The Anxiety of Happiness

sharon-salzbergHis life is a pursuit of a pursuit forever. / It is the future that creates his present. / All is an interminable chain of longing.
–Robert Frost.
I’ve long thought that in this section of his poem, “Escapist–Never,” Robert Frost captures a lot of what contemplative traditions describe as craving, a source of great suffering.

The Pharmacy of Desire

wendy-farleyAn American success story: A college graduate gets a good job and marries. The couple drives a beautiful car, a consolation for their terrible commute. Work pays well but requires callous decisions. Expensive vacations and a lovely home recompense for the sacrifice not only of time, but also of ideals. Contentment, however, remains elusive; an underlying anger burns. The additional cocktail flames the anger into vindicating rage. Marriage lapses into emptiness; children become strangers; affairs end unpleasantly…

New Varela Awardees Announced!

SRIblogEach year, Mind and Life strives to support young scholars by funding cutting edge research in contemplative science. Our Varela Research Awards are based on neuroscientist, philosopher, and Mind and Life cofounder Francisco J. Varela’s belief that contemplative training offers modern science novel methods for investigating human experience. In his vision, contemplative training not only provides a […]

The Bright Knight of the Soul

Detail from artwork byAs I reflect on the last 18 months and look forward to the next year and more, the medieval romance Parzival keeps reasserting itself. Its archetypal elements seem apt metaphors for the essential work of Mind and Life.

The Craving Cycle

Artwork by Greg DunnImages by Greg Dunn  About 25 years after quitting drugs, I decided to write a book about the experience of addiction and the brain processes underlying it. Around my desk I stacked 20 volumes of personal notes from my mid- to late 20s. They told, in relentless detail, of my growing attachment to opiates, periods […]

Dawn and the Dialogue

dharamsala-xxvii-blogMind and Life’s President Arthur Zajonc’s latest dispatch as the 27th Dialogue begins. It is before dawn on the morning of the 27th dialogue with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, 26 years after Francisco Varela, Adam Engle, His Holiness, and a handful of scientists began to speak about the mind and the nature of […]

Grey Matters: The BRAIN Initiative, Mapping the Mind

brain_gearsThe mysteries of the human brain are hidden in an almost unfathomable array of synaptic connections, cellular activity, neurotransmitters, gene expression patterns, and electrical oscillations. Even deeper than these lay the questions of how such an extraordinarily complex electrochemical system connects to our moment-to-moment experience as human beings: our perceptions, our thoughts, our emotions—what cognitive […]

From Emory to Berlin

The past week has been packed with remarkable moments. We started with Emory University where 8,000 people filled the stadium to hear His Holiness speak about secular ethics and education, which in the last year has become a central part of Mind and Life’s work. The webcast is available so I need not try to […]

Bridging the Divide

Tomorrow afternoon I will do my best to guide the dialogue between His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and four scholars and scientists on the theme of secular ethics and education. We will begin with the research and views of Frans de Waals, professor of psychology at Emory University in Atlanta. The title of de […]

Seven Weeks with Our Global Community

Today I leave for Atlanta and the beginning of a daunting but amazing journey that will take me to Europe and many places in Asia on behalf of Mind and Life. I do so with others as we seek to connect with Mind and Life’s increasingly global community. I hope to chronicle my various experiences […]