In 2020, we decided to invite our wider community to participate in live events with talks by internationally renowned speakers like Roshi Joan Halifax, Richard J. Davidson, Matthieu Ricard, Mingyur Rinpoche, B. Alan Wallace, Rebecca Crane, Stephen Bachelor and Ven. Barry Kerzin.
Under the title Mind Matters, we are offering publicly accessible talks on a quarterly basis. This interactive format consists of two parts: a presentation (30-40 mins) and a Q&A session (30-40 mins).
In 2023, we are focusing on “Caring for Life,” and it is from within this perspective that we are taking up the Gaia hypothesis as a nodal point for the Mind Matters Series and as an initiatory framework for climate conversations.
Overview of Events
February 15th, 2023
Bruce Clarke & Sébastien Dutreuil: 'Gaia’s Voices: The Scientific Collaboration of James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis'
This event will also be live-streamed on the MLE YouTube channel.
|December 14th, 2022|
Martine Batchelor: "The Art of Meditative Listening and Speaking while Standing at the Edge"
|September 21st, 2022||online|
May 25th, 2022
Ven. Dr. Barry Kerzin: "No Center, No Edge: Letting Go of a Fixed Identity"
|March 9th, 2022|
Stephen Batchelor: "An Ethics of Uncertainty"
|December 13, 2021|
Prof. Rebecca Crane: "Teaching Mindfulness-Based Programs with Quality and Integrity"
|October 27, 2021|
B. Alan Wallace: "Contemplative and Scientific Ways of Knowing"
|June 17, 2021|
Mingyur Rinpoche: "What's Beyond Mindfulness?"
|February 17, 2021|
Matthieu Ricard: "A Plea for All-Inclusive Altruism"
|November 12, 2020|
Prof. Richard R. Davidson: "Well-Being is a Skill"
|August 1, 2020|
Roshi Joan Halifax and Amy Cohen Varela: "Standing at the Edge"
About this event: This talk will aim to provide a clear picture of Gaia’s emergence and growth as a scientific and cultural concept, as these developments were brought forward by the British inventor and atmospheric chemist James Lovelock (1919-2022), and his first and foremost collaborator on Gaia, the American evolutionary theorist Lynn Margulis (1938-2011). We will observe the progress of Gaia from its initial status as a radical scientific hypothesis and its subsequent elaboration along diverse conceptual lines, leading to its later mainstreaming as Earth System Science and its eventual reception in and beyond scientific practice as a contemporary philosophy of nature. But our primary focus here will be on the evocation of Gaia’s original voices, Lovelock’s and Margulis’s collaborative conversations, in their published work and especially in their working correspondence, as we have now been able to transmit them through the Cambridge University Press volume we coedited and published last fall, Writing Gaia.
About the speakers:
Sébastien Dutreuil is a research fellow in history and philosophy of science. After training in Earth sciences, he defended a thesis on the history of the Gaia hypothesis and the Earth system sciences (2016). He works on the articulations between scientific representations of the Earth and philosophies and politics of nature.
Bruce Clarke is Paul Whitfield Horn Distinguished Professor of Literature and Science in the Department of English at Texas Tech University. He has been a Baruch S. Blumberg/NASA Chair in Astrobiology at the Library of Congress; a Senior Fellow at the Center for Literature and the Natural Sciences, Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg; and a Senior Fellow at the International Research Institute for Cultural Technologies and Media Philosophy, Bauhaus-University Weimar. He coedits the book series Meaning Systems, published by Fordham University Press. His research focuses on modern literature, cybernetics and systems theory, narrative theory, and Gaia theory. His latest books are Writing Gaia: The Scientific Correspondence of James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, coedited with Sébastien Dutreuil (Cambridge 2022), and Gaian Systems: Lynn Margulis, Neocybernetics, and the End of the Anthropocene (Minnesota 2020). Other books include Neocybernetics and Narrative (Minnesota 2014), Posthuman Metamorphosis: Narrative and Systems (Fordham 2008), and Energy Forms: Allegory and Science in the Era of Classical Thermodynamics (Michigan 2001). He is the editor or co-editor of seven essay collections, most recently Posthuman Biopolitics: The Science Fiction of Joan Slonczewski (Palgrave Macmillan 2020), and with Manuela Rossini, The Cambridge Companion to Literature and the Posthuman (Cambridge 2017).
