Cover image for The Dalai Lama at MIT
The Dalai Lama at MIT
Bstan-ʼdzin-rgya-mtsho, Dalai Lama XIV, 1935-
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, [2006]

Physical Description:
288 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
General Note:
Records of the conference, "Investigating the mind, " at MIT, September 2003. Cf. Introduction.
I: Orientation -- Introduction / Anne Harrington -- Neurophenomenology and Francisco Varela / Evan Thompson -- II: Attention and cognitive control -- Understandings of attention and cognitive control from cognitive neuroscience / Jonathan Cohen -- Buddhist training in enhanced attention skills / B. Alan Wallace -- Dialogue: attention and cognitive control -- III: Imagery and visualization -- Buddhist perspectives on mental imagery / Matthieu Ricard -- Introspection and mechanism in mental imagery / Stephen M. Kosslyn, Daniel Reisberg, and Marlene Behrmann -- Dialogue: Imagery and visualization -- IV: Emotion -- An Abhidharmic view of emotional pathologies and their remedies / Georges Dreyfus -- Emotions from the perspective of western biobehavioral science / Richard J. Davidson -- Dialogue: Emotion -- V: Integration and final reflections -- Dialogue: Integration and implications -- Reflections on "investigating the mind, " one year later / Arthur Zajonc -- About the Mind and Life Institute / R. Adam Engle.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BF51 .D35 2006 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Their meeting captured headlines; the waiting list for tickets was nearly 2000 names long. If you were unable to attend, this book will take you there. Including both the papers given at the conference, and the animated discussion and debate that followed, The Dalai Lama at MIT reveals scientists and monks reaching across a cultural divide, to share insights, studies and enduring questions. Is there any substance to monks' claims that meditation can provide astonishing memories for words and images? Is there any neuroscientific evidence that meditation will help you pay attention, think better, control and even eliminate negative emotions? Are Buddhists right to make compassion a fundamental human emotion, and Western scientists wrong to have neglected it? The Dalai Lama at MIT shows scientists finding startling support for some Buddhist claims, Buddhists eager to participate in neuroscientific experiments, as well as misunderstandings and laughter. Those in white coats and those in orange robes agree that joining forces could bring new light to the study of human minds.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Mainstream Western brain science has long viewed the operation of the human mind as little more than the interactions of vast numbers of neurons, synapses, and associated neurotransmitters. But in the late 1980s, Colorado's Mind & Life Institute initiated a series of semiprivate conversations involving the Dalai Lama, leading figures from the contemplative traditions, and prominent Western scientists with the aim of enhancing our understanding of the mind. Accessible to nonspecialists, this work, extraordinarily well edited by Harrington (history of science, Harvard) and Zajonc (physics, Amherst Coll.), takes the reader to the two-day-long Mind & Life XI, a conference cosponsored by MIT's McGovern Institute in 2003. On each of three topics-attention and cognitive control, imagery and visualization, and emotion-two papers, one presented by a Buddhist practitioner and the other by Western researchers, combine with a panel's reactions and questions from the 1200 observers in pursuit of empirically testable hypotheses integrating Buddhist and scientific approaches to understanding the mind. The conference reported experimental results that challenge Western assumptions, while Zajonc's summarizing reflections note several exciting research collaborations spawned by the event. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries.-James R. Kuhlman, Univ. of North Carolina at Asheville Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The basis for this work is a two-day conference held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in September 2003. The focus was an extended conversation between the Dalai Lama, selected Buddhist scholars and practitioners, and notable neuro- and cognitive scientists on the topic "Investigating the Mind." The objective was to determine what Western "hard" science might have to offer the 2,500-year-old tradition of Buddhist meditation, and conversely, what trained Buddhist introspection might reveal that empirical study has yet to discover. Put more simply, "Could the two traditions work together, and would more be learned about the nature of the mind through the partnership than in its absence." After following the discussions, which appear as a series of paired essays followed by dialogue on focused topics in the broad area of consciousness studies, readers will discover that the answer is clearly yes. This is a nuanced academic analysis that brings two different, sophisticated cognitive approaches to bear on the question of the nature of the mind. The contributors are well qualified and the essays are of uniformly high quality. Some are exceptional, e.g., Matthieu Ricard's "Buddhist Perspectives on Mental Imagery," a lucid, lapidary explanation of Buddhist visualization practices. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above. E. S. Steele University of Scranton

Table of Contents

Part I Orientations
IntroductionAnne Harrington
NeurophenomenologyEvan Thompson
Part II Attention and Cognitive
Understandings of Attention Cognitive NeuroscienceJonathan Cohen
Buddhist Training in Advanced Attention SkillsB. Alan Wallace
Dialogue: Attention
Part III Imagery And Visualization
Buddhist PerspectivesMatthieu Ricard
Introspection and Mechanism in Mental ImageryStephen Kosslyn and Daniel Reisberg and Marlene Behrmann
Dialogue: Imagery and Visualization
Part IV Emotion
An Adhidharmic View of Emotional Pathologies and Their RemediesGeorges Dreyfus
Emotions from the Perspective of Western Biobehavioral ScienceRichard Davidson
Dialogue: Emotions
Part V Integration and Final Reflections
Dialogue: Integration and Implications
Reflections on "Investigating the Mind," One Year LaterArthur Zajonc
About the Mind and Life InstituteR. Adam Engle