Moscow: The Russian Research Center for Study of the Meditation and Altered States of Consciousness was opened in Karnataka state, South India last month. It has been created to provide Russian scientists and Buddhist scholars of three monasteries – Sera Jey, Sera Mey and Tashi Lhunpo –with an opportunity to conduct joint work.
Within the framework of this project, the abbots of the three monasteries signed a cooperation agreement with the Russian party – the Foundation for support of brain research named after Academician N.P. Bekhtereva (St.Petersburg), Save Tibet Foundation (Moscow) and Tibetan culture and information center (Office of Tibet, Moscow). According to the agreement, a collective use laboratory for physiological and neurophysiological studies was established at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery.
The laboratory, supplied with the most advanced equipment delivered from Russia, has already been brought into operation. Russian scientists who represent various institutions – the Institute of the Human Brain of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow State University, Institute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences–carry out research together with monks-researchers.
As part of this unique project, eight monks from seven Buddhist monastic universities based in South India underwent an internship in neurophysiology and psychophysiology in Russia in September this year.
This initiative is based on the idea of His Holiness the Dalai Lama that Buddhist practitioners should study the process of meditation themselves using Western scientific methods in collaboration with researchers who follow the Western tradition. From this point of view, Russian science and, particularly, its physiological and neurophysiological schools play a special role in the world, for they combine technological and holistic approaches – they explore the problem on the basis of a hypothesis (whole), which in many ways brings them closer to the approaches of Buddhist science.
Zeekyab Tulku Rinpoche, abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, has said that the joint project of the Tibetan monasteries and Russian scientists “will lead to better understanding of the human mind and help bridge the gap between modern and Buddhist science”.
“Buddhist monasteries have been learning centers for human psychology and the ancient Indian philosophy. Buddhist psychology has very rich insights on human psychology, and the ancient Nalanda tradition is the source of our knowledge,” adds the abbot.
“We are happy that we have been able to launch the research of such complex phenomena as high-level meditation. In addition to the scientific importance of the issue, it is highly significant that we run the project together with the monks, who are able to take part in the research work after completing our training course. I hope that our joint efforts will let us get good results”, notes Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich Medvedev, head of the project, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
“The lab that was set up at Tashi Lhunpo monastery at the initiative of the Russian scientists is equally beneficial for the monastic science centers not only of Tashi Lhunpo but also of Sera Jey, Sera Mey, Gyudmed and other monasteries in South India,” says Telo Tulku Rinpoche, the Honorary Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Russia, Mongolia and CIS countries. “All the equipment installed in the lab will be kept there after academician S.V. Medvedev’s project is completed. The Buddhist monks who got trained in Russia have the skills required to utilize the equipment and collect data”.
According to Telo Tulku Rinpoche, “the monks who went for training to Russia are fully dedicated to expand their knowledge in neurophysiology and psychophysiology and use the skills they learnt and experiences that they gained for the sake of humanity”.
“By giving them such a wonderful opportunity, we are fulfilling His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s vision for the collaboration of Buddhist and modern science which will inevitably lead to joint research projects in numerous fields. I truly believe that we will see brilliant results of this joint work in the nearest future,” adds the Honorary representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Russia, Mongolia and CIS countries.
Within the framework of the project the second collective use laboratory is planned to be brought into operation in December of this year. It will be an umbrella structure for Drepung Gomang, Drepung Loseling, Gaden Jangtse and Gaden Shartse monasteries.
-Filed by Office of Tibet, Moscow