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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Doctor and Dalai Lama bond over brains

November 4, 2009

ELLIE HARVEY
The Sydney Morning Herald
October 31, 2009


IF ONLY Paul Ekman could prove the mind ceases
when the brain is dead, the Dalai Lama might not be a Buddhist.

Now a close friend of the Dalai Lama, the
psychologist spent 40 hours over three years in
one-on-one discussion with him about emotion and
compassion, which led to their book, Emotional Awareness.

"He said to me once, 'If you can show me that
when the brain is dead, nothing of the mind
continues, then I would no longer be a Buddhist.'
Of course, I believe that when the brain is dead that's it," Dr Ekman said.

Dr Ekman is a guest at the Mind and Its Potential
conference with the Dalai Lama in Sydney in
December. One of Time's 100 most influential
people of 2009, Dr Ekman has done ground-breaking
research in emotion, working more recently with
health professionals, judges, salesmen and police
on reading nonverbal communication.

In Sydney he will hold a workshop on hidden
messages in facial expression to teach people how
to recognise concealed emotions and when
emotional expressions are false. Microexpressions
last about 1/25th of a second, which most people do not see.

"They can help you tell if someone's lying, they
can help you tell how interested [a person is] in
the product you're trying to sell them, they can
help you figure out whether they're bluffing in a
poker game … it can help you determine what it is
that your patient is feeling that they're too embarrassed to tell you."

There was much Dr Ekman and the Dalai Lama did
not agree on while working on the book. Dr Ekman
does not believe in reincarnation, whereas the
Dalai Lama finds it easier to forgive people
because they will be punished in the next life.

"For him it's easy because they're going to come
back as a cockroach,'' he said.

They also disagreed over what is responsible for
those who show exceptional compassion - the Dalai
Lama believes it is part of their karma, while Dr
Ekman believes it may be their genes.

Other guests at the conference include American
Martin Seligman, an American psychologist who
works at the Pentagon with troops returning from
Iraq, the British neuroscientist Baroness Susan
Greenfield and Australian neurosurgeon Dr Charlie Teo.
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