Destructive Emotions: How Can We Overcome Them?: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama

Daniel Goleman
Daniel Goleman . Bantam $26.95 (432p) ISBN 0-553-80171-6
Reviewed on: 12/23/2002
Release date: 00/00/0000
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In May 2001, in a laboratory at the University of Wisconsin, a Tibetan Buddhist monk donned a cap studded with hundreds of sensors that were connected to a state-of-the-art EEG, a brain-scanning device capable of recording changes in his brain with speed and precision. When the monk began meditating in a way that was designed to generate compassion, the sensors registered a dramatic shift to a state of great joy. "The very act of concern for others' well-being, it seems, creates a greater state of well-being within oneself," writes bestselling author Goleman (Emotional Intelligence) in his extraordinary new work.

Goleman offers this breakthrough as an appetizer to a feast. Readers will discover that it is just one of a myriad of creative and positive results that are continuing to flow from the Mind and Life dialogue that took place over five days in March 2000 between a group of leading Western scientists and philosophers and the Dalai Lama in his private quarters in Dharamsala, India. This eighth Mind and Life meeting is the seventh to be recorded in book form; Goleman's account is the most detailed and user-friendly to date. The timely theme of the dialogue was suggested by the Dalai Lama to Goleman, who took on the role of organizer and brought together some world-class researchers and thinkers, including psychologist Paul Ekman, philosopher Owen Flanagan, the late Francisco Varela and Buddhist photographer Matthieu Riccard. In a sense, the many extraordinary insights and findings that arise from the presentations and subsequent discussions are embodied by the Dalai Lama himself as he appears here. Far from the cuddly teddy bear the popular media sometimes makes him out to be, he emerges as a brilliant and exacting interrogator, a natural scientist, as well as a leader committed to finding a practical means to help society. Yet he also personally embodies the possibility of overcoming destructive emotions, of becoming resilient, compassionate and happy no matter what life brings.

Covering the nature of destructive emotions, the neuroscience of emotion, the scientific study of consciousness and more, this essential volume offers a fascinating account of what can emerge when two profound systems for studying the mind and emotions, Western science and Buddhism, join forces. Goleman travels beyond the edge of the known, and the report he sends back is encouraging. (Jan.)

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