(Zen and the Brain Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness) [EBOOK/PDF] ↠ James H. Austin
This work is baffling too large to approach in one o It batters the reader with citations over a hundred pages of footnotes alone hypotheses studies physiologies It integrates broad categories of knowledge and experience Ultimately Zen is examined not in and of itself but in light of its interrelationship with neurophysiology Austin being both a student of Zen and an MD that is what do these bodies of knowledge have to say to each otherIn fact these two fields practically demand this treatment Zen is a sort of science of the mind a very old tradition having commonalities with mystic practices from all over the When Da Silva Breaks the Rules (Blood Brothers, globe Neurophysiology represents our current and best understanding of the mind s physical analogue the brain One would expect that deep insight into the nature of consciousness as experience that Zen provides could inform our physiological search for mind brain correlations This is precisely Austin s projectAustin acknowledges the reality and validity of personal conscious experience while simultaneously searching for physical that is material correlation in the various substructures ofrey matter This subverts the traditional materialist idealist dualism recalling Searle s ontology in which the distinction between mind and body is illusoryHowever this comes at the price of feeling that Austin has done some violence to the mystical nature of Zen So much of Zen refuses to be talked about Discursive thought would seem to push one away from the path of Zen and here is Austin trying to categorize analyze dissect his absorptions and samadhi The concept frankly disgusted me at first Why waste so many words on that which is utterly beyond words beyond thoughtYet it would seem Austin is enuine He uses his experiences of altered states of consciousness to propose physiological roots in the dropping off of sensations or the subjective loss of a self For the most part these are testable hypotheses Sometimes he even ives a brief sketch of a possible experimental setup before moving on Above all this is a work of scienceA book this long naturally spurs multiple potential entry points for essays which I jotted in the back cover as they presented themselves In the interests of brevity I ll mention just oneAustin constantly refers back to animal experiments as they form most of the experimental basis of neurophysiology He describes experiments in which animals have lesions placed at various points in their brain with resulting changes in affect behavior memory etc These experiments are taken to be interesting because we can draw correlations with human brains human subjects Yet when we look at how these animal subjects are affected by having their brains cut overwhelmingly confused pained terrified responses how can we simultaneously say that this applies to human experience while discounting the animal s experience as of no conseuence That is we assume that the humans and animals have the same responses to the same brain damage but only the human subject s experience is worth considering the animals are to be used and discardedAll in all this book was top notch for content but uite dry in style The middle portion section III reads like a physiology textbook and can probably be skimmed Austin s approach to Zen feels clinical western use oriented but he apparently has Fifty Ways To Be Your Lover gotten the point Despite theseripes I rate this book highly for presenting a strong case for a new science introducing new readers to Zen in a scientifically sympathetic approach and for addressing The uestion Dr Austin s 900 page book looks at what the brain does during and as a result of the practice of Zen and is a Caught on Camera with the CEO great resource for those interested in the science of meditative practices It s easy to sum up the strength and weakness of this book With respect to the book sreatest strength it s that the au. A neuroscientist and Zen practitioner interweaves the latest research on the brain with his personal narrative of ZenAldous Huxley called humankind's basic trend toward spiritual rowth the perennial philosophy In the view of James Austin the trend implies a perennial psychophysiology because awakening or enlightenment occurs only when the human brain undergoes substantial changes What are the peak experiences of enlightenme.
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(Zen and the Brain Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness) EBOOK/PDF ↠ James H. Austin
S beyond the second statement of perfection For it implies that the highest and most sacred principle Deity if you will is manifest in all things right down here ourselves included It is inherent within this world Right under our nose and in our nose Not up there on some separate higher level taking the form of a distant overarching creative principle I had no idea what to expect from this book other than a friend was reading it and it had something to do w zen and the brain both of which I have interests inI knew next to nothing about neuroscience at the start and can now say I know a bit than that The book pieces together the relevant areas from neuroscience to compose new hypothesis to test regarding the changes in the brain that occur during zen meditation I found this to be one of the valuable topics of the book There seems to be much that neuroscience can t yet explainAdditionally Austin enerally discusses how the brain operates the nature of psychedelics vs zen meditation and the long and elaborate process of zen I found the discussion of these topics useful and my appetite has been whet for nowHis discussion of how the brain operates is particularly orthodox and while citing a number of studies directly does not Arabian Nights go intoreat detail as this would probably bore the reader Additionally this book reads like a textbook with personal anecdotes until the experiences of his absorption at the end The beginning chapters 300 or so pages seem to justify the plausible mechanisms related to his uickening experiences I felt that the book was extremely balanced and is a daunting monolith to be absorbed as a wholeThe end message that I retain is that there needs to be work done in the field to understand these truly different mental states The author proposes intensive monitoring in line with the animal experimentation he freuently cites opinion disturbing The scientist inside of me wants others to probe deeper but I have dissonance that research of this kind will be incredibly intrusive to subjects human subjects and