ESRI 2021 Faculty bios & abstract texts

On this page you will find the bios, followed later by the abstract texts & references of our ESRI 2021 Faculty, Contemplative Faculty as well as information on our Planning Committee members.

Faculty

  • Yoko  Alender
    Yoko Alender Architect, city planner, politician - Estonia
    Yoko Alender

    Yoko Alender is a member of the Estonian Parliament the Riigikogu since 2015, re-elected in 2019, and elected to Tallinn city council in 2013 and 2017. Futhermore, she is a member of the Estonian Reform Party, Chairman of the Environment Committee.

    Yoko worked in the field of architecture, city-planning, cultural management and politics. She also freelances as a coach, trainer and speaker in the field of personal development and value based leadership.

    Besides being educated as a yoga teacher, Yoko runs the parliamentary group for mindfulness in the Estonian parliament and is a mother of four children.

    More information on her website.

    Foto credits Diana Unt

    Abstract: How do we act in an uncertain world?

    Two years ago I woke up in the middle of the night, experiencing a panic attack, believing I would die, still thankful for my kids and my husband in this beginning of a severe burnout. In the morning I was immersed in the acute thought "do I exist if I don't go to work?". From there on started a process I call "growing up to be me and trust the mystery that life is" which I want to share with you. The symbol I saw in my minds eye during these times, which was tattooed on the arm of one of the ER nurses that helped me, was an Endless Knot (see below) - the auspicious drawing symbolising the mutual dependence of religious doctrine and secular affairs, the union of wisdom and method, the inseparablity of emptiness and dependent arising at the time of path, and finally at the time of enlightenment, the complete union of wisdom and great compassion.

    Through my personal story I have been helped most by asking the right questions of which I will share some with you. Anxiety and fear vs trust and values as a basis for self development.

    We will travel together on the path of self-development, bearing in mind both the physical, emotional and mental climate changes. We will try to touch upon the issues of how deeper self-knowledge brings more awareness about our role at present as the ones responsible for the welfare and sustainability of life at this planet.

    Please watch and experience beforehand these two short videos from the 2019 Mind & Life Europe conference 'Beyond Confines':
    👉 "Going beyond" - keynote speech by Brother David Steindl-Rast keynote speech
    👉 "Anxiety and fear are not the same thing" - meditation with Brother David Steindl-Rast

     An Endless Knot

     

  • Marion  Chaygneaud-Dupuy
    Marion Chaygneaud-Dupuy Global Nomad / NGO Highland Initiatives - China
    Marion Chaygneaud-Dupuy

    Marion Chaygneaud-Dupuy is a meditation practitioner, living in the Himalayas since twenty-two years. After four years of practice near a monastery at Darjeeling, she studied Tibetan Buddhism at the philosophy department of Lhasa in China. She is a Himalayan mountain guide and first European woman, who summited Mt Everest three times. By leading Clean Everest expeditions with a group of fifty Tibetan mountain guides, she set up a waste management model to keep Himalayan glacier’s water pure.

    Eighteen years ago, she set up a project on the Tibetan nomadic plateau, determined to restore the cultural values of Tibetan nomads, as guardians of the environment, while the great economic and social changes on the plateau made them become marginalized in their own territory. By monitoring the project, she promotes a local vision on how to revive the Tibetan Nomadic Civilization in which lies the Tibetan “eco-awareness”. The high plateau of Hindu Kush Himalaya is mainly made of permafrost and is known as Third Pole, which holds over 30,000 square miles of glacier ice and sustain 240 million people in their peaks and valleys. The mountain ranges also cradle the headwaters of rivers like the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra that provide water to billions in the lowlands downstream. This area is feeling the impacts of climate change already, and more intensely, than many other parts of the world, though it’s not fully clear why.

    By working with scientists, the vision of the Nomad Institute; it is to serve life by merging two streams of the tradition and the modernity, with an Institute delivering nomadic knowledge and wisdom and acting as a business incubator to adapt with Chinese economic development. She is an entrepreneur who lives in Lhasa, where she manages a network of Tibetan travel agencies. Her company Global Nomad certifies and promotes sustainable travel, in partnership with dozens of international tour operators. Since 2002, with her NGO Highland Initiatives, she led over fifty local projects that restore Tibetan ecosystem.

    www.globalnomad-tibet.com
    www.highland-initiatives.org

    Abstract: How do we act in an uncertain world?

    For centuries, Tibetan Nomads – Drokpa – have contributed to the stability and equilibrium of the plateau and its grassland. Nomad’s pastoral activities and eco-friendly lifestyle are strong factors for the ecosystem’s balance at this high altitude. Yet due to new dominant economic and social dynamics (industrialization, urbanization) and the global change of weather patterns, the Tibetan nature and the nomadic way of life are endangered.

