email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy10 Minute Solution: Butt Lift10 Minute Solution: High Intensity Interval Training101 Ways to Meditate3-In-1 Total Body Fitness with Desi Bartlett30 Minute Ab & Butt Blaster5 Day Fit Yoga5 Mega Miles with Toning Band7 Weeks to 100 Push-Ups8 Keys to Practicing MindfulnessA Journey Into Yin YogaA Philosophy for the Science of Well-BeingA Student's Guide to the History And Philosophy of Yoga A.M. EnergyAgeless Mobility: Pain-Free Wellness For LongevityAlmost MeatlessAlready FreeAlternative Medicine?AltruismAnd BreatheAnywhere, Anytime, Any Body YogaAthlete's Guide to YogaBack in Action: Yoga for a Healthy BackBack To Basics: Fitness with Charlotte OrdBalanced AssetsBedroom Body: Booty Burner, Core & Pelvic Floor WorkoutBeginners Meditation & Mindful StretchingBeginners Yoga DVDBeginning YogaBellyFit ElementsBethenny's Skinnygirl WorkoutBeyond the SelfBody By BethennyBody Mindful YogaBorn to Balance - Balance BasicsBreath-Centered YogaBrightening Our Inner SkiesCalm Body Clear MindCalm Focus JoyCardio for Beginners with Petra KolberChakra MeditationsComplementary and Alternative Therapies ResearchContemplative Psychotherapy EssentialsCore Fusion - Pilates PlusCore Fusion - Pure Abs & ArmsCore Fusion - Thighs & GlutesCore Fusion Body SculptCore Fusion Lean & TonedCore Fusion Power SculptCore Strength PilatesCore Strength Vinyasa Yoga Power Hour with Sadie NardiniCore YogaCultural Healing and Belief SystemsDance Off the Inches: Cardio Hip Hop PartyDeep ListeningDeep Stretch / Yin YogaDetox YogaDr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Eating WellDr. Yoga House CallEasy YogaElement: Barre ConditioningElement: Targeted Toning Pilates for BeginnersElement: Yoga for Stress Relief & FlexibilityElements of Yoga, Earth FoundationsElements of Yoga, Fire DynamicElements of Yoga: Air & WaterEveryday Workout for the Everyday WomanEveryday Yoga for Stress Release Everything VeganExercise for Mood and AnxietyExercise-Based Interventions for Mental IllnessExhale Core Fusion 30 Day SculptFamily YogaFit Family Fun CircuitFit in 5 DVDFlat Abs PilatesFlow YogaFluid Power Vinyasa Flow YogaFood You Can ForageFully PresentGaiam Pilates Slide and Sculpt Kit with DVDGaiam Pilates Total Toning KitGaiam Yoga For Weight Loss KitGet Fit Through GardeningGet Ripped & ChiseledGet RIPPED! 1000 #3Get RIPPED! and Jacked - The Boomer WorkoutGet Stronger Bones: 3 Workouts For OsteoporosisHandbook of MindfulnessHappy Yoga DVDHealing the Heart and Mind with MindfulnessHealing through ExerciseHealing Through Movement: Pilates Head to ToeHealing, Hype, or Harm?Healthy Sexy Beautiful Kundalini YogaHemalayaa: Bollywood BootyHow to Be a StoicHow to Cook Everything VegetarianHow Would Buddha Act?In Defense of FoodInsight Yoga Earth: Balancing Yin EnergyInsight Yoga Heaven: Balancing YangIntegrated YogaInternational Perspectives on Reminiscence, Life Review and Life Story WorkKids Teach Yoga - Flying EagleKidYogi - Yoga for ChildrenKripalu YogaKundalini Yoga : DVDKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - MONDAYKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - TUESDAY - CoreKundalini Yoga MeditationKundalini Yoga Meditation for Beginners & BeyondKundalini Yoga Meditation for Complex Psychiatric DisordersKundalini Yoga on the BallKundalini Yoga Solar Power All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress DVDKundalini Yoga Transformer All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga: Green Energy of the HeartLetting Go!LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues--Level 1LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues: Level 2Living BeautifullyLiving Room Yoga DVDLiving Room Yoga: Twist and BendLunar Flow YogaMake It Fast, Cook It SlowManage Your Depression Through ExerciseMaui PilatesMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for Back PainMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for IBSMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for InsomniaMeditations for BeginnersMindful AmericaMindful ColoringMindfulnessMindfulnessMindfulness for BeginnersMindfulness for CarersMindfulness for TwoMindfulness in Plain EnglishMindfulness-Based Treatment Approaches: Clinician's Guide to Evidence Base and ApplicationsMisadventures of a Garden State YogiNamaste Yoga: Season 3 Part 1Natural FlexibilityNew Good FoodNew VegetarianNew York PilatesNext-Level