Sam recommends that we read “The Bodhisattva’s Brain”.
A description of the book on Amazon says:
“If we are material beings living in a material world—and all the scientific evidence suggests that we are—then we must find existential meaning…...”
In this context, Buddhism is no different than all the other spiritual speculations.
It assumes that there is an intrinsic meaning to human existence when the very word “meaning” is the result of circular thought.
“I exist” thought says, and therefore there must be some sort of meaning that supports that.
What is the meaning of a mouse or a fly?
What if there were no such thing as “meaning” and no actual existential entity such as a self that could have it?
Could you live with that?
I was also looking at this book, and I think I might give it a shot. It seems to me that Buddhisms offers more of a philosophy in terms of claims about consciousness and the meaning of life, although I still remain wary of supernatural claims. Although, in some ways, it reminds me of those books that try to merge Christianity and Science (ie, look at this physics constant! If it was 0.01% different we wouldn’t exist, therefore God created us and loves us!).
If anyone else has read this book, I’d love to hear a review/summary. The altering of consciousness (meditation, drugs, etc) as a means of exploring the boundaries of the mind have always interested me, and it seems that Buddhism might have more insight (or, perhaps just unfounded claims) into this realm than any other modern religion.