    Our organization Global Nomad has been working with nomads for twenty years to restore the Tibetan plateau ecosystem. With a Nomad Institute, we run multiple local actions, at the intersection of ecology, ancient traditions, technology and economics. This innovative alliance between man and nature will allow modern nomads to live closer to their thousand-year-old wisdoms, without letting go of their values. For us, it is a question of reviving our nomadic Tibetan civilization in which lies the "eco-awareness" and bring the Drokpa family back.

    Thus, traditions of wisdom, in dialogue with science, can help design a new model of civilization.

    References

    👉 Thesis: 'Changing Livelihood and Economy of Tibetan Herders' - Baima Cuo (in Chinese) Pema Tso (in Tibetan) BA (Anthropology), Beijing MPhil (Anthropology), Norway
    👉 E-book 'The Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment'
    👉 Book 'Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States' - James C. Scott 
    👉 Article 'Clean Everest' story
    👉 Video The Snow Leopard Journey - This video is an illustration of a mindfulness technique: pause, breath, reconnect and thank. During an expedition on Mount Everest - Jomolangma in Tibetan
    2017 © Marion Chaygneaud-Dupuy

  • Sonja M. Geiger
    Sonja M. Geiger Justus-Liebig-University Gießen - Germany
    Sonja M. Geiger

    Sonja M. Geiger is a senior researcher and lecturer at the Consumer Research Department at the Justus-Liebig-University, Germany. A cognitive psychologist by training, she has become an expert on sustainable consumption over the years. She has been working in various research projects aimed at understanding the determinants of sustainable behaviors and the design of according environmental educational interventions.

    Before returning to the scientific exploration of sustainability issues, she has worked for an international environmental NGO in Latin America. Especially interested in the interplay between personal determinants of (e.g. mindfulness or values), and structural conditions for (e.g. temporal infrastructures) sustainable behavior.

    Abstract: From inner transformation to societal change

    Societal change is thought to happen on different levels of sociotechnical systems. On a micro-level, radical innovations brought about by individuals or groups can exert transformational pressures on regimes to reinforce societal changes. Research on mindfulness has revealed such innovative potentials on the micro-level, transforming thoughts and behaviors of people that are relevant for a sustainable development. These potentials comprise disruption of routines, stronger accordance of attitudes and behaviors, increased feeling of connectedness and compassion, declining importance of external accomplishments as material possessions and a heightened sense of physical and psychological well-being.

    Evidence from a longitudinal studies show convincing evidence especially for the latter three areas of increased compassion, declining materialism and increased well-being. These areas relate to different value groups within Schwartz’s circumplex model of universal values and taken together indicate a potential shift of values toward a state of what could be called “sustainable happiness”. In our breakout session, I would like to discuss how these micro-level potentials for individual change could feed back into societal change.

    👉 👉 Link to questionnaire the speaker invites you to answer - Thank you!

    Reference

    👉 Mindfulness and sustainability: correlation or causation? (PDF)
    👉 Editorial: The Role of the Individual in the Great Transformation Toward Sustainability

  • Hsuan-Hsiu  Hung
    Hsuan-Hsiu Hung Resident Artist - Estonia
    Hsuan-Hsiu Hung

    Hsuan-Hsiu Hung is a dance and movement artist from Taiwan. She comes from a visual art background with a B.F.A from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Over time, because of her personal practice of Qi Gong and dance, her work gradually evolved into an interdisciplinary practice which crosses over visual and movement, and contemplative art. She has received modern dance training at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance and obtained an M.A. in Creative Practice from the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. She has studied with a Qi Gong master in Taiwan for over ten years.

    In Taiwan, she has worked as an artist in residence in school, collaborating with teachers to develop projects that incorporate both visual and movement art in the learning process. She has presented her dance works in New York and in London. In Europe, she has been invited to teach in dance festivals as well as in meditation retreats where movement is practised as a way to work with the many layers of our self. 

    Her current research Gestures of Offering explores the improvisational nature of encounters within a context of contemplative movement practice. It is inspired by the love of tea ceremonies and the movement rituals in Buddhist practice.

    www.dancinginart.com

    Abstract Day 4: Incorporating a contemplative attitude in your own work

    During this day, we will explore how to bring principles from a contemplative outlook into the way we conduct our (academic) work. The framework we will use for this is that of the Four Brahmaviharas, a set of “boundless qualities” that are derived from the Buddhist tradition but do not entail any religious commitment. These Brahmaviharas are boundless joy, boundless love, boundless compassion, and boundless equanimity.

    We will reflect on how these Brahmaviharas may be a useful tool to apply in our day-to-day interactions at work. For example, boundless joy encourages us to be happy when someone else has a success, a perfect antidote to feelings of jealousy that so easily arise in the competitive academic world. Boundless love refers to feelings of kindness towards others and ourselves—wishing ourselves well, which may manifest itself in good self-care and deep collegiality. We may manifest this collegiality in the way we communicate, but also the way we write our articles or our reviews. Boundless compassion refers to have we respond with help when we ourselves or someone else is suffering. Rather than being only focused on our own work, we can take action to ensure that others are also able to do well, for example by the sharing of our methods, our ideas and our data. But compassion can also manifest itself in being an ardent sponsor or advocate for others, as well as being a mentor with a passion to help others succeed. Finally, boundless equanimity invites us to reflect on our emotions, and in particular our hopes for fame and fear of being insignificant.

