His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Final Day of Mind & Life XXX
Dicembre 18th, 2015 by admin

Final Day of Mind & Life XXX, Perceptions, Concepts and Self

Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India, 17 December 2015 – Roshi Joan Halifax opened the final morning session today saying how grateful the Mind & Life participants were to have had the opportunity to explore perception, concepts and self here at Sera Lachi. She invited Ven Mathieu Ricard and Richie Davidson to talk about ‘Self and Ethics, the Science of Altruism’.

Ven Mathieu Ricard delivering his presentation during the final day of the Mind & Life XXX conference at Sera Monastery in Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India on December 17, 2015. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

Ricard began by asking how we can work together to create a better world. He said there are those who might ask “Why should I care for future generations? they’ve done nothing for me.” One answer is that our concept of self is linked to a constantly changing stream of consciousness. Based on an understanding of interdependence we increase our concern for others. This is altruism, the wish that others have happiness and the causes of happiness.

Others may respond that altruism is a naive or utopian attitude. They say it has no relevance to economics or politics. But this is to see things only from a short term perspective. A longer term view takes future generations into account. We need a sense of concern for others when you think of the poverty in the midst of plenty that we find in the 36 richest countries in the world. We also need to take account of how we have hugely exceeded planetary boundaries in relation to climate change and are heading towards the 6th extinction. In Tibet, the permafrost is melting which will release methane into the atmosphere, which is more serious that CO2. The meat industry treats animals as objects. His Holiness acknowledged this is where selfishness leads.

Ricard asked, “What can we do?” He quoted Freud as describing most human beings as rascals, while the writer Ayn Rand said, “I consider altruism is evil.” Faced with such views, we tend to take basic human goodness for granted. The reality is that people enjoy cooperating. Cooperation is more important than competition. In the struggle to survive, it is better to struggle together than against each other. Ricard quoted Martin Luther King Jr as saying, “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness”. He outlined the activities of the Karuna – Shechen Foundation in Nepal and Tibet.

Richie Davidson speaking on the science of altruism during the final day of the Mind & Life XXX conference at Sera Monastery in Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India on December 17, 2015. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

Richie Davidson approached the idea of a science of altruism under four headings: resilience, positive outlook, attention and generosity. In relation to resilience, which involves the amygdale, people recover more quickly from stress. It turns out that altruists have an enlarged amygdale. His Holiness wanted to know if they were altruists because of that, or whether the amygdale was enlarged because of their altruism. He also wanted to know if there was any medication to secure such an enlargement.

Since a wandering mind is an unhappy mind, attention has a role in happiness. Davidson said that to achieve plasticity, practices to improve attention combined with aerobic exercise are effective. His Holiness asked what he had to said about rising numbers of cases of suicide, especially in cities as opposed to rural areas.

Thinking back to Ayn Rand’s quoted remark about altruism, His Holiness suggested that the words had all the marks of a distorted view, in contrast to which he quoted Shantideva:
Whatever joy there is in this world
All comes from desiring others to be happy,
And whatever suffering there is in this world
All comes from desiring myself to be happy.

Geshe Dadul Namgyal speaking on the approach to translation and formation of scientific terms in Tibetan during the Mind & Life XXX conference at Sera Monastery in Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India on December 17, 2015. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

The first presentations in the afternoon focused largely on the science for monks project. Geshe Lhakdor showed an informative video about the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, of which he is the Director. The Library has had an important role liasing for the Tibetan side of the Emory-Tibet science project. Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi who is on the Emory side of the project explained that the Emory Tibet partnership was inaugurated in 1998. LTWA became a major collaborator in 2006. Geshe Dadul Namgyal made remarks about the scrupulous approach that has been taken to the translation and formation of appropriate scientific terms in Tibetan. Yansi Rinpoche spoke briefly about the importance of accreditation for centres of learning.
In response to a pie chart illustrating a survey of monks’ attitudes to the introduction of science in their syllabus, which showed that there continues to be some reluctance, His Holiness intervened.

