“Beyond the Brain IV:
Scientific and Spiritual Perspectives on Meditation” Conference
The Infinity Foundation was a supporter of the following conference:
“Beyond the Brain IV: Scientific and Spiritual Perspectives on Meditation” Conference was held on August 23rd – 26th 2001 at Ripon College, Yorkshire, England.
Spirituality and Psychiatry Group ,
Royal College of Psychiatrists,
British Psychological Society, Transpersonal SectionBEYOND THE BRAIN IV
Scientific and Spiritual Perspectives
August 23rd – 26th 2001
To view a copy of the Conference Program including abstracts of the presentations, please click here.
James Austin, Guy Claxton, Ram-Prasad Chakravarthi, Peter Fenwick, David Fontana, Bisong Guo, Sr. Jayanti, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi, David Lorimer, Andrew Powell, Jonathan Shear, Alan Wallace, Elizabeth West, Arthur Zajonc.
Scientific and Spiritual Perspectives on Meditation
Beyond the Brain IV will build on the success of our first three conferences, held at St. John’s College, Cambridge. These conferences examined respectively new avenues in consciousness research, frontiers in consciousness and healing, and the possibility of existence before birth and after death. At the heart of central questions in consciousness studies is the nature of the self in our experience of altered states. This year’s meeting will be more experiential in addressing the topic of meditation from a scientific and spiritual angle.
Since the 1970s scientists have taken an interest in brain wave patterns associated with meditation, and many of these investigators are themselves long term meditators. They can thus take both a first- and third-person view. One of the critical questions relating to the emerging science of consciousness is whether science can investigate consciousness only from its traditional third-person view, or if it is necessary to supplement this with first-hand experience that involves the scientist directly and may even lead to a transformation of consciousness.
All our speakers at this conference have extensive experience of meditation in addition to their scholarly expertise. This makes it an exciting occasion where there can be a true meeting of outer and inner in a spirit of open exploration. We will have communal meditations together and make time for contemplative walks, especially to the nearby ruins of Fountains Abbey, perhaps one of the most beautiful and peaceful places in England.
We have invited a pioneering group of world-class speakers to share their ideas with us and put forward new and more comprehensive frameworks of understanding of the nature of consciousness. There will be plenty of time for informal conversations over meals and drinks where you will be able to exchange ideas with other participants. There will also be an opportunity for poster sessions. Please apply on the registration form. We will then send you our guidelines.
The conference will take place at Ripon College, Ripon, in Yorkshire. The Venerable Bede describes how in AD 655 a small monastery was founded in the heathen down of Rhypum. Then, in 672, Abbot (later Saint) Wilfred dedicated one of the first stone churches in England, which survives to this day and forms the crypt underneath the great structure of the current cathedral. It is the oldest complete crypt in England. Much of the minster that survives today dates from the early 13th century but the history of mediaeval disasters meant that alterations and restorations were conducted during the 15th century. The minster became a cathedral as late as 1836 when the diocese of Ripon was created along with its new bishop. The choir screen is especially fine, as are many of the carvings in the choir and elsewhere. The organ is a magnificent instrument, which we will have a chance to hear. A guided tour of the cathedral will be arranged for the Saturday afternoon.
Lying only 3 miles west of Ripon is the world famous Fountains Abbey. It dates back to 1132, when 13 monks came to this idyllic spot to start a simple life. Over 400 years later, when Henry VIII demanded the closure of the abbey, the monks left behind what is now the most complete Cistercian abbey remains in Britain. For those of you who would like to spend a few extra days in the area there are many other beautiful places to visit, including Newby Hall and Norton Conyers, while a number of other abbeys such as Rievaulx, Bolton and Jervaulx are within driving distance.
We look forward to you joining us!
Residential accommodation will be available in the College in both en suite and standard rooms, including a limited number of twin rooms in each category. Each room has a basin and en suite rooms have their own tea- and coffee-making facilities. In the standard accommodation there are bathrooms and kitchens on each floor. Different room rates apply as per the attached registration form.
The easiest way of getting to Ripon is undoubtedly by car, and there is plenty of free parking available. The town is only five miles of the A1. If you are coming by train, the closest station is Harrogate, which is about 12 miles away. From Harrogate you can take a bus or taxi, although we will be co-ordinating transport to meet a number of specific trains.
Our last conferences in August 1995 and 1997 were oversubscribed, so early booking is advised!
CPD applied for
Professor James Austin, MD is Professor Emeritus of Neurology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. He is the author of over 130 publications in the field of neurochemistry, neuropharmacology and clinical neurology. He is author of Chase, Chance and Creativity and the highly acclaimed Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness, which was awarded the 1999 Scientific and Medical Network book prize. He first came across Zen meditation while on sabbatical in Kyoto, Japan in 1974 and subsequently studied with Nanrei Kobori-Roshi.
