Mind & Life Europe Videos

Thanks to Auditorium Netzwerk, we are able to make a range of films accessible to you, including presentations from the Contemplative Science Symposium in October 2019.

Additionally, we are making a documentary about Mind & Life co-founder Francisco Varela available, kindness of filmmaker Franz Reichle.

MLE 'Mind Matters' series: Richard J. Davidson

This talk of Richard J. Davidson (William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and Founder & Director of the Center for Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison) was streamed live on November 12, 2020 on the topic of "Well-Being is a Skill".

About the online event: Well-Being is a Skill. This talk considered scientific evidence that suggests that we can change our brains by transforming our minds and cultivate habits of mind that will improve well-being. These include happiness, resilience, compassion and emotional balance. These mental training strategies can be used to improve the well-being of children, teachers, parents and ultimately communities. The talk provided an overview of neuroscientifically validated constituents of well-being and will illustrate how each of these is rooted in specific brain circuits that exhibit plasticity and thus can be modified through training. These practices can be applied in a wide range of contexts and have the potential to positively impact social change.

Trilogy: Francisco Varela (by Franz Reichle)

Explore the three documentaries by Franz Reichle that illustrate the life and work of Mind & Life's co-founder, Francisco Varela.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Learn more about the relationship between Mind & Life and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, one of the co-founders.

Insights from our Symposium 2019

Experience different formats of our Contemplative Science Symposium (CSS), e.g. Brother David's keynote on going "Beyond Confines".

MLE Dialogue with the Dalai Lama (September 17, 2020)

The Mind & Life Europe Dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama centered on the topic of "Our common Humanity amidst Uncertainty".

About the online event: His Holiness the Dalai Lama engaged in a dialogue on Cultivating our Common Humanity amidst Uncertainty, an initiative of Mind & Life Europe from his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on September 17, 2020. Participants include Amy Cohen Varela (Chairperson, Mind & Life Europe), Matthieu Ricard (Honorary Board Member, Mind & Life Europe), and Andreas Roepstorff (Professor, Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus University).

Please click here to read the summary about the MLE Dialogue on the official website of the Dalai Lama.

MLE 'Mind Matters' series: Roshi Joan Halifax and Amy Cohen Varela

This exclusive MLE interview was streamed live on August 1, 2020. Themed "Standing at the Edge", Roshi Joan Halifax (MLE Honorary Board Member) was interviewed by Amy Cohen Varela (MLE Board Chair).

About the online event: Roshi Joan Halifax is a Zen Buddhist teacher, anthropologist, activist and Founder, Abbot and Head Teacher of Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At this exclusive event she was be talking to Amy Cohen Varela about her history as an activist, contemplative teacher and leader, her longstanding relationship with Mind and Life, and what it means to “stand at the edge” in the times of uncertainty and impermanence we are experiencing today.

Contemplative Science Symposium 2019

Keynote: Brother David Steindl-Rast on "Beyond Confines"

At the Contemplative Science Symposium 2019, Brother David Steindl-Rast opened the three-day event with an insightful and inspiring keynote.

"Why is it so important a topic to go beyond confines? Because we are - as a human family - confronted today with challenges which only united we can meet." - Brother David Steindl-Rast, 2019

We thank our partner Auditorium Netzwerk for providing free access to this video.

Panel: Education

At our Contemplative Science Symposium in 2019, experts discussed the role of education in today's society and its development towards integration of more contemplative elements. The panel was led by Andreas Roepstorff and included the following speakers: Katherine Weare, Mary-Helen Immordino-Yang, Jamila Tressel and Dan Siegel.

We thank our partner Auditorium Netzwerk for providing free access to this video.

Keynote: Roshi Joan Halifax

At the Contemplative Science Symposium 2019, Roshi Joan Halifax inspired the audience with her insightful keynote.

We thank our partner Auditorium Netzwerk for providing free access to this video.

Panel: Economics

At the Contemplative Science Symposium, experts from research and business came together to discuss connections between contemplative studies and the field of economics. The respective panel discussion was led by Cornelius Pietzner and include three speakers with different backgrounds: Tania Singer, Christian Felber, Nipun Mehta.

"Money must not be our master but our servant. We should create spaces, where we interact without money to take it out of our allday interpersonal behaviour. Give with all your heart, give without needing something in return and then think about who is telling you the story that you need to sell your work." - Nipun Mehta, 2019

We thank our partner Auditorium Netzwerk for providing free access to this video.

