Buddhism And Science

The Shamatha Project

To The Shamatha Project page of UC Davis: mindbrain.ucdavis.edu/people/jeremy/shamatha-project/

Meditation offers many benefits to mental and physical health. The Shamatha Project, the most comprehensive study of meditation to date, investigates the psychological and physiological processes underlying such benefits. In a randomized, controlled study, we studied how intensive meditation training affects how people think and feel. We employed cognitive and perceptual tasks, emotional provocation, questionnaires, and physiological and biochemical monitoring to assess people’s skills and behavior before during, and after long-term, intensive meditative practice.

For more information visit: http://www.sbinstitute.com/LecturesMP3.html


The International Shamatha Project

To Website: www.shamatha.org

The International Shamatha Project is an international Buddhist research project modelled after the Human Genome Project, which was one of the most ambitious and successful scientific projects in recent history. It entailed the collaboration of many scientific laboratories throughout the world to map the human genome. Throughout the years that this project was conducted, researchers around the world shared their finding so that the project could be completed most effectively for the benefit of all of humanity.

Like this great, collaborative, scientific project to explore the human genome, the International Shamatha Project will bring together dedicated Buddhist teachers and meditators from both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism to collaborate in exploring the most effective methods and conditions for achieving shamatha in today’s world.

Individual retreat centers will network with each other by way of the internet, sharing their experiences, problems, remedies, and insights. We will also collaborate with psychologists and neuroscientists conducting research on shamatha meditators to help discover which methods of shamatha are most appropriate for which kinds of people in the modern world.

Scientists may also discover the objective psychological and neurological signs corresponding to the nine stages of development leading to shamatha, thus providing a scientific map of the gradual achievement of shamatha. We have begun such collaboration in the Shamatha Project, and I am proposing that this work now be expanded worldwide, to include multiple teachers and traditions.

The achievement of shamatha is essential for the preservation of Buddhism as a true science of the mind. While many people devote themselves to the practice of vipashyana and to Vajrayana, relatively few pay serious attention to the practice of shamatha and far fewer, it seems, actually achieve it. Once shamatha is accomplished, it becomes far more feasible to achieve bodhicitta, vipashyana, and the stages of Vajrayana, and in this way, the significance of Buddhist mind science may become evident to the scientific community and to human society at large.


Results of the Shamatha Project:

To Website: Article in UC Davis Magazine

To Website: Commentary on Fetzer Institute summary of results

To Website: Fetzer Institute Shamatha Project Page

To Website: Article in Shambhala Times



The Australian Institute of Consciousness Studies: www.australianinstitute.org

The AICS is dedicated to interdisciplinary research and education to advance understanding of the nature and potentials of consciousness. Its comprehensive approach integrates the insights and techniques of contemporary science with those of the world’s classic contemplative and philosophical traditions.


Cultivating Emotional Balance

Cultivating Emotional Balance: www.cultivatingemotionalbalance.org

Cultivating Emotional Balance is a research project which arose from a dialogue between biobehavioral scientists studying emotion and the Dalai Lama, Buddhist monks, and scholars at the Mind and Life Institute in Dharamsala, India in March of 2000. See The Past, Present and Future of the Cultivating Emotional Balance (CEB) Project by Kathryn Byrnes, Ph.D


The Mind And Life Institute

The Mind And Life Institute: www.mindandlife.org

Building a scientific understanding of the mind to reduce suffering and promote well-being.


The Scientific And Medical Network:

The Scientific And Medical Network: www.scimednet.org

The Scientific and Medical Network is an interdisciplinary networking forum and educational charity exploring science, medicine, philosophy and spirituality. It hosts conferences, dialogues and talks in the UK and on continental Europe.


 B Alan Wallace Resources:

Website links for B Alan Wallace: www.alanwallace.org and www.sbinstitute.com

Allan Wallace is the founder of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies. He is a teacher of Tibetan Buddhism. There are audio talks and retreats available on his websites which are excellent resources for people interested in deepening their meditation practice. There is also much of interest on psychology, science and meditation.

“The potential of the interface between Buddhism and science is that Buddhists may encourage scientists to question their materialistic assumptions and incorporate sophisticated systems of contemplative inquiry within the scientific community. This may give rise to the first true revolution in the mind sciences, which is bound to have profound repercussions for the rest of science and humanity at large. Likewise, scientists may encourage Buddhists to question their own assumptions, to revitalize their own traditions of contemplative inquiry, and to integrate them with the empirical methods of modern science. In short, Buddhists and scientists may help each other in overcoming their tendencies to dogmatism and replace this with a fresh and open-minded spirit of empiricism.”

Alan Wallace, from Buddhism and Science Paper at Sarnath


 New book From B. Alan Wallace

Meditations of a Buddhist Skeptic: A Manifesto for the Mind Sciences and Contemplative Practice

Renowned Buddhist philosopher B. Alan Wallace reasserts the power of shamatha and vipashyana, traditional Buddhist meditations, to clarify the mind’s role in the natural world. Raising profound questions about human nature, free will, and experience versus dogma, Wallace challenges the claim that consciousness is nothing more than an emergent property of the brain with little relation to universal events. Rather, he maintains that the observer is essential to measuring quantum systems and that mental phenomena (however conceived) influence brain function and behavior.

Wallace embarks on a two-part mission: To restore human nature and to transcend it.

He begins by explaining the value of skepticism in Buddhism and science and the difficulty of merging their experiential methods of inquiry. Yet Wallace also proves that Buddhist views on human nature and the possibility of free will liberate us from the metaphysical constraints of scientific materialism. He then explores the radical empiricism inspired by William James and applies it to Indian Buddhist philosophy’s four schools and the Great Perfection school of Tibetan Buddhism.

Read an interview with the author: An Interview with B Alan Wallace