With mental health care costs expected to soar in coming decades, world leaders in science and health looked for ways to improve global happiness and well-being at a Wednesday panel discussion featuring His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
UW-Madison neuroscientist Richard Davidson, founder of the Center for Healthy Minds, said the Dalai Lama had interesting insights into modern research.
“There are always things we learn from meeting with him,” Davidson, who has been friends with the Tibetan leader since they first met in 1992, said. “We learn by his example. He is the living embodiment of the very things we are interested in studying, so it’s always an inspiration to be around him.”
The Dalai Lama has made several public appearances this week during his 10th visit to Madison, including a Wednesday talk at the Overture Center concerning education.
“Many of us have a way of thinking about life as unrealistic,” the Dalai Lama said. “There is a huge gap between our perception of life and reality. Education will bring us closer together.”
Davidson founded the Center for Healthy Minds in 2008, and its research into the importance of mindfulness in everyday life—a priority for the Dalai Lama—has been implemented in local schools.
“One thing I took away was the importance of education and training of the brain,” said Deb Hoffman, a principal at Madison’s Lincoln Elementary School.
The school participated in a 2009 research study with the Center for Healthy Minds and now teaches its students to be more contemplative of their actions.
Amid world crises like the rise of terrorism and continued violence against Tibetans, the Dalai Lama also stressed the importance of peace with the people committing these acts through nonviolence.
“They are human brothers and sisters,” he said. “Some harshness out of a sense of concern, a sense of compassion, is okay.”
The Dalai Lama criticized passive actions such as prayer to solve world problems.
“This must be a century of peace, a century of nonviolence through effort, not through prayer,” he said. “If you ask Jesus Christ or Buddha to please bring peace to the world, you will be asked who brought this problem to the world.”