His lecture on the neuroscience of meditation, and participation in a discussion on the ‘Science and Clinical Applications of Meditation’, is planned for the prestigious annual conference of the Society for Neuroscience, to be held in Washington DC in November.
The Dali Lama has a longstanding interest in neuroscience, having founded the Mind and Life Institute, to promote dialogue between science and buddhism.
The Institute has regular meetings between the Buddhist leader and leading neuroscientists, which has resulted in research collaborations and a number of books that have included transcripts and analyses of the gatherings.
His talk also comes at a time when therapies based on Buddhist ‘mindfulness’ techniques are being found to be increasingly effective for treating physical and mental distress in well-controlled scientific studies.
Some potential delegates are protesting his appearance, however, suggesting science and religion should not be mixed and declaring his views to be in ‘poor scientific taste’. Neuroscientist Jianguo G. Gu has reportedly started a petition against the Dalai Lama’s lecture.
The Society for Neuroscience have defended their decision and noted that the Dalai Lama will not be talking about ‘religion or politics’.
Link to Guardian article ‘Plan for Dalai Lama lecture angers neuroscientists’
PDF (5.5Mb) of programme for Society for Neuroscience Annual conference. Details of Dalai Lama’s participation on p8 and p27.
Link to Mind and Life Institute.
Link to scientific paper ‘Long-term meditators self-induce high-amplitude gamma synchrony during mental practice’.
Link to information on mindfulness therapy from Cambridge University’s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit.