Bestselling author B. Alan Wallace delivers the long-awaited followup to his Stilling the Mind: Shamatha Teachings from Dudjom Lingpa’s Vajra Essence (2011).
Fathoming the Mind continues the commentary to Dudjom Lingpa’s Vajra Essence that appeared in Stilling the Mind, daringly contextualizing Buddhist teachings on the Great Perfection as a revolutionary challenge to many contemporary beliefs. This companion volume stems from an oral commentary that B. Alan Wallace gave to the next section of the Vajra Essence, on the cultivation of contemplative insight, or vipashyana, that fathoms the nature of existence as a whole. Dudjom Lingpa’s revelation consists of a fascinating dialogue that occurred during his pure vision of Samantabhadra, personification of primordial consciousness, manifesting as the youthful form of the Lake-born Vajra emanation of Padmasambhava, in dialogue with an entourage of bodhisattvas symbolizing various aspects of Dudjom Lingpa’s mind.
In continuing to reflect on Dudjom Lingpa’s writings and their relevance to the modern world, Wallace was inspired to elaborate extensively on his original commentary. This book includes introductory essays and an afterword, which explore how the insights discussed here might contribute to yet a new “contemplative revolution,” one that would be as far-reaching in its implications as the scientific revolutions triggered by the discoveries of Galileo, Darwin, and Einstein.
“Fathoming the Mind lucidly focuses Buddhism’s present-day encounter with modernity on one of the most potent possibilities: that cognitive science is poised on the threshold of major revolution and the Buddhist worldview offers a profound opportunity to expand into radically new and necessary territory. This book contains a map of what Buddhist teachings about mind and reality can offer contemporary science. And Alan Wallace, with his deep understanding of both physical science and Buddhist philosophy and practice, is an exceptional guide.”
– David E. Presti, University of California, Berkeley, author of Foundational Concepts in Neuroscience (W.W. Norton, 2016) and Mind Beyond Brain (Columbia University Press, 2018)
"This book invites us to enjoy an illuminating journey through the terrain of a classic Tibetan text on the nature and practice of insight meditation.
Like an experienced trekking guide who knows the territory well, Alan Wallace points out features of the landscape with easeful erudition and the deft use of analogy. Along the way, he comes up with all sorts of useful tools and materials just when the reader needs them—these being the words of Western scientists and philosophers, and Eastern sages and adepts, which he draws on with equal familiarity and adroitness."
– Ajahn Amaro, abbot of Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, UK
"This is a fascinating book. Continuing his impressive unpacking of the legacy of Dudjom Lingpa, Alan Wallace has produced a fine contribution to the long history of oral commentary on source texts. His grasp of the subject matter is impressive, as is the way he weaves in references to Western thought and scientific inquiry that places Dudjom Lingpa’s text in a more relevant context. I highly recommend this book to all who are serious about having a mind and working with it."
– Richard Barron (Chökyi Nyima), translator of Longchenpa’s The Precious Treasury of the Way of Abiding, and The Precious Treasury of the Basic Space of Phenomenawith its autocommentary