During a conference the Dalai Lama (DL) wonders aloud if states of consciousness, including the most subtle pure awareness, require a physical basis. This appears to be a new speculation on his part, and particularly striking because Tibetan Buddhism typically asserts that reincarnation is a fact and these refined states transcend the physical. He unabashedly admits that he doesn't know if such states require a body, no doubt shocking some of his more traditional flock.
Many scientists dismiss both the notion of pure awareness and that any awareness could exist without a body. Whereas many contemplatives scoff at the idea that such states are biologically based. Thompson doesn't find either view attractive. We should take seriously Buddhism's ancient study of the mind and consciousness, as well as western psychology and neuroscience. Both fill in the gaps in the others' knowledge base.
Thompson strives to remain open to such cross-paradigm challenges, to examine the empirical data from all sides and see where it leads. This seems sort of naive though, as if the data itself is objective and all one need do is observe the obvious, that there is no subjective or contextual flavoring or bias. It's akin to the direct experience of pure awareness, as if such experience in itself settles the question of the nature of reality. To put it in other terms, it's as if empirical actuality is the final arbiter instead of the transcendental witness consciousness, two sides of the same epistemic fallacy. Communally validated experiential evidence of both kinds is taken as given and accurate, as if it can be separated from the speculative interpretations. Thompson will address this in Chapter 3.