    Can we go beyond these and simply focus on doing the best science we can, without being partial to success and “desired outcomes”? Of course these ideas are only a starting point for reflection, and we hope to come up with many more ideas together with the participants during the summer school.

  • Ven. Damien D.  Jampa
    Ven. Damien D. Jampa Palpung Sherabling Monastic Seat - India
    Ven. Damien D. Jampa

    Jampa Dorje is a French Monk ordained by Tai Situ Rinpoche.

    After alternating meditation retreat and his para-medical work (nurse) in France he went to India to learn Tibetan and deepen his understanding of Buddhism.

    Since 2005 he is residing mainly at Palpung Sherabling Monastic Seat in India where he completed 11 years of Shedra (Monastic University) while receiving many empowerments and transmissions, the foremost being the Mahamudra Transmission. During his university studies he studied the 5 great topics of Buddhism: Vinaya, Abhidharma, Pramana, Madyamika and Prajnaparamita as well as the bases for Tantra (Uttaratantra-Shastra etc.)

    His Gurus are Tai Situ R, Mingyur R and the late Bokar Rinpoche.

    Since 2010 he translates from Tibetan to French His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa as well as Tai Situ Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche and other Masters. When necessary he also translates from Tibetan to English. In March 2020, he had to come back to France and started to teach meditation to Buddhists as well as Non-Buddhists students while keeping working on translation works.

    Abstract: Life and Interdependence

    Introduction
    Life is the conjunction of the universe we are living in and the life we are living as an individual.
    Any suffering in our being and in the outer world comes from a lack of understanding, lack of knowledge, of interdependence. Therefore, knowing interdependence is fundamental.
    Interdependence is a powerful yet natural process that can make a small thing big. For example, one virus can spread to the whole world because of interdependence, or, at an inner level, small emotions can overwhelm one person up to uncontrolled joy or depression and suicide.

    Definition of interdependence
    Any object that can be perceived by our senses or our mind is an interdependent creation.
    Interdependence works in two ways: As cause and effect relation, or as simultaneous dependent relation.
    Cause and effect relation is like the seed and the sprout, the first gives birth to the latter.
    Simultaneous dependent relation is like father and son or the East and the West. They are simultaneous in time, yet one exists because of the other or in dependence on the other.

    Topics that I will discuss

    • The deep purpose of understanding interdependence: understanding emptiness
    • The relative purpose of understanding interdependence: understanding the life and world we are living in
    • Is interdependence restricted to material cause and effect? No, interdependence of thoughts and minds and the outer world
    • Can we go beyond interdependence?
    • How to realize it?

    Overview
    To link the topic of interdependence with the question “what is life?” I can say that according to the Madhyamaka view, there is nothing we can assess as being “life” at an absolute level, but that, at a relative level, many manifestations of a confused mind occur interdependently, creating groundless yet painful sufferings that we call life. According to the tantras, the confusion is seen as a misperception of an ultimate, absolute self, something real but unfathomable with our dualistic concepts.
    In Madhyamaka one goes beyond interdependence by realizing its absolute emptiness as the union of appearances and void, and in tantra one goes beyond by realizing the absolute goodness of any relative aspects.

    When we investigate what life is and how it works, we first understand its emptiness and get free from fixations that create suffering, and then we go wider and see its inherent radiance embedded with boundless love and qualities as its essence. We soon come to realize that without loving oneself and others for what we really are, we cannot unveil our true essence. Insight brings love, love brings insight, and the union of both brings enlightenment.

    How to experience it through meditation?
    First we need to maintain awareness of the various objects in our field of experience; we are aware of them just as they are, not as we commonly apprehend them. 
    Then we mindfully maintain that state of awareness until we gain mental stability. At that time discursive fixations will be pacified. Peace and stability doesn’t mean immobility. Stability here is more like a surfer on raging ocean or a skier sailing smoothly  over humps.
    Then, once we are abiding in that peaceful state of mind, we can observe the interdependent nature of the objects. We will see them as they are in essence, as they are without fixations or mental conceptualizations. This is a vison of reality very different to the so-called reality we ordinary being believe in. We call it superior vision or insight as we see a state of reality that we didn’t see before: According to our view, we will see everything as mere union of interdependent appearance and emptiness, or we will see them as what they are, the expression of the three or four kayas, the manifestation of our boundless, perfect, inner basic goodness.

    Conclusion
    Because goodness is our wish and our potential, it is our destination. If we really want to gain knowledge or insight we need to develop kindness toward ourselves, others, and the world. We will be able to understand the world and ourselves if we love it and love ourselves. Knowledge comes from love and love from knowledge if both are based on a peaceful, serene mind.

