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Who is Alan Wallace?


Alan Wallace is one of the West's preeminent lecturers, progressive scholars, and among the most prolific writers and translators of Tibetan Buddhism. Continually seeking innovative ways to integrate Buddhist contemplative practices with Western science to advance the study of the mind, he co-founded the Mind and Life Institute, and has served as a personal translator to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Raised and educated in the United States, Scotland, and Switzerland, Alan studied ecology for two years at the University of California, with a secondary interest in philosophy and religion. In his third year of undergraduate studies at the University of Gottingen in West Germany, Alan's secondary interests assumed center stage, and thus began what would be a lifelong love-affair and investigation into Tibetan Buddhism and the Tibetan language.

In 1971, at age twenty-one, Alan abandoned his formal Western education to journey to Dharamsala, India, where he studied Tibetan Buddhism, medicine, and language for four years. During this stay, he was hosted by the Dalai Lama's personal physician, and only two years after arriving, began training in The Buddhist Institute of Dialectics in which all instruction, study, and debate were conducted in Tibetan.

Requested by the Dalai Lama in 1975 to travel to Switzerland to lend his services to the Tibet Institute and later at the Center for Higher Tibetan Studies, Alan continued his own studies and monastic training and devoted his efforts to translating Tibetan texts and acting as an interpreter for various Lamas. Traveling widely, Alan taught Buddhist philosophy and meditation throughout Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, and England, and in 1979 left Switzerland to begin a four-year series of contemplative retreats.

After a thirteen-year hiatus from Western academia, Alan enrolled at Amherst College to complete his undergraduate education. Intuitively drawn to the relationship between reality as seen through the Buddhist view of emptiness and reality as seen by modern science, Alan studied Sanskrit, physics, and the philosophical foundations of the latter. In 1987 he graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, with his honors thesis subsequently published in a two-part edition by Snow Lion Press.

Following his success at Amherst, Alan spent nine months in contemplative retreat in the high desert of California, after which he joined Tibetan teacher Gen Lamrimpa in leading a one year, group retreat in Washington state where methods were explored for refining and stabilizing attention.

Pursuing graduate studies at Stanford University in 1989, Alan conducted research into the interface between Buddhism and Western science and philosophy. This research paralleled his work as an organizer and participant in the famed "Mind and Life" conferences with the Dalai Lama, and in 1992, sponsored by the Life and Mind Institute, he returned to Tibet to conduct a groundbreaking survey of living awareness practitioners. 1995, he completed his doctoral dissertation on attentional training in the Tibetan tradition and it's relation to modern psychological and philosophical theories of consciousness.

In the last decade, Alan translated five classic Tibetan treatises on contemplative methods for exploring the nature of consciousness and has served as a visiting scholar in the religious studies and psychology departments of Stanford University. With his wife, he produced a new translation of the classic Tibetan text, A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life, and released his latest popular book, Buddhism with an Attitude: The Tibetan Seven-Point Mind-Training.

Currently residing in Santa Barbara, Alan is creating an Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of Consciousness, and between retreats, he teaches Buddhist philosophy and meditation throughout Europe and North America.

Alan has appeared on Integral Naked:

The Taboo of (Inter)Subjectivity. Part 2. Why Does Dirt Get Up and Start Writing Poetry?6/20/2005
The Taboo of (Inter)Subjectivity. Part 1. The Two Sciences of Consciousness.2/7/2005

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