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Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama

by Daniel Goleman

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This is not an easy read. This is not the kind of material that I breezed through and I've found that while the rational and logical aspects kept me rooted, some realizations along the way were pretty painful. I read this with a journal next to me. And I'm not finished reading it yet. The book offers a lot of self-reflection and one of the most poignant takeaways I received from this is how the Dalai Lama had to take a break during one seminar when he learned that Westerners hated themselves. He never thought that anyone can be capable of that.

I can read this over and over again, but in different phases of my life. Really grateful for this book. ( )
  autumnleaving | Sep 27, 2013 |
Listened to audiobook. Found this to be a fascinating account of how "Western" science can now measure the cost of destructive emotions on human life and how Buddhist traditions, along with other religious traditions, have developed considerable practice and techniques for reducing the experience of destructive emotions in one's life. In particular, brain scans of an advanced buddhist monk provided astounding evidence of bodily functions responding to a variety of meditative states. The book is a fairly detailed account of a multi-day conference of presentations by Western academics and response by the Dalai Lama and fellow Buddhist practiioners.
  tjcasserly | Aug 3, 2010 |
Basically a book-length report from another Mind and Life conference, this one from 2000, but a fair bit longer and more detailed than the last one I read (Gentle Bridges), in that the narration includes background goings-on, facial expressions, assorted sidetracks and much more extensive reports from the afternoon sessions (mornings were for presentations, afternoons for discussion). The conference focused on craving, anger and delusion: their origins, natures and effects, whether and how they can ever be beneficial, and what people can do about them.

Goleman, the Dalai Lama and a bunch of philosophers, Buddhist scholars and various western brain/mind scientists got together for a series of talks and discussions, examining areas where Buddhism could learn from science and vice versa. There was an overriding effort to be practical and constructive — no easy thing when so many of the subjects being examined prompted conceptual and semantic conflict, not just between east and west but within disciplines.

Goleman plays up his friend Paul Ekman's personal demons (a temper related back to father issues) a bit heavy-handedly, maybe for dramatic effect, but overall he recounts the experience in good faith. There's also an interesting biographical chapter on Tenzin Gyatso, including an account of his student days. All in all, a very good read. ( )
  stancarey | May 21, 2008 |
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Het boeddhisme definieert drie destructieve emoties: begeerte, woede en zelfbedrog, en heeft daarover in haar lange traditie veel wijsheid verworven. Maar mystieke wijsheid is voor velen niet toegankelijk, en daarom zoekt de Dalai Lama voortdurend naar wegen om de inzichten van het boeddhisme te verbinden met die van de moderne wetenschap.
Daartoe nodigde hij vooraanstaande wetenschappers uit om een week lang met hem en met elkaar te spreken over destructieve emoties in onszelf en in de maatschappij. Onder hen waren de n euro wetenschapper Richard Davidson, de biologen Francisco Varela en Matthieu RScard en de psychologen Paul Ekrnan en Danicl Goicman, die de gesprekken bewerkte tot dit bock.
Waar komen zulke destructieve emoties vandaan? Zitten ze in onszelf of in de maatschappij? Hoe herkennen wij ze? Zijn ze te overwinnen? Wat is de rol van opvoeders daarbij? Is er een antwoord op het probleem van zinloos geweld? Is een geweldloze wereld wel mogelijk? Hoe kan destructieve emotie getransformeerd worden tot een positieve kracht?
Dergelijke vragen worden in dit bock van alle kanten beschouwd, zonder dat daarbij religieuze of weren schappelijke vooroordelen de overhand krijgen. Het resultaat is een diepgaande discussie waarin mystiek en wetenschap elkaar wederzijds inspireren, en waarin vaak verrassende antwoorden gegeven worden.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553381059, Paperback)

Destructive Emotions: How Can We Overcome Them? A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama forcefully puts to rest the misconception that the realms of science and spirituality are at odds. In this extraordinary book, Daniel Goleman presents dialogues between the Dalai Lama and a small group of eminent psychologists, neuroscientists, and philosophers that probe the challenging questions: Can the worlds of science and philosophy work together to recognize destructive emotions such as hatred, craving, and delusion? If so, can they transform those feelings for the ultimate improvement of humanity? As the Dalai Lama explains, "With the ever-growing impact of science on our lives, religion and spirituality have a greater role to play in reminding us of our humanity."

The book's subject marks the eighth round in a series of ongoing meetings of the Mind Life Institute. The varied perspectives of science, philosophy, and Eastern and Western thought beautifully illustrate the symbiosis among the views, which are readily accessible despite their complexity. Among the book's many strengths is its organization, which allows readers to enjoy the entire five-day seminar or choose sections that are most relevant to their interests, such as "Cultivating Emotional Balance," "The Neuroscience of Emotion," "Encouraging Compassion," or "The Scientific Study of Consciousness." But the real joy is in gaining an insider's view of these extraordinary minds at work, especially that of the Dalai Lama, whose curiosity, Socratic questioning, and humor ultimately serve as the linchpin for the book's soaring intellectual discussion. --Silvana Tropea

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:57:20 -0400)

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A dialogue between the Dalai Lama and a group of scientists and philosophers unites research in education, psychology, and neuroscience with Buddhist practice to discuss how to cope with, transform, and eliminate negative emotions.

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