Dr. Ram-Prasad Chakravarthi, PhD studied History, Politics and Sociology in India before doing a doctorate in Philosophy at Oxford. He has taught or been a research fellow at the National University of Singapore, Trinity College, Oxford and Clare Hall, Cambridge. He is now Lecturer, Department of Religious Studies, Lancaster University. He has published over 35 papers in Indian and comparative analytic philosophy, religion and politics, and classical Hinduism. He is also author of Knowledge and Liberation in Classical Indian Thought, (2001), and Non-realism: Advaita Metaphysics and Epistemology, (2001).
Prof. Guy Claxton, MA, DPhil, FBPsS, CPscyhol is Visiting Professor of Learning Science at the University of Bristol Graduate School of Education, and a founding faculty member of Sharpham College for Buddhist Studies and Contemporary Enquiry, and of Schumacher College, both in Devon. His books include Noises from the Darkroom: The Science and Mystery of the Mind, which Fritjof Capra called ‘intriguing, witty and illuminating’, and Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind: Why Intelligence Increases When You Think Less, which prompted John Cleese to remark; ‘Just occasionally I get the feeling that somebody has said something important’. Guy has studied meditation with a wide range of contemporary masters including Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, the venerable Sogyal Rinpoche and Ram Dass, and holds a double first from Cambridge in Natural Sciences, and doctorate from Oxford in experimental psychology.
Dr. Peter Fenwick, MB, BChir, FRC Psych, DPM is Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, Consultant Neurophysiologist at Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford, and Honorary Consultant in Neurophysiology to Broadmoor Special Hospital. He has published numerous scientific papers on brain function and also several papers on meditation and altered states of consciousness. He is a Vice-President of the Scientific and Medical Network and also President of the U.K. branch of the International Association of Near-Death Studies, reflecting his special interest in this field. He lectures widely in England, on the Continent and in the United States on brain disorders and has made many appearances on radio and television. He has written a series of books with his wife Elizabeth: The Truth in the Light, The Hidden Door, Past Life Memories.
Professor David Fontana, BA, MEd, PhD, CPsychol is currently Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the University of Wales, Cardiff, and holds professorships at the universities of Alagarve and of Minho in Portugal. He is the author of numerous research publications and of 20 which have been translated into 22 languages. For many years he has studied the relationship between Western and Eastern psychological systems, together with methods for deepening and expanding consciousness, and has written widely on dreams, meditation and psycho-spirituality. Among his recent books are The Secret Power of Dreams, The Lotus in the City, and Know Who You Are: Be What You Want. He is a Chartered Psychologist, a Chartered Counselling Psychologist, and a Fellow of the British Psychological Society.
Dr. Bisong Guo, MD was born in China and studied Western medicine at Fuzhou Medical School before specialising in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She later joined the staff of the Chinese Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Beijing. For more than twenty-five years she has intensively practised qigong, studying with Buddhist qigong masters and Daoist monks in remote mountainous regions of China. In 1989 she moved to England and established a TCM practice in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where over ten years she treated more than five thousand patients. She has collaborated on research projects in Germany and now travels widely overseas conducting seminars and workshops. Dr. Guo continues to teach qigong in the UK, continental Europe and the U.S.A.
Sr. Jayanti has travelled widely as a speaker, broadcaster and emissary for peace. Sister Jayanti is European Director of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University and assists in co-ordinating the University’s activities in 80 countries. She is the main representative for the Brahma Kumaris at the United Nations, Geneva. She has co-ordinated several projects in connection with Women, Development, the Environment and Youth. Sister Jayanti has been an Advisor to the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions and Advisory Committee Member of the International Interfaith Centre. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the World Congress of Faiths. Sister Jayanti’s work involves spiritual counselling, teaching and translating. Sister Jayanti has an unique ability to impart deep spiritual truths with the utmost clarity.
Prof. Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD is founder and former executive director of the Centre for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and UMass-Memorial Medical Centre (UMMMC). He is also the founder and former director of the UMMMC Stress Reduction Clinic, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in September 1999. He is a Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine and the author of two best-selling books: Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body an Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness and Wherever You Go, There You are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. He is also co-author, with his wife Myla, of Everyday Blessings: the Inner Work of Mindful Parenting. He is a Founding Fellow of the Fetzer Institute and a Fellow of the Society of Behavioral Medicine.
Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi (Warren Kenton) was educated at St Martin’s School of Art and the Royal Academy of Painting. After working in the theatre and practising graphic design he taught at RADA and the Architectural Association. Besides teaching a Kabbalistic group and Summer School for 30 years, he ran workshops for the Wrekin Trust and has lectured widely at such places as the Theosophical Society, the Royal College of Art and the Prince of Wales Institute of Architecture. He is a fellow of the Temenos Academy and director of tutors of the International Kabbalah Society which sponsors his conferences in Western and Eastern Europe, both Americas, Australia, Japan and Israel. Halevi has published 13 books, including a novel, on Kabbalistic topics which have been translated into 12 languages. He lives with his wife in London where he teaches an annual introductory cycle of public courses at Regent’s College.
