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Dalai Lama holds 2nd Dialogue with Russian Scientists on understanding the world

Neurobiologist Prof Pavel Balaban opening the conversation at the Dialogue Between Russian and Buddhist Scholars in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 3, 2018. (Photo courtesy: Tenzin Choejor)
Neurobiologist Prof Pavel Balaban opening the conversation at the Dialogue Between Russian and Buddhist Scholars in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 3, 2018. (Photo courtesy: Tenzin Choejor)

(TibetanReview.net, May05, 2018) – A group of Russian scientists – neurobiologists, physiologists, geneticists, and philosophers – are in Dharamshala, India, for a two-day dialogue on the universe, evolution and spirituality with Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, beginning May 3.

‘The Dialogue between Russian Scientists and Buddhist Scholars: II Dialogue on Understanding the World’ is the second in the series and opened on May 3.

Setting the stage for the dialogue, the Dalai Lama has noted: “We believe that everything come from space and disappear in space. That is what we can discuss further. In principle, we believe in several Big Bangs, not just one. Prominent Indian Nuclear Physicist Raja Ramanna has said that Quantum Physics as a new concept in the West was discovered 2000 years ago in India. Particularly Nagarjuna’s philosophical view offered exactly the same and Buddha’s own teaching Prajnaparamitra sutra mention these concepts. There is a common ground in Buddhist science and modern science.”

The Dalai Lama has also spoken about traditional ties between Russia and Tibet, noting, “When I was young in some big monastic institution, there were some Russians, Tuva, Kalmyk, Buryats, Mongolians. Some became top scholars. Traditionally we have some connection. Then politically, during 13th Dalai Lama, there was some contact established with the Tsar. During Lenin’s time, some delegation from Soviet Union also visited Lhasa. Tibetans were cautious at the time.”

The dialogue was moderated by Professor Konstantin Anokhin, PK Anokhin Institute of Normal Physiology, Moscow.

Professor Pavel Balaban, Director of Institute of Higher Nervous Activity of Russian Academy, made the first presentation, which was on Neurobiology and Neuro-Mechanism of compassion and emotion in small animals.

When Balaban noted that specific experiments had shown how small animals had emotional capacity, the Dalai Lama asked him how the brain’s ability for appreciation varied in various insects. “I always had this question. I observed that the mosquitos have their own brain. Occasionally, I give blood to mosquitoes. They come and enjoy my blood but there is no sign of appreciation. On other hand, if you feed bird and dogs, they reciprocate with sign of appreciation. So I am curious how and which level in our brains have potential of appreciation.”

They were stated to have further discussed on investigation of compassionate abilities in animals.

The two-day dialogue was based on the Dalai Lama’s book ‘The Universe in a Single Atom: the Convergence of Science and Spirituality’.

The dialogue was jointly organised by Tibet Cultural and Information Centre (Office of Tibet, Moscow) and Save Tibet Foundation in Russia with the support of the Centre of Consciousness Studies at Moscow State University, Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences and others.

The first dialogue between Russian Scientists and Buddhist scholars was held in Aug 2017 on the topic ‘The Nature of Consciousness’.

Prof Alexander Kaplan speaking as the morning session nears conclusion on the first day of the Dialogue Between Russian and Buddhist Scholars in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 3, 2018.
Prof Alexander Kaplan speaking as the morning session nears conclusion on the first day of the Dialogue Between Russian and Buddhist Scholars in Dharamsala, HP, India on May 3, 2018. (Photo courtesy: OHHDL)

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