What is the subtle relationship between mind and body? What can today's scientists learn about this relationship from masters of Buddhist thought? Is it possible that by combining Western and Eastern approaches, we can reach a new understanding of the nature of the mind, the human potential for growth, the possibilities for mental and physical health?
MindScience explores these and other questions as it documents the beginning of a historic dialogue between modern science and Buddhism. The Harvard Mind Science Symposium brought together the Dalai Lama and authorities from the fields of psychiatry, psychology, neuroscience, and education. Here, they examine myriad questions concerning the nature of the mind and its relationship to the body.
Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. Born in northeastern Tibet in 1935, he was as a toddler recognized as the incarnation of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and brought to Tibet's capital, Lhasa. In 1950, Mao Zedong's Communist forces made their first incursions into eastern Tibet, shortly after which the young Dalai Lama assumed the political leadership of his country. In 1959, Chinese forces occupied the city, forcing His Holiness to escape to India. There he set up the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, working to secure the welfare of the more than 100,000 Tibetan exiles and prevent the destruction of Tibetan culture. In his capacity as a spiritual and political leader, he has traveled to more than sixty-two countries on six continents and met with presidents, popes, and leading scientists to foster dialogue and create a better world. In recognition of his tireless work for the nonviolent liberation of Tibet, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. In 2012, he relinquished political authority in his exile government and turned it over to democratically elected representatives. He is the author of numerous books, including The Good Heart, The Meaning of Life, The World of Tibetan Buddhism, and The Compassionate Life.
Herbert Benson, MD, is the Mind Body Medical Institute Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School. He is the author of the mega-bestselling book, The Relaxation Response, as well as ten other trade books. His groundbreaking work established the modern field of mind body medicine. Dr. Benson is the Director Emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Robert Thurman is the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor Emeritus of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University. After his education at Philips Exeter and Harvard, he studied Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism for fifty years as a personal student of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He has written both scholarly and popular books, and has lectured widely all over the world. As president of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies, he convened the first “inner science” conference with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Amherst College in 1984. He is also founding trustee and president of Tibet House US, and co-founder of Tibet House’s Menla retreat center in the Catskills. Recipient of the president of India’s Padma Shri award, he has dedicated his recent efforts to translate into English the unique Tibetan treasures of ancient Indic scientific and spiritual resources in order to heighten the scholarly and general awareness of India’s ancient Sanskrit Buddhist heritage.
Howard Gardner is the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Senior Director of Harvard Project Zero. Among numerous honors, Gardner received a MacArthur Prize Fellowship in 1981. In 2005 and again in 2008, he was selected by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines as one of the 100 most influential public intellectuals in the world. Most recently, Gardner received the 2011 Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences. The author of twenty-eight books translated into thirty-two languages, and several hundred articles, Gardner is best known in educational circles for his theory of multiple intelligences, a critique of the notion that there exists but a single human intelligence that can be adequately assessed by standard psychometric instruments.
Daniel Goleman is the author of the international bestsellers Emotional Intelligence, Working with Emotional Intelligence, and Social Intelligence, and the co-author of the acclaimed business bestseller Primal Leadership. He was a science reporter for the New York Times, was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and received the American Psychological Association's Lifetime Achievement Award for his media writing. He lives in the Berkshires.
"A lively and interesting description of the dynamic interaction between Buddhism and mainstream science...full of pearls."
– Shambhala Sun
"Comprehensive. cuts right to the core issues of its compelling topic."
– The Quest
"Both sides have come together in a spirit of mutual respect."
"The Dalai Lama synthesizes scientific materialism and Western psychology with the ancient mind of the Buddha-without any apparent contradiction. Other notable scholars contribute to the discussion. MindScience captures the spirit of genuine inquiry and offers a glimpse of Buddhist psychology and its potential applications in the West today."