Skip to content

Healing Emotions: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on Mindfulness, Emotions, and Health

October 27, 2009

Healing EmotionsHealing Emotions: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on Mindfulness, Emotions, and Health, Edited by Daniel Goleman (Shambhala, Boston & London, 1997).

Reviewed by Dennis Lewis

“Can the mind heal the body? How are the brain, immune system, and emotions interconnected? What emotions are associated with enhanced well-being? How does mindfulness function in a medical context? Is there a biological foundation for ethics? How can death help us understand the nature of the mind?”

In the summer of 1991, ten well-known scientists, psychologists, meditation teachers and other scholars came together with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala India “to grapple with these questions.” This book is a record of conversations that took place during this event—the Third Mind and Life Conference.

There are some, of course, who may say that the effort to understand reality through a dialogue between religion and science is misguided at best. But even if this were the case, Buddhism is not a religion in the ordinary sense of the term. One need not “believe in” the Buddha to practice Buddhism. For our beliefs, like our other attachments, are often what keep us from opening to reality, the miraculous emptiness that underlies the fundamental interdependence of all life.

What is unusual about Healing Emotions is the way in which it explores this “interdependence” through a continual questioning that expands our view of the world and explores relationships between things that we thought were unrelated. This should come as no surprise, however, since in the introduction we are told that “Buddhism has as principal aims the goal of transforming perception and experience and synchronizing mind and body.”

Healing Emotions explores the relationships between such subjects as cellular biology, stress, emotions, moods, headaches, immunology, visceral learning, self-esteem, virtue and morality, greed, mindfulness, death, self-acceptance, responsibility, consciousness, compassion, and much else. This thought-provoking book is a testament not only to the Dalai Lama’s far-reaching search for ways to better understand the many challenges facing us today, but also to his underlying “affection” for other human beings and their ideas and experiences.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama“I believe that human affection is the basis … of human nature,” says the Dalai Lama. “Without that, you can’t get satisfaction or happiness as an individual; and without that foundation, the whole human community can’t get satisfaction either. In my day-to-day thinking, I always take into account the total environment, the whole community.”

Whether or not one believes that “affection” is the basis of human nature, it is becoming increasingly clear that the growing lack of genuine affection in modern life, of loving kindness toward oneself and others, is closely related to our lack of awareness of the “total environment.” And without this sense of the total environment—and the urgent sense of conscience that comes with it—any real transformation is next to impossible.

Healing Emotions: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on Mindfulness, Emotions, and Health

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: