The Dalai Lama’s View of Genetics

Considering how much I agree with what the Dalai Lama has to say in The Universe in a Single Atom, it’s no wonder I continually find myself attracted to Buddhism, at least philosophically. Since the last two chapters are relatively short and I feel the need to get back to poetry, I thought I’d summarize them and be done with what has been a more challenging book than I thought it would be when I first dove into it. This exploration that began with Maslow and then led, in turn, to Rollo May and the Dalai Lama has at times seemed more like a post-graduate course than a casual read. Although I’ve enjoyed the challenge and learned more than I have in awhile, all three have inspired considerable outside reading on the internet in order to understand what was being said by one of these authors. I suspect I’ll be following threads that I picked up here for a considerable length of time, and I’m sure I’ll be picking up another of the Dalai Lama’s books shortly, too.

I didn’t find a single idea in the last two chapters I disagreed with. The biggest problem is not citing all the ideas I agree with. The chapter entitled “Ethics and the New Genetics” looks at one final aspect of science. Although the Dalai Lama states that he has no complaint about genetic studies in general, like many common citizens he has some reservations about how those studies should be applied in the real world because he worries about the long-term effects:

But by doing these things, we are changing the genetic makeup, and do we really know what the long-term impact will be on the species of plants, on the soil, on the environment? There are obvious commercial benefits, but how do we judge what is really useful? The complex web of interdependence that characterizes the environment makes it seem beyond our capacity to predict.

Like me, he worries about introducing rapid changes into a ecosystem that has evolved over centuries:

Genetic changes have happened slowly over hundreds of thousands of years of natural evolution. The evolution of the human brain has occurred over millions of years. By actively manipulating the gene, we are on the cusp of forcing an unnaturally quick rate of change in animals and plants as well as our own species. This is not to say that we should turn our backs on developments in this area-it is simply to point out that we must become aware of the awesome implications of this new area of science. But with the new era in biogenetic science, the gap between moral reasoning and our technological capacities has reached a critical point. The rapid increase of human knowledge and the technological possibilities emerging in the new genetic science are such that it is now almost impossible for ethical thinking to keep pace with these changes. Much of what is soon going to be possible is less in the form of new breakthroughs or paradigms in science than in the development of new technological options combined with the financial calculations of business and the political and economic calculations of governments. The issue is no longer whether we should or should not acquire knowledge and explore its technological potentials. Rather, the issue is how to use this new knowledge and power in the most expedient and ethically responsible manner.

It’s hard not to agree that with “the new era in biogenetic science, the gap between moral reasoning and our technological capacities has reached a critical point.” On Facebook I’ve pointed to several articles that question whether the use of Bayer products are the source of problems with the destruction of bee colonies. It’s all to obvious that when it comes to a conflict between economics and “ethically responsible behavior” that economics, more often than not, take priority.

The Dalai Lama, and perhaps rightfully so, is even more concerned when it comes to the use of genetic cloning when it comes to humans:

In principle, I have no objection to cloning as such-as a technological instrument for medical and therapeutic purposes. As in all these cases, what must govern one’s decisions is the question of compassionate motivation. However, regarding the idea of deliberately breeding semi-human beings for spare parts, I feel an immediate, instinctive revulsion. I once saw a BBC documentary which simulated such creatures through computer animation, with some distinctively recognizable human features. I was horrified. Some people might feel this is an irrational emotional reaction that need not be taken seriously. But I believe we must trust our instinctive feelings of revulsion, as these arise out of our basic humanity.

It seems to me that “revulsion” is a good minimum standard for judging biogenetic manipulation, but it’s obvious that we are going to need higher standards than that, as the Dalai Lama points out:

Today’s challenges are so great-and the dangers of the misuse of technology so global, entailing a potential catastrophe for all humankind-that I feel we need a moral compass we can use collectively without getting bogged down in doctrinal differences. One key factor that we need is a holistic and integrated outlook at the level of human society that recognizes the fundamentally interconnected nature of all living beings and their environment. Such a moral compass must entail preserving our human sensitivity and will depend on us constantly bearing in mind our fundamental human values. We must be willing to be revolted when science-or for that matter any human activity-crosses the line of human decency, and we must fight to retain the sensitivity that is otherwise so easily eroded.