Keynote: Dan Siegel

Last year at our Symposium, Dan Siegel talked about the interconnections of "me" and "we". His keynote discusses questions like 'What is the Mind, What is Self?' and 'How can we Cultivate a Healthy Mind and Self?".

"Belonging is part of the path and how to create that in a community is the question." - Dan Siegel, 2019

We thank our partner Auditorium Netzwerk for providing free access to this video.

Panel: Politics

At the Contemplative Science Symposium 2019, four outstanding speakers from the field of politics participated in the panel discussion, moderated by Sander Tideman: Jamie Bristow, Heather Grabbe, Chris Ruane, Esther Ouwehand.

"There is an African proverb. It goes something like 'the time is urgent, we must slow down'." - Jamie Bristow, 2019

We thank our partner Auditorium Netzwerk for providing free access to this video.

Conversation between Brother David Steindl-Rast and Roshi Joan Halifax

At the Contemplative Science Symposium 2019, Brother David Steindl-Rast and Roshi Joan Halifax engaged in a conversation about the self, interactions with other people and the power of gratefulness.

"Gratefulness means to put your mind to the fact that everything is been given to us. Every moment gives you an opportunity to enjoy and to be in this very moment. Maybe to do something difficult. One cannot be grateful for everything, but one can be grateful in every moment." - Brother David Steindl-Rast, 2019

We thank our partner Auditorium Netzwerk for providing free access to this video.

Trilogy about Francisco Varela (by Franz Reichle)

PART 1: Monte Grande - What is Life?

PART (1) OF THE TRILOGY FRANCISCO VARELA: Autopoiesis – Consciousness – Meditation

A documentary by Franz Reichle, 80 minutes.
«Francisco Varela was a master of synthesis. Admired, controversial, and endowed with the intoxicating passion of an exceptionally gifted researcher. He was highly instrumental in shaping modern systems theory as well as cognitive science. He was a friend of the Dalai Lama and an unorthodox inspirer on the international scientific scene. In Franz Reichle’s film – the documentary account of a man’s life in the face of imminent death – one gets to know Francisco Varela in a way that I would not have believed possible. This is the story of a man that is told affectionately and gently, touchingly and astutely. Varela spent his life building bridges: between Western science and Eastern wisdom, neurobiology and philosophy, abstract theory and practical life. This film succeeds – if only for 80 delightful minutes – in deconstructing the prevailing division between science and art.» Bernhard Pörksen

Click here for ordering VOD (video on demand) in six different languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Greek.

PART 2: Mind & Life — Early Dialogues with the Dalai Lama

PART (2) OF THE TRILOGY FRANCISCO VARELA: Ethics – Identity – Experience

A documentary by Franz Reichle and Juliette Forster, 81 minutes.
The systematic exploration of consciousness has a longstanding tradition stretching over hundreds of years in Tibetan philosophy. Since 1987 dialogues between Francisco Varela, other Western scientists and the Dalai Lama have been conducted regularly; with topics like healing and destructive emotions, the state of consciousness during sleeping, dreaming and dying etc.. These dialogues open up new paths of knowledge building bridges between Western scientific and Tibetan buddhist thinking, which are highly relevant and meaningful for today and for the future.
«This is much more than a historical documentary: it is a sharply intelligent and at the same time poetically tender evocation of a unique human undertaking, that of the integration of science and deep spirituality.» Amy Cohen Varela, Chair of Mind & Life Europe

Click here for ordering VOD (video on demand) in four languages: English, German, French, Spanish.

>> A GIFT FOR YOU: use the code 'MLE' to gain free access to the video on demand.

PART 3: Francisco Cisco Pancho - Autobiography and Oral Anthology


A documentary by Franz Reichle, 42 minutes.
The personal history of Francisco Varela as told by him on his veranda in Monte Grande, Chile, on February 17, 2001 when he was already greatly weakened by chemotherapy but still extremely present and awake, three months before he died on May 28, 2001.
As very few before him have done, Francisco Varela attained levels of accomplishment in Western science as well as in Buddhist philosophy and meditation.

ORAL ANTHOLOGY, 155 minutes.

Individual interviews by Francisco Varela, Amy Cohen Varela, Bruno Latour, H.H. Dalai Lama, Tsoknyi Rinpoche; and poems by Francisco Varela, read by his father, Raúl Varela Rodríguez.