David Lorimer, MA, PGCE was Director of the Scientific and Medical Network from 1986-2000. He is now a consultant to the Network and continues to edit their Review. He is author of Survival? Body, Mind and Death in the Light of Psychic Experience and Whole in 0ne. He is also editor of The Circle of Sacred Dance – Peter Deunov’s Paneurythmy, Prophet for our Times, and Gems of Love. More recently he has edited The Spirit of Science and Wider Horizons and is the editor of Mind Beyond Brain, which will be launched at the conference. He was educated at Eton and the Universities of St Andrews and Cambridge. After a spell in merchant banking, he spent a number of years teaching modern languages and philosophy at Winchester College.
Dr. Andrew Powell, MA, MB, BChir, MRCP, FRCPsych graduated with distinction in medicine from Cambridge University. After further studies in general medicine and psychiatry, he specialised in psychotherapy at the Maudsley Hospital, London. He was Consultant and Senior Lecturer at St. George’s Hospital, London for eleven years before moving to Oxford, where he continued to work in the National Health Service until 2000. He has a particular interest in the influence of spiritual dynamics on physical and psychological well-being and in the study of eastern approaches to consciousness. He is co-author, with Dr. Bisong Guo, of Listen to Your Body – The Wisdom of the Dao. Dr. Powell is an Associate of the College of Healing and Chairman of the Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Prof. Jonathan Shear, PhD received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of
California at Berkeley, and was a Fulbright Scholar in Philosophy of Science at London School of Economics. While a Fulbright Scholar almost forty years ago he became aware of aspects of mind reported by many Eastern experiential traditions but not ordinarily discussed in Western philosophy, and began exploring these traditions on the basis of daily practice as well as intellectual investigation. Since that time his academic work has focused on the significance of basic meditation experiences for questions of Western philosophy and psychology. He currently teaches philosophy at Virginia Commonwealth University, and he has served as an editor of the Journal of Consciousness Studies since its founding in 1994. Publications include The Inner Dimension: Philosophy and the Experience of Consciousness, Explaining Consciousness: the Hard Problem, editor , Models of the Self, co-editor and The View From Within: First-Person Approaches to the Study of Consciousness, co-editor.
Dr. B. Alan Wallace PhD has devoted himself since 1970 to the study of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, psychology, medicine, and meditation. Trained for ten years in Buddhist monasteries in India and Switzerland, he has taught Buddhist theory and practice in Europe and America since 1976; and he has served as interpreter for numerous Tibetan scholars and contemplatives, including H. H. the Dalai Lama. In 1987, he graduated summa cum laude from Amherst College, where he studied physics and the philosophy of science, and in 1995 he earned his doctorate in Religious Studies at Stanford University, where he wrote his dissertation on ways of training the attention in Tibetan Buddhism. He has edited, translated, authored, or contributed to more than thirty books on Tibetan Buddhism, medicine, language, and culture. He presently teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he has been developing one program in the study of Tibetan Buddhism and culture and another in religion and science.
Elizabeth West MA was a religious sister for 30 years. She was born in England, but spent her childhood and early life in South Africa and Zimbabwe. She is a teacher by profession. In 1977 she encountered yoga and meditation during a retreat given by two Catholic nuns from India. She spent nine months in India and visited Hindu and Christian ashrams. Elizabeth obtained an MA in World Religions from SOAS London and worked for the Westminster Interfaith Programme for six years. Her interfaith work focusses mainly on Buddhist Christian dialogue. She is author of ‘Happiness Here and Now; the Beatitudes revisited with Buddhist Insights’. In 1999 she launched a Buddhist Christian Network for those who find themselves involved in both traditions wish to deepen this journey and explore it with others. She is at present developing a small Interfaith Centre at the Monastery of Christ the King in North London. This centre will be rooted in the contemplative experience and engage in dialogue from this perspective.
