How Med­i­ta­tion Works

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight -

Shinzen Young, Sounds True Hard­cover $21.95 (264pp), 978-1-59179-460-8

Part “hard-nosed re­searcher,” and part “po­etic dharma teacher,” Shinzen Young brings fifty years of med­i­ta­tion ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­plo­ration of the best of what East and West have to of­fer to bear, show­ing how science and spir­i­tu­al­ity are com­ing to­gether in what he calls the “Mar­riage of the Mil­len­nium.”

The ex­pe­ri­ences of med­i­ta­tors can now be mea­sured and ver­i­fied. In demon­strat­ing that while their be­liefs may dif­fer, what hap­pens in the neu­ro­log­i­cal sys­tems of adepts dur­ing con­tem­pla­tion is sim­i­lar—so science sup­ports the unity at the heart of the great spiritual tra­di­tions. Shinzen also de­scribes his anti-med­i­ta­tive child­hood, how hashish fol­lowed by a chewy choco­late brownie once brought him to a state of samadhi and one­ness, and how the hor­rific death of a beloved men­tor trans­formed him from an arm­chair aca­demic to a com­mit­ted monas­tic. “Let me be clear: en­light­en­ment is real,” he writes. “Not only is it real, but it is some­thing that can be achieved by nor­mal hu­man be­ings through the sys­tem­atic prac­tice of med­i­ta­tion.”

Shinzen’s “hap­pi­est thought” in­volves two steps: first, dis­cover a bio­phys­i­cal model for en­light­en­ment (as­sum­ing that one ex­ists), then cre­ate a tech­nol­ogy to re­li­ably fa­cil­i­tate it (if that’s pos­si­ble). Such an achieve­ment, he af­firms, though not yet within reach, holds prom­ise that en­light­en­ment could go vi­ral and dra­mat­i­cally change the course of hu­man his­tory for the bet­ter.

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