Science has long treated religion as a set of personal beliefs that have
little to do with a rational understanding of the mind and the universe.
However, B. Alan Wallace, a respected Buddhist scholar, proposes that the
contemplative methodologies of Buddhism and of Western science are capable of
being integrated into a single discipline: contemplative science.
The science of consciousness introduces first-person methods of investigating
the mind through Buddhist contemplative techniques, such as samatha, an
organized, detailed system of training the attention. Just as scientists make
observations and conduct experiments with the aid of technology, contemplatives
have long tested their own theories with the help of highly developed meditative
skills of observation and experimentation. Contemplative science allows for a
deeper knowledge of mental phenomena, including a wide range of states of
consciousness, and its emphasis on strict mental discipline counteracts the
effects of conative (intention and desire), attentional, cognitive, and
Just as behaviorism, psychology, and neuroscience have all shed light on the
cognitive processes that enable us to survive and flourish, contemplative
science offers a groundbreaking perspective for expanding our capacity to
realize genuine well-being. It also forges a link between the material world and
the realm of the subconscious that transcends the traditional science-based
understanding of the self.
Contemplative Science : Where Buddhism and Neuroscience Converge, Alan Wallace, Brian Model, Columbia Universty Press, 2006, 211 Pages, $29.50