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Lions Roar : September 2005
leading both Buddhist teachers and scientists to think about how they study and teach. In today’s Buddhism and science dialogue, insights are not so bound up with authorship. Who discussed the virtue of having “elasticity of mind”? The Buddha? No. Charles Darwin, in The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals. MATTHIEU RICARD STARTED his professional life as a molecular biologist. Now, after many decades as a monk, his molecules have become the subject of study for biologists. His discussions with physicist Trinh Xuan Thuan, published as The Quantum and the Lotus, and his vigorous give-and-take with his father, the renowned philosopher Jean-François Revel, published as The Monk and the Philosopher (a best-sell- er in France) demonstrate his ability to discuss Buddhist understanding deftly outside the context of Buddhism. This has made him an ideal participant in Mind and Life dialogues 4 2 SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2005 and a laboratory subject who can report his subjective experi- ence with scalpel-like precision. Ricard is concerned that the average person is afraid of the mind, and that this fear is taking a great social toll. If you ask some- one to look into their mind, he says, “A surprisingly common reaction is ‘I don’t want to look into my mind. I’m afraid of what I’m going to find there.’” He feels that many people may find the notion of meditation and working with the mind more attractive if they can see that “we vastly underestimate the mag- nitude of change that is possible. If studies can provide robust evidence for the effect of mind training, that will be of great value to society.” When his father the philosopher challenges superstition in Buddhism, Ricard makes a strong case that contrary to popular belief, Buddhists do rely on verifiability. Buddhists are asked to Eleanor Rosch fears the dialogue frequently turns Buddhism into a “caricature Immunofluorescent light micrograph of brain cells from the cortex of a mammalian brain. The star-shaped cells, astrocytes, provide support and nutrition to nerve cells, and may also play a role in information storage. NANCYKEDERSHA/SCIENCEPHOTOLIBRARY