Two leading thinkers engage in a landmark conversation about human emotions and the pursuit of psychological fulfillment
At their first meeting, a remarkable bond was sparked between His Holiness the Dalai Lama, one of the world's most revered spiritual leaders, and the psychologist Paul Ekman, whose groundbreaking work helped to define the science of emotions. Now these two luminaries share their thinking about science and spirituality, the bonds between East and West, and the nature and quality of our emotional lives.
In this unparalleled series of conversations, the Dalai Lama and Ekman prod and push toward answers to the central questions of emotional experience. What are the sources of hate and compassion? Should a person extend her compassion to a torturer—and would that even be biologically possible? What does science reveal about the benefits of Buddhist meditation, and can Buddhism improve through engagement with the scientific method? As they come to grips with these issues, they invite us to join them in an unfiltered view of two great traditions and two great minds.
Accompanied by commentaries on the findings of emotion research and the teachings of Buddhism, their interplay—amusing, challenging, eye-opening, and moving—guides us on a transformative journey in the understanding of emotions.
This edited transcription of 39 hours of dialogue between the Dalai Lama and renowned psychologist Ekman addresses issues ranging from the importance of mindfulness, the evolutionary function of moods, meditative breathing and the cultivation of compassion. Ekman and the Dalai Lama are articulate, deeply serious scholars, and their investigations into "the varieties of anger," the destructive potential of contempt and the power of forgiveness contain a wealth of fascinating insights; unfortunately, their musings would have benefited from more scrupulous editing their pronouncements lie buried beneath conversational meandering and tangential discussions. The Dalai Lama's humor and curiosity do translate well, however, and do much in enlivening the unfocused text; he and Ekman delight in playfully invoking everything from traditional Buddhist thought to Western philosophy, Darwin, communism and personal anecdotes in a single breath. It's an intellectual treat readers will enjoy if they can put up with the rambling transcript.