Zen and the Brain
|Author||James H. Austin|
|6 February 1998|
|Media type||Print (trade paperback)|
|Followed by||Chase, Chance, and Creativity: The Lucky Art of Novelty|
Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness is a book authored by James H. Austin. First published in 1998, the book's aim is to establish links between the neurological workings of the human brain and meditation. The eventual goal would be to establish mechanisms by which meditation induces changes in the activity of the brain, which in turn induces a state of mental clarity. For example Austin presents evidence from EEG scans that deep relaxed breathing reduces brain activity.
The publishers described their book as a "Comprehensive text on the evidence from neuroscience that helps to clarify which brain mechanisms underlie the subjective states of Zen, and employs Zen to 'illuminate' how the brain works in various states of consciousness". The book starts with a discussion of Zen Buddhism, its goals, and practices. Having laid this groundwork, the book then turns to explore the neurological basis of consciousness. While the book stops short of conclusive theories, it does provide many testable hypotheses that could validate the discussion in the book.
Austin is a neurologist and has also practiced Zen over many years. Later Austin wrote a follow-up, Zen-Brain Reflections.
- James H. Austin, Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness. Reprint edition July 2, 1999. MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-51109-6
- James H. Austin, Zen-Brain Reflections. First edition February 14, 2006. MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-01223-5
- Your Brain on Religion: Mystic visions or brain circuits at work? (Newsweek article on Austin and neurotheology, May 2001)
- Interview with the author (James H. Austin, M.D. discusses Zen and the Brain)
- Excerpts from the book