Mind and Life Institute
Winter 2013 Newsletter
Cover Photos: Michel Bitbol at Mind and Life XXVI; Drepung Loseling Q&A session at Mind and Life XXVI;
Lis Neilsen and His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Mind and Life XXV
1 – Letter from the President
2 – Mind and Life Strategic Vision
3 – Mind and Life Europe – New Directions and Opportunities
4 – Scientific and Buddhist Thought Meet in South India
5 – Al Kaszniak Retires from Mind and Life Chief Academic Officer Position
6 – Mind and Life to Launch New Initiative on Secular Ethics
7 – Mind and Life Celebrates 25 Years, Looks Ahead: A Meeting of Minds
8 – New Board Member: Barry Hershey
9 – Mindfulness in the House of Commons
10 – Visiting Scholars Program and Residential Research Workshops
11 – Arthur Zajonc: Physicist, Contemplative, President
12 – Wendy Hasenkamp: Practitioner, Academic, Contemplative Scientist
13 – Mind and Life Staff
14 – Why Give?
1 – Letter from the President
Letter from the President
As I look back over the last year, I feel deep appreciation and gratitude that I have been permitted to travel with you on this fascinating and critically important journey. It is a trek that has sought to bring together the insights and practices of modern science with those of the contemplative traditions in order to support human flourishing and mitigate suffering. This past year has been one of significant transition at Mind and Life, with the retiring of co-founder and CEO Adam Engle, my appointment as the new President, our move from Boulder, CO to Hadley and Amherst, MA, the creation of a new team, refocusing our vision, defining a cogent strategy for the forthcoming years and implementing several new programs and initiatives.
I am profoundly grateful for your generosity and warm welcome as I work to earn your confidence and collaborate with you to build the Mind and Life community and lead our programs, dialogues and research initiatives.
I am pleased to say, Mind and Life is thriving. We have a committed, skilled and enthusiastic team in our Hadley offices, and as of January we also now have a beautiful house on the campus of Amherst College for our Visiting Scholars Program. We’ve received very significant financial support from existing and new patrons, foundations and donors, including a total of $1,400,000 from the Dalai Lama himself (see press release online at www.mindandlife.org), as well as a $3 million pledge from an anonymous donor. Donations whether large or small are deeply appreciated and are essential for the operations, programs and new initiatives of Mind and Life. Thank you to all who have supported us with your gifts.
With your input and consideration, we continue to hone our vision and strategy. Many members of the Mind and Life community were able to participate in our October meeting with the Dalai Lama in NYC. From that gathering spring initiatives to promote human flourishing, especially by taking up His Holiness’s call for a “secular ethics,” which is to say the creation of a curriculum and pedagogy that supports the cultivation of core virtues such as compassion, altruism and kindness from early childhood through to adulthood.
As I write this letter, vivid memories echo within me of our groundbreaking meeting with His Holiness and many thousands of monks and nuns at Drepung Monastery in Mundgod, South India.
It was an exciting gathering, the first-ever, large-scale, science-based conference for monastics in such numbers. This meeting was a major step to help realize His Holiness’s vision of bringing science into Tibetan Buddhist monastic education. By all accounts, the meeting was an enormous success.
The entire program has been video archived and can be found at www.mindandlife.org/26.
I am also delighted to say that the development of our strategy and programs in Europe is proceeding extremely well under the direction of Diego Hangartner, with the help of recently hired staff and a distinguished Advisory Group. The first major event in Europe will be a Mind and Life Contemplative Studies Symposium in Berlin, October 10-13, 2013. Information will be available on our website. Plans are also afoot for a European Summer Research Institute in 2014 and a Dalai Lama event in 2015. In addition, we were able to support two research initiatives in the areas of ADHD and the use of first-person methods to investigate the effects of meditation. Finally, we have received a significant grant in support of research into contemplative education practices in Europe.
With the explicit encouragement of His Holiness, Mind and Life is also taking up work in Asia. I have visited several countries in Asia with a lively interest in the work of MLI. Our first initiative will likely be collaboration with the Kokoro Research Center in Kyoto University, Japan. We are exploring joint initiatives such as a Dalai Lama conference on Mapping the Mind next year and a Summer Research Institute after that.
All this is against the background of our normal program of activity that includes the 10th Summer Research Institute in June, three annual awards programs, the next Dharamsala dialogue with His Holiness on Craving and Addiction in October 2013, preparation for an International Contemplative Studies Symposium with His Holiness attending in October 2014 in Boston for 1800 participants, and the opening of our Visiting Scholars Program and Residential Research Workshops at our new MLI House on Amherst College’s campus.
But the most important part of Mind and Life is the community that we have created together, without which none of this would be possible. The sweep of activity is breathtaking, and it all depends on people: Board, staff, MLI Fellows, donors large and small, friends, and you. Therefore, on behalf of our Board, the scientists and contemplatives we work with, and our staff, I would like to offer a heartfelt thank you. We deeply appreciate you for who you are and for what you bring to this circle, and we look forward to continuing our journey together in 2013 and beyond. To gain a sense of our future, please view a short video at www.mindandlife.org/video.
See you there.
With deep gratitude and great joy,
Arthur Zajonc, PhD
President, Mind & Life Institute
Mind and Life Strategic Vision
Understanding the Mind to Alleviate Suffering and Promote Flourishing
With 25 years of experience, Mind and Life carries forward the fine work done by so many while simultaneously expanding its strategic vision with important new initiatives that bring contemplative wisdom and scienceone step closer to human living and being. Building on the investigation of the mind, which has gained significant credibility through the depth of research stimulated by Mind and Life over the last two decades, our vision today includes program initiatives that should give us insight into the origins of suffering and how we can directly affect the alleviation of suffering and promote human flourishing.
