Past Event

Beyond the Hype: “Buddhism and Neuroscience” in a New Key

November 11, 2016
9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
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Deutsches Haus, Columbia University, 410 West 116th Street, New York

Over the past three decades, since the creation of the Mind and Life Institute in the 80s under the auspices of the Dalai Lama and the neurobiologist Francisco Varela, a series of conferences have introduced the idea of a convergence between Buddhism and neuroscience. Neuroscientists have been particularly interested in the possible neural correlates of Buddhist meditation, and their experiments have contributed to the current popularity of Mindfulness and derived techniques, such as “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.” Apart from meditation, a number of important issues, such as notions of self and non-self, or Buddhist ethics and neuroethics, have been discussed. Yet, because of the media attention and a desire to reach consensus, problems and disagreements between the two fields have sometimes been ignored or downplayed, and the conversation has been limited to certain forms of Buddhist thought and practice. The time has come to move “beyond the hype” and to engage in a broader and more critical discussion. With its strong programs in Neuroscience and Buddhist Studies, Columbia University is a natural venue for this conversation. This workshop will include a dozen scholars from both the scientific and the social science fields.

Conference Organizers:

  • Bernard Faure, Kao Professor in Japanese Religion, Columbia University
  • Lydia H. Liu, Director, ICLS and EALAC, Columbia University


  • Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life
  • Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures, Barnard College
  • The Center for Science and Society
  • Neuroscience & History

Free and open to the public. Please visit the event website for more details.