• During a discussion of mental imagery that was part of a two-day conference at MIT featuring the Dalai Lama and prominent scientists, Stephen M. Kosslyn of Harvard asked the Dalai Lama what he saw in this sketch, pointing out that some people see a duck while others see a rabbit. The Dalai Lama saw both.

    During a discussion of mental imagery that was part of a two-day conference at MIT featuring the Dalai Lama and prominent scientists, Stephen M. Kosslyn of Harvard asked the Dalai Lama what he saw in this sketch, pointing out that some people see a duck while others see a rabbit. The Dalai Lama saw both.

    Photo / Donna Coveney

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  • Scientists and Buddhists discuss biobehavioral sciences at MIT Sept. 13-14

    Scientists and Buddhists discuss biobehavioral sciences at MIT Sept. 13-14

    Photo / Donna Coveney

    Full Screen

Dalai Lama enlists science in quest for 'a happy mind'

During a discussion of mental imagery that was part of a two-day conference at MIT featuring the Dalai Lama and prominent scientists, Stephen M. Kosslyn of Harvard asked the Dalai Lama what he saw in this sketch, pointing out that some people see a duck while others see a rabbit. The Dalai Lama saw both.

Dalai Lama notes potential of science


The Dalai Lama celebrated the "opportunity to make the conversation between scientists and Buddhists open and accessible to a wider community of people" in opening comments at a news conference at the Charles Hotel on Friday.

"Up to now, science mainly dealt with external things, while the Buddhist tradition is to analyze and investigate our inner world and to transform it. There is potential in working together," the Dalai Lama said.

He spoke alternately in English and Tibetan, relying on an interpreter for longer statements and addressing the Buddhist monks directly in Tibetan to clarify or emphasize certain points.

"I have encouraged and expressed my wish that more students would take an interest in science, and we have recently begun a science curriculum for selected students in scholastic monasteries," he said.

The West is "more advanced in the fields of cosmology, neurobiology, physics and psychology, and Buddhists need to study these fields. Buddhist beliefs can be changed by science. For example, the way ancient texts describe celestial bodies clearly needs to be changed," he said.

The Dalai Lama proposed an "ethics of affection" based on his observations of the bonds between mothers and children.

"I believe affection and appreciation of affection are indispensable to the survival of the child. In modern society, in the modern economic and political system, interdependence is the reality. There is a need for affection for each other. Grownups make the mistake of saying, 'I'm independent.' In reality, affection and compassion are very useful," he said.

The Dalai Lama and the monks who accompanied him wore identical flowing garments composed of brick-red outer layers over a saffron base. The Dalai Lama and several of the monks wore wristwatches, beaded bracelets, leather walking shoes and beige socks.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 17, 2003.


Topics: Humanities, Special events and guest speakers

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