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 ~softEDGE~
Joined: 6/12/2005
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The Links Between the Dalai Lama and Neuroscience
by Jon Hamilton

Morning Edition, November 11, 2005 · The Dalai Lama will present a lecture to the world's largest group of brain scientists this weekend. He's scheduled to speak at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, which begins Saturday in Washington, D.C.

Some researchers are profoundly unhappy about the religious leader's scheduled speech. Hundreds have signed a petition protesting it.

But the Dalai Lama and brain scientists have more in common than you might expect...
interesting read, i think...

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5008565
what say/think/beleive YOU?
 ~softEDGE~
Joined: 6/12/2005
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the links between dalai lama and neuroscience...
Posted: 2/28/2006 7:40:12 PM
Too bad this thread did not get more discussion.
well, yeah, i thought it was interesting, too; thanks for reviviing it from archives...

for those too lazy to even google it, here's the article:
The Links Between the Dalai Lama and Neuroscience by Jon Hamilton

Morning Edition, November 11, 2005 · The Dalai Lama will present a lecture to the world's largest group of brain scientists this weekend. He's scheduled to speak at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, which begins Saturday in Washington, D.C.

Some researchers are profoundly unhappy about the religious leader's scheduled speech. Hundreds have signed a petition protesting it.

But the Dalai Lama and brain scientists have more in common than you might expect.

Richard Davidson, Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin, is one of several scientists who will present research on meditation at the neuroscience meeting. He says there's nothing flaky about the idea of studying whether a mental activity like meditation alters the brain's circuitry.

"Most Americans now realize that if they go to the gym or exercise several times a week, they will observe systematic changes occurring in their body," Davidson says. Meditations, he explains, is "exercising the mind in a particular way."

Some small studies have suggested that meditating on compassion can affect parts of the brain associated with positive thoughts. The Dalai Lama's talk will discuss meditation as a way to promote well-being and compassion.

Davidson says the Dalai Lama has been encouraging research on meditation for more than a decade.

"He has been very interested in investigating the brain function of monks who have practiced for many, many years, to investigate how their brain function might have been changed by their practice," Davidson says.

The Dalai Lama spends a lot of time with scientists.

Earlier this week in Washington, he shared the stage with several prominent brain researchers. They were at a meeting put together by the Mind & Life Institute, Georgetown University and John Hopkins University.

One speaker was Wolf Singer, M.D., Ph.D., the director of the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt, Germany. Singer said meditation is a highly active mental state. He described studies indicating that certain brain waves become synchronized when a person's mind is attentive -- or meditating.

Singer's talk was a bit beyond many members of the public in audience. But not the Dalai Lama. Through an interpreter, he asked for more details several times.

Sara Lazar, Ph.D., a researcher at Harvard who studies meditation, says it's really not so odd to find the Dalai Lama deeply involved in neuroscience.

"There are a lot of parallels between Buddhist philosophy and Western scientific philosophy," she says. "Definitely there are some exceptions, reincarnation being one of them.

The Dalai Lama explores the parallels between Buddhism and science in his latest book, The Universe in a Single Atom.

In one passage he writes, "My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science, so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation."

So far, scientific studies appear to support Buddhist claims that the mind can be trained to ward off things like negative thoughts. But in his book, the Dalai Lama says Buddhists should embrace scientific evidence even if it contradicts their beliefs.

"If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false," he says, "then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims."

But the Dalai Lama also says science has limits.

He rejects so-called scientific materialism -- the idea that consciousness, for example, is no more than a series of chemical reactions in our brains. That wouldn't allow for reincarnation.

Davidson of the University of Wisconsin says at some point, science and Buddhism must take separate paths.

"There are certainly beliefs in traditional Buddhism that conflict with basic principles of scientific understanding," Davidson says. "We can't make sense of those beliefs in any kind of scientific framework."

That's one reason some brain researchers aren't comfortable with the Dalai Lama's appearance at the neuroscience meeting.

But Davidson says many scientists have shown it's possible to do research on evolution and still believe in God. He says it also should be possible to study the science of meditation regardless of your views on reincarnation.
evidence indicates clearly this isn't just opinion, eh?

well, anyway, i disagree that science and any spirituality "must take separate paths" but would prefer to think that the two aren't different subject matters at all. but then again, i've been told hope is the carrot in front of a donkey...

guess it depends on what your idea of the carrot and the donkey ARE.

some will want to argue and turn this into something ugly and a war to be waged over wits.
sighs.
 ~softEDGE~
Joined: 6/12/2005
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the links between dalai lama and neuroscience...
Posted: 2/28/2006 8:26:58 PM

:) thanks, scarlett, and i do agree;
in fact i retorted to him that i was the donkey that ATE the carrot!
 SoTexMan
Joined: 8/23/2005
Msg: 4
the links between dalai lama and neuroscience...
Posted: 1/14/2007 11:39:39 AM
Hey, all:

Wow, this is interesting! I have been reading for 1-2 years about Buddhism, Zen, and Yoga, and have even started doing some breathing exercises and Yoga. I just heard of the new book "Coming to Our Senses" by Kabat-Zinn, in which he talks about the power of meditation based on the Indian Vedic techniques, which is now being called by some "mindfulness'.