About the event: Martine Batchelor would like to explore how meditation can help us manifest creative wise compassionate awareness, especially when we are relating and communicating with each other. Meditation is the cultivation of anchoring and questioning which in turn dissolve our automatic patterns of relating and communicating, thus allowing our creativity to flow. Meditative listening is welcoming the music of life in all its aspects. This encourages receptivity and a wise compassionate attitude thus allowing our conversations to become creative dialogues which nourish our relationships specially in uncertain and stressful times.
About the speaker: Martine Batchelor lived in Korea as a Seon nun under the guidance of Master Kusan for ten years. She is the author of Let Go: A Buddhist Guide to Breaking Free of Habits. She is a member of the Gaia House Teacher Council. She teaches meditation retreats worldwide and lives in France. Her latest works are the What is this? Ancient Questions for Modern Minds and The Definition, Practice and Psychology of Vedana. Recently she has been involved with the Silver Sante Study, teaching meditation, mindfulness and compassion to seniors in France to see if this could prevent ageing decline.
About the online event:
In the arc of human history, now is the moment to recognise that mental health is a fundamental human right. And that it could become a tractable reality that can resource us to meet the pressing issues of our times. This talk will briefly set the context of the challenges and opportunities around mental health and the ethical imperative to make mental health and human (and other) flourishing a reality.
It will then briefly overview the story to date of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). This will include the key milestones over >20 years of definition, theory, innovations in research methods, effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and implementation. Most importantly, we have learned from cutting edge research that MBCT provides a cost-effective approach to helping people to prevent depression and that it can be integrated into mainstream mental health services.
Recent research has challenged us to step back and take a new perspective. Many factors, macro-, meso- and individual affect mental health and human flourishing. Mindfulness-based interventions rarely explicitly address these wider macro- and meso-factors. A conceptual framework for why and how MBCT might impact these levels is proposed. In reality, most (>400 million) people in the world today have learned mindfulness via several digital platforms, but the evidence of the effectiveness of these apps, especially over time is very limited. Moreover, mindfulness-based interventions are not a panacea, nor without risks, nor do we fully understand how or for whom they are effective. They are effective in some groups (people with chronic pain, recurrent depression), but no better than other evidence-based approaches in other groups and can even be harmful for some. How can we respond constructively, yet with humility to this evidence?How can this work best evolve to meet its full potential, using the best available theory and research? Dr. Kuyken will argue that MBCT provides a potentially robust and active vehicle for creating a world without the devastating effects of depression, where people enjoy mental health and well-being and are resourced to meet the challenges of the next 50 years.
About the speaker: Prof. Willem Kuyken is the Ritblat Professor of Mindfulness and Psychological Science at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, and Director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre. His work over >30 years has focused on depression and its prevention and treatment. This work has evolved to explore how we can promote mental health and support human flourishing in the wider population. Dr. Kuyken has published more than 100 journal articles, including key papers on the effectiveness, mechanisms, and implementation of psychological approaches to mental health. Together with Christina Feldman, he wrote Mindfulness – Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Psychology, published in 2019 by Guilford Press. He is working on two further books for Guilford Press on MBCT for the general population to support well-being.
