Today, His Holiness the Dalai Lama participated in a full-day open symposium on ‘States of Consciousness: Traditional Knowledge Meets Neuroscience’ held at the Golden Hall of World Trade Center in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The symposium was co-hosted by Federal University of Sao Paulo and the Albert Einstein Research Hospital’s Brain Center.
Before attending the symposium, His Holiness met privately with Dr. Walter Manna Albertone, Dean of the Federal University of Sao Paulo (UNIFESP) and Dr Claudio Lottenberg, President of the Albert Einstein Research Institute, as well as the panelists of the symposium which included Dr. Luiz Eugenio de Mello, Prof. Edson Amaro, Prof. Elisa H. Kozasa, Dr. Caroline Schnakers, Dr. Adrian Owen, Dr Tamara Russell, and Geshe Lobsang Tenzin.
Dr. Luiz Eugenio A. M. Mello, a former Dean of the Federal University of Sao Paulo, opened the symposium by giving a brief background of the UNIFESP-Tibet Partnership Program started during His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s previous visit to Sao Paulo in April 2006. Dr. Walter Manna Albertone, Dean of the Federal University of Sao Paulo (UNIFESP) and Dr Claudio Lottenberg, President of the Albert Einstein Research Institute, highlighted the importance of the symposium and welcomed the panelists of the symposium as well as audience.
The morning session of the symposium focused on a panel discussion on Minimal and Unusual States of Consciousness. At the session, Dr. Caroline Schnakers of the University of Liegue, Belgium, gave a presentation on Minimally Consciousness State—clinical implications; Dr. Andrian Owen, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging of the University of Western Ontario, spoke on Minimally consciousness state—Neuroimaging research; and Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi of Emory University in Atlanta spoke on Consciousness from the Buddhist perspective. After the presentation His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave brief remarks. This was followed by discussion among the panelist. This session was moderated by Dr. Luiz Eugenio A. M. Mello.
In the afternoon, His Holiness the Dalai Lama had a Press Meeting with the Brazilian media. At the press meet His Holiness said that too much attention is being paid to a secondary level of difference between people and neglected the basic oneness of human beings. Similarly, he said, not only in the past but even today there are conflicts in society based on religious traditions. Therefore, he said, he makes an effort to highlight these values and the oneness of human beings as well as promoting harmony among various religious traditions. He said that the media too has equal responsibility to spread information about these things, apart from reporting sensational news about day to day events.
Since Brazil is an emerging economy and it is growing rapidly, he said, there may be possibility that some mischievous people may want to take advantage and exploit the situation. As such, he said, it is important for the media to be alert and report objectively on the unhealthy practices in the society including corruption.
While commenting on question about His Holiness’ observation about progress in ecological protection and social development since the Rio de Janeiro World Environment Summit in1992, His Holiness said in general, there is more awareness on the ecological issue and more enthusiasm among governments to redress the ecological destruction, which, he thinks, are positive signs, although some governments want to put the individual nation’s interest before the global interest, which, he thinks, is not a sound approach.
After the press meet, His Holiness went to the Golden Hall of World Trade Center to join the second session of the open Symposium on ‘States of Consciousness — Traditional Knowledge meets with the Neuroscience. The second session of the symposium focused on panel discussions on Brain Plasticity and Contemplative Practice. During the session, Dr. Adison Amaro of the Unviersity of Sao Paulo and Director of the Brain Center of the Sao Paulo based Albert Einstein Research Hospital, gave his presentation on brain plasticity implications in cognition and emotions; Dr Tamara Russell of London King’s College, spoke about clinical applications of contemplative practices; and Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi of Emory University spoke about brain plasticity and contemplative practice. After presentations, His Holiness gave a brief remark and this was followed by lively discussions among the panelists including His Holiness. Later, His Holiness also responded some questions from the audience. The session was moderated by Dr. Elisa H. Kozasa.