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Lions Roar : March 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2012 89 We can’t be sure what’s down the road. But at Prentiss Smith & Company we believe that a disciplined investment approach, and attention to each client’s individual situation, can take an investor a long way. For a brochure that includes our performance record please call. TOLL FREE 800 -223-7851 The Long Run. PRENTISS SMITH & COMPANY, INC. Portfolio management for the socially conscious investor since 1982 Offices in Brattleboro & Burlington, Vermont • www.socialinvesting.com know about the mind,” he says. “Well, that may or may not be true. It’s an open question. It may be the reverse.” He hopes that research- ers will stay open to incorporating the first person perspective into their work, and that other aspects of Buddhist thought will influ- ence scientific inquiry. Engle also feels that scientists have not paid enough atten- tion to making sure their research serves the goals of humanity. “What the Buddha tried to do,” he says, “was to investigate the nature of reality and the nature of the mind, and then use that understanding to provide a way out of delusion and suffering.” Engle says that if scientists want to explore the nature of suffer- ing, a third person approach alone, without an ethic that con- siders the outcome of the research, won’t be enough. Although much of the current research being funded through the Mind & Life Institute remains focused on neuroscience and cognitive science, Engle sees a future where the collaborations can flourish in other fields as well, such as religious studies, phi- losophy, and anthropology. “We’ve gone through a period of specialization,” says Engle, “and I believe we’re starting to see the limitations of that, in terms of the effects.” Arthur Zajonc, who as the new president of the Mind & Life Institute will be helping to chart its future course, is par- ticularly interested in applications of contemplative practice in education. He is steering committee chair of the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education, an initiative of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society that works with professors in a range of academic disciplines in thousands of classrooms around the world. “Not only can meditation be used in the classroom to reduce stress or increase attention,” Zajonc says, “but it can also help stu- dents have greater insight and make connections within the cur- riculum.” He points to how meditation can augment economics courses, where professors often use experiential exercises to teach students about the role of competition in distributing limited resources. According to classical economics, individuals will try to maximize their own profits at the expense of their competitors. But, Zajonc says, if professors first have their students practice a loving-kindness meditation before beginning the exercise, stu- dents shift their conduct to consider the needs of others. It’s clear the goal is to expand Mind and Life’s reach—to wider audiences and new areas of collaboration. Although it will continue to organize private dialogues between the Dalai Lama and leading scientists, Zajonc, Hangartner, and Engle hope the upcoming conference and other public activities will help con- vince society that mental and emotional training programs are important for our future happiness, health, and social harmony. “The investigation of the mind has been going on in the contemplative world for 2,500 years,” says Engle. “An incredible amount of wisdom and understanding has been developed, but it has been held by a relatively small number of people. We are only beginning to disseminate these insights to the wider popu- lation. That’s exciting.” ♦