Over the past three decades, since the creation of the Mind and Life Institute in the 80s under the auspices of the Dalai Lama and the neurobiologist Francisco Varela, a series of conferences have introduced the idea of a convergence between Buddhism and neuroscience. Neuroscientists have been particularly interested in the possible neural correlates of Buddhist meditation, and their experiments have contributed to the current popularity of Mindfulness and derived techniques, such as “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.” Apart from meditation, a number of important issues, such as notions of self and non-self, or Buddhist ethics and neuroethics, have been discussed. Yet, because of the media attention and a desire to reach consensus, problems and disagreements between the two fields have sometimes been ignored or downplayed, and the conversation has been limited to certain forms of Buddhist thought and practice. The time has come to move “beyond the hype” and to engage in a broader and more critical discussion. With its strong programs in Neuroscience and Buddhist Studies, Columbia University is a natural venue for this conversation. This workshop will include a dozen scholars from both the scientific and the social science fields.
More information is available at icls.columbia.edu.
Co-sponsored by the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, the Center for Buddhism and East Asian Religions, and the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life.