The Mind and Life Institute emerged as “a bold experiment” in 1987 from the efforts of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Adam Engle, and Francisco Varela. Between ML IX and X, co-founder and visionary scholar Francisco Varela passed away, a tremendous loss for all of us who seek … Read more »
Ethan Corey, The Amherst Student: B. Alan Wallace ’87 is not the typical Amherst alumnus. Author of more than 20 books on Buddhism and science and a practicing Buddhist monk for the entirety of his time at the College, he now goes on meditative retreats for months on end, performing psychological experiments in a lucid dream state to attempt to discover the true nature of reality, happiness and suffering.
Finding His Own Path
Wallace was born to a devoutly Christian family and spent his youth travelling the world with his Protestant theologian father. However, he was strongly interested in science from a young age …
Schoolteachers who underwent a short but intensive program of meditation were less depressed, anxious or stressed – and more compassionate and aware of others’ feelings, according to a UCSF-led study that blended ancient meditation practices with the most current scientific methods for regulating emotions.
A core feature of many religions, meditation is practiced by tens of millions around the world as part of their spiritual beliefs as well as to alleviate psychological problems, improve self-awareness and to clear the mind. Previous research has linked meditation to positive changes in blood pressure, metabolism and pain, but less is known about the specific emotional changes that result from the practice.
The new study was designed to create … Read more »
The life of a Buddhist monk may seem far-removed from the busy, gadget-packed daily buzz most of us experience. But new research suggests daily meditation can give us a piece of the peaceful life, as the focused practice boosts attention spans.
“You wonder if the mental skills, the calmness, the peace that [Buddhist monks] express, if those things are a result of their very intensive training, or if they were just very special people to begin with,” said Katherine MacLean, who worked on the study as a graduate student at the University of California – Davis.
To find out, MacLean and colleagues had a group of 30 people with an average age of about 49 … Read more »
Om mani padme hum.
Repeat the ancient mantra—Om mani padme hum (“Hail the jewel in the lotus”), om mani padme hum—again and again until the chaos of your thoughts quiets, the thump of your heart becomes clearly evident and your attention turns to the easy movement of breath through your nostrils … in and out … in and out. You’re no longer lost in thought. You’re not spaced out. You’re paying attention to what’s going on in the present moment. You’re meditating.
Buddhists have been practicing meditations like this one and hundreds of variations for more than 2,500 years. It’s only in recent years, though, that the contemplative practice has moved into the mainstream. In … Read more »
Intensive mental training has a measurable effect on visual perception, according to a new study from the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis. People undergoing intensive training in meditation became better at making fine visual distinctions and sustaining attention during a 30-minute test.
A paper describing the results will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science and was posted on the journal website May 11. It is the first paper to be published from a major scientific study of meditation training, the Shamatha Project.
“These results show for the first time that improved perception, often claimed to be a benefit of meditation practice, underlies improvements in … Read more »
Vishvapani reviews Schettini’s heartfelt and vivid account of becoming a Tibetan Buddhist monk and his valuable reflections on what it means for westerners to practice Buddhism
When I first encountered Buddhism in the UK around 1980 there was already a generation of established practitioners, most of whom shared a common background. They were hippies … or should that be ex-hippies? Their faces lit up as they recounted their adventures: how they set out from respectable homes to discover the excitements of London’s Kings Road, join the flower children in the Haight, or make exotic journeys to the East. There were stories of dope deals that went wrong, revelatory acid trips, close shaves with bandits in … Read more »
Are science and spirituality “non-overlapping magisteria” (as the late Stephen J. Gould put it), or can some overlap indeed be found? B. Alan Wallace, lecturer, scholar, and noted Buddhist practitioner, believes that it’s time for scientists and meditators to team up (and indeed for scientists to become meditators) in order to study the mind from within.
Alan Wallace became a Buddhist monk in the early 1970s, ordained by the Dalai Lama in India. After 14 years of training and retreats, he returned to the US to study physics and the history and philosophy of science. Since then he’s been trying to find meeting points for his two enthusiasms — Buddhism and science — and this … Read more »
A new book by Buddhist practitioner and writer B. Alan Wallace aims to bridge the gap between the worlds of science and of spirituality, but positing an adventurous new “Special Theory of Ontological Relativity.” Reviewer William Harryman expresses ambivalence about Wallace’s bold endeavor.
I like Alan Wallace. He is one of my favorite Buddhist scholars. In fact, I recently reviewed his newest book — Mind in the Balance — very favorably. When he is talking about Buddhism, he is in his element. There are few people writing today with a better understanding of Buddhist history and tradition, especially Tibetan Buddhism, than Wallace. When he gets into the field of science, however, he is less … Read more »