Contemplative Science: Where Buddhism and Neuroscience Converge

By: B. Alan Wallace, read in 2009

12 Justinian suppressed Origen's ideas about reincarnation
12 Augustine's four hypotheses on the origin of the soul
15 "substrate consciousness" - "The relative ground state of consciousness"
16 This description of samatha sounds exactly like my timeless experience of being knocked out as a kid.
16 The idea of substrate consciousness is consistent with my idea of a cosmic read/write head following a world line.
17 The Buddhist perspective on the hard problem.
17 Characterizing the substrate consciousness as the state of the mind seems to beg the question of what the mind is. Why not posit that the mind is actually something real, like a read/write head existing in higher spatio-temporal dimensions?
17 "a contemplative's mind". This is one of many examples of the unwarranted assumption that the mind somehow belongs to the contemplative. It is like saying "the film's projector" or "the CD's player". The actual "Mind" might be an act or process of perception by a higher order being, like one in Gregg Rosenberg's hierarchy of natural individuals.
17 " is said to be possible to direct the attention to the past, bringing to consciousness distinct, detailed memories of events that occurred years earlier in this lifetime. Then, through rigorous training, one may allegedly retrieve memories that precede the current life, remembering, like Pythagoras, the circumstances of preceding lives." My read/write head hypothesis provides a mechanism for this.
17 "...memories are not stored in the brain,...[but] in the continuum of the substrate consciousness."
19 According to William James, "Mind and matter are constructs, whereas pure experience is primordial."
26 "A central challenge facing contemplative science is to naturalize consciousness without reducing it to an emergent property or a function of matter." The hypothesis of PC being ontologically fundamental would seem to do that.
29 The scientific materialist world view
41 Excellent explanation of the Conservative-Liberal polarization in the US except that I think he has the "self-reliance vs. authority" pair in the wrong columns.
45 " economies are fast depleting the nonrenewable, physical resources of our planet." Such as?? This is a Green myth.
46 "The more the ideology of materialism is conflated with science in the public educational system, the more we can expect religious fundamentalists to insist that their ideologies are also taught in science classrooms."
46 "...scientific materialism appears to be a modern kind of nature religion, or neoanimism, which had innumerable precedents in the preliterate history of humanity. As such, it appears to be one giant step backward for mankind."
55 "...while the dualist hypothesis leaves unexplained how immaterial, subjective mental events could possibly influence the brain, the materialist hypothesis leaves equally unexplained what enables the brain to produce conscious experience of any sort."
57 "...the mind is prone to alternating agitation and dullness." Consider this as occurring at all scales from the production of primordial frequencies (the vowel sounds of the Nag Hamadi) to the 40 Hz frequencies of the brain to the various frequencies of the universe.
57 "...cognitive scientists and neuroscientists are more like astrologers, who carefully examine correlates between celestial and terrestrial phenomena, than astronomers, who carefully examine celestial phenomena themselves."
59 The four noble truths of Buddhism.
60 "Insight into the deepest dimension of consciousness is therefore the key to understanding the nature of reality as a whole." OK Then why not start drawing inferences along the lines spelled out by Gregg Rosenberg and begin constructing a theory?
69 " is...problematic to posit the existence of information independently of any cognitive system, such as a human mind. Information that does not inform is not information at all. And for the act of informing to take place, there must be a conscious agent to receive the data."
98 This Mahayana description of the primordial consciousness and its development is reminiscent of the Gnostics.
98 This Mahayana view of the self is consistent with my view of PC
108 This description is suggestive of the PC bootstrap problem. Some bit of knowledge being mirrored, thus replicated, thus forming a frequency pattern (vowel sounds or light), then interference patterns (Moire) from which constructions are made.
106 "Nicholas of Cusa [in] arguing for the immanence of God in the human soul,...writes, 'In God's light is all our knowledge, so that it is not we ourselves who know, but rather it is God who knows in us.'"
107 "Plotinus declared that his theories were based on his own experiential insights, and similar claims have been made by many Buddhist, Christian, and Vedantin contemplatives."
108 "As William James commented, mystical states 'offer us hypotheses, hypotheses which we may voluntarily ignore, but which as thinkers we cannot possibly upset. The supernaturalism and optimism to which they would persuade us may, interpreted in one way or another, be after all the truest of insights into the meaning of this life.'"
137 "...the achievement of samatha entails an exceptionally high density of homogenous moments of ascertaining consciousness."
139 The problem of "infinite regression" in introspection.-- I think the problem should be attacked first by using the finite model of Russian dolls, and secondly by considering the possibility of multiple temporal dimensions. World lines would be like reels of movie film. Cognition in a second temporal dimension would be like the viewing of the film. There could be a movie made of this scenario and so on ad finitum.
153 "The consensus among cognitive scientists that the brain is solely responsible for the generation of all states of consciousness is remarkable in light of the facts that 1) they have no scientific means of detecting the presence of consciousness in anything; 2) they have no scientific definition of consciousness; 3) they have not identified the neural correlates of consciousness; and 4) they have not discovered the necessary and sufficient causes of consciousness."
153 "Mark Twain...'It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.'">

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