He ends his discussion of genetics on a note

The fate of the human species, perhaps of all life on this planet, is in our hands. In the face of the great unknown, would it not be better to err on the side of caution than to transform the course of human evolution in an irreversibly damaging direction?

that I often use when discussing Climate Change, formerly Global Warming. Climate Change is a theory, a prediction, but only a fool wouldn’t hedge his bet when the stakes are that high. Climate deniers claim environmentalists want to stop “progress,” but I would argue that what they really want is sustainable progress.

In conclusion, the Dalai Lama tries to tie his discussion of the three great areas of science with his own beliefs:

The insights of science have enriched many aspects of my own Buddhist worldview. Einstein’s theory of relativity, with its vivid thought experiments, has given an empirically tested texture to my grasp of Nagarjuna’s theory of the relativity of time. The extraordinarily detailed picture of the behavior of subatomic particles at the minutest levels imaginable brings home the Buddha’s teaching on the dynamically transient nature of all things. The discovery of the genome all of us share throws into sharp relief the Buddhist view of the fundamental equality of all human beings.

It’s definitely refreshing to have a religious leader address scientific thinking in such a thoughtful way, while still willing to state his reservations about what is happening:

Throughout this book, I hope I have made the case that one can take science seriously and accept the validity of its empirical findings without subscribing to scientific materialism. I have argued for the need for and possibility of a worldview grounded in science, yet one that does not deny the richness of human nature and the validity of modes of knowing other than the scientific. I say this because I believe strongly that there is an intimate connection between one’s conceptual understanding of the world, one’s vision of human existence and its potential, and the ethical values that guide one’s behavior. How we view ourselves and the world around us cannot help but affect our attitudes and our relations with our fellow beings and the world we live in. This is in essence a question of ethics.

Cultural Shock

Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that the way we see things often depends on what we are looking for. It’s easy to forget that the way we classify things depends on our purpose. The Dalai Lama argues that one of the fundamental reasons Buddhist psychology and Western psychology see people differently is because their overall aim is quite different:

The principal aim of Buddhist psychology is not to catalog the mind’s makeup or even to describe how the mind functions; rather its fundamental concern is to overcome suffering, especially psychological and emotional afflictions, and to clear those afflictions.

Of course, most of us are probably aware of this at one time or another in our life, but over time it’s easy to forget. For instance, when I considered turning to a Psychology major many years ago I was bothered by the fact that psychology seemed overly concerned with abnormal behavior, and I wondered how you could develop sound psychological theories without also focusing on those who were “well-adjusted,” not to mention those who were also successful.

The Dalai Lama points out other critical social concepts that make it unlikely that Buddhist and Western psychologists would see a patient in the same light and wonders if modern technology will ever be able to differentiate between accurate and inaccurate perceptions:

So when a perception occurs, it is not a case of simple mirroring in the mind of what is outside but rather a complex process of organization that takes place to make sense of what are technically infinite amounts of information. These are all cases where the illusion is conditioned by very immediate circumstances. But there is a whole category of more complex conditions for false cognitions, such as the belief in an autonomous self or the belief that the self or other conditioned phenomena are permanent. During an experience, there’s no way to distinguish between accurate and deluded perception. It’s only in hindsight that we can make this distinction. It is in effect the subsequent experiences derived from such cognitions that help determine whether they are valid or invalid. It would be interesting to know whether neuroscience will be able to differentiate between accurate and inaccurate perceptions at the level of brain activity.

With such different basic beliefs, it’s not surprising that Buddhists and Westerners do not, perhaps, cannot, see the world in the same way. But this doesn’t seem too shocking to me. It’s impossible to study modern literature without reaching some of the same conclusions. Works like Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury address some of these issues, and it’s impossible to read modern literature widely without being exposed to moral relativism.

I was, though, more shocked when I read that:

