Imagine your day starting out near the Northern Indian town of Dharamshala with thirty minutes of spiritual chanting and meditation among Tibetan Buddhist monastics. Now you follow that by spending the whole day teaching Neuroscience to these same monastics. “Bliss”, “introspection”, “questioning”, “challenging” and “why” are some of the words that may come to mind. They certainly did for me while I had the privilege of being a Neuroscience faculty member as part of the Emory Tibet Science Initiative (ETSI) this past summer in India. Other faculty members included Dr. Melvin Konner (Evolutionary Anthropology, Emory University), Dr. Ann Kruger (Developmental Psychologist, GSU) and Dr. Carol Worthman (Medical Anthropology, Emory University).
|An audience with His Holiness The XIV Dalai
and teaching monastics in Dharamshala, India.
Having had some experience teaching and mentoring within academic circles in India and USA, I felt equipped to deal with normative classroom experiences. What I experienced was anything but normative. For one, the monastics revere their teachers to an extent I have never experienced. This is in keeping with the philosophy that teachers help the pupil uncover knowledge that helps in the attainment of Nirvana. Not to confuse this reverence with obeisance, the monastics were among the most engaged and questioning audience that I have ever taught.
|The monastics listening to the Neuroscience faculty teaching.|
|Tamden, one of our translators with a topic that the monastics debated.|
|Paired debate with one of the monks in the midst of vociferous gesturing|
Want to cite this post?
Dias, B. (2013). Tibetan monastics and a neuroscientist: Some lessons learned and others taught. The Neuroethics Blog. Retrieved on , from http://www.theneuroethicsblog.com/2013/10/tibetan-monastics-and-neuroscientist.html