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The Common Ground of Science and Spirituality
by Brian Hodel and B. Alan Wallace, PhD
Reviewed by The Editors on Sept. 1, 2008
B. Alan Wallace has made it his mission to bridge the worlds of Buddhism, science, and culture, and in this fine book he challenges the assumptions of third-person, objective science to make a case for a much broader approach to exploring the nature of mind. Early in the book, Wallace quotes the Nobel laureate physicist Werner Heisenberg: “What we observe is not nature itself but nature exposed to our method of questioning.” On this scaffolding Wallace artfully and thoughtfully builds his argument, pointing out the limitations of “scientific materialism” (e.g., how drawing correlations between brain function and behavior offers little insight into actual conscious experience) and the value of directly studying specific mental states. This is, of course, an objective of contemplative practice, which Wallace investigates at his Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies. And while he makes only a passing reference to the role that evidence of anomalous phenomena such as ESP and remote viewing might play in a deeper study of consciousness, his challenge to science to address the full scope of subjective experience rings as clear as a Tibetan bell.