What is the essence of the mind? Could computers ever have consciousness? Can compassion be learned? When does consciousness enter the human embryo? These are just some of the many questions that were discussed during a historic meeting that took place between several prominent Western scientists and the Dalai Lama. Gentle Bridges is a chronicle of this extraordinary exchange of ideas.
B. Alan Wallace introduces a natural theory of human consciousness that has its roots in contemporary physics and Buddhism. Wallace's "special theory of ontological relativity" suggests that mental phenomena are conditioned by the brain, but do not emerge from it. Rather, the entire natural world of mind and matter, subjects and objects, arises from a unitary dimension of reality. Wallace employs the Buddhist meditative practice of samatha to test his hypothesis, creating a kind of telescope to examine the space of the mind. He then proposes a more general theory in which the participatory nature of reality is envisioned as a self-excited circuit.
In comparing these ideas to the Buddhist theory known as the Middle Way philosophy, Wallace explores further aspects of his "general theory of ontological relativity," which can be investigated through vipasyana, or insight, meditation. He then focuses on the theme of symmetry in quantum cosmology and the "problem of frozen time," relating these issues to the theory and practices of the Great Perfection school of Tibetan Buddhism. He concludes with a discussion of complementarity as it relates to science and religion.
*What are the root causes of destructive behavior?
*How can we control the emotions that drive these impulses?
*Can we learn to live at peace with ourselves and others?
Imagine sitting with the Dalai Lama in his private meeting room with a small group of world-class scientists and philosophers. The talk is lively and fascinating as these leading minds grapple with age-old questions of compelling contemporary urgency. Daniel Goleman, the internationally bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence, provides the illuminating commentary—and reports on the breakthrough research this historic gathering inspired.
Buddhist philosophy tells us that all personal unhappiness and interpersonal conflict lie in the “three poisons”: craving, anger, and delusion. It also provides antidotes of astonishing psychological sophistication--which are now being confirmed by modern neuroscience. With new high-tech devices, scientists can peer inside the brain centers that calm the inner storms of rage and fear. They also can demonstrate that awareness-training strategies such as meditation strengthen emotional stability—and greatly enhance our positive moods.
The distinguished panel members report these recent findings and debate an exhilarating range of other topics: What role do destructive emotions play in human evolution? Are they “hardwired” in our bodies? Are they universal, or does culture determine how we feel? How can we nurture the compassion that is also our birthright? We learn how practices that reduce negativity have also been shown to bolster the immune system. Here, too, is an enlightened proposal for a school-based program of social and emotional learning that can help our children increase self-awareness, manage their anger, and become more empathetic.
Throughout, these provocative ideas are brought to life by the play of personalities, by the Dalai Lama’s probing questions, and by his surprising sense of humor. Although there are no easy answers, the dialogues, which are part of a series sponsored by the Mind and Life Institute, chart an ultimately hopeful course. They are sure to spark discussion among educators, religious and political leaders, parents—and all people who seek peace for themselves and the world.
The Mind and Life Institute sponsors cross-cultural dialogues that bring together the Dalai Lama and other Buddhist scholars with Western scientists and philosophers. Mind and Life VIII, on which this book is based, took place in Dharamsala, India, in March 2000.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
The Dalai Lama is both the living conscience of the Tibetan people and an internationally respected human rights symbol. His high-profile appearances and books have fueled the surging popularity of Buddhism in the United States and throughout the West. This new, up-to-date biography provides insight into the curious and winning personality of the Dalai Lama as a boy and his wisdom as a man. The Buddhist spiritual worlds and the Dalai Lama's rarified role are engagingly and evenly presented.
The Dalai Lama's story is revealed from his early family life to his experiences in the world, his education as the 14th incarnation of the Lama, his exile in India, and his current struggles to help Tibet regain its independence from China. Especially helpful is the clear historical overview of the Tibetan crisis after the Chinese invasion. A timeline and glossary also supplement the text. Though the book is written especially for high school students doing reports, it will also be of immense interest to general readers.
The Taboo of Subjectivity : Towards a New Science of Consciousness: Towards a New Science of Consciousness
Pier Luigi Luisi not only reproduces this dramatic, cross-cultural dialogue, in which world-class scientists, philosophers, and Buddhist scholars develop a holistic approach to the scientific exploration of reality, but also adds scientific background to their presentations, as well as supplementary discussions with prominent participants and attendees. Interviews with His Holiness the Karmapa, the Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, and the actor and longtime human rights advocate Richard Gere take the proceedings into new directions, enriching the material with personal viewpoints and lively conversation about such topics as the origin of matter, the properties of cells, the nature of evolution, the ethics of genetic manipulation, and the question of consciousness and ethics.
A keen study of character, Luisi incorporates his own amusing observations into this fascinating dialogue, painting a very human portrait of some of our greatest—and most intimidating—thinkers. Deeply textured and cleverly crafted, Mind and Life is an excellent opportunity for any reader to join in the debate surrounding this cutting-edge field of inquiry.
The Madman’s Middle Way presents the first English translation of this major Tibetan Buddhist work, accompanied by an essay on Gendun Chopel’s life liberally interspersed with passages from his writings. Donald S. Lopez Jr. also provides a commentary that sheds light on the doctrinal context of the Adornment and summarizes its key arguments. Ultimately, Lopez examines the long-standing debate over whether Gendun Chopel in fact is the author of the Adornment; the heated critical response to the work by Tibetan monks of the Dalai Lama’s sect; and what the Adornment tells us about Tibetan Buddhism’s encounter with modernity. The result is an insightful glimpse into a provocative and enigmatic workthatwill be of great interest to anyone seriously interested in Buddhism or Asian religions.