  • Thomas  Legrand
    Thomas Legrand UNDP - France
    Thomas Legrand

    Holding a Ph.D. in (Ecological) Economics and having studied international development, political science, and management, Thomas Legrand works in the field of sustainability for UN agencies, companies, and NGOs. His focus is on forest conservation, climate change, sustainable finance, organizational transformation and leadership. He currently works with UNDP on the Conscious Food Systems Alliance.

    His spiritual journey began at the age of 23 with an encounter with native spirituality in Mexico, before embracing the wisdom of a wide range of traditions and practices, including meditation, energetic healing and Tai-chi-chuan. He lives with his wife and their two young daughters near Plum Village, the monastery of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in the South West of France, his country.

    His spiritual search, his thought as a social scientist and his professional experience have gradually converged on the importance of spiritual wisdom in humanity’s ongoing transition. Searching for a way to mainstream this understanding in the political and sustainability conversation, he has dedicated much of the last 10 years to researching and reflecting how we can radically rethink our model of development. The result is his upcoming book "Politics of Being. Wisdom and Science for a New Development Paradigm" (to be released in October 2021).

    More information on: LinkedIn & www.politicsofbeing.com

    Abstract: Politics of being. Wisdom and Science for a New Development Paradigm

    What is a wisdom-based or “spiritual” approach to politics? It would emphasize “being” (or fulfillment, flourishing, eudaimonia, etc.) instead of “having” as our main collective goal and means.

    This means for societies to honor the highest values, some of which have become subjects of science in the last decades and are entering the political field: systemic and complex thinking (cf. interdependence), life, happiness, love or empathy, peace, mindfulness, etc. The Politics of Being taps on science to support the cultural evolution – as well as the human, social and environmental regeneration – we need. 

    The Politics of Being provides an integral conceptual framework to accommodate all relevant claims and initiatives. It also allows to identify an agenda for action with clear priorities and actionable public policies in most sectors.

    PDF Politics of Being (3-pager)

    References

    👉 Conceição P. 2020. 'The Human Development Report: The Next frontier; Human Development and the Anthropocene' - UNDP
    👉 Eisenstein. C. 2013. 'The more beautiful world our heart knows is possible' - North Atlantic Books
    👉 His Holiness the Dalai Lama 2013. 'Beyond religion. Ethics for a whole world' - Rider
    👉 Inglehart R. 2018. 'Cultural Evolution' - Cambridge University Press.

  • Pier Luigi Luisi
    Pier Luigi Luisi Prof. Em. at ETH Zurich - Italy
    Pier Luigi Luisi

    Prof. Dr. Pier Luigi Luisi took a degree in Chemistry at the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa and held internships in the USA (Oregon, Institute of Molecular biology) and the Soviet Union (Leningrad, Institute of Macromolecular science).

    From 1971 to 2003 his professional career was spent at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich. He became a full professor of Macromolecular Chemistry in the Department of Material Science, where he directed the Biopolymers section. He has been carrying research into the mechanism of enzymes, and the self-organization and self-reproduction of synthetic and natural systems.

    Subsequently, he focused on the origins of life and, later, on synthetic biology, that of minimal cells in particular. Prof. Luisi, when working at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, initiated in 1985 the Cortona-week, an interdisciplinary residential week in which graduate students were working together with artists, musicians, politicians, religious leaders, etc., with the aim of discovering new and broader horizons of life.

    The latest books of prof Luisi are: "Essays on life science", Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2020; and "Le cinque porte della felicità" and "Il posto dei fichidindia" 2020.

    www.pierluigiluisi.org

    Abstract: What is life? 

    I will limit myself to an examination of this question based mostly on the scientific theory of autopoiesis as developed by Maturana and Varela.

    Maturana and Varela start emphasizing an inherent apparent paradox: that a cell is characterized at each moment by a myriad of internal chemical transformations- but despite this, there is self-maintenance: a liver cell remains a liver cell, an amoeba remains an amoeba, and so is also for a cat or for a human. This apparent paradox is possible because the cell and/or the cat regenerates from within all those compounds which are being consumed away.

    This simple, basic consideration links to other general features of life, that life is a systemic phenomenon, and as such non-localizable into a single reaction or a single chemical (certainly not in DNA): life is the entire net of constituting elements.

    Of course, life is intrinsically linked to the environment: any living system is an “open system”. The interaction with the environment links to the question of “cognition”: all living organisms are cognitive systems, also bacteria, meaning that each organism is able to recognize and interact with its specific environment-fish with water, earth-worm with earth. And this is in turn connected to the important notion of “operational closure”- so that each organism sees the world in its own, subjective way. I presented this lecture to a Buddhist nunnery in Buthan, receiving several conceptual objections,(where is the consciousness in all this?) which I will resume here.

