The Human-Human Interface

The Dalai Lama on Neuroscience

Wholeness and Virtual Communities

I guess I’m getting philosophical at this time of year. Here’s a recent speech by the Dalai Lama to the Society of Neuroscience. Buddhism is one of the models of wholeness that I point to in my book, and for which I’m seeking empirical evidence in the world of technology.

“…in the Buddhist investigation of reality, at least in principle, empirical evidence should triumph over scriptural authority, no matter how deeply venerated a scripture may be…Since the primary motive underlying the Buddhist investigation of reality is the fundamental quest for overcoming suffering and perfecting the human condition, the primary orientation of the Buddhist investigative tradition has been toward understanding the human mind and its various functions.

… Whatever the truth about the final nature of consciousness – whether or not it is ultimately reducible to physical processes – I believe there can be shared understanding of the experiential facts of the various aspects of our perceptions, thoughts and emotions.

…If it turns out, as the Buddhist tradition implies, that mental practice can effect observable synaptic and neural changes in the brain, this could have far-reaching implications. The repercussions of such research will not be confined simply to expanding our knowledge of the human mind; but, perhaps more importantly, they could have great significance for our understanding of education and mental health. Similarly, if, as the Buddhist tradition claims, the deliberate cultivation of compassion can lead to a radical shift in the individual’s outlook, leading to greater empathy toward others, this could have far-reaching implications for society at large.

…Rather, I am speaking of what I call “secular ethics” that embrace the key ethical principles, such as compassion, tolerance, a sense of caring, consideration of others, and the responsible use of knowledge and power – principles that transcend the barriers between religious believers and non-believers, and followers of this religion or that religion. I personally like to imagine all human activities, including science, as individual fingers of a palm. So long as each of these fingers is connected with the palm of basic human empathy and altruism, they will continue to serve the well-being of humanity. We are living in truly one world.”

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