Neither Sanskrit nor classical Tibetan has a word for “emotion” as the concept is used in modern languages and cultures. This is not to say that the idea of emotion does not exist, nor does it imply that Indians and Tibetans do not experience emotions. Just as Westerners feel joy at good news, sadness at a personal loss, and fear in the face of danger, so do the Indians and the Tibetans. Perhaps the reasons for the lack of such a word have to do with the history of philosophical thinking and psychological analysis in India and Tibet. Buddhist psychology did not differentiate cognitive from emotional states in the way Western thought differentiated the passions from reason. From the Buddhist perspective, the distinctions between afflictive and non-afflictive mental states are more important than the difference between cognition and emotions. Discerning intelligence, closely associated with reason, may be afflictive (for example, in the cunning planning of an act of murder), whereas a passionate state of mind, such as overwhelming compassion, may be a highly virtuous, non-afflictive state. Moreover, the emotions of both joy and sorrow may be afflictive or non-afflictive, destructive or beneficial, depending on the context in which they arise. When we turn to the afflictive mental processes, the list is fuller, largely because these are what need to be purified by the person aspiring to enlightenment in Buddhism. There are six root mental afflictions: attachment or craving, anger (which includes hate), pride or conceit, ignorance, afflictive doubt, and afflictive views. Of these, the first three have a strong emotional component. Then there are twenty derivative afflictions: wrath, resentment, spite, envy or jealousy, and cruelty (these are derived from anger); meanness, inflated self-esteem, excitement including surprise, concealment of one’s own vices, and mental dullness (these are derived from attachment); lack of confidence, sloth, forgetfulness, and lack of attention (these are derived from ignorance); pretentiousness, deceit, shamelessness, lack of consideration for others, heedlessness, and distraction (these are derived from the combination of ignorance and attachment). Clearly many of the mental factors enumerated here can be identified with emotions. Finally, in the list of fifty-one, there is a group of four mental factors referred to as the “changeables.” These are sleep, regret, investigation, and minute analysis. They are called changeables because, depending on the state of mind, they can be wholesome, unwholesome, or neutral.

I’m so immersed in my own culture it’s difficult to understand why “Buddhist psychology would not differentiate cognitive from emotional states in the way Western thought differentiated the passions from reason,” though that statement makes me question in what ways cognitive and emotional states really are different. Unfortunately, by the time the Dalai Lama finishes listing the fifty-one mental afflictions, I feel totally lost.

If that weren’t enough, the Dalai Lama warns that the Buddhist distinction between “wholesome and unwholesome emotions” would not be the same a the Western distinction:

It is most important to be sensitive to the differing contexts in which Buddhist and Western psychology provide treatment of the emotions. We must not confuse the Buddhist distinction between the wholesome and the unwholesome emotions with Western psychology’s distinction between the positive and the negative emotions. In Western thought, positive and negative are defined in terms of how one feels when particular emotions occur. For example, fear is negative because it brings about an unpleasant feeling of disturbance.

The Buddhist differentiation between unwholesome or afflictive and wholesome mental factors is based on the roles these factors play in relation to the acts they give rise to-in other words, one’s ethical well-being. For instance, attachment may feel enjoyable but is regarded as afflictive since it involves the kind of blind clinging, based on self-centeredness, which can motivate one to harmful action. Fear is neutral and indeed changeable in that it may spur one to wholesome or unwholesome behavior depending on the circumstances.

I certainly don’t completely understand the Buddhist perspective, though my previous reading about Buddhism gives me an inkling of what the Dalai Lama is pointing out. Though I’ve encountered a number of the underlying Buddhist ideas, like “attachment,” I’d never really considered how these basic beliefs would ripple through so many other fields of thought, giving the viewer a completely different perspective.

A Study of Consciousness

One of the Dalai Lama’s goals is to bring about the scientific study of skills that Tibetan Buddhists have been focusing on for centuries, and, while religious aspects may be part of the reason why science has hesitated to study them, the main problem with applying science to the study of consciousness is that most of what goes on in consciousness is not observable to outsiders. For the most part, observers have to rely on the individual to tell the observer what has occurred inside his head:

In order for the study of consciousness to be complete, we need a methodology that would account not only for what is occurring at the neurological and biochemical levels but also for the subjective experience of consciousness itself. Even when combined, neuroscience and behavioral psychology do not shed enough light on the subjective experience, as both approaches still place primary importance on the objective, third-person perspective. Contemplative traditions on the whole have historically emphasized subjective, first-person investigation of the nature and functions of consciousness, by training the mind to focus in a disciplined way on its own internal states. Scientific experimentation on human subjects raises numerous ethical issues, a problem which the scientific community takes most seriously. For the hermits who have chosen a life of solitude in the mountains, there is the added complication that such experimentation constitutes a profound intrusion into their lives and spiritual practice. It is not surprising that initially many were reluctant. Apart from anything else, most simply couldn’t see the point, other than satisfying the curiosity of some odd men carrying machines. However, I felt very strongly (and still do feel) that the application of science to understanding the consciousness of meditators is most important, and I made a great effort to persuade the hermits to allow the experiments to take place. I argued that they should undergo the experiments out of altruism; if the good effects of quieting the mind and cultivating wholesome mental states can be demonstrated scientifically, this may have beneficial results for others.