Central to our vision is a long-term project aimed at Mapping the Mind. Mapping the Mind will encompass research and the gathering and dissemination of wisdom, findings and information from diverse fields including the contemplative traditions, basic and clinical sciences, humanities and social sciences. The goal is to create a more complete understanding or “map” of the inner world of our minds – the nature of our thoughts and emotions – to complement the detailed maps we have of the physical human body and our external world.
This year’s Mind and Life Summer Research Institute will focus on efforts to develop comprehensive maps of the mind and its potential for development and transformation. Such efforts include the development of rich conceptual, phenomenological, and scientifically based taxonomies of mental processes, as well as scientific investigations aimed at understanding functional interrelations between key cognitive, affective, and volitional processes and their behavioral expressions. From this knowledge important implications for translational research in clinical, educational, and other social domains can be discovered.
As we continue to develop these maps, we also remain committed to helping alleviate suffering in its many forms. To this end, we have recently undertaken an initiative to pursue the problem of craving and its related mental and behavioral outcomes by incorporating, from the ground up, contemplative theory and practice in the way the issue is approached by modern science. Stemming from the experience of craving and desire, both commonplace and severely pathological addictions have grown dramatically in today’s world, resulting in enormous human suffering and economic costs. The origins of addictions are complex, and though much has been learned about the neuroscience of reward and addiction using traditional scientific approaches, relatively little of this knowledge has been applied successfully to relieve the great suffering caused by these mental processes.
Buddhism and other contemplative traditions have well-developed theories on attachment and craving, as well as practices meant to mitigate these features of the psyche. Applying first- person introspective methodologies that leverage both modern scientific knowledge and ancient wisdom of contemplative traditions could yield a better understanding of this human condition.
We will be exploring the theme of Craving, Desire and Addiction with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Mind and Life XXVII in Dharamsala, October 2013, joined by 11 distinguished scholars in the fields of neuroscience, anthropology, philosophy, religion, and clinical science. In addition, we are planning a special satellite meeting prior to the next International Symposium for Contemplative Studies in October 2014, specifically devoted to this theme.
In a related initiative, at the request of His Holiness, Mind and Life has embarked on its new work of developing a pedagogy and curriculum in Secular Ethics as part of its mission to promote human flourishing around the globe. (See p. 7 for more information about our Secular Ethics initiative.)
Surrounding this entire field of vision is the Global Mind and Life Community. This network includes the researchers, scholars and contemplatives pursuing the inquiry, as well as our institutional partners, patrons, supporters, friends and followers, now numbering more than 20,000. Our activities to date have reached the United States, Europe and India, and we see the breadth of our community expanding even further in the years to come.
We are excited about this robust and bold strategic vision, and invite your considerations and participation in whatever capacity possible. We are confident that the next quarter century will be another fruitful and meaningful chapter in the history of Mind and Life.
Mind and Life Europe
New Directions and Opportunities
As the vision and community of Mind and Life have grown over the past years, so has our presence and foundation in Europe expanded. Headed by Diego Hangartner, Director of Operations and Advancement, Mind and Life Europe, and in partnership with Mind and Life President Arthur Zajonc, Mind and Life Europe is gaining momentum and support, and is planning several important initiatives.
In a meeting in Paris last October, an Advisory Committee gathered to outline strategy and identify key European initiatives, as well as to share findings and ideas. Members Brother David Steindl-Rast, Matthieu Ricard, Michel Bitbol, Franco Bertossa, Wolf Singer, Tania Singer, Mark Williams, Anton Zeilinger, Arthur Zajonc, and Diego Hangartner met and agreed on several upcoming events. First, a European Symposium on Contemplative Studies will be held in Berlin on October 10- 13, 2013. This will alternate years with the International Symposium for Contemplative Studies held in the United States. For more info on the Symposium, please email: email@example.com.
Second, the first European Summer Research Institute will take place in the summer of 2014, modeled after the highly successful annual Summer Research Institute in Garrison, NY. Exact dates and location are yet to be determined.
During the October 2012 meeting, the Advisory Committee also discussed areas of research that would be the initial focus of Mind and Life Europe, out of which emerged the first European Phenomenology Meeting, which also took place in October. The gathering included Franco Bertossa, Matthieu Ricard, Michel Bitbol, Elena Antonova, Martijn van Beek, Andreas Roepstorff, Ilina Singh, Claire Petitmengin, Max Velmans, Walter Osika, Arthur Zajonc and Diego Hangartner.
The purpose of the meeting was to explore ways for researching first- person experience, and what research techniques and modes already exist. As a result of this meeting, several proposals were produced, including those to study secular ethics in education and human development, an experiential retreat founded in phenomenology as a locus for dialogue between science and direct contemplative experience, as well as potential ADHD research.
Later, a dinner with friends and patrons in Zurich yielded a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and confidence in the leadership and vision of Mind and Life Europe, and we are deeply grateful to all of our European friends, colleagues and supporters.
“The past uncertainty about Mind and Life Europe has been replaced by wonderful co-working between Diego and me, a fabulous Advisory Committee, and a strong circle of supporters which has led to rapid growth in programs, conferences and research in Europe,” says President Arthur Zajonc. “I am very pleased with our progress and look forward to continuing to engage with the incredible scientists and patrons overseas.”
Scientific and Buddhist Thought Meet in South India
Dalai Lama Continues Efforts to Develop Monastic Science Education
On January 17-21, 2013, we were honored to host Mind and Life XXVI: Mind, Brain, and Matter: Critical Conversations between Buddhist Thought and Science, at Drepung Monastery in Mundgod, Karnataka, India. In contrast to previous Mind and Life dialogues, often held in the intimate setting of His Holiness’s living room in Dharamsala, this event unfolded with over five thousand monks and nuns from numerous Tibetan monastic schools in attendance.
