Mind & Life Institute

The Mind & Life Institute is a nonprofit organization based in the United States with a focus on integrating science with contemplative wisdom traditions and practices. The Mind & Life Institute and Mind & Life Europe have a shared mission to alleviate suffering and promote human flourishing worldwide.

Our work emerged in 1987 from a meeting of three visionaries: Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama—the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and a global advocate for compassion; Adam Engle, a lawyer and entrepreneur; and Francisco Varela, a neuroscientist and philosopher.

The Mind & Life Institute convenes gatherings worldwide (except for geographical Europe). We foster dialogue between leading researchers, scholars, changemakers, and contemplative practitioners whose work explores various arenas from neuroscience to mental health, anthropology to psychology, ethics to education. Our grants support research and scholarship in these fields and beyond, to catalyze deeper examinations of compelling societal challenges and transformative ideas.

(for more information see our FAQ)



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


1. What is the nature of our relationship?

The Mind & Life Institute (MLI) and Mind & Life Europe (MLE) have a shared history and values. Both organizations however are independent and autonomous from legal, financial, programmatic, and administrative perspectives. We operate in different territories (see below) yet work together to promote each other’s respective programs.


2. What are the similarities and differences between the organizations?

Both organizations fund rigorous research grants across a range of disciplines related to contemplative sciences. MLI has three grants programs: Varela grants, PEACE grants, and Think Tanks. MLE grants the European Varela Awards.

The differences relate to where we conduct our events and actively fundraise (see below), and our research emphases. MLI focuses on the nature of the human mind, as well as the psychological, physiological, behavioral, and social impact of contemplative practices. MLE integrates scientific research and wisdom traditions for the development of contemplative studies in various initiatives such as education, nutrition, philosophy, and neuroscience.


3. Where do the organizations operate?

We both host events and actively fundraise in our defined geographic territories. Mind & Life Europe operates in geographical Europe, including the European Union, Scandinavia, the Balkans, Turkey, Russia, Switzerland, the Ukraine and the United Kingdom. The Mind & Life Institute operates worldwide excluding the Mind & Life Europe territories. 


4. How do the organizations collaborate?

We communicate regularly and coordinate with regard to programs and the direction of each organization. We ensure our programmatic calendars do not significantly overlap and we share insights and learnings that might benefit the other.