Re: Zen and the Brain (was Re: Zen? Atheist? ...)

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Wed May 31 2000 - 15:31:37 MDT

Ken Clements <> writes:

> Anders Sandberg wrote:
> > Well, since I'm such a fan of James H. Austin's _Zen and the Brain_ I
> > would like to suggest it. It looks at the neuroscience of Zen, a quite
> > interesting synthesis attempt.
> I have been slowly working my way through this book, and would like to hear
> more on what you got out of it.

First, it was in my opinion a very readable introduction to Zen and
Zen thinking. I don't know if it as understandable as an intro to
neuroscience, but my overall impression is that he at least touches on
many essentials. I at least had some feeling that I "got" Zen,
although that may of course be illusory as I'm not actually *doing* it.

Second, it is a great review of various fun corners of the
neuroscience of religion, with a copious amount of references to
studies done on mystical experiences, the EEG of meditation and
similar stuff. Useful when you want to go into detail or continue on
the ideas in the text.

Third, he raises very interesting questions both about the
neuroscience of enlightenment and what it means to become a
self-actualizing, highly optimized being. While I think the later
chapters are a bit more wordy (wordyness increases in direct
proportion to the distance to one's experience, I guess :-) they have
a very interesting hypothesis about enlightenment as a reconditioning
of the mind that might fit in very well with my own studies in memory
and learning. This is learning on the highest level, the change of the
way the whole mind works and its deep values. If we can learn how this
occurs, we might find better ways of achieving it than years of

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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