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Fathoming the Mind

Inquiry and Insight in Dudjom Lingpa's Vajra Essence

Bestselling author B. Alan Wallace delivers the long-awaited followup to his Stilling the Mind: Shamatha Teachings from Dudjom Lingpa’s Vajra Essence (2011).

This companion volume stems from an oral commentary Düdjom Lingpa gave to the next section of the Vajra Essence, in which he elucidates the cultivation of contemplative insight, or vipashyana, into the nature of existence as a whole. The revelation appears in the form of a fascinating dialogue within Düdjom Lingpa’s own mind: various aspects of his mind pose questions to his own primordial consciousness, and the pithy and provocative replies tap into the very ground of being. The ensuing dialogue explores every stage of the path to buddhahood in this lifetime, from the very beginning to the unexcelled result of the rainbow body, signifying enlightenment. Everything you need to know to attain buddhahood is complete in this text.

As Wallace continued to reflect on Dudjom Lingpa’s writings and their relevance to the modern world, he was inspired to elaborate extensively on his original commentary. The book includes new introductory essays and an afterword, revealing the texts’ contribution to the contemplative revolution 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

More books from this author: B. Alan Wallace