“There are several questions to ask. How does the introduction of science affect the amount of time monks have to study. The second is whether science undermines their study of the Dharma. If their practice is rooted in faith, then it might undermine it. But if their studies are based on reason, they should be unaffected. Paying attention to the Two Truths and the Four Noble Truths and their 16 characteristics it should be possible to make an understanding of reality relevant to their lives. If your studies are grounded in critical reflection, there should not be any problem.

Members of the audience watching His Holiness the Dalai Lama on a TV monitor speaking during the Mind & Life XXX conference at Sera Monastery in Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India on December 17, 2015. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

“When Ling Rinpoche first visited the West and encountered the glittering attractions of the world, he was quite unaffected, because he was firmly grounded in the Dharma.”

His Holiness recalled that in the early days when he visited the settlements here in South India, there used to be more students memorizing texts at night. He speculated that the possession of various digital devices has put paid to that.

“Don’t blame me for taking up your time by introducing science into the monasteries,” he said.

John Dunn gave a succinct review of the presentations that have take place over the last four days. Then, Roshi Joan Halifax asked the presenters if they had any brief comments to make about their experience at this meeting.
Thupten Jinpa began, responding to His Holiness’s remarks about why science in the monasteries should not undermine the monks’ studies, but contribute to their education instead. He declared that although no longer a monk himself, the monks’ way of life is something he still cares about. Lera Boroditsky commented that as a scientist she is surprised how little is known about the mind. John Dunn asked, “How do we change our view, can we do much about it?” Pawan Sinha spoke up for the idea of compassionate science, science involving heart and mind.
Vasu Reddy looked forward to subjects being treated to the more respectful ‘thou’. Jay Garfield was gratified by the idea tha philosophy too could be a force for good. Geshe Yeshe Thapke remarked that what is important to all kinds of knowledge I respect. Mathieu Ricard recalled His Holiness’s words from the Mind & Life meeting of 2000, “what can we contribute to humanity, our purpose is to help others”.
Catherine Kerr was struck by His Holiness’s stressing that there is a sense of urgency. Carol Worthman noted that we need to transform how we teach. Roshi Joan Halifax agreed that there is a sense of urgency as we reach a tipping point in climate change. Richie Davidson spoke for everyone when he said, “The work we do is dedicated to the welfare of others. Your Holiness, may your life be long and may you continue to inspire us as we meet again”.

Mind & Life Institute President Susan Bauer-Wu thanking the many people involved in organizing and participating in the Mind & Life XXX conference at Sera Monastery in Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India on December 17, 2015.
Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

Susan Bauer-Wu expressed extended thanks, acknowledging what a joy it had been to take part in this meeting just two weeks after becoming President of Mind & Life. She thanked His Holiness and the Abbots of Sera Jey and Mey Monasteries and went on to thank the Dalai Lama Trust and the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. She offered special thanks to the Library of Tibetan Works & Archives who translated all the powerpoint slides into Tibetan. She thanked the AV crew for their support. She acknowledged the contribution to Mind & Life activities of the Hershey family. She thanked the M&L board and staff.
His Holiness offered the final words:
“In the beginning this dialogue took place at my wish. But when I saw what a benefit it could be for the monks I thought we should try to hold meetings in the monastic institutions where thousands are studying. I saw an opportunity for the extension of knowledge.
“We face many problems, many of them man-made. It is our responsibility to solve them. We need to use our human intelligence to do this. Of course, we all have a limited life span and I am now in my 81st year. We are talking about coming to see things differently. No one seeks out suffering; everyone just wants to be happy. But out of short-sightedness we hatch plans that bring us trouble. We need to find human solutions. We need to consider the needs of coming generations. There is no need for you to thank me, let’s hope generations of the 22nd and 23rd century generations will thank us.
“All Tibetan Buddhist knowledge is ultimately derived from India, but many Indians today are becoming so Westernised that they neglect these ancient sources. I have no intention of propagating Buddhism. Our real responsibility is to find a new approach, a more holistic view so the generation of the present 21st century have the opportunity to make this a happier more peaceful world. Thank you.”
Sera Monastery will, tomorrow, make a Long Life Offering to His Holiness.–life-xxx-perceptions-concepts-and-self

Comments are closed

»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa