Mind and Life Institute

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Mind and Life Institute
Founded 1990
Founder R. Adam Engle, Francisco J. Varela
Type Non-profit
Focus Buddhism, Neurosciences, and other Sciences
Coordinates = 42°20′17″N 72°36′27″W / 42.33793°N 72.607589°W / 42.33793; -72.607589
Method conference and publication
Key people
The 14th Dalai Lama
President Arthur Zajonc
Website www.mindandlife.org

The Mind and Life Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to exploring the relationship of science and Buddhism as methodologies in understanding the nature of reality. The institute has affiliates including notable scientists, and Buddhist practitioners, the most notable of whom is Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama.


Joan Halifax with Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, at the XIVth Mind and Life Institute conference, 2007, Dharamsala

The 14th Dalai Lama has been interested in science since childhood.[1] In 1973, he visited the astrophysics laboratory of Cambridge University. Ten years later, he participated in the conference Alpbach Symposia on Consciousness – where he met Chilean biologist, neuroscientist and philosopher Francisco J. Varela. They had several discussions later on. At the time of a visit of the Dalai Lama in France, the Dalai Lama and Varela agreed to spend a week in discussion in Dharamsala in north India. Varela also met American Buddhist lawyer and businessman Adam Engle, who also wished such an exchange. This was the origin of the first week of discussions between scientists and the Dalai Lama.

The Mind and Life programme was initiated in 1985[2] by Adam Engle and Francisco Varela to foster a dialogue between Buddhist scholars and Western scientists.[3]

At the time of the 3rd lecture in 1990 The Mind and Life Institute was formally founded.[4]

Board of directors[edit]

  • Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama, Co-Founder, Honorary Chairman
  • R. Adam Engle, JD, MBA, Co-Founder, Chair/CEO Emeritus
  • Francisco J. Varela, PhD, Co-Founder (1946–2001)[a]
  • Arthur Zajonc, PhD, Amherst College, Mind and Life President, Board Member ex officio
  • Diana Chapman Walsh, PhD, President Emerita, Wellesley College
  • Richard J. Davidson, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Raymond J Gellein, Jr., MBA, Chairman and CEO, Strategic Hotels and resorts, Inc., Mind and Life Vice Chair, Treasurer
  • Daniel Goleman, PhD, Psychologist, Author
  • Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD, Upaya Zen Center
  • Barry Hershey, MFA, Filmmaker
  • Carolyn Jacobs, PhD, Dean Emerita, Smith College School for Social Work
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Thubten Jinpa Langri, PhD, Institute for Tibetan Classics, Mind and Life Chair
  • Bennett M. Shapiro, MD, Merck Research Laboratories (retired)
  • Tania Singer, PhD, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences
  • Aaron Stern, Founder and President, Academy for the Love of Learning

Mind and Life Conferences - 'Dialogues with the Dalai Lama'[edit]

1987 : Mind and Life I[edit]

Dialogues between Buddhism & the Cognitive Sciences Dharamsala, India

Publication : Gentle Bridges: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on the Sciences of Mind ,[5]
Participants : Tenzin Gyatso, Newcomb Greenleaf, Jeremy Hayward, Robert B. Livingston, Pier Luigi Luisi, Eleanor Rosch and Francisco J. Varela. Interpreters: Thubten Jinpa and B. Alan Wallace

1989 : Mind and Life II[edit]

Dialogues between Buddhism & the Neurosciences Newport Beach, California, USA

1990 : Mind and Life III[edit]

Emotions & Health Dharamsala, India

1992 : Mind and Life IV[edit]

Sleeping, Dreaming, & Dying Dharamsala, India

1995 : Mind and Life V[edit]

Altruism, Ethics, & Compassion Dharamsala, India

1997 : Mind and Life VI[edit]

The New Physics & Cosmology Dharamsala, India

1998 : Mind and Life VII[edit]

Epistemological Questions in Quantum Physics and Eastern Contemplative Sciences Innsbruck, Austria

2000 : Mind and Life VIII[edit]

Destructive Emotions Dharamsala, India

2001 : Mind and Life IX[edit]

Transformations of Mind, Brain & Emotion Madison, Wisconsin, USA

2002 : Mind and Life X[edit]

The Nature of Matter, The Nature of Life Dharamsala, India

2003 : Mind and Life XI[edit]

Investigating the Mind Cambridge, MA, USA

2004 : Mind and Life XII[edit]

Neuroplasticity: The Neuronal Substrates of Learning and Transformation Dharamsala, India

2005 : Mind and Life XIII[edit]

The Science and Clinical Applications of Meditation Washington DC, USA

2007 : Mind and Life XIV[edit]

A Dialogue on The Universe in a Single Atom Dharamsala, India

Video recording available here: http://www.youtube.com/user/gyalwarinpoche#g/c/B99CDF90B3832607

