April 6, 2009
   Posted in News Flash
Published By Tashi

His Holiness the Dalai Lama Opens XVIII Mind and Life Conference Monday, 6 April 2009, 4:00 p.m.


 
 His Holiness the Dalai Lama presides over the five-day mind and life conference which began 6 April 2009 in Dharamshala, India/Photos:Sangey Kyab

Dharamshala: His Holiness the Dalai Lama today inaugurated the eighteenth ‘Mind and Life’ conference where prominent scientists will engage in interactive discussions on understanding the nature of reality and promoting human well-being. The conference is organised by Mind and Life Institute with the aim to foster dialogue and research at the highest possible level between modern science and the great living contemplative traditions, especially Buddhism. It builds on a deep commitment to the power and value of both of these ways of advancing knowledge and their potential to alleviate suffering. It also aims to promote the creation of a contemplative, compassionate, and rigorous experimental and experiential science of the mind which could guide and inform medicine, neuroscience, psychology, education and human development. In the next five days, participants from the various disciplines of philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and Buddhist scholarship and contemplative practice will discuss ‘human attention, memory, and the mind considered from phenomenological (including contemplative), psychological, and neurobiological perspectives’.The participants will work toward understanding and incorporating the broad range of each others’ ideas and views about the topics of this meeting.Special attention will be focused on the distinctive characteristics and interactions of attention, memory, and metacognition as seen from diverse viewpoints, including the possibility of multiple dimensions of awareness (not limiting the discussion to the familiar categories of the conscious and subconscious mind), and the relationship between the entire spectrum of human information processing, awareness, and the world of experience (Lebenswelt) as a whole.

 
 A scientist (L) explains a point on his laptop to His Holiness the Dalai Lama (R) during the conference

The participants anticipate that this exploration will lead to further systematic plans for ground-breaking empirical and theoretical research on meditation and contemplative practice at the interface between science and Buddhism. In this meeting, the morning presentations by cognitive scientists will be 60-90 minutes in duration, followed by up to 90 minutes of discussion; and the afternoon sessions by cognitive scientists and Buddhist scholars and contemplatives will be 30-45 minutes in duration, with the rest of the 2 ½ hours devoted to discussion. These discussions have always been the central focus of each Mind and Life meeting, and in this conference they will play a more predominant role than ever before. In 1987, neuroscientist Francisco Varela and entrepreneur Adam Engle started the mind and life dialogues with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The first mind and life conference was convened in October 1987 in Dharamshala.Since then, the mind and life meetings have focused on a broad set of themes ranging from the mind sciences and biology to physics and cosmology.What sets the mind and life dialogues apart from other meetings between science and Buddhism is the focus on in-depth, cross-cultural dialogue. In addition to the Mind and Life
dialogues and publications, the Mind and Life Institute has two other
programs to advance its mission. One program initiates collaborative
research studies between scientists and contemplatives, focused on
determining the effects of meditation and other contemplative
practices. To date, such studies have been initiated at the University
of Wisconsin; UCSF Medical Center; Princeton; Harvard; UC Berkeley;
Reed College; Pennsylvania State University; and University of
Pennsylvania.Another program to help promote new research in
this emerging area is the ‘Mind and Life Summer Research Institute’,
which is an annual week-long workshop specifically for young scientists
and scholars with an interest in this area. This Research Institute
combines scientific and Buddhist presentations, in-depth discussions on
how to advance the interface between scientific and contemplative modes
of inquiry, and meditation practice.
Participants for the 18th ‘Mind and Life’ conference:    * Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness, the XIV Dalai Lama    * David E. Meyer, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan    * B. Alan Wallace, Ph.D., President, Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies    * Anne Treisman, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Princeton University    * Rupert Gethin, Ph.D., Director of the Centre for Buddhist Studies, University of Bristol, UK    * Adele Diamond, Ph.D., Professor of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, University of          British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada    * Amishi Jha, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania    * Clifford Saron, Ph.D., Assistant Research Scientist, Center for Mind and Brain, UC Davis    * Elizabeth Phelps, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, New York University    * Shaun Gallagher, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science, University of Central          Florida      Interpreters:    * Geshe Thupten Jinpa, Ph.D., President of the Institute of Tibetan Classics in Montreal    * B. Alan Wallace, Ph.D., President of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies

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