When asked about the significance of this event, Wendy Hasenkamp, Mind and Life Program and Research Director, stated, “This meeting represents the first large-scale dialogue between scientists and monastics, and follows naturally in the trajectory of 25 years of Mind and Life dialogues. This effort is not meant to turn monastic students into scientists, but rather to expose them to this interdisciplinary dialogue and demonstrate the value of interaction between Buddhism and science. Last August, a landmark resolution was passed among the leaders of Tibetan monasteries in India to formally introduce science into the monastic curriculum. This was the first change in the curriculum in 600 years, so this conference comes at a historic time for this community.”
This landmark six-day event, convened at the specific request of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, brought together 20 of the world’s foremost scientists and philosophers with His Holiness and other senior Tibetan scholars. The goals were multi-fold: on one hand, His Holiness wanted to extend the reach of the Mind and Life dialogues, and demonstrate to the larger monastic community the benefits that can come from engaging with scientists. On the other hand, this was an opportunity for the monastics themselves to begin to learn about some of the scientific topics that have the closest connection with Buddhist thought. Thus, in addition to critically engaging in important questions of mutual interest and challenge such as the fundamental nature of our physical world, the problem of consciousness, the nature and workings of our mind, and the interface of contemplative practice and scientific research, this conference provided an educational forum whereby the monastic students were introduced to the historical development of science, and how science has come to shape the way we understand our world. The vast majority of the monastic audience had no prior exposure to the ideas of Western science, having focused nearly all of their academic studies on Buddhist philosophy and practice. For presenters and audience alike, this meeting was an exciting and eye-opening experience.
Each day of the program was divided into several parts. The mornings featured a dialogue between His Holiness and scientists regarding a specific field of study and its intersections with Buddhist thought and practice (i.e., quantum physics, neuroscience, consciousness, and applications of contemplative practice in the West). The afternoons were more pedagogical in character, allowing scientists to engage directly with the monastic audience and delve deeper into the methods and findings of Western science and philosophy. Following these presentations, there was a response from the Buddhist perspective on the theme of the day. The final part of each afternoon was devoted to a question-and-answer session and general discussion between the monastics and the scientists – often the liveliest session of the day. Special presentations and hands-on scientific demonstrations took place in the evenings. Of particular interest was a beautiful and unique exhibit that shared parallel perspectives from Buddhism and Western science on sensory perception, created by monastic students in collaboration with the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives and the Science for Monks program. In addition, scientists from the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison hosted a booth where audience members could record and analyze electrical brain signals from the scalp surface non-invasively, allowing monastics to view their own brain activity.
By all accounts, the event was an overwhelming success. Thupten Jinpa, Mind and Life Board Chair, served as interpreter during the meeting, and also made several presentations. He remained at the monastery following the conference, where he received extensive feedback from those who were present.
“His Holiness is extremely pleased by the success and was touched by the care and dedication with which all the participants engaged in the conversations,” Jinpa said. “Many of the monastic scholars, who do not speak English and have never taken interest in science or modern thought, told me how they now understand why His Holiness has been advising the monastics to incorporate science into their education. All in all, I feel that the impact of the conference has been most positive, in addition to each of one of us being intellectually and spiritually enriched.”
As the monastic community now embarks on the complex and transformative process of formally incorporating science into its curriculum, a project headed by the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative and the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, we join with His Holiness in expressing our continuing commitment to the mutual exploration of issues that will serve for the betterment of humanity.
Archived footage of all sessions from Mind and Life XXVI can be seen online at www.mindandlife.org/26.
Al Kaszniak Retires from Mind and Life Chief Academic Officer Position
It is with great admiration and heartfelt gratitude that we announce the retirement of Al Kaszniak, PhD from the position of Chief Academic Officer of the Mind & Life Institute. Al served in this position from the summer of 2010 to the end of 2012. With his departure, MLI will retire the position of Chief Academic Officer, as many of the responsibilities of that position are now handled by Wendy Hasenkamp, PhD in her capacity as Program and Research Director.
Working closely with the Program and Research Council, Al played a central role in shaping and overseeing the scientific and scholarly content of our programs and awards. In addition, following the retirement of Adam Engle as CEO in March 2011, Al served as Interim CEO for nine months until Arthur Zajonc was appointed President in December 2011. Throughout his time with MLI, Al’s great warmth, wisdom and humor, as well as his strength as a leader and mentor, were cherished by all who had the good fortune to work with him. Al now returns full-time to his academic and research career at the University of Arizona in the Department of Psychology. His work continues to center around contemplative science, and his lab is currently focused on interventions for numerous clinical situations, caregiving for dementia, and research on attention bias and mortality salience and their relationship to meditation.In the coming years, Al will remain involved with MLI in various capacities, including serving on the Research Advisory Council and numerous planning committees. Al is also President of the Board of Directors at Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, NM. While serving as faculty for a recent Zen Brain retreat on consciousness at Upaya, he reflected on his time with us, “Mind and Life has provided an extraordinary opportunity to go deeper in the exploration of my interest in the intersection between science and contemplative practice. I’m grateful for the chance to have given a little back to an organization that has given me a great deal.”
We extend the deepest bow of gratitude to Al for his service, and for shepherding the organization through a significant transition with great skill, warmth and integrity. Many of the exciting changes and developments that have come about for this organization would not have been possible without his wise and outstanding leadership. We know the entire MLI community will join us in wishing him the best for his continued career at the University of Arizona.
Thank you so much, Al, for your past and continued service. We look forward to working with you in the coming years.
