ABOUT THIS PODCAST
The Upaya Dharma Podcast features Wednesday evening Dharma Talks and recordings from Upaya’s diverse array of programs. Our podcasts exemplify Upaya’s focus on socially engaged Buddhism, including prison work, end-of-life care, serving the homeless, training in socially engaged practices, peace & nonviolence, compassionate care training, and delivering healthcare in the Himalayas.
since April 18, 2016
Reality is Boundless: Interdependence in Zen and Science, Wednesday May 15
As a prelude to this year’s Varela Symposium, Sensei Al Kaszniak discusses interrelated themes from science, Buddhism, complexity, boundlessness, and reality. Do our sense organs actually represent reality as it really is? What is the interaction between our mind and our genome? Does the experience of emotion have a biological foundation? Sensei Al answers these questions and reminds us that “it may really be vitally important for us to rest often in timelessness and spaciousness, deeply experiencing how who we really are is completely interconnected with everyone and everything else in the universe.”
John Dunne, Sensei Al Kaszniak, Perla Kaliman, Adam Frank, Amy Cohen-Varela, Richard Davidson, and Roshi Joan Halifax discuss a variety of topics ranging from epigenetics and neuroscience, to a philosophy of science which incorporates Buddhist notions of emptiness, the primacy of human experience and relationality. This year’s symposium explored some of the most radical issues of our time, and was a deep dive into a view of reality that has profound implications for how we live our lives. The Symposium honors Francisco Javier Varela García, Roshi Joan’s dear friend and colleague, who was a Chilean biologist, philosopher, and neuroscientist best known for co-founding the Mind and Life Institute to promote dialog between science and Buddhism.
We are delighted to share this series with you.
VARELA SYMPOSIUM: The Science of Connection, Complexity, and Emptiness
Part 1 of 8, Thursday May 16
Amy Cohen-Varela discusses her late husband, Francisco Varela’s, pioneering work in neuroscience, philosophy, and biology. She discusses the vital significance of relationship to life and experience. Themes from his work include his theory of enaction, autopoiesis, sense making, and identity making. Amy describes the motivations that underlie her husband’s work, saying, “the passion that drove him from start to finish was one of bringing science home to human experience, and the loam in which experience is rooted is relationship.”
Part 2 of 8, Friday May 17
Richard Davidson discusses his groundbreaking work in neuroscience. He divides his talk into what he calls “the four components of well-being:” awareness, connection, insight, and purpose. His work explores connections between meditation and its effects on the brain, especially as it relates to these four components. One example of this kind of research is the amygdala, which is commonly associated with salience, and now, we are learning, with compassion and altruism. Newer research has established that long-term meditators have longer amygdalas.
Part 3 of 8, Friday May 17
Richard Davidson answers a question from the panel related to the connection between insight, compassion, and emptiness, and reads a Tibetan prayer called the Aspiration for Mahamudra which clarifies the connection between the three. He also answers questions about what a non-objective reality might be, what the neural relation is to salience, self-regulation and resilience, what the effects of social media might be, and what the implications of lifestyle choices might be to well-being.
Part 4 of 8, Saturday May 18