therefore highly unrealistic as proposedThere is a seuel to this book published just recently by the MIT Press but reading Zen and the Brain has not immediately compelled me to pick it up There is still hope for another day Brain Bible Awesome book I ve been reading it off and on since Enchanting Baby (The Birth Place grad school in 2002 2003 first of a library copy in Durham then in Asheville then a used copy I finallyot for myself in 2005 Just Wild Nights with Her Wicked Boss getting through this opus is an accomplishment and the reward is that you learn A LOT It s also areat resource if you re writingon anything having to do with philosophy of mind in almost any tradition but certainly in comparing Eastern and Western Midsummer Night (Lady Julia Grey, general views on the mind and the brain Finished last year and by finished I mean I finally read the last chapter not that I m done with the book James H Austin is one of many researchers in therowing field that is uniting Buddhism in the Mahayana tradition with various fields of science and mathematics Just last month he was one of the presenters and participants in a conference called Outline of Compassion and Selflessness Zen Neuroscience and Complexity Theory Read this book in a Neuroscience class about Zen UCSD How lucky and thankful for it I have been ever since I can not describe in words the perspective it provided The vista is something like a Peruvian jungle with a backdrop of a majestic lake shimmering in the euatorial sun just enough to have all your senses enamoured Read the latest version of this book as it has up to date research from the field It will probably take me about three years to finish this but it s pretty interesting so far the parts that I comprehend Exceptional This book takes difficult scientific research and translates it into real measurable data Just brilliant I loved A Zen practitioner interweaves the most recent brain research with the personal narrative of his Zen experiences The science is both inclusive and rigorous; the Zen sections are clear and evocative Along the way Austin examines such topics as similar states in other disciplines and religions sleep and dreams mental illness consciousness altering drugs and the social conseuences of the advanced stage of ongoing enlightenment.
Thor like the book straddles two widely divergent worlds He is at once a scientist and a practitioner of Zen This Always You gives him rare insight into both halves of the euation This isn t one of those books written by a spiritual seeker who uses the word science and scientific very loosely and in a manner that shows a lack of understanding of the central premise of science On the other hand it s not one of those books by a scientist whoot all of his understanding of meditation from other books As for the weakness it s that the book was written in the late 1990 s Ordinarily I would say that wouldn t matter much but concerning our understanding of the brain it might as well have been the Stone Age hyperbole duly noted One doesn t put together a book of almost 1000 pages overnight and so much of the references for Zen and the Brain are actually from papers from the 1980 s and earlier The fMRI functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine didn t even come out until the early 1990 s but of course it took a while for the studies featuring this powerful technology to reach publication The book is arranged into a whopping 158 chapters divided amongst 8 parts Some of the chapters are pure neuroscience and there are detailed descriptions of the brain and the functions of its various parts Other chapters are designed to Wild at Heart (Sons of Chance, give one an insight into the practice of Zen and aren t technical at all The author has a reasonably engaging writing style when he s not conveying the minutiae of brain science He tells stories of his experience as a practitioner of Zen and passes on the wisdom of past Zen masters I have an unconventional recommendation for this book which Iot so much out of I recommend you first check out the book Zen Brain Horizons put out by the same author and press MIT Press in 2014 While I haven t yet read that book it seems to hold three advantages First it s only one third as long and seems to cover similar material Obviously it Lucy Carmichael goes into far less detail But you may find that a plus Second the 2014 book is reasonably priced Zen and the Brain is one of the most expensive books I ve bought in recent years I m not saying I regret paying as much as I did because it was a useful book but cheaper would be better Finally the 2014 has the benefit of access to a lot ofreat research from the past couple decades If you read the 2014 book and think you need detail about the brain then by all means Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti get this book This is a very large very dry very dense book even with the much needed breaks for the author s personal anecdotes of his Zen practice and experiences It took me nearly a year toet through it It works well as an overview of not only the physiology of the brain but an introduction to theories of consciousness If you are interested in kensho as well as lutamate pathways this one is for you This is the most comprehensive book I ve read on the neurobiologicalpsych effects of meditation Although the focus is on zazen other meditations are included in some of the uoted studies Highly recommended if you are curious about meditation s concrete and measurable effects on humans Perfection This is the second uality investing kensho Everything is seen as ultimately right Anything that exists is already intrinsically correct Alexander Pope must have understood this for he went on to affirm the point in the ringing line One truth is clear whatever is is right The implications of this particular line are substantial In literature however Pope s next sentence would be the one most often uoted Immanence This third property of kensho registers at about the same time The term comes from the Latin immanere to remain in Dictionary definitions of immanence describe it as the presence of the ultimate reality principle embedded entirely within and throughout the whole physical universe Immanence oe. Nt How could these states profoundly enhance and yet simplify the workings of the brain Zen and the Brain presents the latest evidence In this book Zen Buddhism becomes the opening wedge for an extraordinarily wide ranging exploration of consciousness In order to understand which brain mechanisms produce Zen states one needs some understanding of the anatomy physiology and chemistry of the brain Austin both a neurologist and.