Mind and Life to Launch New Initiative on Secular Ethics
How can we work to foster a society that embraces central values such as kindness and compassion? Though religions can give moral guidance and offer the believer ways of giving meaning to life, “any religion-based answer to the problem of our neglect of inner values can never be universal, and so will be inadequate,” explains His Holiness the Dalai Lama. “What we need today is an approach to ethics which makes no recourse to religion and can be equally acceptable to those with faith and those without: a secular ethics.”
It is in this spirit that Mind and Life has embarked on its new initiative of developing a pedagogy and curriculum in secular ethics as part of its mission to promote human flourishing around the globe.
In his book Beyond Religion, His Holiness the Dalai Lama maintains that, “at every level we are giving too much attention to the external, material aspects of life while neglecting moral ethics and inner values.” For him, inner values are grounded in the single human capacity of compassion, the essence of which is “a desire to alleviate the suffering of others and promote their well-being.” While it might be difficult in pluralistic societies to agree on how to promote compassion and associated virtuous behaviors, it is also true that “if people lack moral values and integrity, no system of laws and regulations will be adequate.”
Education in subjects such as mathematics, critical reading and writing, and professional training are reasonably well-developed in terms of pedagogy, curriculum, texts, and other educational resources in our culture. However, these “outer” dimensions of education are not matched by a similar investment in developing a pedagogy and curriculum for the “inner” education of the child. The plea by His Holiness for a secular ethics can be taken as a plea for an education in inner values, character, and virtues such as kindness and compassion that is as robust as the intellectual and professional education we offer our youth. Only when we have a balanced integration of these two elements will we be educating the whole human being – indeed, our very humanity.
Though there is widespread and heated debate regarding the possibility of a “science of morality,” many thinkers agree that neurobiological perspectives, for example, can shed light on morally relevant questions. Addressing the scientific underpinnings of secular ethics is something to which Mind and Life can bring great resources through its extensive network of Fellows who are established in the fields of science, philosophy, psychology, and education policy and administration.
The first year of work in this initiative will be guided by a Senior Research Officer at MLI working in close consultation with a focused core team, as well as a larger advisory group made up of prominent scholars in the fields of education, psychology and developmental science. These groups will meet regularly in order to develop strategies for accomplishing the long-term goals of the initiative. The first steps will be to perform a comprehensive review of the existing research, scholarship, and educational experiments in this area, provide recommendations for further research and pilot studies, and identify key people and institutional partners for the initiative. The goal for the first year is to create a 5-year proposal designed to realize a curriculum and pedagogy for secular ethics that is based on solid science and educational principles that can be implemented and refined in pilot programs at schools from kindergarten through university.
Mind and Life Celebrates 25 Years, Looks Ahead
A Meeting of Minds
On October 19-21, 2012, Mind and Life, along with many long-time and new friends and partners, held a weekend of celebration, dialogue and envisioning. The event, held at The Rockefeller University in New York City, marked a quarter-century of inroads and innovation in the scientific investigation of the mind and set the stage for the next phase of this important inquiry.
The gathering commenced with an opening reception Friday night. This was an opportunity for friends, colleagues, scientists and supporters to meet and share, and to connect with Mind and Life President, Arthur Zajonc. During the reception, Board member Anne Harrington, Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University, made a key presentation on the current limitations of biomedicine, and how important the integrative vision of Mind and Life will be in bringing new perspectives to this field in the years ahead.
Saturday featured Mind and Life XXV: Contemplative Practice and Health: Laboratory Findings and Real World Challenges, a dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Moderated by Anne Harrington, the meeting aimed to expand the scope of how we think about illness, distress, suffering, and healing. Presentations integrated basic and clinical research with new discoveries concerning the critical role of the social environment and human capacities for resilience, healing, and even flourishing, revealed by research on neuroplasticity. Special emphasis was placed on contributions from contemplative wisdom traditions, long concerned with the experience of human suffering, the importance of ethical behavior, and the development of mental training practices that have the potential to alleviate distress and suffering.
At one point, several Varela Awardees shared how pivotal the Varela Awards had been in their research and academic careers. The awards of a modest $10,000 to $15,000 are often the only funding available for graduate and doctoral students interested in contemplative science, and often a critical opportunity to convert a research dream into a career. Of note were stories from Tish Jennings and Phillippe Goldin. Tish described how the $10,000 she received led to follow-on funding of $5 million for the study of contemplative practice in education. Philippe reported that his $10,000 award has yielded more than $10 million in follow-on funding and 46 publications to date on work related to the effect of mindfulness meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy on neural substrates of emotional reactivity, emotion regulation, and attention regulation.
On Saturday evening, Mind and Life celebrated 25 years of successful work with a special dinner and appreciation for the people who have been committed to supporting the vision of Mind and Life over the years including the Board of Directors, current staff and supporters, as well as long-time patron Barry Hershey. Former CEO Adam Engle was honored and took the podium to share the history, challenges and accomplishments of Mind and Life over the past 25 years.
Sunday morning was a time for envisioning the future of Mind and Life, beginning with a video presentation by President Arthur Zajonc featuring the history, accomplishments and current goals of Mind and Life. The level of commitment and participation that followed was profound, and resulted in identifying five key themes for the future of Mind and Life’s work:
1. Mapping the Mind: the Process of Self-Discovery
2. Human Flourishing and the Cultivation of Character
3. Alleviating Suffering: Craving and Addiction
4. Mind and Life Around the Globe
5. The Question of “Place”
“Mapping the Mind is shown as not only central to our understanding of ourselves, but it is also the essential foundation for any fully adequate effort at promoting human flourishing and alleviating suffering, as caused for example by craving and addiction,” explains President Arthur Zajonc. “The three perspectives ringing the center – scientific, contemplative, and social/ cultural – are essential parts of Mind and Life’s integrative research model. These are held within an increasingly engaged global community of more than 20,000 friends.”
