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Lions Roar : March 2012
58 SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2012 “BUDDHISTS HAVE BEEN developing ways to encourage positive emotion through meditation for thousands of years,” says Daniel Goleman, psychologist and bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence. He learned about the Mind and Life dia- logues when Varela asked him to attend the second one, which was held in Newport Beach, California, in 1989. Goleman’s interest in meditation and science went way back to his days as a graduate student at Harvard. But he didn’t think the science community was ready yet to embrace meditation practice. However, an old friend of his from Harvard, a chem- istry PhD named Jon Kabat-Zinn, was developing a program called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. It delivered measur- able health benefits the scientific community couldn’t ignore. In 1990, Goleman moderated the third dialogue, on health and emotions, and invited Kabat-Zinn to attend. Goleman says that when the Dalai Lama learned about the research on how positive emotions improved physical and emotional health, he saw right away the connection to contemplative practice. It was then, Goleman says, that the Dalai Lama began to embrace the idea of teaching meditation in a secular context to benefit a wide range of people. Discussion moved to the cosmic level at the sixth Mind and Life dialogue in 1997, which was organized by Arthur Zajonc, a phys- ics professor at Amherst College who became the president of the Mind & Life Institute late last year, following the retirement of Adam Engle. He and other physicists presented the findings of quantum mechanics, which showed that the properties of elemental particles like electrons are not independent—their measured size, mass, and velocity were in fact dependent on the speed of the measuring appa- ratus. Hearing this, the Dalai Lama shared the Buddhist perspective that reality does not exist intrinsically with its own objective proper- ties, but only in relationship to a perceiving consciousness. “This exchange with the Dalai Lama clarified some of the ideas I was working on at the time,” says Zajonc. The Buddhist view that everything in the universe is interrelated, he says, seemed to be a concise way of framing what quantum mechanics and relativ- ity are telling us about the world. After physicist Anton Zeilinger attended the 1997 dialogue, he invited the Dalai Lama to his 1970s 1980s Biofeedback offers measurable data on mental and emotional states Herbert Benson’s placebo studies isolate healing power of mind 1975: Publication of The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra Jon Kabat- Zinn founds UMASS Stress Reduction Clinic, where he teaches Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction A Mind Science Timeline Four decades of progress Physicist Daniel Bohm, a former student of Krishnamutri, discusses modern science with the Dalai Lama, who calls him “my physics teacher” Neuroscientist, philosopher, and Buddhist practitioner Francisco Varela begins discussions with Dalai Lama on neuroscience and consciousness Left: Former Mind & Life Institute president Adam Engle and the Dalai Lama at the most recent Mind and Life meeting in Dharamsala titled Ecology, Ethics, and Interde- pendence, October 2011. Right: Arthur Zajonc, current president of the Mind & Life Institute, with His Holiness. PHOTOSCOURTESYOFMINDANDLIFEINSTITUTE