Meditating on the mind

By Nicole Neroulias, Inside Bay Area, Nov 3, 2005

Science, spirituality merge for Dalai Lama's Stanford visit

San Francisco, USA -- What can a simple Buddhist monk teach neuroscientists about the human brain? Plenty, say hundreds of Bay Area medical researchers and scholars eagerly awaiting tomorrow's arrival of the 14th Dalai Lama, the exiled leader of Tibet.

The Dalai Lama will lead three discussions on meditation and the mind Friday and Saturday at Stanford University, hosted by the Office for Religious Life, the Aurora Forum, the Center for Buddhist Studies and the School of Medicine.

The ancient Buddhist tradition of intense meditation has much to offer neuroscience, while Western research can test the mental states achieved through its practice, explained William Mobley, director of the medical school's Neuroscience Institute.

"Both cultures see brain function as important, and both are informed by observations," he said.

Exchanging information

Although best known for his teachings on compassion and non-violence, the Dalai Lama has always enjoyed talking with scientists, particularly about the origin of the universe, said Tenzin Tethong, Dalai Lama Foundation president and a visiting lecturer on Tibetan history at Stanford.

"Of course, people often think he's trying to convert scientists to Buddhism, but I don't think the Dalai Lama has an agenda," he said. "He's interested in science and at the same time he's trying to share Buddhist views about the nature of mind and consciousness. That's at the heart of what neuroscientists are trying to do - understand how the brain works."

The 70-year-old religious leader's public interest in neuroscience has stirred up national controversy, with more than 500 researchers signing a petition against his upcoming Washington D.C. lecture to the Society for Neuroscience. However, the only complaints registered by his Peninsula visit concern the shortage of tickets.

After several failed attempts to gain admission, Diarmuid Rooney, director of the Mercy Center in Burlingame, said staff at the Catholic-based meditation and spiritual retreat site are resigned to watching the events on the Internet. His own disappointment is alleviated by his cherished memory of attending the Dalai Lama's visit to Ireland 10 years ago.

"They have an expression in Buddhism, called 'Dharma' - the truth. 'Dharma Rain' means being in the presence of someone holy. Just being in their presence alone is a gift and a grace," he said.

Ocean of wisdom

Buddhism began 2,500 years ago in India, when a wealthy young man abandoned his possessions in search of the meaning of life and became the Buddha, the enlightened one. Buddhists believe life is filled with suffering, which can be alleviated through meditation and self-control.

Born to a peasant family in Tibet, Tenzin Gyatso was only a toddler when he was recognized as the reincarnation of his predecessor, the 13th Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama, which means Ocean of Wisdom, is the manifestation of the Buddha of Compassion.

After a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese occupying forces, the Dalai Lama fled with 80,000 Tibetans to Dharmsala, India.

He has spent the ensuing decades preaching non-violence and preserving his country's language, history and culture.

The 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner, known as His Holiness to his followers, has authored numerous books on spirituality, meditation and peace, including the 1998 best-seller "The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living" and the September release, "The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality."

Event details

When the Dalai Lama visited Stanford in 1994, tickets were available only to students, faculty and staff. Loudspeakers were set up in the Quad for non-ticket holders to hear the address.

This time, the events will be broadcast live on KZSU-FM (90.1) and at, where the footage will remain archived for later viewing.

From 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. tomorrow, the Dalai Lama will lead a meditation session and answer questions at Maples Pavilion for "Meditation and Teaching by the Dalai Lama."

From 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. tomorrow, he will be hosted by the Aurora Forum in Memorial Church for "The Heart of Nonviolence: A Conversation with the Dalai Lama."

From 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, the School of Medicine will host a dialogue between the Dalai Lama, neuroscientists from Stanford and other universities, and Buddhist scholars at Memorial Auditorium on "Craving, Suffering and Choice: Spiritual and Scientific Explorations of Human Experience."

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: