Our Mission

Bridging science and contemplative wisdom to foster insight and inspire action toward flourishing.

At the Mind & Life Institute, we bring science and contemplative wisdom together to better understand the mind and create positive change in the world. At this critical moment in history, it’s clear that efforts to address mounting global challenges must take into account our inner lives, and how individual well-being contributes to collective flourishing.

At the heart of today’s global challenges is a profound crisis of disconnection. From loneliness and isolation to racism and tribalism, our disconnection from one another is causing tremendous suffering for people and the planet. Building on our 30-year legacy, we seek to better understand the role of the human mind in creating these problems—and its potential to solve them. Through grantmaking, convenings, and strategic partnerships, we seek to foster healthy human connections.

We recognize that Mind & Life is part of a growing global movement for social change. In this spirit, we welcome new partners—as together—we strive to create a world that truly embraces our shared humanity.

Our Values


We aspire to relieve suffering through open-hearted and wise action.


We commit to be equitable, trustworthy, transparent, and respectful.


We explore with a sense of humility and courage, embracing the unknown.


In intention and action, we embrace diverse perspectives and backgrounds that enrich our expanding community.


We seek to reach our highest potential in all that we do through rigor and reflection.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Mind & Life recognizes that barriers to realizing our fundamental interconnectedness, like racism, sexism, ableism, and all types of othering, exist not only in the human mind, but are deeply embedded within institutions and structures. In 2017, we started looking deeply at how to advance the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) within our organizational structure, processes, and programs. In 2022, we launched a pilot leadership and mentorship program to support and grow the pool of Global Majority investigators in contemplative research—broadening the scope and understanding of contemplative practice to contribute to ever-expanding diversity, equity and inclusiveness. We are committed to showing up and taking action with humility and compassion in pursuing a more peaceful, equitable future for all. Learn more about our commitment to racial equity and inclusion below, and the questions we’re asking ourselves as we continue on our journey to engage in anti-racist practices.

Read our Agreements for Engaging and Interacting.

Our Strategy

Mind & Life’s grantmaking, convenings, and digital offerings fall into three main focus areas, corresponding with our commitment to nurturing individual, societal, and planetary flourishing.

Personal Well-being—We seek to better understand the role of contemplative practices in helping people develop healthy mental habits—and resilience. Mind & Life-supported dialogue and research examine the impact of negative emotions such as fear, anger, and anxiety in our lives, and how to nurture positive emotions, including love, compassion, gratitude, and forgiveness. 

Compassionate Communities—We explore how the inner workings of the mind influence the formation of the views, behaviors, and social systems that separate us, and the role of contemplative practice in creating more compassionate communities. Our efforts include taking steps to diversify the field of contemplative science. 

Human-Earth Connection—We investigate how the union of contemplative wisdom and science can lead to greater awareness of the interconnectedness of all life—and action—to support and sustain both individuals and the earth’s living systems. Areas of study include how contemplative practice influences how people experience and respond to climate change, and the role of earth-honoring practices in reawakening our collective responsibility as stewards of our planetary future. 

Read more about our vision for humanity.

Our Roots

A crowd gathers at the 1992 Mind & Life Dialogue 4 to observe an EEG recording, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Adam Engle, Francisco Varela, Alan Wallace, Jerome (Pete) Engle, Barry Hershey, Thupten Jinpa, Roshi Joan Halifax, Alex Berzin, Charles Taylor, Thubten Chodron, Renukah Singh, and others. Greg Simpson is wearing the electrode cap. Credit Cliff Saron.

Mind & Life emerged in 1987 from a meeting of three visionaries: Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama—the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and a global advocate for compassion; Francisco Varela, a scientist and philosopher; and Adam Engle, a lawyer and entrepreneur.

The trio understood that science was the dominant framework for investigating the nature of reality, and the modern source for knowledge that could help improve life for people and the planet. And they wondered: what impact could be achieved through combining scientific inquiry with the transformative power of contemplative wisdom?

While science relies on empiricism, technology, “objective” observation, and analysis, the Dalai Lama, Varela, and Engle were convinced that well-refined contemplative practices and introspective methods could be used as equal instruments of investigation. They saw the potential not only to make science itself more humane, but also to ensure its conclusions were far-reaching. They formed the Mind & Life Institute to bridge this divide and advance human well-being.


Careers at Mind & Life Institute

At Mind & Life, we bring science and contemplative wisdom together to better understand the mind and create positive change in the world. Join us!

Mind & Life Europe

Mind & Life Europe is our sister organization. We have a shared mission to alleviate suffering and promote human flourishing worldwide as part of the vision of founders His Holiness the Dalai Lama, neuroscientist Francisco Varela, and businessman Adam Engle.

Contact the Mind & Life Institute

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