The morning participants formed groups based on these five themes, each with a Board member present as resource and facilitator, to explore viability and possibilities. Later, key questions and considerations from each group were shared with the Dalai Lama for reflection and feedback.
Out of these groups it became increasingly clear that the theme of Secular Ethics as emphasized by His Holiness was taking an ever more prominent place. As a consequence of that and of other developments since the New York conversations, that project has become our lead initiative, with Mapping the Mind and Craving, Desire and Addiction seen as serving that central question of the cultivation of compassion, altruism and kindness throughout life.
New Board Member
Mind and Life is pleased to introduce new Board member Barry Hershey. Barry has been a close friend of Mind and Life for more than 20 years. He has participated in many events and dialogues, and has been a strong supporter of Mind and Life initiatives.
Barry is an independent filmmaker whose first feature, The Empty Mirror, premiered at the Cannes International Film Festival and was distributed by Lionsgate. His most recent work, Leading To War, was described as a “staggering film” by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. He has directed eight films and has participated in various capacities in numerous other films.
He studied filmmaking at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, where he received his MFA. Earlier, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School. He also attended the London School of Economics. He is currently a Visiting Fellow on the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University.
Barry has served on the Oxfam America Leadership Council for a number of years. He is a member of the American Repertory Theatre Artistic Committee in Cambridge, MA, and has been a long-time supporter of Dr. Paul Farmer’s Partners in Health.
“It is with great pleasure and honor that I join the Mind and Life Board,” Barry says. “Having attended many of the dialogues, and having supported a number of the programs, including the Varela Awards, for the past two decades, I continue to be impressed with what Mind and Life has accomplished. I am particularly enthusiastic about the expanding vision, and look forward to working with an incredible group of people in helping to shape the future of the organization.”
Mindfulness in the House of Commons
This past December, Chris Ruane, Member of Parliament (MP) for the Vale of Clwyd since 1997, addressed the House of Commons in London on the issues of mental health, unemployment, and drug use. He cited statistics from the World Health Organization which state that by 2030, depression will be the greatest health burden, outpacing heart disease and cancer. He also connected long-term unemployment to depression.
When questioned on possible solutions to these social issues, Ruane suggested mindfulness and mindfulness-based interventions. He highlighted the finding of the National Institutes of Health and Clinical Excellence that mindfulness is a better way to treat repeat-episode depression than prescription drugs, and yet it has not been adopted by doctors or in clinical settings. He also offered mindfulness as support for employment.
“How can mindfulness help with unemployment?” Ruane posed. “It can prevent people from becoming unemployed, limit the effects of unemployment, and help people to get back to work. What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is an integrative mind-body based approach that helps people to change how they think and feel about their experiences, especially stressful experiences. It involves paying attention to our thoughts and feelings so that we become more aware of them, less enmeshed in them, and better able to manage them. It uses breathing to slow the mind and the body down—it uses breath as an anchor to help us to live in the present moment.”
Visiting Scholars Program and Residential Research Workshops
An Interdisciplinary and Intergenerational Home for Scholarly Inquiry
Mind and Life is pleased to offer our new Visiting Scholars Program and Residential Research Workshops as opportunities for members of the global MLI community to pursue contemplative scholarship and collaboration while interfacing closely with in-house academic staff.
This program is based at the Mind and Life Institute at Amherst College, a lovely residence near the Amherst College campus that includes newly refurbished offices and meeting space. On February 18, 2013 Mind and Life hosted a large reception on location for the local community in advance of a two-day meeting on Secular Ethics and Character Development.
The Visiting Scholars program provides opportunities for scholars to undertake projects in the areas of writing, curriculum development, non-laboratory research and the development of contemplative methodologies, for example. The in-residence time will also be an opportunity for more senior members of the MLI scholarly community to interact with and inspire younger scholars. (For more information on this program visit www.mindandlife.org/visitingscholars.)
Up to seven visiting scholars will be accepted per trimester, and applications and selections will be made, in part, based on the scholar’s alignment with Mind and Life’s broader mission and strategic initiatives. Applications will be accepted from both Young Scholars – graduate students in a PhD program, recent post-doctoral fellows or junior faculty in the first three years of their appointment, and Senior Scholars – established academic faculty or professional scholars. Through the generosity of the Hershey Family Foundation and an anonymous donor, a stipend is available for Young Scholars to support housing, travel and living expenses.
The first Young Scholar to join the program in April 2013 is Aviva Berkovich-Ohana, PhD (Neurobiology Department, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel) who will continue to develop research on her neurodynamic model of consciousness and self. Also arriving in April 2013 are Senior Scholars Evan Thompson, PhD (Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto) and Rebecca Todd, PhD (Affect and Cognition Laboratory, University of Toronto).
In addition, Andrew Olendski, PhD (Barre Center for Buddhist Studies) joins us as a Visiting Scholar while he teaches a course at Amherst College this semester.
All four scholars will overlap with a Residential Research Workshop hosted by a team of researchers including Catherine Kerr, PhD (Department of Family Medicine, Brown University), Cynthia Price, PhD (University of Washington), Jennifer Daubenmier, PhD (Osher Center for Integrative Medicine), and Wolf Mehling, MD (UCSF Medical Center). The workshop, entitled Interoceptive Awareness and Contemplative Practice, is scheduled for April 21-23, 2013.
Additional applications are being reviewed and we anticipate robust participation in these programs. In addition to scholarly research, the facilities will offer meditation and yoga. We look forward to interfacing with the broader Mind and Life community through these programs.
