Thursday, December 25, 2008

mental resilience

In these challenging times, how can we build up mental resilience to counter stress?

On 10 December 2008, three experts from various disciplines shared with the National University of Singapore (NUS) community their perspectives on this question, in the NUS Lunchtime Forum: Mental Resilience in Times of Crisis presented by the NUS Development Office and the Department of Psychological Medicine, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. The forum was chaired by the department's Head, Prof Kua Ee Heok.

Our guest speaker was Dr Alan Wallace, renowned scholar of Buddhism and Founding President, Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies, who shared the Buddhist way to building mental resilience. On the panel with him were NUS professors Dr Jonathan Marshall, a psychologist who presented a case study of a patient suffering from stress, and Dr Frank C T Voon, an anatomist and psychotherapist who spoke on the neurological processes that take place when we encounter stress.

To watch the speech given by Alan Wallace, click HERE

To go to the main NUS Lunchtime Forum page, click HERE

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Right concentration forms the heart of the path. The other factors of the path serve two functions. One is to get you into concentration; the other is to make sure you don’t get stuck there. In other words, concentration on its own is a state of becoming that’s useful on the path. Even though you eventually want to go beyond all states of becoming, if you don’t first master this state of becoming you’ll be wandering around in other states of becoming where it would be hard to see what’s going on in the mind. As the Buddha said, when your mind is concentrated you can see the four noble truths as they actually come to be. When it’s not concentrated, you can’t see these things clearly. Non‐concentration, he says, is a miserable path, leading nowhere useful at all.

Taken from Meditations, Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Read latest e-book taken from Thanissaro Bhikkhu's 2008 dhamma talks: Meditations

Monday, December 22, 2008

things as they are

"More wisdom is latent in things-as-they-are than in all the words men use."

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Picture by: erlingsi @ Flickr

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Mind in the Balance

Forthcoming book by B. Alan Wallace in March 2009.

Columbia Univerity Press:

Our best-selling mind and consciousness scholar boldly corrects
the balance between empirical study and religion.
by bringing the meditative practices of Buddhism and
Christianity into a dialogue with the theories of modern phi-
losophy and science, B. Alan Wallace reveals their unified
approach to discerning the objective world. Wallace begins by
linking Christian and Buddhist meditative practices. He out-
lines a sequence of meditations for the reader to undertake
that show, though Buddhism and Christianity differ in their
belief systems, their methods of cognitive inquiry provide
similar insight into the nature and origins of consciousness.
From this convergence Wallace approaches contemporary
cognitive science, quantum mechanics, and the philosophy
of the mind. He connects Buddhist and Christian views to
the provocative theories of Hilary Putnam, Charles Taylor,
and Bas van Fraassen, and he seamlessly integrates the work
of Anton Zeilinger, John Wheeler, and Stephen Hawking.
Combining a concrete analysis of consciousness with a guide
to cultivating mindfulness and profound contemplative prac-
tice, Wallace takes new strides in the mapping of the mind.

B. alan wallace spent fourteen years as a Buddhist
monk, ordained by H. H. the Dalai Lama. He earned his
undergraduate degree in physics and the philosophy of
science at Amherst College and his doctorate in religious
studies at Stanford University. He is author most recently
of Hidden Dimensions: The Unification of Physics and
Consciousness and founder and president of the Santa
Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies (

Sunday, December 07, 2008

meaning of 'mindfulness'

Alan Wallace explains the correct understanding of the term 'mindfulness' and its implications for practice.


While mindfulness (s a t i) is often equated with bare attention, my conversations with—and recent studies of works by—the learned monks Bhikkhu Bodhi and Bhikkhu Analayo, and Rupert Gethin, president of the Pali Text Society, led me to conclude that bare attention corresponds much more closely to the Pali term manasikara, which is commonly translated as “attention” or “mental engagement.” This word refers to the initial split seconds of the bare cognizing of an object, before one begins to recognize, identify, and conceptualize, and in Buddhist accounts it is not regarded as a wholesome mental factor. It is ethically neutral.

The primary meaning of sati, on the other hand, is recollection, nonforgetfulness. This includes retrospective memory of things in the past, prospectively remembering to do something in the future, and present-centered recollection in the sense of maintaining unwavering attention to a present reality.

The opposite of mindfulness is forgetfulness, so mindfulness applied to the breath, for instance, involves continuous, unwavering attention to the respiration. Mindfulness may be used to s u s t a i n bare attention (manasikara), but nowhere do traditional Buddhist sources equate mindfulness with such attention.

Right mindfulness has to occur in the context of the full Noble Eightfold Path: For example, it must be guided by right view, motivated by right intention, grounded in ethics, and be cultivated in conjunction with right effort. Without right view or right intention, one could be practicing bare attention without its ever developing into right mindfulness. So bare attention doesn’t by any means capture the complete significance of vipassana, but represents only the initial phase in the meditative development of right mindfulness.

Tricycle, Spring 2008

Read full interview: A Mindful Balance by Alan Wallace

genuine happiness

Alan Wallace on the pursuit of understanding and genuine happiness.

Alan Wallace website

Alan Wallace podcasts

Saturday, December 06, 2008

through the lens of mindfulness

Taken from Bangkok Post:

Seeing Barack Obama's historic campaign in a Buddhist light


It is my belief that Barack Obama's successful presidential campaign, which was based on the concept of "change we can believe in," and its underlying message are synonymous with Buddhist self-transformation. In Buddhism, people who are transformed become selfless and dedicated to serving others. This is what many people felt when they watched the broadcast of Obama giving his somber, determined victory speech in Chicago on election night.

Something in the back of our minds said that we were witnessing history, and that we seemed to have arrived at the dawn of another chapter in a more principled humanity. In the candidate himself, there is a powerful lesson that we can learn from. It is not just for politicians who dream of running a successful campaign and a landslide victory; the lesson is equally valuable for the rest of us. It would be ideal, though, if the world's politicians could learn the underlying message that Obama delivers, and the values that drove him and shaped his character.

Read more...The Mindful Candidate

Monday, December 01, 2008

towards wholeness

when we live, what dies?
when we die, what lives?

Picture: All Rights Reserved ® aml.2008