Waking, Dreaming, Being

Evan Thompson

...we habitually experience our self as if it were an independently real entity when in face it doesn’t exist in that way or have that kind of being. Instead, it exists as dependently arisen and hence empty of any independent reality. The deep and penetrating experiential realization of this truth is like becoming lucid in a dream or waking up from the dream - the subject of experience still exists but is no longer deluded about its nature.
— Thompson

A great Evan Thompson tapestry of meditation, neuroscience, philosophy, and consciousness.

Thompson is a scholar & practitioner, educated as a child at the Lindisfarne Association, an experimental education community of the best variety (coincidence that a thoughtful, integral education led to a thoughtful, integral career of inquiry?)

In this book, he presents an “enactive” view of the self. He does not jive with what he calls the ‘neuro-nihilistic’ view of the self as an illusion.

“A self is an ongoing process that enacts an ‘I’ and in which the ‘I’ is no different from the process itself, rather like the way dancing is a process that enacts a dance and in which the dance is no different from the dancing.”

His larger project, one that’s peculiar to our cultural moment and exciting to watch unfold, is the integration of cognitive science and contemplative insight.

“By enriching science with contemplative knowledge and contemplative knowledge with cognitive science, we can work to create a new scientific and spiritual appreciation of human life, one that no longer requires or needs to be contained within either a religious or an antireligious framework.”