PilatesNutrition Essentials for Mental HealthPain Free at WorkPeace Is Every BreathPerfect in Ten AbsPerfect in Ten: PilatesPerfect in Ten: StretchPerfect in Ten: YogaPilates AnatomyPilates for BeginnersPositivityPower to the Peaceful YogaPower YogaPower YogaPower YogaPower Yoga: Core PowerPower Yoga: Fat BurnerPower Yoga: Strength and FlexibilityPrenatal FlowPrescriptive StretchingPresence Through Movement: Yin YogaPsychology Moment by MomentPure and Simple YogaPure SculptQi Gong Fire & Water With Matthew CohenQi Gong Flow for BeginnersQi Gong for Low Back PainQi Gong for Upper Back and Neck PainQi Gong for Weight LossQi Workout AM/PMQiGong for Healthy Joints & BonesQiGong IllustratedQuick Blast MethodRadiant Heart Yoga DVDReach - Upbeat Toning & Flexibility for a Dancer's BodyRelax Into Yoga for SeniorsResistance Stretching With Dara TorresRestorative Yoga PracticeRestorative Yoga PracticeSara Ivanhoe's Taste DVDSelfless InsightSleepSoupsSparkSpontaneous HappinessStep By Step Strength TrainingStep by Step Tai ChiStrength & SpiritStress Relief to GoStretchStrong & SculptedStrong Body, Ageless BodySuper Seniors: Box, Balance, & Lift Surf Yoga SoulSybel's Yoga For Sports & FitnessSybel's Yoga For Sports & Fitness Vol 2Tai Chi for Beginners with Grandmaster William C. C. ChenTeen YogaTeenYogi DVDTen Zen Tummy TonersThe 6 Qualities of ConsciousnessThe Accidental VeganThe Art and Science of MindfulnessThe Athlete's Guide to YogaThe Best Things You Can EatThe Booty Barre -Total New BodyThe Complete Book of Raw FoodThe Get Healthy, Go Vegan CookbookThe Harvard Medical School Guide to YogaThe Healing Remedies SourcebookThe Healing Remedies SourcebookThe Kettlebell BoomerThe Light of DiscoveryThe Mandala of BeingThe Meat Lover's Meatless CookbookThe Mindful Way through DepressionThe Nature FixThe Origins of HappinessThe Perfect ExerciseThe Psychology of LifestyleThe Qi Healing KitThe Road to Calm WorkbookThe Science of SleepThe Science of YogaThe Sense of SelfThe Spirit of Buddhist MeditationThe Spirit of Tibetan BuddhismThe Ultimate BALLET YOGAThe Ultra MindsetThe Well-Tuned BrainThe Yin Yoga KitTotal Health the Chinese WayTotal-Body ToningTransform Yourself with Jivamukti YogaTransformative YogaTrudie Styler's Cardio Dance FlowTrudie Styler's Warrior YogaV-Core WorkoutVegan ExpressVegan for LifeVegetarian Visitor 2008VegetarianoViniyoga Therapy for the Low Back, Sacrum and HipsViniyoga Therapy for the Upper Back, Neck and ShouldersViva Vegan!Walk It Off in 30 DaysWalk to the HITS Radio RemixesWatch Me Do YogaWeight Loss Cardio KickWeight Watchers: Ultimate Belly SeriesYin and Yang YogaYin Yoga DVDYogaYogaYoga - Philosophy for EveryoneYoga : Beginners Flow for EveryoneYoga AnatomyYoga as MedicineYoga Bliss HipsYoga BodyYoga Body : Lean & Defined Total Body WorkoutYoga By Teens DVDYoga Emergency DVD: Arms & ShouldersYoga Emergency DVD: BackYoga Emergency DVD: Full Leg StretchYoga Emergency DVD: HipsYoga Emergency DVD: PregnancyYoga Flow DVDYoga for AnxietyYoga for AthletesYoga for Back CareYoga for BeginnersYoga for Energy & Stress ReliefYoga for FitnessYoga for MeditatorsYoga for OsteoporosisYoga for Pain ReliefYoga for Strength & EnergyYoga for Strength & FlexibilityYoga for Your WeekYoga in BedYoga Inside Out: Go DeeperYoga Inside Out: The Healing WayYoga Journal's Yoga for StressYoga Journal: Yoga for Strength and Toning DVDYoga Link: Core IntegrationYoga Link: Hip HelpersYoga Link: Shoulder Shape-UpYoga Nidra for Complete Relaxation and Stress ReliefYoga Quick FixesYoga Skills for Therapists:Yoga TherapyYoga TherapyYoga Therapy for Back PainYoga Therapy Prescriptions - 60 Health Restorative SequencesYoga to the Rescue - Feel Good from Head to ToeYoga to the Rescue for Back PainYoga to the Rescue for Neck & ShouldersYoga to the Rescue for Pain-Free Back, Neck & ShouldersYoga, Karma, and RebirthYoga: Freedom from Back PainYoga: Relief from Neck and Shoulder PainYoga: Spirit of Vinyasa FlowYogabodyYogawomanYou Can Think Yourself ThinYour Body Breakthru - Your Best Body Circuit DVDYour Brain on Food: How Chemicals Control Your Thoughts and Feelings,Your Brain on YogaZen Encounters with Loneliness
