Neuroscience, Consciousness, and Spirituality edited by Harald Walach and Stephen Schmidt and Wayne Jonas (Book 1 in Series in Neuroscience, Consciousness, and Spirituality). Springer 2011. 300 pp. $173 (hardcover). ISBN 978-9400720787.
Neuroscience, Consciousness, and Spirituality is an outstanding, edited book addressing topics related to brain processes as they relate to the phenomenon of consciousness and also to various spiritual experiences. The book’s chapters address many essential issues with regard to this important intersection of future scholarship. The initial chapter provides a circumscription of the overall topics covered and also reviews important definitions of religion, spirituality, science, and consciousness. One of the unique aspects of this chapter, and many of those that follow, is a reflection on historical perspectives such as those developed by Francis Bacon, Franz Brentano, Rene Descartes, and Immanuel Kant. These references are important for putting many of the discussions in the appropriate context. Several chapters address meditation and its effect on consciousness and the brain. Mindfulness is considered as well as more general spiritual practices including how rituals helped to advance the human species by supporting social groups and healing. The concept of healing practices is the focus of several chapters on rituals, meditation, Sufism, and the potential healing properties of the brain and consciousness itself.
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