  • Anne  Speckens
    Anne Speckens Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen - the Netherlands
    Anne Speckens

    Professor Anne Speckens is a psychiatrist and professor at the Department of Psychiatry, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, the Netherlands. She founded the Radboud UMC Center for Mindfulness, which provides Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy to patients with psychiatric disorders, such as depressive disorder and ADHD, as well as chronic somatic conditions, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease (www.radboudcentrumvoormindfulness.nl). The Center also offers Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction to health care professionals and the general population and a 1,5 year post-graduate training program to become a mindfulness teacher. Anne Speckens closely collaborates with the Donders Center for Brain, Cognition, and Behavior in Nijmegen as well as academic partners including the University of Amsterdam, Tilburg, and Groningen and non-academic partners including the Dutch Association of Mindfulness Teachers. The Center for Mindfulness also maintains international collaborations with mindfulness centers at Oxford (Prof. Willem Kuyken), Bangor (Dr. Rebecca Crane) and Brown University (Prof. Jud Brewer). Prof. Speckens co-organised the International Conference on Mindfulness 2018 in Amsterdam, which was attended by approximately 800 practitioners and researchers in the field.

    Prof Speckens was a member of the Dutch Health Council from 2007 until 2015. She was a member (2007-2012) and chair (2012-2017) of the Committee Clinical Scientific Research of the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development. She is a current member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the European Association of Behavior and Cognitive Therapies (EABCT) and Scientific Committee of the Internal Conference on Mindfulness. She was chair of the Medical Examination Board of the Radboud UMC from 2014 until 2020. From 2018 onwards, she has represented the Radboud UMC on the board of Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health (CIZG). Prof Speckens has published more than 250 publications, including 187 peer-reviewed international papers. She has supervised 18 completed PhD dissertations. Her H-index is 34 (Web of Science) / 41 (Research Gate) / 48 (Google Scholar).

    Abstract Day 4: Incorporating a contemplative attitude in your own work

    During this day, we will explore how to bring principles from a contemplative outlook into the way we conduct our (academic) work. The framework we will use for this is that of the Four Brahmaviharas, a set of “boundless qualities” that are derived from the Buddhist tradition but do not entail any religious commitment. These Brahmaviharas are boundless joy, boundless love, boundless compassion, and boundless equanimity.

    We will reflect on how these Brahmaviharas may be a useful tool to apply in our day-to-day interactions at work. For example, boundless joy encourages us to be happy when someone else has a success, a perfect antidote to feelings of jealousy that so easily arise in the competitive academic world. Boundless love refers to feelings of kindness towards others and ourselves—wishing ourselves well, which may manifest itself in good self-care and deep collegiality. We may manifest this collegiality in the way we communicate, but also the way we write our articles or our reviews. Boundless compassion refers to have we respond with help when we ourselves or someone else is suffering. Rather than being only focused on our own work, we can take action to ensure that others are also able to do well, for example by the sharing of our methods, our ideas and our data. But compassion can also manifest itself in being an ardent sponsor or advocate for others, as well as being a mentor with a passion to help others succeed. Finally, boundless equanimity invites us to reflect on our emotions, and in particular our hopes for fame and fear of being insignificant.

    Can we go beyond these and simply focus on doing the best science we can, without being partial to success and “desired outcomes”? Of course these ideas are only a starting point for reflection, and we hope to come up with many more ideas together with the participants during the summer school.

  • Bas  Verplanken
    Bas Verplanken University of Bath - United Kingdom
    Bas Verplanken

    Bas Verplanken graduated in 1980 at Leiden University, the Netherlands. He was a lecturer and senior lecturer at the University of Leiden (1980-1990) and the University of Nijmegen (1990-1998), and a professor of social psychology at the University of Tromsø, Norway (1998-2006) and the University of Bath (2006-2020). He is currently professor emeritus at the University of Bath.

    His research interests are in the domains of environmental, health, and consumer psychology and he has a particular interest in habits and behaviour change. He published on topics such as behavioural and mental habits, environmental concern and sustainable lifestyles, (un)healthy eating, values, persuasion and attitude change, impulsive buying, transportation, energy use, risk perception, self-esteem, body image, anorexia nervosa, worrying, nostalgia, mindfulness, perfectionism, and narcissism. He served as an Associate Editor of the British Journal of Social Psychology and Psychology and Health, and was the Head of Department of Psychology at the University of Bath from 2010-2016.

    He is interested in cosmology, meteorology, geology, and photography, a student of Tsoknyi Rinpoche and an admirer of the great impressionist painters.

    Abstract: Cracks in the wall

    We are used to the assumption that we are driven by motivation and willpower. In other words, we are in control of what we think and do. However, we are not always as thoughtful as this assumption may suggest. We often do things 'on the automatic pilot' or 'by force of habit'. That can lock us in on behaviours that are unhealthy, unsafe or unsustainable, and as motivation and willpower are not in the driving seat, these are difficult to change.

