The Dalai Lama
(1946 - 2001)
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; Adam Engle, a lawyer and entrepreneur; and Francisco Varela, a neuroscientist. While the trio understood that science had become the dominant framework for investigating the nature of reality — and the modern source for knowledge that could help improve the lives of humans and the planet — the three regarded this approach as incomplete. Where as science relies on empiricism, technology, “objective” observation, and analysis, the Dalai Lama, Engle, and Varela were convinced that well-refined contemplative practices and introspective methods could, and should, be used as equal instruments of investigation — instruments that would not only make science itself more humane but also ensure its conclusions were far-reaching. The Mind & Life Institute was formed to bridge this divide and advance progress in human well-being.
Since the first dialogue with the Dalai Lama, Mind & Life has held 32 others that bring together scientists and contemplatives on a wide range of critical subjects: addiction, ecology, ethics, attention, neuroplasticity, destructive emotions, altruism, economics, and more. Additionally, over the past 26 years, Mind & Life’s work has extended beyond the Dialogues. The Institute has become a direct funder of individual research via its grant and scholarship programs. It convenes an annual Summer Research Institute, as well as the field’s marquee biennial conference: the International Symposium for Contemplative Studies. In the process, Mind & Life has become more than just a leader in the field of contemplative science; it has become an incubator for discovery in all of the fields this new science touches. The Institute’s impact has been chronicled in numerous best-selling books, including Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain by Sharon Begley; Destructive Emotions by Daniel Goleman; and The Dalai Lama at MIT by Anne Harrington and Arthur Zajonc. Through the support of Mind & Life, researchers have produced dozens of pivotal studies and more than 200 journal articles, chapters, and books; participated in more than 300 public talks; obtained prestigious faculty appointments, fellowships, and directorships; and been awarded more than $62 million in follow-on funding.
Breath Counting Tool
Neuroscientists specialize in the study of the brain and the nervous system. They are inspired to try to decipher the brain’s command of all its diverse functions. Over the years, the neuroscience field has made enormous progress. Scientists continue to strive for a deeper understanding of how the brain’s 100 billion nerve cells are born, grow, and connect. They study how these cells organize themselves into effective, functional circuits that usually remain in working order for life.
Brain researchers are motivated to understand behavior. How do cell circuits enable us to read and speak? How and why do we form relationships? How do we think, remember, despair, or motivate? Scientists discover possible causes of devastating disorders of the brain and body, as well as ways to prevent or cure them. And they strive to advance a centuries-old scientific quest to understand how the world around us works.
There is a course available online from Harvard called The Fundamentals of Neuroscience that you can take at no cost. Follow the link and follow the directions. You will find a series of video lectures, animations and demonstrations that provide a tremendous amount of information about neuroscience and the brain. The information above was taken from an article in The Journal of Neuroscience, the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience.