THE BLOG
11/29/2006 01:00 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Be Happy, Start a Revolution

Fearlessness, like genuine happiness, comes from within. Sounds easy, right? Not for those of us trapped by the modern era's lack of balance, says Alan Wallace. With "modernity" now a global phenomenon, that means most of us have hardly scratched the surface of introspection, says the founder and President of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies and author of _Genuine Happiness_.

It's time to fearlessly challenge 400 year old assumptions, Dr. Wallace urges. What we need is a revolution, a new Renaissance, a fusion of wisdom available from the East and the West. Where to begin? Dr. Wallace believes the perfect setting is his own field of consciousness studies, where a revolution is upon us. The "missing link"? The techniques called "cultivation" in Sanskrit. In English, we call it meditation (not to be confused with its trendy, trivial or cute counterfeits).

Given today's ease of transportation and communication, there's absolutely no need for consciousness studies -- or for us personally -- to reinvent what the remarkable William James called "introspection" more than a century ago. Great wisdom traditions and ancient contemplative cultures have for hundreds of centuries been engaging in very, very sophisticated, rigorous investigations and empirical observations of mental states, and there a rich variety from which to choose, Dr. Wallace reports.

Don't wait for Dr. Wallace's Renaissance -- be part of creating it! Our era's obsession with extroversion has cost us dearly -- looking outside ourselves for everything from fearlessness to genuine happiness -- not quite sure why the external symbols and outdated rituals leave us feeling so empty. Genuine happiness, well-being and fulfillment are waiting to be discovered within us.

Take inspiration from the first Renaissance, Dr. Wallace counsels. Challenge authority. And learn from ancient cultures. Today's culture suffers from what Dr. Wallace calls an "imagination deficit disorder." Instead of being "normal" and fearful, why not be people with extraordinary hearts and minds, extraordinary states of consciousness? It's there for us -- inside us -- waiting to be explored.

Dr. Wallace brings his keen insights, commitment to truth-telling and an outline of a new science-of-the-mind to his conversation with me and Bill Russell, which you can hear at our "Paula Gordon Show" website .
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On a personal note -- Sunday evening friends invited me to meet Eve Ensler. Talk about "fearless"! Remember the first time you heard about her creation, "The Vagina Monologues"? Nervy ... and brave! By dramatizing the truths of women's experience, she helped us examine our own lives, too many of which are deformed by very personal violence and abuse. Audience stories of pained personal experience led Eve to create VDAY, a global campaign to end violence against women and girls. We look forward to having Eve on the video version of our program early next year. Thank you, Laura and Pat!