Physicist, Contemplative, President
President Arthur Zajonc is no newcomer to Mind and Life. He first served as scientific coordinator for Mind and Life VI: New Physics and Cosmology in 1997, later organizing Mind and Life X: The Nature of Matter, The Nature of Life in 2002 and acting as moderator for Mind and Life XI: Investigating the Mind, held at MIT in 2003. From these meetings, he authored two Mind and Life books, The New Physics and Cosmology: Dialogues with the Dalai Lama (Oxford University Press, 2004) and The Dalai Lama at MIT (Harvard University Press, 2006). More recently, he was director of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, during which time he authored his own volume, Meditation as Contemplative Inquiry: When Knowing Becomes Love (Lindisfarne Press, 2009).
Underlying his contemplative interests and work with Mind and Life was his scientific career as Professor of Physics at Amherst College from 1978 to 2012. His life, personal and professional, has been about the intersection of science and contemplative practice, which led the Mind and Life Board to identify him as an ideal candidate for president.
Arthur’s journey began as a young researcher. “When I was 21, I hit a kind of existential wall in my study of physics,” he recounts. “I was subsequently introduced to meditation and particularly the spiritual philosophy of Rudof Steiner, and through that began a long-term quest and question of how to bring science, particularly physics, into relationship with contemplative spirituality.”
His inquiry took him on a 2-year post- doctoral journey to the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics at the University of Colorado and the National Bureau of Standards in Boulder, and ultimately to Amherst College, where he has been a Professor of Physics for the past 34 years. Throughout his career, the intersection of science and contemplative spirituality was continually present. It is this inquiry which led him to Mind and Life in the 1990s, and which influenced his research as a scientist.
“I transitioned my area of research into the experimental foundations of quantum mechanics,” Arthur explains, “which entails looking into the deep considerations – almost philosophical issues – of quantum optics. It is there that one finds what is called quantum holism, the undeniable and unambiguous role of the observer in the constitution of reality. You can’t get away from the role of the observer – nothing has primary attributes, so to speak, without measurement or observation.”
Arthur uses his scientific insights as tools in his contemplative and philosophical observations of the world we live in, a practice that very deeply aligns with the ongoing mission of Mind and Life.
“You have complete interdependence, and that becomes the foundation for ethics,” he explains. “Everything is contingent on its relationship with other things, and consistency in the world is not found so much in ultimate ingredients as it is in the occurrence of phenomena themselves.”
So, when presented with the opportunity to retire as Professor of Physics and carry on the work of Mind and Life, Arthur welcomed the chance to pursue his lifelong inquiry in such a meaningful way. “I see the work of Mind and Life as one of the most powerful and compelling ways to demonstrate the real potential of a marriage between the scientific perspective and contemplative philosophy in our spiritual investigation of our own nature,” he says. “Further, on a practical level, this work promises to contribute to real solutions to alleviate suffering and promote human flourishing. It is a great honor and privilege for me to support this important effort.”
Practitioner, Academic, Contemplative Scientist
Wendy Hasenkamp joined Mind and Life in March 2012, bringing a diverse background of scientific, community and program skills to the organization. Wendy completed her PhD in Neuroscience at Emory University in 2005 after receiving a BS in Biology and Psychology from Wake Forest University. Her early work focused on the molecular and cellular foundations of psychology and the human mind, later transitioning into neuroscience and contemplative practice as a lens of inquiry.
“Since my teenage years, I have been fascinated by the biology that underlies our psychological and subjective world,” Wendy explains. “My early biological-based work naturally transitioned to neuroscience and contemplative practice as I grew and shifted my own perspective from a disease- based model to one of wellness and human potential. This coincided with the beginning of my personal meditation practice, in which I was immediately aware of mental and emotional changes that were taking place. I wanted to find out what was happening in my own brain as a result of practice.”
Wendy’s research at Emory introduced her to faculty connected to Mind and Life, which eventually led her to attend the Mind and Life Summer Research Institute in 2008. Following that conference, she received a Francisco J. Varela Award for her proposal Real Time Dynamics of Cognitive Processing during Meditation: A Subject-driven fMRI Investigation. “The Varela Award enabled me to start new research and shift my career path in a way that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to,” she says.
She recalls the moment when that shift transitioned from just a dream to a real possibility. “His Holiness the Dalai Lama was installed as a distinguished professor at Emory in 2007, the same year Mind and Life held an event on campus,” she recounts. “I attended, and it was a time in my career when I was trying to make a switch from studying psychiatric disease to studying meditation.
I remember sitting in the audience, and on stage Richie Davidson, John Dunne and others were talking to His Holiness about contemplative science. I had an interview coming up, so I had been thinking about how to answer the question, what do I want to be doing in 5 years? In that moment, watching them, I knew: this is what I want to be doing.”
Thanks in part to her Varela Award from Mind and Life, Wendy soon became a post-doctoral scholar in the Department of Psychology at Emory. Working with Larry Barsalou, PhD, she used neuroimaging to examine cognitive mechanisms of attention and mind wandering during focused attention meditation. Wendy also spent several years facilitating neuroscience education with the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative, under advisors Carol Worthman and Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, developing curriculum and textbooks for a program that teaches science to Buddhist monks and nuns in India.
As part of the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative, Wendy travels to India to teach at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics at Sarah College, Dharamsala. “You’re in a room with about 30 monks and nuns trying to explain neuroscience,” Wendy shares. “They are such a fun student body – they are so lively and engaged with incredible attention spans. And they will pin you down on every point in order to understand concepts completely. They ask the most probing questions; it really makes you rethink what you are presenting and ask yourself why science believes what it does. It is an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience.”
