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World Tibet Network News

Published by the Canada Tibet Committee

Monday, September 15, 2003



2. Buddhism and mind science


Cambridge, September 14. 2003 (Associated Press) Dalai Lama taking part in a
"Mind and Life" conference at MIT

Can concentration be controlled? Can attention be practiced and perfected?

These are questions that are of increasing interest today to scientists, but
which Buddhist monks have been exploring for thousands of years.

With the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader, sitting between
them, the two sides gathered on Saturday at the Massachusetts Institute
Technology in a search for common ground in their pursuit of understanding
of the mysteries of the human mind.

But psychologists and neuroscientists have become interested in meditation,
a central component of Buddhist religious life, and in what it says about
the limits of an individual's control over the mind.

Panelists suggested that scientists are starting to see that expert
meditators may be useful not only as guinea pigs, but in shaping
understanding.
The Dalai Lama, who is half way through a 16-day tour of the United States,
said he hoped science could provide answers in areas where inward
contemplation cannot.

"I myself am not clear," he said at one point, drawing laughs from the
overflow crowd that included actors Richard Gere and Goldie Hawn.
The scientists wanted to pick the minds of the Buddhist scholars about how
best to use technology such as brain imaging to study consciousness.
"I can think of a million things to measure, but what I am interested in is,
'What do you think are the right things to measure?'" asked Jonathan Cohen,
a Princeton University brain expert.

Ajahn Amaro, co-abbot of a Buddhist monastery in California, had a ready
answer: use technology to measure how the brain reacts to "the effects of
one's behaviour, particularly one's lifestyle."

Amaro said he would like to know what the machines say about how "level of
comfort is associated with how honestly you live."


Articles in this Issue:
  1. Kashag Stages Walkout, Seeks Probe
  2. Buddhism and mind science
  3. Dalai Lama to visit Taiwan
  4. Ring road threatens sacred slopes of pilgrims
  5. Is Buddhism Good for Your Health?
  6. US Senate passes resolution on Tibetan autonomy



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