Prof. Arthur Zajonc, PhD is professor of physics at Amherst College, where he has
taught since 1978. He has been visiting professor and research scientist at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, and the universities of Rochester, Innsbruck, and Hannover. He is President of the Anthroposophical Society in America and the Lindisfarne Association. Arthur is a founding member of the Kira Institute, an organization that explores the interface between science, values and spirituality. In 1997 he served as scientific coordinator of ‘The New Physics and Cosmology’, the sixth Mind and Life Dialogue with H.H. the Dalai Lama. Arthur lectures widely on the foundations of quantum physics, the history and philosophy of science, and the meditative life. He is author of Catching the Light, co-author of Quantum Challenge, and co-editor of Goethe’s Way of
The Scientific and Medical Network is an informal international group consisting mainly of qualified scientists and doctors, together with engineers, psychologists, philosophers, therapists and other professionals. The Network came into existence in 1973 and now has over 2,000 Members in more than fifty countries. It questions the assumptions of contemporary scientific and medical thinking, so often limited by exclusively materialistic reasoning. By remaining open to intuitive and spiritual insights, it fosters a climate in which science as a whole can adopt a more comprehensive and sensitive approach. Anyone interested may join the Network as an Associate Member and receive our publication Network, while qualified professionals are welcome to join as Full Members.
The Scientific and Medical Network,
Lake House, Vann Lake Road, Ockley, Surrey RH5 5NS.
Tel: +44-(0)1306 710072.
The Infinity Foundation
The Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group of the Royal College of Psychiatrists was set up in 1999 to provide a forum for psychiatrists to explore the influence of the major religions, which shape the cultural values and aspirations of psychiatrist and patient alike. The spiritual aspirations of those not identifying with any one particular faith are held to be of no less importance, as well as the viewpoint of those who hold that spirituality is independent of religion. Its meetings are designed to enable colleagues to investigate and share without fear of censure the relevance of spirituality to clinical practice. It addresses a wide variety of religious and spiritual experience and considers both pathological and normal phenomena in order better to understand the overlap and difference between the two. The Special Interest Group has been growing steadily and now has over 300 members. It holds meetings every three months and produces its own newsletter. Further information from Sue Duncan, Royal College of Psychiatrists, 020 7235 2351.
The Transpersonal Section of the British Psychological Society
The British Psychological Society has a Transpersonal Psychology Section whose main aims are to examine: (i) the influence of transpersonal experiences and beliefs upon the behaviour and psychological well-being of individuals and groups (ii) the role of transpersonal psychology in exploring mystical, transcendental and peak experiences (iii) the relationship between personality and emotions such as love, empathy, and compassion, and (iv) the role of meditation and other spiritual practices in self-exploration and self-development.
Membership of the Section is open to all members of the British Psychological Society. Those not in the Society are welcome to attend the Section’s annual conference and other events, and to subscribe to the Section Journal, ‘The Transpersonal Psychology Review’, which typically
appears four times a year. The current chair of the Section is Professor David Fontana, the hon secretary is Ingrid Slack, and the hon treasurer is Martin Treacy (who together were responsible for founding the Section).
Further details can be obtained from the British Psychological Society, St. Andrews House, 48 Princess Road East, Leicester LE1 7DR (tel: 0116 2549568).
Thursday 23rd August
3:30 City Tour (optional)
5:15-6:45 Introduction by David Lorimer: Opening Panel and Introductions
7:00 Meditation and Music
Friday 24th August
8:45 Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi: Kabbalistic Metaphysics and the Ascent of Jacob’s Ladder
Dr. Ram-Prasad Chakravarthi: Consciousness and its Transformation: the Role of Philosophical Analysis in Classical India
10:45 Dr. Peter Fenwick: Subjective Correlates and the Neurophysiology of Meditation
Prof. James Austin: Zen and the Brain
12:15 Dialogue with speakers, music to close
2:30 Excursion to Fountains Abbey
4:00 Informal forum for sharing experiences and insights
5:15-6:45 Prof. Jon Kabat-Zinn: Clinical Applications of Mindfulness Meditation
Dr. Andrew Powell: Dreams and Desires of the Unquiet Self
7:00 Meditation and Music
9:15 Taizé chants
Saturday 25th August
8:45 Prof. Arthur Zajonc: Phenomena as Theory: Goethe, Steiner and the Encounter with Consciousness
Prof. Jonathan Shear: Third-Person Research on Meditation: Can it Ever be Really Significant?
10:45 Music followed by Sr. Jayanti: Exploring the Realms of the Soul with the Vehicle of the Inner Mind
Elizabeth West: Meditation in the Christian Tradition: Opening the Way to Unity
12:20 Dialogue with speakers and audience
2:00 Free time for networking or optional workshops or tour of cathedral
3:45 Forum for sharing experiences and insights
5:15 Evensong in Ripon Minster, followed by organ recital
Sunday 26th August
8:45 Prof. Guy Claxton: Buddha’s Brain: the Neuroscience of Mindfulness
Dr. Alan Wallace: First-Person Methods of Exploring Consciousness in Tibetan Buddhism
10:45 Dr. Bisong Guo: Daoism and the Esoteric Art of Qigong
Prof. David Fontana: Meditation as Transpersonal Experience
12:15 Dialogue with morning speakers and audience
2:30 Summary and discussion of critical issues raised
3:30 Closing meditation (Sr. Jayanti)
4:00 Tea and departures