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His Holiness the Dalai Lama discusses Science of Mind with top scientists in Sydney

December 7, 2009

Thursday, 3 December 2009, 4:39 p.m.



Sydney: His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Thursday joined three of the
world?s foremost psychologists and neuroscientists for a forum on
?Science of Mind? at Sydney?s Mind and its Potential Conference.

Over the course of two and a half hours the four covered a broad range
of topics in Buddhist science and modern psychology, discussing issues
as diverse as depression, positive psychology and the evolutionary basis
of emotions.

On the subject of depression, His Holiness noted that in Tibetan
language there is no term corresponding exactly to our term depression.
Rather, he explained, there is recognition of many different states,
each owing to particular circumstances, causes and conditions and that
particular ?depressions? must treated in accordance with their specific
causes.

Dr. Martin Seligman presented to His Holiness his latest findings in the
field of positive psychology, which he characterised as being concerned
not with the mere prevention of suffering but conversely the promotion
of ?human flourishing?: positive emotions, purpose, positive
relationships and positive accomplishment.

Marc Hauser, Harvard Professor of Evolutionary Biology, presented to His
Holiness some challenging findings relating to the possibility that we
are genetically predisposed towards certain behaviour patterns. Hauser?s
presentation led to a fruitful dialogue on the scope to which we can
overcome biological and genetic determinants on our behaviour through
training the mind.

Finally, B. Alan Wallace, an experienced Buddhist practitioner and
fluent Tibetan speaker, presented an account of Seligman?s positive
psychology through the lens of classical Buddhist science.

His Holiness, who for over a decade has inspired and encouraged
collaboration between Buddhist scholars and cognitive scientists, was
impressed by the observations by Seligman, Hauser and Wallace, offered
further profound insights relating to their work and strongly encouraged
the continuation of cross-cultural research into the nature of mind.

In the afternoon His Holiness gave the first of four public talks
scheduled for his eleven-day visit to Australia and New Zealand. Around
7,000 attended the talk on the theme of ?Our Future: Who is Responsible??

His Holiness was introduced by Kylie Kwong - a Chinese Australian and
prominent television chef, author and restaurateur. During an hour and a
half?s talk His Holiness spoke about responsibility, compassion,
training the mind, inner peace as a precursor to a happy and meaningful
life, and many other topics. At the conclusion of the talk His Holiness
answered questions on matters including coping with bereavement, how to
explain Buddhist concepts such as karma within a western scientific
framework, and what Australians can do to aid the plight of Tibetans in
Tibet. On the latter question His Holiness encouraged people to try and
travel to Tibet to see for themselves the situation facing the Tibetan
people and to share their findings with the wider world.

In his last appointment in Sydney His Holiness met with Tony Abbott, the
newly installed leader of the Liberal Party and leader of the opposition
in the Australian Government.

In their joint press conference His Holiness and Mr. Abbott reported
having discussed mostly spiritual matters, with Mr. Abbott thanking His
Holiness for sharing valuable advice on coping with the demands of a
busy and stressful life. His Holiness said he was very happy for the
opportunity to meet the opposition leader and reiterated his belief in
the value of democratic government.

Addressing the media His Holiness thanked the Australian Government for
accepting annually a number of Tibetan refugees into Australia, noting
that this had been tremendously important to the Tibetan exile
community. Mr. Abbott said he believed that Australia should continue to
accept refugees from Tibet.

Asked if he was concerned about climate change scepticism within the
opposition party, His Holiness said that it is democracy itself that is
of paramount importance and that it is only normal in a healthy
democracy to have a diversity of views.

Asked if he would be encouraging the Prime Minister to take the
opportunity to meet His Holiness over the coming week, Mr. Abbott
conceded that there certain things that it is easier to do while in
opposition and that Mr. Rudd must balance many competing considerations.
Nonetheless, Mr. Abbott said he understood Australians? disappointment
over Kevin Rudd?s decision not to meet His Holiness during this visit,
noting that former Prime Minister John Howard had found the time to do so.

Today marks the conclusion of His Holiness?s visit to Sydney. He will
leave tomorrow morning for Auckland and remain three days in New Zealand
before returning to Australia to visit Melbourne and Hobart. In New
Zealand His Holiness will give another teaching on Nargajuna?s
commentary of Bodhicitta, give a public talk, meet with members of New
Zealand?s Tibetan community and meet with the Maori, the indigenous
Polynesian people of New Zealand (Aotearoa).

--Report filed by Dr. Simon Bradshaw, Campaign Coordinator, Australia
Tibet Council
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