Of course, it is precisely these beneficial results that have already attracted many Westerners to various forms of Eastern meditation and exercise. It’s this popularity that seems to have drawn the attention of science.

In the 70’s Dr Herbert Benson advocated a form of secular meditation called the Relaxation Response after observing its positive effects:

Already experiments have shown that experienced meditators have more activity in the left frontal lobe, the part of the brain associated with positive emotions, such as happiness, joy, and contentment. These findings imply that happiness is something we can cultivate deliberately through mental training that affects the brain. This law whereby two opposing states cannot coexist without one undermining the other is the key premise in the Buddhist argument for the transformability of consciousness-it means that the cultivation of loving-kindness can over a period diminish the force of hate in the mind. Further, Dharmakirti argues that the removal of a basic condition will remove its effects. So that, by eliminating the cold, for example, one effectively removes all its attendant results, such as goose pimples, shivering, and chattering teeth.

I don’t really remember when I started meditating, but I know I started by doing yoga exercises and gradually adding meditation exercises. The meditation was my way of rewarding myself for doing my exercise consistently. I don’t think I ever equated my meditation with happiness, but it helped to eliminate tension, creating a sense of contentment. In many ways it seemed like a form of self-hypnosis, something I’d encountered even earlier when a dentist used hypnosis to relax me before giving me a Novocain shot or cleaning my teeth. If I hadn’t gone into the army I would never have switched that doctor; I always felt better after I left his office than I did before I went in.

Though I’m not sure I agree with the argument that “two opposing states cannot coexist without one undermining the other,” but I do agree with a Buddhist notion that seems to contradict much Christian philosophy:

These treatises themselves draw on the notion of Buddha nature, the natural potential for perfection that lies in all sentient beings (including animals). The Sublime Continuum and Nagarjuna’s Praise offer two principal theses for the basic transformability of mind toward a positive end. The first is the conviction that all negative traits of the mind may be purified by applying the appropriate antidotes. This means that the pollutants of the mind are not seen as essential or intrinsic to it and that the mind’s essential nature is pure. From the scientific point of view, these are metaphysical assumptions. The second is that the capacity for positive transformation lies naturally within the constitution of the mind itself-which follows the first thesis.

This is one of the basic tenants of Christian Science, and though I wasn’t raised in the church, I was raised with that basic belief system. In fact, one of my biggest arguments against conservative Christians is the idea that man in born inherently evil. At times I’ve wondered if “tabula rasa”isn’t the real state of man when born, but every time I’ve spent time with a small child I end up thinking babies are as innocent as angels. I find the idea that a child would spend eternity in in hell unless they’re baptized an abomination.

I don’t think I could have spent a lifetime teaching if I hadn’t believed that in some form of plasticity of the brain:

Buddhism has long had a theory of what in neuroscience is called the “plasticity of the brain.” The Buddhist terms in which this concept is couched are radically different from those used by cognitive science, but what is significant is that both perceive consciousness as highly amenable to change. The concept of neuroplasticity suggests that the brain is highly malleable and is subject to continual change as a result of experience, so that new connections between neurons may be formed or even brand-new neurons generated. Research in this area specifically includes work on virtuosos- athletes, chess players, and musicians-whose intense training has been shown to result in observable changes in the brain. These kinds of subjects are interestingly parallel to skilled meditators, who are also virtuosos, and whose dedication to their practice involves a similar commitment of time and effort.

It seems that even scientists are beginning to suspect that meditation may well change the brain.

The Dalai Lama describes two forms of meditation, the first,

One of the most basic mental trainings is the cultivation of mindfulness, especially performed on the basis of observing one’s breath. Mindfulness is essential if one is to become consciously aware in a disciplined manner of whatever phenomena may occur within the mind or one’s immediate environment. In our normal state, our mind remains unfocused for most of the time and our thoughts move from one object to another in a random and dissipated manner. By cultivating mindfulness, we learn first to become aware of this process of dissipation, so that we can gently fine-tune the mind to follow a more directed path toward the objects on which we wish to focus. Traditionally, the breath is seen as an ideal instrument for the practice of mindfulness. The great advantage of choosing one’s breath as the object of mindfulness training is that breathing is an instinctive and effortless activity, something which we do as long we are alive, so there is no need to strive hard to find the object of this practice. In its developed form, mindfulness also brings about a highly refined sensitivity to everything that happens, however minute, in one’s immediate vicinity and in one’s mind.

