Zen and the Art of Consciousness

Language: English

Pages: 208

ISBN: 185168798X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Who are you? When are you? What were you conscious of a moment ago? This groundbreaking book sees acclaimed psychologist Susan Blackmore combining the latest scientific theories about mind, self, and consciousness with a lifetime’s practice of Zen. Framed by ten critical questions derived from Zen teachings and designed to expand your understanding and experience of consciousness, Ten Zen Questions doesn’t offer final - or easy - answers, but instead provides an inspiring exploration of how intellectual enquiry and meditation can tackle some of today’s greatest scientific mysteries. Dr Susan Blackmore is a writer and broadcaster. She lives in Bristol, UK.


The Body Incantatory: Spells and the Ritual Imagination in Medieval Chinese Buddhism (The Sheng Yen Series in Chinese Buddhist Studies)

An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices (Introduction to Religion)

How the Swans Came to the Lake: A Narrative History of Buddhism in America (3rd Edition)

Ironies of Oneness and Difference: Coherence in Early Chinese Thought; Prolegomena to the Study of Li (SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture)
















again after they’ve gone, and round and round. It reminds me of William James trying to catch hold of the flights between the perchings in the ‘bird’s life’ of the mind. At least I have something to do. In experimenting this way I find there are two different kinds of thought. First there are those that happen right here, in the midst of tranquillity, like asking the question and watching for an answer. These thoughts feel part of the space in which I’m sitting. They don’t distract the mind, and

whole of the universe is like this. Flames, and pieces of wood, and rocks, and fireplaces, and matches, and hills – none of them has time. I sit and listen to the crackling. An ant is crawling from the pile of wood on the floor. Is there time from an ant’s point of view? The ant is different from stones and hills. I wonder whether this is what it means to be a sentient being, but I don’t know. There is so much to investigate. A week seems nothing. But it’s late. I wash, clean my teeth, and slip

to try another tack. If I can’t catch a ‘now’ perhaps I can find what’s happening now; one might say ‘the contents of now’. This might be easier because I can look into whatever it is that I am seeing, or hearing, or feeling, or remembering, at that moment. I realise that this is the same concept as ‘the contents of consciousness’ so familiar in neuroscience. Yes, this is my consciousness; it’s my ‘now’. I shall look into that. I stare at the carpet crabs, and the unstable streaks of the wooden

while being experienced by someone and then fizzling out again. The meaning of John’s meme is to let that happen. It is not that they are happening to me. They are not coming, being and going, to me. It’s all just happening anyway, whether I like it or not. The task is not to prevent it, not to interfere with it, not to suppose that there even is a me who could interfere with it all. Ah. The traffic reappears and seems to have been there for some time. So do the birds. And the cat has decided to

do we all agree that the wine glass fell to the floor and broke, or that it weighed 27 grams and is made of lead crystal? On the other hand you might try materialism; the idea that there is no separate mental world, and everything in the universe is made of matter. The majority of scientists (though not all) claim to be materialists, but then what can our subjective experiences be? How can the exquisite taste of this wine be a physical thing? This brings us to a modern version of the mind–body

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