The sequel to Zen and the Brain, James Austin continues his explorations into the interrelationships of Zen Buddhism and brain research. Zen-Brain Reflections is Austin’s clinical neurology, research and Zen practice. He examines the changing psycho-logical processes, brain changes, and the path to long-term meditative training. Austin draws on neuroscience research, new neuroimaging studies, Zen literature, and his own experience with alternate states. Zen-Brain Reflections continues where the previous book ended. This book addresses questions such as how placebos and acupuncture affect the brain. Are neuroimaging studies able to pinpoint the areas where our self-images arise? How can brain imaging techniques be used to monitor meditation more effectively? How can long years of meditation training and brief enlightened experiences produce significant changes in the brain’s physiology? Many chapters offer testable hypotheses that suggest ways to link normal brain functions with meditative training and the phenomenon of extraordinary states of conscious. After briefly discussing Zen and the most recent research on meditation, Austin discusses the latest studies about the amygdala and frontotemporal interactions, as well as paralimbic extensions to the limbic system. Then, he explores the different states of consciousness: the first superficial absorptions as well as the more profound “peak experiences”. This discussion starts with Kensho and Satori, and then he provides a fresh analysis of the various expressions of “oneness” that they offer. He points out that there is an ongoing stage of enlightenment beyond advanced states, which is known as “sage wisdom”.
Development in Meditation and State of Consciousness
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