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Scientists Argue Over Planned Dalai Lama Lecture

US-Neurologists Argue Over Planned Dalai Lama Meditation Lecture

By Marietta Gross – Austria.

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Washington – A planned lecture by the Dalai Lama to United States scientists has caused controversy among neurologists. U.S. neurobiologist Nancy Hayes said this week she cannot support a non-scientist giving a lecture on research results in front of scientists.

The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetans, was invited to speak at the Annual Contest of the U.S. Society of Neuroscience after studies by U.S. scientists reached a conclusion that intensive meditating, as Buddhist monks practise it, could cause positive emotions.

The lecture is titled “Meditation Neurology” and the Dalai plans to talk about positive aspects of meditation.

However, 700 neuroscientists have signed a petition against the Dalai Lama’s lecture.

Controversy developed after Nancy Hayes argued that if the Dalai Lama speaks to the Congress that would equal a quality certificate of his thesis, argued Hayes. She said the Society must first establish whether the views of the Dalai Lama had a “solid scientific base”.

Proponents of the planned lecture also collected signatures. “A free discussion about the meditation physiology could result in new research strategies for the human spirit,” said neurologist Henriette van Praag from the Salk-Institute in California.

There are two other events on the Dalai Lama’s U.S. schedule: A pre-event press meeting with Hopkins Medical Dean Edward Miller and Georgetown University Professor Aviad Haramati who will talk on the topic of western medicine and society’s embrace of meditation. The Dalai Lama will also take the opportunity to deliver a speech at the public Global Peace through Compassion event.

This session of the conference, which is to be held in dialogue format, will focus on meditation based clinical interventions: science, practice and implementation, possible biological substrates of meditation, clinical research and mental health and clinical research on meditation and physical health.

Adam Engle, Chairman and co-founder with the Dalai Lama of the Mind & Life Institute, who is a co-organizer of the conference, said: "Various applications of meditation have already made their way into the mainstream of medicine and psychiatry in the treatment of stress, pain, and a large range of chronic diseases.

“The Mind and Life conference is an opportunity to review some of the recent work that has been unfolding in these areas, and to map out the potential for both broadening and deepening these investigations," Adam Engle said.

He said: "The meeting will provide an opportunity for scientists whose research is focused on basic mind-brain-body interactions to learn more about meditation and to contribute to an ongoing dialogue about the mechanisms by which meditation may influence physical and mental health."


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