Dharamshala: This morning at the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a group of people from various fields of study gathered to discuss and deliberate on ‘Mind and Life’ particularly focusing on compassion, interconnection, and transformation with His Holiness.
This is the 14th Mind and Life conference in Dharamshala with His Holiness convened by Mind and Life Institute.
His Holiness began his address by emphasisng that whenever he gives a talk on Nalanda tradition he ensures to assert that Nalanda tradition is not simply a religion born out of faith rather a practice of experiment and investigation thus Nalanda tradition is very distinct and relevant to today’s world.
He affirms that he respects all religious traditions as different traditions help to promote love and kindness. But in the philosophical field Buddha’s teaching is something he finds very unique.
“Buddha’s teaching encourages to utilise the human brain to its full capacity,” said His Holiness.
His Holiness maintained that meeting such as this one with modern science experts should be encouraged as he often feels that modern science can sometimes be inadequate to the study of mind even if it is precise and well-researched in the matter of other subjects. He necessitated the need for more scientific research on the inner world particularly the mind.
“Rapid material development is taking place and scientific knowledge is also highly developed but at what cost. Have we achieved true happiness yet? We are dealing with a lot of problems in the world the majority of which are our own creations. The scientific knowledge which is meant to solve problems of society is partially being misused to cause serious repercussions” attested His Holiness.
In addition, His Holiness called on the concept of ‘us’ and ‘them’ as one that is shortsighted and narrow-minded which contributes much to the world’s problems.
“Since we are dealing with the problems created by us it is only logical that we have to find solutions to reduce if not eliminate the entire problems,” said His Holiness.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama explaining his own take on the theory of evolutionary study. Photo:Screengrab
His Holiness asserted that even scientists on many occasions have declared that basic human nature is compassionate considering that humans are social animals.
“So where are we going wrong? Here I must stress that the modern education system is inadequate and insufficient to the modern social requirement like warm-heartedness. We have this marvelous human brain that can do wonder if combined with warm-heartedness. On the contrary, if this human intelligence gets intertwined with negative emotions such as anger then destruction is the only answer ” exclaimed His Holiness.
His Holiness convinced that only education through scientific research will be able to convince people of the importance of warm-heartedness. He noted that Science has the potential to explain
that warmheartedness brings out positivity within oneself and the surrounding.
Moderator Susan Bauer convened the discussion by explaining the themes of two-day dialogue-compassion, interconnectedness, and transformation. She presented the key speaker David Sloan Wilson an esteemed evolutionary biologist and distinguished professor from Binghampton University, USA.
Prof. David began his presentation by explaining the study of evolution in three words- variation (everything that can be measured), selection, and replication (passing of traits from one organism to another)
He mentioned that this theory can help explain all aspects of life.
“50 years ago the evolutionary theory wasn’t as advanced as it is now. The study was confined to the study of genetics only and it was widely perceived that the study of evolution was selfish in a way it claimed true altruism was thought not to evolve at all and assumed that evolution had no purpose” said the speaker.
He further explained that 50 years ago the theory had very little to offer to the study of compassion, personal transformation, and ethics. However, he asserted that today’s theory of evolution is advanced and relevant so as to include the study of cultural change, personal transformation, and ethics.
“Altruism, compassion can evolve as a product of evolution. This new theory of evolution has so much more to offer to the study of compassion, interconnection, and transformation” he said.
Participants including experts and scholars from various fields. Photo:Screengrab
He informed about the theory that can explain both the evolution of goodness and its limitation.
His Holiness then intercepted and asked, “The origin of life on earth began from the same source which gradually led to the creation of inorganic objects on hand and organisms that supports consciousness on the other. How does science explain that trajectory?”.
Speaker David Wilson answered His Holiness and explained that It was due to the major evolutionary transitions involving molecular chemical reactions which gives rise to organisms that support consciousness.
he said, “Anything that doesn’t involve the process of variation, selection and replication isn’t life”.
In continuation, His Holiness spoke on the existence of consciousness besides the body which he said have been proven by many cases of people of recollecting their past lives. Speaking further he said that the body is something that is acquired through a biological process but the consciousness remains the same throughout the cycle of life. To support his statement, His Holiness recounted his own case when he was young and had been selected as the 14th Dalai Lama.
“As such, if this phenomenon is somewhat factual, we need more scientific research on this,” said His Holiness the Dalai Lama as he maintained that such phenomenon cannot purely be explained by material perception.
The first-day dialogue on mind and life concluded on some deeper understanding of the critical issues of the day which will be further dealt upon the second day with Speaker Pumla Gobodo-Madilkizela who is a social scientist and clinical psychologist. The second day of dialogue with His Holiness on mind and life will resume on Friday, 2 November 2019.
Mind and Life Institute has been at the forefront of contemplative studies, beginning a series Dialogues between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and western scientists and scholars where each of the presenters shares key aspects of their lif’s work-related critical issues of the day.
A participant asking a question to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.