Note that this is strictly on a secular, areligious basis--Buddha was not a Buddhist, and this is not about religion. K-Z states this in the book and speaks of it.

The Dalai Lama suggested that Buddhist monks be studied with high-tech medical research tools, including CAT, MRI, and many other techniques, and much of the result is in the book. Among many things the author said is that these monks demonstrate neural features NOT PREVIOUSLY KNOWN TO SCIENCE! That alone is amazing....

Apparently earlier historians, Toynbee for one, and psychologists, James for one, stated that these techniques of Eastern meditation could transform society. It really sounds exciting.

Namaste

David


Messages done with sustainable energy, with Wind and Sun!
 ~softEDGE~
Joined: 6/12/2005
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Posted: 1/14/2007 11:47:09 AM
namaste david

and yes i heartily agree as then so long ago when i first began this thread, we are collectively of one, we are kindred energies and capable of transforming society; even IF it is "only" the ones touching our own hearts, lives, minds, it is a beginning rich in possibilities.

thank you for the revival of this dear subject to me.
 ~softEDGE~
Joined: 6/12/2005
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Posted: 1/14/2007 5:28:30 PM
curiosity always gets the best of me. now i'm wondering what these "neural features not previously known to science" could possibly be?!

where's the head scratching emoticon?
 SoTexMan
Joined: 8/23/2005
Msg: 7
the links between dalai lama and neuroscience...
Posted: 1/14/2007 6:52:41 PM
Hey, all:

Hey, SoftEdge: Since I haven't seen or read much more on the particular subject at all, what I have to go on is an interview this morning with Kabat-Zinn in which he said that the brain activity revealed by CAT, MRI, EEG, or PET (don't know which) showed responses and patterns during meditation sessions (and when not meditating) with patterns and waves that were unique to the monks and new to science. Since the interview this morning I was occupied by lots of other mundane stuff--living, you know--but did find some things late. Here is one paper:

http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/EEGmeditation.htm

Wikipedia also has an entry on Meditation:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meditation

The interest in both entries focuses on gamma waves from EEG of various frequencies. I'll have to learn more about it but it is interesting.

My background is in wildlife biology so I have two problems: an anal, dogged, scientific approach, and most of the time when I deal with brains, they be animal, dead, and for toxicology studies. So I have to go back and relearn stuff and abandon some of the drive to understand, and just accept.

The book is from 2005, so it ain't brand-new, but it sounds very interesting. Hope this helps!

Namaste

David


Messages done with sustainable energy, with Wind and Sun!
 ~softEDGE~
Joined: 6/12/2005
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Posted: 1/19/2007 9:52:45 AM
there is so much information that we must carefully determine which to engage in, which to disprove for ourselves and which to focus on.

there is much more that we do not know than what has been already proven as science.
it's amazing, so much energy and thought is somehow very very comforting to me...

thank you duck, for your insightful post, and others as well for your shared thoughts too.
 moves_like_water
Joined: 1/12/2007
Msg: 9
the links between dalai lama and neuroscience...
Posted: 1/26/2007 11:49:27 PM
"When he speaks of "reality" the layman usually means something obvious and well-known, whereas it seems to me that precisely the most important and extremely difficult task of our time is to work on elaborating a new idea of reality. This is also what I mean when I always emphasize that science and religion MUST be related in some way."


- Wolfgang Pauli, letter to M. Fierz, August 12, 1948
 pfif
Joined: 6/11/2012
Msg: 10
the links between dalai lama and neuroscience...
Posted: 7/19/2012 2:55:06 PM
Read Yidam and Dakini on Wikipedia. That'll make Hitchens wake from
his grave to look at you, sternly.

Buddhism is my last intrigue in this vein. There are certainly mental
states that can be arrived at, through agency of belief and practice that,
well, all you can say about them is one mental state can lead to another.

I in my mind cannot conceive of another way to get to those states, without
all the decorations. I can see using Buddhist monks to navigate in hyperspace
one day, because they can reach the correct mental state -- that kind of sci-fi
.. fantasy, right now.

Umm .. also check out (philosopher) Nick Bostrom; esp. wrt his Simulation
Argument
(which, by itself, allows Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny .. not
to mention the March Hare .. to be included in this reality).

/just_babbling_YMMV

namaste, baby.
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