Helen Weng, PhD Speaks at Dalai Lama Conference in Mongolia


Dr. Helen Weng presents to the Dalai Lama in Mongolia on November 21. Photo by Fadel Zeidan.

Watch the video of the presentation on Facebook (Dr. Weng begins around 1:36:00).

On November 21, Osher Center research fellow Helen Weng, PhD, gave a presentation on “Socially-Engaged Buddhism and Contemplative Neuroscience” at the International Conference on Buddhism and Science in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, which was convened by the Dalai Lama.

Dr. Weng’s presentation was informed by her current research project, Evaluating Multivariate MRI Maps of Body Awareness (EMBODY), which is being done in collaboration with the East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, California, one of the most diverse Buddhist communities in the United States. She described how the EMBODY Task uses pattern recognition technology with brain data (as measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI) to identify mental states that occur during meditation. She also described how the structure and culture of the East Bay Meditation Center work to address effects of oppression within marginalized groups (such as people of color, LGBTQI community, people with disabilities, and the fat community), as well as bring awareness and change to groups in power.

Dr. Weng says, “Contemplative practices, such as mindfulness meditation, are needed to train and stabilize the mind, in order to clearly see the reality of suffering within ourselves and at societal levels. They are also needed to respond wisely–in ways that are effective at the structural level of society and done with compassion, empathy, and kindness.”

After her presentation, the Dalai Lama commented that while single-pointed meditation may reduce anger temporarily, we must also use analytical meditation to help us understand the cause of the anger and how compassion can be beneficial to overcome anger in the long term. Read more about the conference and Dr. Weng’s presentation on the Dalai Lama’s website and watch the video on Facebook (Dr. Weng begins around 1:36:00).

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