About the online event:
We live our lives wearing blinders. Blinders narrow our experience by limiting our perspective. We take for granted that we are “here” and everything else is “over there.” Is this true? This egocentric perspective assumes that “I” am the center of the world, and everything revolves around “me.” Yet the next person assumes the same around her / she / him / he / they / them. And the next person, and the next person…
Taking off the blinders opens our perspective to the vast expanse of reality. Nothing short of total relaxation and alertness are required. Letting go of our attachment to experiencing the world through our eyes, ears and senses is required. This perspective which we adopt most of the time, takes us outward utilizing the first five primary minds associated with the senses. Dropping into the 6th mind of mental consciousness, which is independent of the senses, takes us inward. This 6th primary mind has levels of subtlety. Grossest is thinking, using concepts. Subtler is the nonconceptual mind. Subtlest is the nondual mind. Meditating on the subtle levels of the 6th mind brings inner peace and moves us towards enlightenment.
Falling down the rabbit hole we leave the world of “here” and “there.” There is no center. There is no edge. There is only pure being. Let’s explore pure being together.
About the speaker: Ven. Dr. Barry Kerzin is medical doctor, Buddhist monk, Adjunct Professor at the Univ. of Pittsburgh, Adjunct Prof. at HKU, and Honorary Prof. at the Mongolian National Univ. of Medical Sciences. He is the founder and president of the Altruism in Medicine Institute (AIMI) and founder and chairman of the Human Values Institute (HVI) in Japan. For 33 years he has been providing free medical care to the poor up to high lamas including HH Dalai Lama. He trains compassion for 18,000 nurses at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the Pittsburgh Police, and Pittsburgh Parks and Recreation department. He lectures around the world. Barry has completed a 3-year retreat, and his brain has been studied at Princeton University and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has authored four books.
About the online event: Stephen's talk drew upon both Buddhist and Greek philosophy to articulate an ethics that is grounded in compassion and unknowing rather than a priori moral convictions and metaphysical certainties. By returning to the early discourses of the Buddha and the dialogues of his Greek contemporary Socrates he sought to identify common philosophical and ethical threads that transcend the binary between “East” and “West”. In particular, he focused on exploring the kind of ethics that might best respond to the climate crisis and other threats to human and animal survival.
Stephen Batchelor is a writer, translator, teacher and artist. Born in 1953, he was ordained as a Buddhist monk at the age of twenty-one and spent ten years training in the Tibetan Geluk and Korean Son orders. Stephen has translated Shantideva’s A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life and Nagarjuna’s Verses from the Center, and is the author of Buddhism without Beliefs, Living with the Devil, Confession of a Buddhist Atheist and After Buddhism. His most recent publication is The Art of Solitude. In 2015 he co-founded Bodhi College, a European educational project dedicated to the understanding and application of early Buddhism. He lives in south-west France with his wife Martine. Stephen and his wife are also co-authors of the book What is This? Ancient Questions for Modern Minds, published in 2019. You can find out more about this book here.
About the online event: Mindfulness training is becoming increasingly accessible to everyday people in the mainstream through books, digitally, and through access to teachers. We can begin to imagine the possibility that on a societal level embedding mindfulness practice into everyday life could become recognised and promoted as a pragmatic way to support wellbeing - in similar ways to how physical exercise is perceived. This emerging engagement with contemplative practices in mainstream culture and institutions holds great promise. The promise that awareness, wisdom, and compassion become more readily accessible to us – both individually and collectively.
Although, there are particular sensitivities related to bringing contemplative practices into the mainstream. How do we meet the implementation challenge of enabling breadth of accessibility whilst sustaining the transformational potential of the practice? How do we align with the scientific evidence base whilst meeting important developmental frontiers? How do we ensure that Mindfulness-Based Programme (MBP) teachers are well prepared to guide others? How does the public know how to choose an MBP teacher? How does this emerging field skilfully navigate the tensions inherent in mainstreaming an approach that involves a paradigm shift to mainstream frameworks for understanding human experience? How do we do the work of ‘mainstreaming’ language and approach whilst also retaining the full transformational potential of mindfulness practice? How do we skilfully innovate so that MBP teaching is flexed and tailored to a diversity of contexts and populations? How do MBP teachers skilfully integrate within their teaching, the reality of this moment in time with its intersecting crises of climate and biodiversity breakdown, inequality, generational imbalances?