Click here for ordering VOD (video on demand) in four different languages: English, German, French, Spanish; the autobiography only is also available in Russian.

Mind & Life and His Holiness the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama - Scientist

Eighty five years ago, a little boy was born in a remote corner of Tibet. One day, miraculously, he was discovered to be the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, and he was soon carried away to the capitol city of Lhasa to become the political and religious leader of the vast kingdom of Tibet. But the little boy had a secret, locked inside his heart.

In "The Dalai Lama -- Scientist", the Dalai Lama tells the unknown story, in his own words, of his lifelong journey into the world of science and technology, and how the world has changed as a result. With extensive, rare, and never before seen footage, this film tells the very human story of the Dalai Lama that no one knows.

The complete movie is available in French, Spanish, Italian, Tibetan, Hindi, Chinese, and English.

H.H. the Dalai Lama dedicates his Liberty Medal to the Mind & Life Institute

In 2015, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was awarded the Liberty Medal. In his absence, the award was received by actor and friend Richard Gere, Mind and Life Chair Thupten Jinpa, interim Mind and Life president Carolyn Jacobs, and Mind & Life Institute board member Richard Davidson. In this video, His Holiness expresses his gratitude and dedicates his award to the Mind & Life Institute.

Insights from Contemplative Science

Francisco Varela - God & Computers: Minds, Machines, and Metaphysics (1997)

In the Fall of 1997 the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory hosted a ground-breaking and controversial lecture series titled “God and Computers: Minds, Machines, and Metaphysics.” Ten talks were given by a broad range of experts in computer science, cognitive science or A.I.; they accompanied an award-winning course in the EECS Department being taught by Dr. Anne Foerst, a Lutheran minister and post-doc at the A.I. Lab (6.915, “God and Computers”). Among other themes, speakers considered the ways in which their work intersected with spiritual and philosophical questions, and how the dialogue between computer science and technology might be expanded.

The sixth lecture in the series was presented on Nov. 11, 1997 by philosopher and neuroscientist Dr. Francisco Varela, Director of Research at the Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience (National Center for Scientific Research, Paris). In his talk titled “Why a Science of Mind Implies the Transcendence of Nature,” Varela offers a Buddhist perspective on existential questions, asserting the central importance of every-day human experience, both for the scientific study of the mind and for the quest for significant meaning in our own existence (spirituality).

Epoché (trailer; complete film forthcoming)

An ethnographic film, 58 min.

The suspension of verbal and perceptive judgment, the suspension of conceptual superimpositions on lived experience, is the common ground of both phenomenology and meditative practice. But how does one suspend judgment? How does it feel? What kinds of understanding of ourselves and our relation to others and to the world may unfold through this particular operation?

In May 2019, 40 phenomenologists and meditators met near Loire valley to form a living laboratory. Their purpose was to investigate the experience of épochè; a central concept in phenomenology, often referred to as the act of suspending judgment.

This film documents how new understandings emerge in interactions between phenomenologists and experienced meditators. Through microphenomenological interviews and meditation they come to see the contours of specific micro-acts and micro-events that appear to be key to our ability of suspending judgment.

Directed by: Christian Suhr and Claire Petitmengin. Filmed by: Christian Suhr. Edited by: Mette Bahnsen. Produced by: Christian Suhr, Mette Bahnsen, Claire Petitmengin, Natalie Depraz, and Michel Bitbol. The workshop was sponsored by Mind & Life Europe. © 2020, Mind & Life Europe and Persona Film. The complete film is forthcoming.

The Neuroscience of Compassion

Can training our brains help make the world a better place? In this video for the World Economic Forum in 2015, Tania Singer, Honorary Board Member at Mind & Life Europe, shows how our decision making is driven by a set of psychological motivations - from power to fear - that can be altered to help us make better decisions for society and for our health. 

Raising Compassion

Raising Compassion brings together a diverse group of neuroscientists, mental health professionals, and Buddhist monks. Through informal conversations they establish a remarkable exchange between science, art, and contemplative practice about compassion.

The movie was initiated by neuroscientist Tania Singer and artist Olafur Eliasson in 2011.

Commissioned by the Max Planck Institute and produced by Studio Olafur Eliasson, Raising Compassion arose from the multidisciplinary workshop „How to train Compassion“ , organized by Prof. Dr. Tania Singer, director of the Department of Social Neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science, Leipzig, and hosted, in July 2011, at Studio Olafur Eliasson, in Berlin.