    However, sometimes we face life course events such as transition from school to work, moving house, starting a family, retirement, or external events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. These are moments our worlds change and motivation and willpower have to take over. Such 'cracks in the wall' are opportunities for reflection, behaviour change and personal growth and may be starting points for building new, but healthy, safe and sustainable habits.

    Reading materials

    👉 Habit and climate change or access the pdf here
    👉 Psychology of Habit or access the pdf here
    👉 On the nature of eco-anxiety: How constructive or unconstructive is habitual worry about global warming? access the pdf here

  • Marieke van Vugt
    Marieke van Vugt University of Groningen - the Netherlands
    Marieke van Vugt

    Marieke van Vugt is an assistant professor at the Institute of Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Engineering (ALICE) of the University of Groningen (Netherlands). The research in Dr. van Vugt's lab focuses on how, when and why we mind-wander, and what the fundamental cognitive operations are that underlie meditation and mindfulness.

    Most recently, she started to investigate how analytical meditation practiced by Tibetan monks and nuns affects cognition and emotion. She addresses these questions using a combination of computational modeling, neuroscience, and experimental psychology tools. She very much enjoys projects were science, art (particularly classical ballet), and contemplation meet.

    Marieke van Vugt is also a Mind & Life Europe Association member.

    mindbrainmindfulness.wordpress.com

    Photo credits Sander Martens

    Abstract Day 4: Incorporating a contemplative attitude in your own work

    During this day, we will explore how to bring principles from a contemplative outlook into the way we conduct our (academic) work. The framework we will use for this is that of the Four Brahmaviharas, a set of “boundless qualities” that are derived from the Buddhist tradition but do not entail any religious commitment. These Brahmaviharas are boundless joy, boundless love, boundless compassion, and boundless equanimity.

    We will reflect on how these Brahmaviharas may be a useful tool to apply in our day-to-day interactions at work. For example, boundless joy encourages us to be happy when someone else has a success, a perfect antidote to feelings of jealousy that so easily arise in the competitive academic world. Boundless love refers to feelings of kindness towards others and ourselves—wishing ourselves well, which may manifest itself in good self-care and deep collegiality. We may manifest this collegiality in the way we communicate, but also the way we write our articles or our reviews. Boundless compassion refers to have we respond with help when we ourselves or someone else is suffering. Rather than being only focused on our own work, we can take action to ensure that others are also able to do well, for example by the sharing of our methods, our ideas and our data. But compassion can also manifest itself in being an ardent sponsor or advocate for others, as well as being a mentor with a passion to help others succeed. Finally, boundless equanimity invites us to reflect on our emotions, and in particular our hopes for fame and fear of being insignificant.

    Can we go beyond these and simply focus on doing the best science we can, without being partial to success and “desired outcomes”? Of course these ideas are only a starting point for reflection, and we hope to come up with many more ideas together with the participants during the summer school.

  • Ven. Karma  Wangmo
    Ven. Karma Wangmo Palpung Yeshe Chöling Dharma Center - Slovenia
    Ven. Karma Wangmo

    Lama Karma Wangmo has been studying and practicing Buddhism since 2000 under the guidance of H.E. Chamgon Kenting Tai Situ Rinpoche at Palpung Sherabling Monastic Seat in India. She received Getsulma (novice) monastic ordination at the age of 29 from Tai Situ Rinpoche in 2006 and Gelongma (bhikṣuni) ordination in 2015 in Taiwan.

    She received many empowerments, transmissions, teachings and pith instructions on Mahamudra from Tai Situ Rinpoche. She also received empowerments, teachings and meditation instructions from many other masters such as H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama, H.H. the 17th Karmapa Orgyen Trinley Dorje, H.E. Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche, H.E. Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, Chungpo Gyalton Rinpoche, Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche, and others.

    Lama Wangmo studied Tibetan language by attending several Tibetan language courses in India and Nepal, and by living with the Tibetan community for many years.

    Between 2006 and 2010 she completed the traditional three year and three month retreat at Ringu Tulku Rinpoche's Bodhicharya Meditation Centre in Sikkim, India. After completing the retreat, Tai Situ Rinpoche appointed her as the resident lama of Palpung Yeshe Chöling Dharma Center in her home country Slovenia, which also has a branch in Padua, Italy. Lama Wangmo has spent a total of over seven years in retreat. She divides her time between India and Europe, practicing, studying, translating and teaching the Dharma.

    In 2017, she participated in the neuroscientific study The effect of meditation practices on attention and emotion regulation: A study on the brain correlates and on the biomarkers of stress and inflammation, conducted by Dr. Antoine Lutz at Centre de Recherche en Neurosciences in Lyon.

  • Andreas Weber
    Andreas Weber Independent researcher - Germany
    Andreas Weber

    Dr Andreas Weber is a biologist, philosopher and writer. His work focuses on a re-evaluation of our understanding of the living. He proposes to view – and treat – all organisms as subjects and hence the biosphere as a meaning-creating and poetic reality.

