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.
Subjects: General Science, Religion
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