I’m quite familiar with. In fact, focusing on the breath was the first yogic meditation I learned. More recently, I’ve been using a commercial machine to help me learn to lower my breath rate. I’m not sure it’s helped lower my blood pressure as it claims, but I know it does help me to relax, sometimes to the point that I can’t get much done right after I’ve gone through a session of it.

I’m really not familiar, though with this second form of meditation,

Another practice for the development of attention is single-pointed concentration. Here the observer may choose any kind of object, external or internal, but something that he or she can easily conjure the image of. The training proceeds with the deliberate placement of one’s attention on the chosen object and the attempt to hold that attention as long as possible. This practice involves primarily the use of two faculties, mindfulness (which keeps the mind tied to the object) and introspective vigilance, which discerns whether distraction occurs in the mind and whether the vividness of the mind’s focus has become lax. At the heart of this practice lies the development of two qualities of the disciplined mind-the stability of prolonged attention and the clarity or vividness with which the mind can perceive the object. In addition, the practitioner needs to learn to maintain equanimity, so that he or she does not apply excessive introspection onto the object, which would distort the object or destabilize mental composure.

but I’d like to learn more about it. I know even less about what the Dalai Lama calls “insight:”

We must acquire the skill of probing the nature and characteristics of the object of our observation with as much precision as possible. This second-level training is known in the Buddhist literature as insight (vipushyana in Sanskrit, lhak thong in Tibetan). In tranquil abiding the emphasis is on holding one’s focus without distraction, and single-pointedness is the key quality being sought. In insight the emphasis is on discerning investigation and analysis while maintaining one-pointedness without distraction. Impermanence is chosen as a worthy object of meditation in Buddhism because, although we may understand it intellectually, we mostly do not behave as though we have integrated this awareness. A combination of analysis and concentration on this topic brings the insight to life so that we appreciate the preciousness of every moment of our existence.

Reading Buddhist descriptions of the various forms of meditation reminds me of how many different words the Eskimo language has for “snow.” Which, in turn, probably suggests that we Westerners know as little about meditation and different levels of consciousness as we do about the various qualities of snow.

A Buddhist View of Consciousness

Considering that the next three chapters all have to do with Consciousness, I suspect that the Dalai Lama is just hitting his stride in Chapter 6: The Question of Consciousness. It’s these sections that most attracted me to the book after I finished Maslow’s book calling for a reconciliation of science, psychology, and religion.

The first paragraph evokes the richness of the conscious experience:

The joy of meeting someone you love, the sadness of losing a close friend, the richness of a vivid dream, the serenity of a walk through a garden on a spring day, the total absorption of a deep meditative state-these things and others like them constitute the reality of our experience of consciousness. Regardless of the content of any one of these experiences, no one in his or her right mind would doubt their reality. Any experience of consciousness-from the most mundane to the most elevated-has a certain coherence and, at the same time, a high degree of privacy, which means that it always exists from a particular point of view. The experience of consciousness is entirely subjective. The paradox, however, is that despite the indubitable reality of our subjectivity and thousands of years of philosophical examination, there is little consensus on what consciousness is. Science, with its characteristic third-person method-the objective perspective from the outside-has made strikingly little headway in this understanding.

There is, however, a growing recognition that the study of consciousness is becoming a most exciting area of scientific investigation. At the same time, there is a growing acknowledgment that modern science does not yet possess a fully developed methodology to investigate the phenomenon of consciousness.

Considering modern society’s reliance on “Science,” it does seem hard to believe that it still doesn’t have a methodology to investigate experiences this vital to our well-being. Science, particularly medical science, obviously plays a major part in keep us well, but it is our conscious experiences that allow us to thrive.

The Dalai Lama attributes part of this lack of scientific progress to the limits of language in dealing with subjective experiences:

Perhaps it is because of these difficulties-the limits of language in dealing with the subjective-that many of the early Buddhist texts explain the nature of consciousness in terms of metaphors such as light or a flowing river. As the primary feature of light is to illuminate, so consciousness is said to illuminate its objects. Just as in light there is no categorical distinction between the illumination and that which illuminates, so in consciousness there is no real difference between the process of knowing or cognition and that which knows or cognizes. In consciousness, as in light, there is a quality of illumination.