    Andreas teaches at Berlin University of the Arts and is Adjunct Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology in Guwahati. He contributes to major German newspapers and magazines and has published more than a dozen books, most recently Enlivenment. A Poetics for the Anthropocene, MIT Press, 2019 and Sharing Life. The Ecopolitics of Reciprocity, Boell Foundation, 2020.

    Photo credits Florian Büttner 
    Abstract: Poetic Space - Life as Interdependency and Inwardness

    There is still a weird disconnect in our current understanding of life: As living beings, we experience ourselves as alive, which comes with a host of complex perceptions, all of them grounded in emotions. Such are the feeling of being a self, of desiring this self’s continued existence, of having a sensitive, vulnerable body in the midst of other vulnerable bodies, of being in need of and enjoying exchange and communication, which again is always based on bodily exchanges. We know that as alive, we have desires and feel joy and pain.

    In (at least, mainstream) biological theory, however, we treat life as entirely different. Life is a certain set of functions wich can be ascribed to self-reproducing objects (functions such as motility, sensitivity, homeostasis, or the possession of DNA). The aim of the “Paris School” of cognitive biology, building on the work done by Francisco Varela and Humberto Maturana in Chile in the 1970s, was to establish a view of life which corrected the flaws of the mainstream reductionist biological view. This culminated in Varelas enlargement of the idea of “Autopoiesis”, the observation that living beings create themseves, into the broader definition of life as “the creation of an identity”.

    In my talk I will show on the one hand that from this stepping stone we can proceed further and describe the construction of this living idenity as an existential experience, which is shared by all organisms, and to which we have immediate access as our embodied realization of what it is about to be alive. “Creating an identity” is the concern of life; it is a bodily necessity and aim, and at the same time it is an experience and desire felt by the self which arises as identity. Life is therefore not only a material phenomenon, but also the unfolding of inwardness. Embodiment is always accompanied by the experience of being a portion of the world which in this body desires itself as continuous.

    On the other hand, creating an identity is not done in solitude. Identity is a desire, an experience, but it is only possible as and on matter. This matter is taken from other parts of the world, and often also from other identities. Additionally, most organisms need semiotic input from other beings in order to be able to live; may this be parental care, social cues, or mate signalling. Identity is hence based on a process of sharing, on acts of mutual transformation. Subjectivity basically is intersubjectivity; the latter comes first. Togetherness births the self. The experience of being a meaningful self is hence not the product of a process of autonomous closure, but rather an unfolding of the interdepence of the world in which it speaks itself as experience.

  • Ven. Holger Yeshe
    Ven. Holger Yeshe Tergar Meditation Community - Germany
    Ven. Holger Yeshe

    Born in Nürnberg, Germany, Holger Yeshe began practicing Buddhism in 1999. Since that time, he has studied and practiced extensively in both the Theravadan and Tibetan Buddhist lineages. In 2005, he met his main teacher, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche with whom he has practiced with ever since. During his two decades of intensive study and practice, Holger Yeshe became proficient in Tibetan language and now serves as primary interpreter for Khenpo Kunga, Mingyur Rinpoche’s main Khenpo. In 2010, he ordained asBuddhist monk under the tutelage of Mingyur Rinpoche, splitting his time between facilitating meditation seminars, interpreting for teachings and different projects.

    Holger Yeshe has a particular interest in the intersection between the meditative tradition and western Scientific modes of inquiry. Since 2019, Holger Yeshe serves as a planning committee member of Mind and Life Europe Summer Research Institute which he believes is a great place to continue to explore this dialogue. He currently helps co-direct Tergar Germany, offering meditation seminars in both English and German, coordinating community outreach, and providing support for students in their meditation practise.

    Tergar International
    Tergar Germany

    Abstract: Meditation is habituation

    Habits play themselves out in different ways in relation to meditation practice and life in general, and our personal experience is not a linear progression. We have ideals and hold views that lead us to adopt certain principles that are conducive or in contradiction to a harmonious relationship with our environment. 

    What emotions and habits fuel this and which views could be helpful to make a transformation possible? How to recognise and best deal with these sometimes opposing forces that allow for a balanced approach and the ability to sustain ideals that we set for ourselves?

    We will investigate mind, mental states and habit formations from a buddhist perspective, illustrated by personal accounts. We will explore the qualities that we could cultivate in order to bring about such a transformation that takes into account the complexity of our human experience and the fundamental driving forces that govern it.

Contemplative Faculty & Practice at ESRI

At ESRI the contemplative practice is a core element we engage in throughout the whole program to deepen our own felt experience gained through such techniques.

Familiarising ourselves with the qualities of mindfulness/awareness enables us to settle our minds and look directly at our inner experience. Through cultivation of our innate qualities of love, compassion, wisdom and appreciation we gain insight using analytical meditation which investigates and directly examines our experience and perceptions. 

During the Contemplative Day we will dive in deeper into these practices and will offer short presentations that highlight key elements of meditation along with direct quotes from meditation masters to contemplate and incorporate in guided daily meditation sessions. A half practice day dedicated to contemplative techniques provides the possibility of some space from our usual habits so we can take our understanding and experience deeper.

