February 23, 2009 | The field of neuroscience has emerged as one of the most promising and potentially fruitful areas for engagement between Buddhism and modern science. Ongoing conversations between scientists and Buddhist scholars, many featuring the personal participation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, have moved from the realm of theoretical discussion into actual clinical research. Today, rigorous experiments involve Buddhist monks not simply as subjects to be investigated but as active participants in the design of experimental protocols. These collaborations expand the conceptual frameworks within which we examine and understand mental phenomena. During this talk, Geshe Thupten Jinpa reviewed the current state of the field, which some have dubbed “contemplative science,” and raised critical questions pertaining to this enterprise. What is the status of the big questions like karma and rebirth in this dialogue? Can Buddhism and science ever agree on the understanding of the nature of consciousness? Can this dialogue expand the horizons of science, both in terms of its method and regulative principles, when it comes to the study of our mental life?
Geshe Thupten Jinpa has served as the principal translator for the Dalai Lama for over twenty years. He earned the prestigious Geshe Lharampa degree from the Ganden Monastic University and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Cambridge University. Jinpa is presently an adjunct professor at the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University and a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research at Stanford University’s School of Medicine. In addition to translating and editing many books by the Dalai Lama, Jinpa is the founding director of the Institute of Tibetan Classics. His own publications include Self, Reality and Reason in Tibetan Philosophy: Tsongkhapa’s Quest for the Middle Way (2002), Mind Training: The Great Collection (2005), and The Book of Kadam: The Core Texts (2008).
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