Even in attempting to bring peak experiences into the psychological domain, Maslow pointed out that in talking to people about peak experiences that he had to resort to metaphors and “poetic” language. Anyone who’s ever been asked to rate their “pain” on a scale of 1-10 realizes just how difficult it is to quantify some feelings. Moans and screams often seem more accurate measures than any mathematical scale. Personally, I’ve always measured my pain on how loudly I yell “F***” when it occurs. If I can’t manage to utter it at all, it will probably be a “10,” the last pain I ever feel.

My mind got stretched just a little further when the Dalai Lama introduced Karl Popper and the Buddhist classification of reality:

In talking about mental phenomena which, according to Buddhist understanding, have the two defining characteristics of luminosity and knowing, there is a danger that one might assume Buddhism is proposing a version of Cartesian dualism namely, that there are two independent substances, one called “matter” and the other called “mind.” To allay any possible confusion, I feel a little digression on the basic classification of reality proposed in Buddhist philosophy is necessary. Buddhism suggests that there are three fundamentally distinct aspects or features of the world of conditioned things, the world in which we live:

1. Matter-physical objects

2. Mind-subjective experiences

3. Abstract composites-mental formations

After a short discussion of these concepts the Dalai Lama points out that this classification seems quite similar to the influential English philosopher Karl Popper:

I gather that this taxonomy of reality, which goes back to the earliest phases of Buddhism’s philosophical tradition, is almost identical to that proposed by Karl Popper. Popper called them, “the first world,” “the second world,” and “the third world.” By these he meant (1) the world of things or physical objects; (2) the world of subjective experiences, including thought processes; and (3) the world of statements in themselves-the content of thoughts as opposed to the mental process. It is striking that Popper, whom I know had no background in Buddhist thought, arrived at an almost identical classification of the categories of reality. Had I known this curious convergence between his thought and Buddhism in the times I met with Popper, I would certainly have pursued it with him.

One of the reasons I’ve been rather slow turning out these daily entries is that I’ve taken the time to provide background to the Dalai Lama’s ideas. I spent some time yesterday following Jeff’s link to recent discussion of “altruism” and much of this morning reading about Karl Popper’s philosophy. At the very least, I’ve managed to remind myself how profoundly ignorant I truly am, at least when it comes to the world of philosophy.

I’m still not sure my mind will stretch enough to get around the Buddhist “principal categories of cause:”

Crucial to understanding the Buddhist concept of consciousness-and its rejection of the reducibility of mind to matter-is its theory of causation. The issue of causality has long been a major focus of philosophical and contemplative analysis in Buddhism. Buddhism proposes two principal categories of cause. These are the “substantial cause” and the “contributory or complementary cause.” Take the example of a clay pot. The substantial cause refers to the “stuff’ that turns into a particular effect, namely, the clay that becomes the pot. By contrast, all the other factors that contribute toward bringing about the pot-such as the skill of the potter, the potter himself, and the kiln that fired the clay-remain complementary in that they make it possible for the clay to turn into the pot. This distinction between the substantial and the contributory cause of a given event or object is of the utmost importance for understanding the Buddhist theory of consciousness. According to Buddhism, though consciousness and matter can and do contribute toward the origination of each other, one can never become a substantial cause of the other.

This reminds me of the terms “substantial” and “unsubstantial” as used in Tai Chi, a physical concept I find as difficult to understand as the Buddhist version of causation. To me “the pot” is simply the “effect” of other causes, not a “substantial cause,” though perhaps the desire to produce a pot is the “ultimate cause” that causes all the other causes.

Rather than rejecting science out of hand because of the difficulty of reconciling the two, the Dalai Lama argues that a collaboration is possible:

Here I feel a close collaboration between modern science and the contemplative traditions, such as Buddhism, could prove beneficial. Buddhism has a long history of investigation into the nature of mind and its various aspects-this is effectively what Buddhist meditation and its critical analysis constitute. Unlike that of modern science, Buddhism’s approach has been primarily from first-person experience. The contemplative method, as developed by Buddhism, is an empirical use of introspection, sustained by rigorous training in technique and robust testing of the reliability of experience. All meditatively valid subjective experiences must be verifiable both through repetition by the same practitioner and through other individuals being able to attain the same state by the same practice. If they are thus verified, such states may be taken to be universal, at any rate for human beings.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the Dalai Lama feels this collaboration can take place. Hopefully you are, too.