michel Bitbol

Emptiness and Relativity, by David Ritz Finkelstein

Encounters Between Buddhist and Quantum Epistemologies, by Anton Zeilinger

Conclusion: Life As a Laboratory, by Piet Hut

Appendix: A History of the Mind and Life Institute

About the Editor:

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.

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