Mind and Life Announces Its 27th Dialogue With the Dalai Lama

This year’s event focuses on craving, desire, and addiction.


For Immediate Release

From October 28–November 1, 2013, the Mind & Life Institute will hold its 27th Dialogue with the Dalai Lama. This year’s program, which will be held at the Dalai Lama’s residence in Dharamsala, India, will take up the subjects of craving, desire, and addiction.

“Desire is a natural part of life that provides the motivating force for our achievements,” says Dr. Arthur Zajonc, president of the Institute. “Our highest aspirations are animated by desire. Yet, when desire becomes obsession or craving, we cross over into the territory of suffering. What before was an aid to accomplishment can devolve into a source of personal anguish and social violence.”

This year’s theme was chosen by the Institute as part of a new, overall focus to explore craving, desire, and addiction as root causes of human suffering. By bringing together neuroscientists, physicians, philosophers, contemplative scholars, and humanists, Mind and Life aims to uncover the mysteries behind this triad, and in so doing, deliver individuals out of limitation and illness and into greater well-being.

In addition to the Dalai Lama, the 2013 Dialogue will present the work of leading thinkers from the fields of addiction and contemplative studies, including: Kent Berridge, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Michigan; Sarah Bowen, acting assistant professor at the University of Washington; Wendy Farley, professor of religion at Emory University; Vibeke Asmussen Frank, deputy director of the Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research at Aarhus University; Thupten Jinpa, adjunct professor at McGill University; Marc Lewis, neuroscientist and author of Memoirs of an Addicted Brain; Matthieu Ricard, Buddhist monk at the Schechen Monastery; and Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health. The discussions will be moderated by Richard Davidson, director of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds; Roshi Joan Halifax, founder of the Upaya Zen Center; Diana Chapman Walsh, president emerita of Wellesley College; and Arthur Zajonc.

The five days will explore the neuroscience of craving, the psychology of desire and addiction, the cycle of addictive behavior, the role of dopamine in the addicted brain, the factors society and culture play in addiction, and how contemplative practices can be effective in treatments.

Past Dialogues have focused on a spectrum of issues that cry out for meaningful solutions involving both science and contemplative inquiry. These issues have included ecology, ethics, neuroplasticity, caring economics, attention, memory, and destructive emotions, among many others.

In fact, Mind and Life itself was founded on the basis of a dialogue. When the Dalai Lama; Adam Engle, a lawyer and entrepreneur; and Francisco Varela, a neuroscientist, first met, the trio agreed that although science had become the dominant framework for investigating the nature of reality—and the modern source for knowledge that could help improve the lives of humans and the planet—it alone was incomplete as an approach. While science relies on empiricism, technology, “objective” observation, and analysis, Varela, Engle, and the Dalai Lama were convinced that well-refined contemplative practices and introspective methods could, and should, be used as equal instruments of investigation—instruments that would not only make science more humane but also ensure its conclusions were far-reaching. Mind and Life was formed to bridge this divide and spearhead more fulsome progress in human flourishing.

Since then, Mind and Life has pioneered the field of contemplative science. In pairing the oldest wisdom traditions with cutting-edge scientific research, contemplative science uncovers the most groundbreaking—and most holistic—insights into the human mind and condition. These insights have come to be regarded as some of the most important breakthroughs of our time. While Mind and Life’s work operates in an array of rigorous fields—neuroscience, psychology, medicine, ethics, religion, anthropology, and others—it is always guided by the Institute’s larger mandate to alleviate suffering, cultivate kindness and compassion, and advance human flourishing.

For more information, please contact:

Brendan Tapley
Director of Communications
Mind & Life Institute
4 Bay Road, Suite 101
Hadley, Massachusetts 01035
413.387.0710 extension 115