2007 : Mind and Life XV[edit]

Mindfulness, Compassion, and the Treatment of Depression October 20, 2007 — Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

2009 : Mind and Life XVIII[edit]

Attention, Memory and the Mind: A Synergy of Psychological, Neuroscientific, and Contemplative Perspectives with His Holiness The Dalai Lama April 6–10, 2009 — Dharamsala, India

Video recording available here: http://www.youtube.com/user/gyalwarinpoche#g/c/B99CDF90B3832607

2009 : Mind and Life XIX[edit]

Educating World Citizens for the 21st Century: Educators, Scientists and Contemplatives Dialogue on Cultivating a Healthy Mind, Brain and Heart October 8–9, 2009 — Washington D.C., USA

2010 : Mind and Life XX[edit]

Altruism and Compassion in Economic Systems: Dialogue between Economics, Neuroscience and Contemplative Sciences April 9–11, 2010 — Zurich, Switzerland.

2013 : Mind and Life XXVII[edit]

Craving, Desire and Addiction

Dr. Nora Volkow, Kent C. Berridge, Thupten Jinpa, Dalai Lama[11]

Gaden Phodrang Dharamsala, India, 28 October-1st November 2013.

International Conferences with other organizations[edit]

On April 11 and 12, 2014, a conference co-organized by the Mind & Life Institute and Kokoro Research Center (Kyoto University) was held over 4 sessions in Kyoto, Japan.[12]

In the Webcast announcement,[12] the videos of Sessions 3 and 4 are not available but they can be accessed on YouTube.[13][14]

Summary of Accomplishments[edit]

A summary of dialogues with the Dalai Lama together with a list of the resulting publications in book and DVD format and details of its five major research initiatives as of 2011 has been published in PDF format.[15]


  1. ^ Although Dr Varela is deceased, to honor him as a co-founder MLI like to retain his name on their directors list.


  1. ^ Tibetan Monks Learn Secrets of the Gene
  2. ^ Gay Watson, Beyond happiness: deepening the dialogue between Buddhism, psychotherapy and the mind sciences, Karnac Books, 2008, ISBN 1-85575-404-5, ISBN 978-1-85575-404-1, p. 169
  3. ^ Marcia Barinaga, Studying the Well-Trained Mind, Science, 3 October 2003, Vol. 302 no. 5642 pp. 44-46, doi:10.1126/science.302.5642.44
  4. ^ Gay Watson, op. cit. p. 170
  5. ^ Passerelles, entretiens avec des scientifiques sur la nature de l'esprit, Albin Michel 1995, Poche : Albin Michel 2000 (ISBN 2226115102)
  6. ^ Le Pouvoir de l'esprit Entretiens avec des scientifiques, Dalaï Lama XIV, Editions Fayard, 09/2000, (ISBN 221360715X)
  7. ^ Quand l'esprit dialogue avec le corps, Daniel Goleman, Editeur Guy Trédaniel 11/1998 (ISBN : 9782857079262)
  8. ^ Dormir, rêver, mourir, explorer la conscience avec le Dalaï Lama, Francisco J. Varela, Claude Levenson, Nil éditions 1998 (ISBN 2841110990)
  9. ^ Surmonter les émotions destructrices, Un dialogue scientifique avec le Dalaï Lama , Dalaï-Lama, Daniel Goleman, Editeur Robert Laffont, octobre 2003 (ISBN 2221093011)
  10. ^ The Mind's Own Physician: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama on the Healing Power of Meditation, Jon Kabat-Zinn and Richard Davidson (New Harbinger, January 2012)
  11. ^ Mind and Life Conference Discusses Addiction , VOA, 28 october 2013
  12. ^ a b "Webcast: The International Colloquium: Mapping the Mind (A Dialogue between Scientists and Contemplative Scholars-Practitioners)". Kyoto, Japan: Kyoto Research Center, Kyoto University. June 28, 2014. This Colloquium was co-organized by the Kokoro Research Center (Kyoto University) and Mind & Life Institute (USA) and convened in the presence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. 
  13. ^ "Mapping the Mind: Session 3" (Video). Youtube. Kyoto, Japan: Kyoto University Kokoro Research Center. June 28, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Mapping the Mind: Session 4" (Video). Youtube. Kyoto, Japan: Kyoto University Kokoro Research Center. June 28, 2014. 
  15. ^ "A 25 year history of accomplishment" (PDF). Dropbox. Mind and Life Institute. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  • Sharon Begley, Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves, Ballantine, January 2007 ISBN 978-1-4000-6390-1
  • Gentle Bridges: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on the Sciences of Mind Edited by Jeremy W. Hayward and Francisco J. Varela Shambhala Publications
  • Anne Harrington and Arthur Zajonc, The Dalai Lama at MIT, Harvard University Press 2006, ISBN 0-674-02319-6


External links[edit]