Sleeping, Dreaming, and Dying: An Exploration of Consciousness

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9780861711239: Sleeping, Dreaming, and Dying: An Exploration of Consciousness

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.

"Sinopsis" puede pertenecer a otra edición de este libro.

About the Author:

Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. He frequently describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk. Born in northeastern Tibet in 1935, he was as a toddler recognized as the incarnation of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and brought to Tibet's capital, Lhasa. In 1950, Mao Zedong's Communist forces made their first incursions into eastern Tibet, shortly after which the young Dalai Lama assumed the political leadership of his country. He passed his scholastic examinations with honors at the Great Prayer Festival in Lhasa in 1959, the same year Chinese forces occupied the city, forcing His Holiness to escape to India. There he set up the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, working to secure the welfare of the more than 100,000 Tibetan exiles and prevent the destruction of Tibetan culture. In his capacity as a spiritual and political leader, he has traveled to more than sixty-two countries on six continents and met with presidents, popes, and leading scientists to foster dialogue and create a better world. In recognition of his tireless work for the nonviolent liberation of Tibet, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. In 2012, he relinquished political authority in his exile government and turned it over to democratically elected representatives.

His Holiness frequently states that his life is guided by three major commitments: the promotion of basic human values or secular ethics in the interest of human happiness, the fostering of interreligious harmony, and securing the welfare of the Tibetan people, focusing on the survival of their identity, culture, and religion. As a superior scholar trained in the classical texts of the Nalanda tradition of Indian Buddhism, he is able to distill the central tenets of Buddhist philosophy in clear and inspiring language, his gift for pedagogy imbued with his infectious joy. Connecting scientists with Buddhist scholars, he helps unite contemplative and modern modes of investigation, bringing ancient tools and insights to bear on the acute problems facing the contemporary world. His efforts to foster dialogue among leaders of the world's faiths envision a future where people of different beliefs can share the planet in harmony. Wisdom Publications is proud to be the premier publisher of the Dalai Lama's more serious and in-depth works.

Francisco Javier Varela Garcia (1946-2001) was a Chilean biologist, philosopher, and neuroscientist who, together with his teacher Humberto Maturana, is best known for introducing the concept of autopoiesis to biology, and for co-founding the Mind and Life Institute to promote dialog between science and Buddhism.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

(From the Foreword by His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama)
We live in an era in which science and technology have had a tremendous impact on all our lives. Science, a great product of the human intellect, and the wonderful tool of technology, are expressions of our greatest gift--human creativity. Some of their effects, such as developments in communications and health care, have been wonderfully fruitful. Others, like sophisticated weapons systems, have been unbelievably destructive.

Many people have believed that science and technology could solve all our problems. Lately, however, we have witnessed a change in attitude. It has become clear that external progress alone cannot bring mental peace. People have begun to pay greater attention to inner science, the path of mental investigation and development. Through our own experience we have arrived at a point where there is a new awareness of the importance and value of inner mental qualities. Therefore, the explanations of the mind and its workings presented by the ancient scholars of India and Tibet are becoming increasingly valuable in our time. The strength of these traditions is related to developing mental peace. Science and technology are related to material progress. But a combination of these two can provide the complete conditions for obtaining real human happiness.

The series of meetings that we have called "Mind and Life" have been going on for several years. I consider them to be of crucial importance. It is not so long ago that many people viewed common science's objective knowledge and the subjective understanding of inner science as mutually exclusive. In the Mind and Life meetings experts from both these fields of investigation have come together to exchange their experience and different points of view on topics of common interest. It has been a pleasure to discover the great extent to which we have been able to enrich each other's understanding. Moreover, our meetings have been marked not merely by polite curiosity, but also by a warm spirit of openness and friendship.

On the occasion reported in this book we met to discuss sleeping, dreaming, and dying. These are topics that absorb scientists and meditators alike, but are also universal elements of human experience. We all sleep. Whether we acknowledge it or not we all dream. And certainly every single one of us will die. Although these issues affect us all, they retain a sense of mystery and fascination. Therefore, I am sure that many readers will be delighted to be able to share in the fruit of our discussions. It remains only for me to express my gratitude to everyone who has contributed to these meetings so far, and to repeat my earnest hope that they will continue to take place in the future.

"Sobre este título" puede pertenecer a otra edición de este libro.

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