The talk examined these questions from the perspective of current empirical and practice-based developments and thinking, and will consider frontiers and challenges for the MBP field going forward.
Prof. Rebecca Crane directs the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice at Bangor University and has played a leading role in developing its training and research programme since it was founded in 2001. She teaches mindfulness-based programme (MBP) teachers, trainers, and supervisors internationally, and guides mindfulness retreats. She spent time in India and Thailand in her late teens and early twenties living, studying, and practising mindfulness. She trained originally as an Occupational Therapist, and later as an integrative counsellor, and worked in the UK health service offering therapy to people with complex mental health challenges for fifteen years. During the 1990s she connected with the developments at Bangor University led by Professor Mark Williams who was developing and researching Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy there. Concurrently, she trained to teach Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction at the Centre for Mindfulness, UMASS in the USA. She was appointed to lead the emerging mindfulness centre at Bangor University in 2001, and over the last twenty years has implemented the world’s first masters programme in MBPs, pioneered the development and dissemination of training approaches for MBP teachers, including the now widely implemented framework of MBP teaching skills – the MBI:TAC, and provided leadership for both Bangor University’s teaching and research teams, and for the development of the MBP field internationally. The focus of her doctorate and subsequent research and practice has been on how the integrity and depth of MBPs can be sustained in the transition into practice in mainstream settings such as the health service and schools. She has published multiple peer reviewed academic papers and has written Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Distinctive Features 2017, co-authored Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy with People at Risk of Suicide, 2017, co-edited Essential Resources for Mindfulness Teachers, 2021, and is a Principal Fellow with the Higher Education Academy.
About the online event: For millennia, contemplatives from diverse religious traditions claim to have made discoveries about the nature of the mind, consciousness, and their role in the natural world. While there are many significant differences in the doctrines of the world's religions, many of the deepest insights made by contemplatives have been intersubjectively corroborated not only within individual traditions but across traditions, suggesting that, like scientific discoveries, they may point to universal truths that transcend the frameworks of any one belief system. While the notion of 'discovery' is common to third-person scientific inquiry, it may appear misplaced in terms of first-person contemplative inquiry. In what sense do any contemplative experiences or truth-claims warrant the label 'discovery'? If their alleged discoveries are not of the same sort as scientific discoveries, how do they differ?
B. Alan Wallace is a prominent voice in the emerging discussion between contemporary Buddhist thinkers and scientists. He left his university studies in 1971 and moved to Dharamsala, India to study Tibetan Buddhism, medicine, and language. He was ordained by the Dalai Lama, and over fourteen years as a monk he studied with and translated for many of the generation’s greatest lamas. In 1984 he resumed his Western education at Amherst College where he studied physics and the philosophy of science. He did his PhD research at Stanford on the interface between Buddhism and Western science and philosophy. Since 1987 he has been a frequent translator and contributor to meetings between the Dalai Lama and prominent scientists, and he has written and translated more than 40 books. Along with his scholarly work, Alan is regarded as one of the West’s preeminent Buddhist meditation teachers. He is the founder and director of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies and of the Center for Contemplative Research in Crestone, Colorado.
About the online event: In the modern age mindfulness has become popular and its interpretation can therefore vary widely. Mingyur Rinpoche will talk about "Mindfulness and beyond" from the perspective of the Mahamudra and Dzogchen traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.
About the online event: We need a unifying concept to face the multiple challenges of the 21st century. Having more consideration for others, altruism, can allow us to have an all-inclusive approach to alleviate poverty in the midst of plenty, to care for our environment and to take seriously in consideration the fate of future generations (even though we will not be there). We must also include in our preoccupations and action the fate of the eight million other species who are our co-citizens on the planet and whose populations are shrinking at soaring speed.
About the online event: 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.
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.