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Buddhadharma : Spring 2006
buddhadharma| 87 |spring 2006 coNteNtS riBur rinpoche, a master in the Geluk school, passed away in India on January 15. He was 83. Many Western students attended his teachings at FPMT centers and at the Jewel Heart Center in Michigan. Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Gehlek Rinpoche were among his stu dents. Born in Tibet, Ribur Rinpoche was recognized as a tulku by the 13th Dalai Lama, and went on to study at Sera Monas tery, earning his geshe degree in 1948. When Communist Chinese forces invaded Tibet, he was imprisoned for over a decade and subjected to torture. Following his release, Rinpoche began work to recover and restore Tibet’s great spiritual objects and statues. He escaped to India in 1985, and later began traveling around the world, giving teachings. ■ The BuD- DhiSt puBLiSherS’ booths were positioned in close proxim ity at the Frankfurt Book Fair last October, a suggestion made to the organizers by Parallax Press pub lisher Travis Masch. Masch says he hopes Buddhist publishers in the U.S. will work closer together in the future, and perhaps even host a Buddhist book fair some day. After all, says Masch, “we walk the same path and respond to the same audience.” Below, left to right, are Wisdom Publication’s Tim McNeil; Shambhala Publica tion’s Jonathan Green, Sara Ber cholz, and Samuel Bercholz; and Parallax’s Travis Masch. i t’s not surprising that His Holiness the Dalai Lama − who likes to say that if he hadn’t become a monk, he’d have been an engineer − should so often find himself involved with the para- doxical relationship of the mate- rial and the spiritual. On his fall trip to the U.S ., which coincided with publication of his new book, The Universe in a Single Atom, he gave teachings in Tucson, New York City, and San Francisco, and joined a webcast dialogue at Stan- ford University between neurosci- entists and Buddhist scholars during a daylong program called “Craving, Suffering, and Choice: Spiritual and Scientific Explora- tions of Human Experience.” In Washington, D.C., he participated in three days of dialogue on the science and clinical applications of meditation at the thirteenth meeting of the Mind and Life Institute, which he cofounded in 1987 to foster dialogue and research between modern science and contemplative traditions, especially Buddhism. The Mind and Life meet- ings, five two- to three-hour ses- sions cohosted by Georgetown University Medical Center and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, generated intense dialogue between spiritual prac- titioners and neuroscientists, biologists, and psychologists. The scientists outlined recent cutting-edge data on neuro- plasticity, immunology, stress, chronic depression, neural path- ways in normal and abnormal mood states, mindfulness-based stress reduction therapies, and brain-imaging studies that seem to verify and quantify specific neurological effects of medita- tion. These presentations gener- ated probing questions from His Holiness, the dharma teachers who joined him on stage, and practitioners in the audience. But the presentation that aroused par- ticular interest was by Frankfurt- based researcher Wolf Singer on the widely distributed patterns of neuronal firing in the cerebral cortex, because it seemed to confirm − or at least support − the no-self vision of Buddhism. One day after the Mind and Life meetings, the Dalai Lama delivered the keynote address at the annual meeting of the Society of Neuroscience. His invitation to do so was controversial. In the days leading up to the meeting, 1,002 brain researchers signed a petition stating that his appear- ance would “highlight a subject with largely unsubstantiated claims and compromised sci- entific rigor and objectivity.” A counter-petition, signed by 895, argued that since “science itself can be viewed as its own sort of religion ... the very opposition to mixing religion and science may itself be a form of religious belief.” The petition’s ultimate effect was minimal − there was no on- site protest, and the Society itself demonstrated vigorous support for the Dalai Lama’s visit. Dr. Carol Barnes, the Society of Neurosci- ence president, defended her decision, saying, “The practice of meditation is a human behavior, and the Dalai Lama is extraordi- narily skilled at it and at promot- ing qualities of peace and compassion.” Larry Shainberg is a freelance writer and author of the memoir Ambivalent Zen. EDITOR, ANDREA MCQUILLIN 88 / ENSO SpeAkS VoluMeS ı 89 / SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET Author DieS ı 90 / iMS turNS 30 MahaSangha News Spring 2006 MARKGATTERCLAUDIOBOHORQUEZCOPYRIGHT(C)2005,SOCIETYFORNEUROSCIENCE the DaLai Lama’S ScientiFic agenDa By Larry Shainberg