Filmed during Mind & Life Institute’s “Mind & Life XIV: The Universe in a Single Atom” on April 9-13, 2007.

Day Four

Wolf Singer
Richard Davidson
Evan Thompson

Buddhist psychology and philosophy make strong claims about the primary of subjective experience and from this perspective, Buddhist accounts have argued that there are three fundamentally distinct features of our world: 1. matter comprised of physical objects; 2. mind comprised of subjective experiences; and 3. abstract composites comprised of mental formations. Western science has grounded the study of consciousness and subjective experience in terms of the functions of the brain. The Buddhist account questions the adequacy of this reductionistic proposition and suggests that there remains a large explanatory gap. As His Holiness has asked, how do we explain the emergence of consciousness? What marks the transition from sentient to non-sentient beings?

INTERPRETER: Thupten Jinpa

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
John Dunne
Paul Ekman
R. Adam Engle
Martha Farah
George Greenstein
Matthieu Ricard
Bennet M. Shapiro
Anton Zeilinger
Arthur Zajonc


Wolf Singer, MD, PhD

Max Planck Institute

Richard J. Davidson, PhD

William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and Founder & Director of the Center for Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Founder and Chief Visionary for Healthy Minds Innovations, Inc.

Evan Thompson, PhD

University of British Columbia

Convening Faculty, Fellow, Grantee, Reviewer

Thupten Jinpa, PhD

Compassion Institute

Board Chair

Mind & Life Connections


2007 Mind & Life Dialogue XIV

The Universe in a Single Atom

Topics: Contemplative Wisdom