Beyond the Self is a series of dialogues between the neuroscientist Wolf Singer and the Buddhist monk and author Matthieu Ricard. Both are extremely well-known in their respective worlds. Wolf Singer ran the Max Plank Institute for Brain Research; Matthieu Ricard is the French translator for the Dalai Lama and has authored numerous well-received books (including The Quantum and the Lotus, with Trinh Thuan, among others). Their conversations take up issues central to cognitive science and the philosophy of mind and action. The dialogues are rich in content, avoiding needless technicality without ignoring the difficult issues. The authors characterize the origins of their book as follows:
It all started in London in 2005, when we first discussed the theme of consciousness. That same year we saw each other in Washington, DC, to talk about the neuronal basis of meditation organized by the Mind and Life Institute. For eight years, we took every chance we could to continue our exchanges all over the world, twice in Nepal, in the rainforests of Thailand, and with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India. This book is the result of this extended conversation, nourished by friendship and our shared interests. (ix)
I quote at length to provide a feel for the nature and quality of the conversations presented in Beyond the Self—these are not first passes through difficult terrain; they are rather the explorations of two guides to the mind/brain, challenging and helping each other secure their footing as they explore the conceptual and experiential terrain.
To get a sense of the range of topics covered, one could do no better than scan the chapter titles (and their usefully organized subheadings). Though the conversations are fluid, they are helpfully organized to give a reader a sense of the overall structure they have. This allows the reader to jump around or to re-visit particular topics with ease—and there's plenty worth revisiting. The notes are also a useful resource, offering academic sources for those interested in pursuing particular issues or particular studies. There are chapters dedicated to meditation and its effects on the brain, the role of the subconscious, epistemology, the nature of the self (or lack thereof), the alleged existence of freewill, and the nature of consciousness. A prospective reader can be assured of surprisingly in-depth treatment of these issues. While different readers will be rewarded in different ways by the dialogue (depending on one's background and familiarity with the issues), there's certain to something for nearly everyone interested in the topic.
As someone with meditation experience and an academic background in philosophy, I found many familiar and welcoming descriptions of the process of attentive mindfulness, as well as its role in producing more compassion in those who practice it. I was also delighted to see the level of nuance brought to bear on the issue of 'pure awareness' and its relationship to reductionism (the view that the mind can be explained entirely in terms of the activity of the brain). Singer's take on the role social interaction might play in generating certain kinds of experience is illuminating (it allows new forms of 'mental content' to emerge, creating a social level of reality unavailable for the unsocialized)). His articulation of the architecture of the brain as constitutive of memories, beliefs, and so on, is delightfully clear. Likewise, Ricard's insistence on a place for 'pure awareness' that is not simply explainable in terms of brain states (even when supplemented with social interaction) is compelling. One comes away from these conversations with a deeper appreciation of the issues and their possible solutions, and it's all done in very accessible prose.
As is perhaps obvious, Singer and Ricard do not agree on every issue. If they did, the book (and its conversations) wouldn't be nearly as good. But time and again, Singer and Ricard find spaces of agreement despite very different approaches (one based on 'third-personal' evidence in the form of scientific experiments, the other based on 'first-personal' evidence in the form of study and practical expertise). Even when they do not agree, their disagreements are instructive ones, emphasizing the complexity of the issues discussed.
Beyond the Self is rewarding, both for its content as well as for the intellectual generosity on display in that content. It is a model for how two very different worldviews can be brought to mutually elucidate each other. I highly recommend it.
© 2018 J. Jeremy Wisnewski
J. Jeremy Wisnewski; Professor of Philosophy, Hartwick College