The Mind and Consciousness

A Lecture Series with B. Alan Wallace

Join B. Alan Wallace, dynamic lecturer and progressive scholar, as he takes us on a fascinating journey into the nature of the mind.

Over the course of five lectures, we learn from him about how the human psyche and humanity’s search for happiness lead us to explore the mind itself. From there he delves into the ultimate nature of the mind, exploring its origins and questions such as: How can a nonphysical mind arise from the physical matter of the brain? Can a mind, as the observer, truly observe itself? He relates these explorations to insights from Dzogchen and Mahāmudrā practices on emptiness before diving even deeper and exploring how emptiness and nonduality can help us realize and relate to primordial consciousness—our unchanging buddha nature. In the fifth and last installment Alan leads us through a practice intended to embody the content of the four previous lectures, while cultivating the three qualities of relaxation, stillness, and clarity.


Lecture 1: The Human Psyche

In this opening lecture, Alan Wallace discusses the basic motivation behind the study of mind: happiness. In everyday life, with the coarse mind, we seek pleasure and avoid suffering. But too often we look outward for the causes of happiness in sensuality, wealth, and prestige. Alan distinguishes between this unsatisfying, stimulus-driven pleasure and a genuine, unconditioned happiness that is the ground of spiritual attainment. Conversely, he also explores how we misplace our unhappiness in external causes and ignore the true hindrances to this inner peace, which in Buddhism are called the five obscurations.

Lecture 1 is available to all members of the Wisdom Experience. Start watching now.


Lecture 2: The Subtle Mind

In this second lecture, Alan probes deeper into the nature of mind itself—its origins, its layers, and how it comes to manifest within the human brain. Much as astronomers use sophisticated tools and methods to observe faraway phenomena in space, Buddhist traditions have been using inner observation to uncover the luminous, subtle mind, free of obscurations. Alan’s discussion of this substrate consciousness, or bhavaṅga, explores how modern science’s dogma of materialism cannot answer how nonphysical mind arises from physical matter. And without this proper understanding of mind, we cannot be free and live well.

Lecture 2 is available to Plus and All-Access members. Start watching now.


Lecture 3: The Ultimate Nature of the Mind

In this third lecture, Alan considers more difficult questions about the ultimate nature of mind. What is primary, mind or matter? Is the mind real or illusory? Where is it located? Can a mind, as the observer, truly observe itself? Alan notes that we find ourselves in so many paradoxes because of the West’s long tradition of dualistic thinking about the mind, originating with Descartes, which “rips the fabric of reality into two pieces.” A better understanding relies on insights from Dzogchen and Mahāmudrā practice, which demonstrate that the mind is empty of essence—as are the objects it perceives.

Lecture 3 is available to Plus and All-Access members. Start watching now.


Lecture 4: Primordial Consciousness

In this fourth lecture, Alan continues his discussion of the mind’s fundamental nonduality and emptiness. Even within the unceasing change and turmoil of conditioned existence, through practice it is possible to become aware of a primordial consciousness, our unchanging buddha nature. By cutting through the veils of ignorance and conventional perception and fully identifying with this underlying, luminous reality, any sentient being can attain buddhahood.

Lecture 4 will be available on January 11.


Lecture 5: Taking Awarnesses and Appearances as the Path

This fifth and final installment in the series takes the form of a guided meditation. Alan leads us through a practice intended to embody the content of the four previous lectures, while cultivating the three qualities of relaxation, stillness, and clarity.

Lecture 5 will be available on January 18.


Dynamic lecturer, progressive scholar, and one of the most prolific writers and translators of Tibetan Buddhism in the West, B. Alan Wallace, PhD, continually seeks innovative ways to integrate Buddhist contemplative practices with Western science to advance the study of the mind. Dr. Wallace, a scholar and practitioner of Buddhism since 1970, has taught Buddhist theory and meditation worldwide since 1976. Having devoted fourteen years to training as a Tibetan Buddhist monk, ordained by H. H. the Dalai Lama, he went on to earn an undergraduate degree in physics and the philosophy of science at Amherst College and a doctorate in religious studies at Stanford. He later studied Dzogchen with Gyatrul Rinpoche, a senior teacher in the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. With his unique background, Dr. Wallace brings deep experience and applied skills to the challenge of integrating traditional Indo-Tibetan Buddhism with the modern world.



What is a Wisdom Lecture Series?

One of our new additions to the Wisdom Experience, lecture series are a set of approximately five to six short videos covering a singular topic with an amazing teacher. You can think of them as short courses with no reading assignments, quizzes, or homework. We’ve already created some wonderful lecture series including The Pursuit of Happiness with Barry Magid, The Brilliance of Dzogchen with Malcolm Smith, Buddha Revolution with Robert Thurman, Creativity, Spirituality & Making a Buck with David Nichtern, and Buddhist Perspectives of the Mind and How We Experience the World with John Dunne. The Mind and Consciousness with B. Alan Wallace is our newest Wisdom Lecture Series.

The first lecture of each lecture series is available to any member of the Wisdom Experience—Free, Plus, or All-Access. The rest of the lectures are available to Plus and All-Access members on an ongoing basis.

Join the Wisdom Experience to start watching now.

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