Realizing Awakened Consciousness

Interviews with Buddhist Teachers and a New Perspective on the Mind

Richard P. Boyle

Columbia University Press

Realizing Awakened Consciousness

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Pub Date: June 2015

ISBN: 9780231170758

368 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $32.00£25.00

Pub Date: June 2015

ISBN: 9780231170741

368 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $95.00£74.00

Pub Date: June 2015

ISBN: 9780231539234

368 Pages

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List Price: $31.99£25.00

Realizing Awakened Consciousness

Interviews with Buddhist Teachers and a New Perspective on the Mind

Richard P. Boyle

Columbia University Press

If, as Buddhism claims, the potential for awakening exists in all human beings, we should be able to map the phenomenon with the same science we apply to other forms of consciousness. A student of cognitive social science and a Zen practitioner for more than forty years, Richard P. Boyle brings his sophisticated perspective to bear on the development of a theoretical model for both ordinary and awakened consciousness.

Boyle conducts probing interviews with eleven prominent Western Buddhist teachers (Shinzen Young, John Tarrant, Ken McLeod, Ajahn Amaro, Martine Batchelor, Shaila Catherine, Gil Fronsdal, Stephen Batchelor, Pat Enkyo O'Hara, Bernie Glassman, and Joseph Goldstein) and one scientist (James Austin) who have experienced awakening. From the paths they traveled to enlightenment and their descriptions of the experience, he derives three fundamental properties of awakened consciousness. He then constructs an overarching model that explains how Buddhist practices help free the mind from attachments to reality and the self and make possible the three properties of awakening. Specifically, these teachers describe how they worked to control attention and quiet the mind, detach from ideas and habits, and open themselves to compassion. Boyle's account incorporates current theories of consciousness, sociological insights, and research in neuroscience to advance the study of awakened consciousness and help an even greater number of people to realize it.
If Buddhism is to realize its liberative potential in the modern world, we need to learn a lot more about the nature of awakening. This book is an important step in that direction. Boyle's interviews with well-known Western teachers are insightful (sometimes fascinating) in themselves, and the conclusions that he draws from them are a significant contribution to our understanding of contemplative traditions. David Loy, author of A New Buddhist Path: Enlightenment, Evolution, and Ethics in the Modern World
'Awakening,' as described and practiced in Buddhism, Boyle shows, is a process that is real and can be appraised in scientific terms. Anthony Giddens, London School of Economics
When meditators have an 'awakening,' what is it really like? Richard P. Boyle interviewed eleven Western Buddhist teachers to find out, and we get to read their accounts in their own words. Then, drawing on these interviews and on scientific research, Boyle offers an innovative view of how awakening happens and how it can transform each of us. Paula England, New York University, and president, American Sociological Association
In addition to the interviews with well-known American Buddhist teachers, which form the heart of this book and make fascinating reading in themselves, Boyle develops a provocative frame of reference for understanding and discussing philosophically the meaning of some common features he identifies in the interviews, regarding the form of consciousness generally referred as 'awakening.' David Preston, San Diego State University, author of Constructing Trans-Cultural Reality: The Social Organization of Zen Practice
More than any book I have read, it left me optimistic that awakened consciousness is not some myth but an attainable human potential. PsycCritiques
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Interview with Shinzen Young
2. Interview with John Tarrant
3. Interview with Ken McLeod
4. Interview with Ajahn Amaro
5. Interview with Martine Batchelor
6. Interview with Shaila Catherine
7. Interview with Gil Fronsdal
8. Interview with Stephen Batchelor
9. Interview with Pat Enkyo O'Hara
10. Interview with Bernie Glassman
11. Interview with Joseph Goldstein
12. Developing Capacities Necessary for Awakening
13. Properties of Awakening Experiences
14. Evolution of Ordinary and Awakened Consciousness
15. The Awakened Baby?
16. The Human Condition and How We Got Into It
17. Modeling Consciousness, Awakened and Ordinary
Appendix: Interview with James Austin, Neuroscientist
Notes
Glossary of Buddhist Terms
References
Index

About the Author

Richard P. Boyle was an associate professor of sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles, until 1972, when he left to pursue his studies in Buddhism in the mountains of northern New Mexico. Some years later, he moved to Albuquerque and worked as a senior research scientist at the University of New Mexico's Institute for Social Research. He is recently retired.