At Emory, Wendy was also the coordinator for the Emory Collaborative for Contemplative Studies (ECCS), an interdisciplinary group of scholars dedicated to investigating the application of contemplative practices in our modern society.
Wendy Hasenkamp teaches monastics about brain networks in Dharamsala, India Since joining Mind and Life, Wendy has helped create, oversee and facilitate various scientific programs and research initiatives, including the Varela Awards, 1440 Awards and Contemplative Studies Fellowships, as well as the recent meeting in South India. She also continues to pursue her own academic career, giving lectures and writing papers. She has recently completed a chapter for a volume on Neuroscience, Consciousness and Spirituality, and plans to co-teach a freshman seminar course on meditation at Amherst College in the fall.
“My roles include overseeing programs, managing scientific content, and continuing my path as a contemplative scientist,” Wendy says. “It’s an incredible opportunity to be working with Arthur and everyone at Mind and Life, and in our extended family. It’s really a dream job – I’m very grateful.”
Mind and Life Staff
Mind and Life has undergone many changes in the past year, beginning with the retiring of founder and CEO Adam Engle and the Board’s appointment of Arthur Zajonc as the new President. The current Hadley staff includes some who joined Mind and Life during the transition and some newer members. Together, they form a special team, each person bringing important operations and strategic skills and experience as well as a dedication to the mission and vision of Mind and Life. “I am very proud and pleased to be a part of this Mind and Life team. I especially want to welcome our newest members, and I look forward to working closely with everyone on our important initiatives.” - Arthur Zajonc
Mind and Life has undergone many changes in the past year, beginning with the retiring of founder and CEO Adam Engle and the Board’s appointment of Arthur Zajonc as the new President. The current Hadley staff includes some who joined Mind and Life during the transition and some newer members. Together, they form a special team, each person bringing important operations and strategic skills and experience as well as a dedication to the mission and vision of Mind and Life.
“I am very proud and pleased to be a part of this Mind and Life team. I especially want to welcome our newest members, and I look forward to working closely with everyone on our important initiatives.”
- Arthur Zajonc
Arthur Zajonc, President
Arthur was professor of physics at Amherst College from 1978 to 2012, visiting professor and research scientist at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, and the universities of Rochester, and Hannover. He has written extensively on quantum optics, quantum physics, and the relationship between science, the humanities and the contemplative traditions. In 1997 he served as scientific coordinator for the Mind and Life dialogue published as The New Physics and Cosmology: Dialogues with the Dalai Lama, organized the 2002 dialogue with the Dalai Lama, “The Nature of Matter, the Nature of Life,” and acted as moderator at MIT for the “Investigating the Mind” Mind and Life dialogue in 2003.
Jacqui DeFelice, Director of Operations and Advancement
Jacqui received her BA (Hons) in Business Studies with a focus in marketing from Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK and went on to get her MSc in International Business from the University of Strathclyde also in Glasgow, UK. Prior to working with Mind and Life, Jacqui was the Enrollment Director at The Hartsbrook Waldorf School in Hadley, MA and currently sits on its Board of Directors. She also acted as the coordinator on an ambitious project to develop an online graduate school – The Owen Barfield Graduate School, and was the international event manager for the Physicians Association of Anthroposophic Medicine.
“We really have an amazing staff at Mind and Life, as well as incredibly supportive and committed patrons. I am very pleased to be a part of this organization and to help carry this important work forward.”
Diego Hangartner, Director of Operations and Advancement in Europe
Diego completed his studies in pharmacology at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, specializing in psychotherapeutic and psychoactive substances. Having worked with drug addiction, he became interested in understanding the workings of mind and consciousness. After encountering Buddhism, he then spent 11 years in Dharamsala, India, where he first learned Tibetan and then studied for 7 years at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics. During those years, he sat several retreats and worked as a translator and interpreter, translating Tibetan into English, German, French and Spanish. After returning to Europe in 2003, he taught widely, and was General Secretary and project manager of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visits in Switzerland 2005 and in Hamburg 2007.
“I have had the pleasure of working with so many incredible people all over the world through Mind and Life. I’m very excited about the new energy that is building around European programs and initiatives.”
Lila Mereschuk, Controller
Lila has extensive experience with not-for-profit accounting, finance, and revenue operations, and has worked with several organizations in the field of contemplative studies. A dynamic leader, Lila is accomplished in developing financial strategies that enhance organizational growth and maximize sustainability.
“I feel incredibly blessed to work for Mind and Life. Even though I am behind the scenes doing the accounting, I feel like I am able to be a part of something bigger and make a difference in the world though an organization I whole-heartedly believe in.”
Wendy Hasenkamp, Program and Research Director
Wendy completed her PhD in Neuroscience in 2005 at Emory University where she worked to understand the pathology of schizophrenia through single-cell gene expression, psychophysiology, cognitive testing and neuroimaging. Her personal experience with meditation inspired a shift in her research to contemplative neuroscience in 2008, when she began investigating the neural correlates of dynamic cognitive states that occur during focused attention meditation. She was central in the development of the Emory Collaborative for Contemplative Studies, and has been developing neuroscience curriculum and teaching Tibetan monks and nuns in India through the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative since 2009.
“Working at Mind and Life is a perfect fit for my background in neuroscience and contemplative practice. I’m deeply motivated by the mission of the institute, and by the way we are helping to bringing science and contemplative traditions together. It’s truly an honor to work with so many incredible people.”
Lise Lawrence, Program Manager
Lise joined Mind and Life in April 2012. Her experience includes Event Management for International Kushi Institute Programs as well as Assistant Venue Managing for Red Earth Hotels in Australia. She also worked for the international film festival, Festival De Cannes.
