Scans of Monks' Brains Show Meditation Alters Structure, Functioning
SCIENCE JOURNAL By SHARON BEGLEY - WJS.com - November 5, 2004
All of the Dalai Lama's guests peered intently at the brain scan projected onto screens at either end of the room, but what different guests they were.
On one side sat five neuroscientists, united in their belief that physical processes in the brain can explain all the wonders of the mind, without appeal to anything spiritual or nonphysical.
Facing them sat dozens of Tibetan Buddhist monks in burgundy-and-saffron robes, convinced that one round-faced young man in their midst is the reincarnation of one of the Dalai Lama's late teachers, that another is the reincarnation of a 12th-century monk, and that the entity we call "mind" is not, as neuroscience says, just a manifestation of the brain.
It was not, in other words, your typical science meeting.
But although the Buddhists and scientists who met for five days last month in the Dalai Lama's home in Dharamsala, India, had different views on the little matters of reincarnation and the relationship of mind to brain, they set them aside in the interest of a shared goal. They had come together in the shadows of the Himalayas to discuss one of the hottest topics in brain science: neuroplasticity.