“I love my job and especially working with such a great team of people. My past event management experience fits perfectly with our planning and events, and I am inspired by the mission and vision of Mind and Life.”
Heather Lee Lohr, Program Manager
Heather has a BFA in Production Management from Emerson College and has primarily been working in theatre as a stage manager and production manager for the past fifteen years. She has lived and worked on all manner of events and performances in Boston, Dallas, Chicago, New York, Las Vegas and aboard a cruise ship. She is passionate about building community centered around social change.
“I have had a contemplative practice for years. And my background in theatre was very much about bringing different groups of people with diverse knowledge together. This fits perfectly with planning events for Mind and Life, and the experience so far has been extremely rewarding and interesting.”
Tom Rocha, Program and Research Associate
Tom completed his BA from Brown University in 2011 and his MPhil from the University of Cambridge in 2012. He helped facilitate the Brown Contemplative Studies Initiative under Dr. Harold Roth and worked as a research assistant for the Britton Lab under Dr. Willoughby Britton.
“I was so happy to learn that Mind and Life had a place for me; it really seemed like a great fit given my previous undergraduate work with Hal and Willoughby. I’m also getting a chance to pursue some of my own research interests in Contemplative Education by working closely with our new initiative in Secular Ethics & Character Development. It’s a real pleasure to work with the team here in Hadley, all wonderful people dedicated to MLI’s mission.”
Gretchen Laise, Development and Operations Associate
Gretchen first indulged her curiosity about the nature of the human mind when studying philosophy in college. Her exploration continued with learning about spiritual direction and insight meditation from Jesuit geologist Father James Skehan, while employed as an Evaluator at the US General Accounting Office. Since then she has practiced Zen meditation and created visual art while working in fundraising administration at Oxfam America and grants management at the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. She is currently completing certification as a Psychosynthesis guide. She is very excited that her activities at Mind and Life bring together her professional experience in philanthropy and her life-long commitment to contemplative practice.
“Working at Mind and Life is very much in line with my values and goals for making the world a better place. I feel very strongly about the physical and psychological benefits of these practices.”
Mindi Winter, Technical Systems Analyst
Mindi comes to Mind and Life from the Home Health Care business, where she managed an agency for 6 years. She is a Certified Home Health Aide and current Hospice volunteer. Her primary background is in technical support and project management, and she is studying for her Bachelor’s in Organizational Leadership.
“It’s great to be working in a meaningful non-profit in an intimate team and collaborating with such a sense of purpose. Having witnessed first-hand the benefits of meditation for attention disorders, I am very excited about the possibilities and opportunities for solutions for suffering in the field of Contemplative Science today.”
Ned Dunn, Webmaster
Ned received his BFA from Montserrat College of Art in 2005. He is an amateur birder, lives with a small aviary of finches, and enjoys time outdoors at wildlife reserves, parks and trails throughout New England. He maintains a home studio where he works on his art, both digital and traditional.
“Having spent much of my professional life doing freelance work for non-profits, I find working for Mind and Life to be a phenomenal opportunity. It’s a dream to be working for an organization that is attempting to do the sorts of things in the world that I believe are so crucial and yet often ignored.”
Kaia Fischer, Administrative Assistant
Kaia returned to the Pioneer Valley this past summer after two years of yoga and meditation practice throughout New England. Previously, she has held administrative and counseling positions in corporate, healthcare and university settings. Kaia completed her BA in Neuroscience and Behavior at Mount Holyoke.
“I am overjoyed with the opportunity to work for Mind and Life. I’ve been studying the mind for years, through both neuroscience in school and an established contemplative practice. Here, my studies and practices come together with a chance to work with amazing people and connect with the community of scientists and contemplatives I’ve admired for years.”
We are all in this together. We can’t do it alone. How we care for ourselves and for each other creates the world we live in, inside and out. At Mind and Life, we are so fortunate to have many people who believe in our ability to execute a daring yet important mission in the world. Mind and Life could not continue without the financial support that you offer. Thank you. And at the same time, we want to underscore that all of the contributions that have been made, including time, energy, commitment and sharing, have enabled us to carry on this important mission.
His Holiness once said, “Generosity is the most natural outward expression of an inner attitude of compassion and loving-kindness. When one desires to alleviate the suffering of others and to promote their well-being, then generosity – in actions, words, and thoughts – is this desire put into practice.”
We are dependent on your generosity to continue. If you can give your time, please do. If you can participate in our programs and dialogues, please do. And if you can support Mind and Life financially, please do.
We recognize that the health, well-being, and happiness of individuals, societies, and our planet are primarily dependent on our thoughts, emotions, and decisions. Over the years, we have seen how an understanding of the mind derived from contemplative practices and applied to life can have significant positive effects. Scientific studies are showing that contemplative practices can alleviate suffering from depression, addiction and craving; reduce violence, and increase generosity, altruism, compassion, flourishing and love, to name a few results.
For 25 years, under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, key contemplatives and world- renowned scientists and scholars, Mind and Life has been a leader in the emerging field of Contemplative Science. With your generosity and partnership, we aim to continue and grow our work, and uncover ways to alleviate suffering and promote human flourishing in our world. We invite you to join with us as we grow our collaborative community. Please consider making a pledge to Mind and Life today.
We are deeply grateful to all of our supporters who have shared our vision and entrusted us with this important mission thus far, and we are excited to welcome new friends joining us in the vital work we do. Thank you from all of us at Mind and Life.
To discuss a significant or multi-year gift, please contact Jacqui DeFelice, Director of Operations and Advancement at firstname.lastname@example.org or (417) 387-0710, extension 102.
P.S. Please share this newsletter with your friends and family.