We look forward to sharing this day of meditation with you all. Some of you may be new to meditation, some may have been meditating for quite a while. Regardless of your experience - a beginner’s mind is your best resource.

Planning Committee

  • Catherine  Bastien-Ventura
    Catherine Bastien-Ventura Strategy and Development Consulting - France
    Catherine Bastien-Ventura

    Trained as a biologist in toxicology and pharmacology, Catherine Bastien-Ventura worked as a research engineer at the national center for scientific research (CNRS) in Paris, France. After 10 years of research in the field of cancerology (Institute Gustave Roussy, Villejuif), she has been teaching and managing research projects in the field of environment and sustainable development for public sector and private companies (Rhodia, Schneider Electric, Hutchinson).

    Research project manager for the French Ministry of Environment, within the research and foresight department, she was in charge of programs dealing with different types of pollution and their consequences on ecosystems. After this position for almost ten years, at the interface of research and public policies, she joined the headquarter of CNRS, working for the Institute devoted to environment and sustainable development where she managed a cooperation program with China on environmental issues. Meanwhile, she also was the project manager for the Frontiers of Sciences programs with Japan and Taiwan.

    During the last years she was the international cooperation officer for French research networks dealing with area studies throughout Asia, Africa, Middle East and Muslim World. 

    She recently developed a strategy and development consulting activity for basic research and international cooperation.

    Catherine Bastien-Ventura is also a Mind & Life Europe Association member.

  • Luisa Damiano
    Luisa Damiano IULM University Milan - Italy
    Luisa Damiano

    Luisa Damiano (PhD) is Associate Professor of Logic and Philosophy of Science at the IULM University (Milan, Italy), and the coordinator of the Research Group on the Epistemology of the Sciences of the Artificial (RG-ESA).

    Her main research fields are: Epistemology of the Sciences of Complex Systems; Epistemology of the Cognitive Sciences and Philosophy of Mind, with a focus on Cognitive Extension, Minimal Cognition, Inter-subjective Cognition, Embodiment and Enaction; Philosophy of Biology, with a focus on Self-organization, Autopoiesis, Minimal Life, Origins of Life; Epistemology of the Sciences of the Artificial, with a focus on the Synthetic Modeling of Life and Cognition, in particular in Synthetic Biology and in Cognitive, Developmental and Social Robotics.

    On these topics she wrote many articles, published two books (Unità in dialogo, Mondadori, Milano 2009; Living with robots, with P. Dumouchel, Harvard University Press, 2017) and co-edited several journal special issues. Her philosophical exploration of the above mentioned domains of contemporary science is based on ongoing collaborations with scientific teams (e.g., University of Salento, Italy, and ELSI, Japan, SB-AI Project; Ritsumeikan University Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences, Kyoto, Japan, Artificial Empathy Project).

    www.iulm.it/damiano-luisa

  • Hsuan-Hsiu Hung
    Hsuan-Hsiu Hung Resident Artist - Estonia
    Hsuan-Hsiu Hung

    Please see the bio under 'Faculty'.

  • Gabor Karsai
    Gabor Karsai Mind & Life Europe
    Gabor Karsai

    Gabor Karsai, based near Budapest, Hungary, is a long-standing member of the MLE Association, and presently serves as Rector of the Dharma Gate Buddhist College in Budapest, as well as Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies. Gabor has undertaken Ph.D studies with a focus on process philosophy (A. N. Whitehead), phenomenology and Buddhism.

    Over the last 15 years, he has had extensive management engagements, including as a deputy CEO at Bankar Holding Plc. (Hungary), Director of the Spirit of Humanity Forum (Iceland), the Education for Peace Foundation (Switzerland) and as CEO at the Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society (Taiwan). He combines practical experience in running a not for profit organisation together with a deep appreciation for contemplative practice and science as well as the values and vision which MLE embodies.

  • Hendrik  Stark
    Hendrik Stark University of Freiburg - Germany
    Hendrik Stark

    Hendrik studied forest sciences at the University of Dresden with stays in Canada, Ecuador and Sweden. As part of his doctoral and postdoctoral research, Hendrik worked at the University of Freiburg in the field of forest ecology and was active in the graduate school "Environment, Society and Global Change". Inspired by years of private study of Buddhist meditation and psychology with teachers from India, he is interested in what we can learn from the ancient Buddhist psychology and its very practical and experience-based meditation for the societal transformation towards social and ecological sustainability.

    Thus, Hendrik brought his professional and private backgrounds together and in 2016 initiated the seminar "Linking Mind and Environmental Sustainability" at the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Freiburg. He has trained as an MBSR teacher (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) with the University of Bangor / the Mindfulness Network, Wales, GB, and with the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP) in London.

    In early 2019, Hendrik started working with the Meditation4Balance project as a freelancer and also started a PostDoc at the Systemic Health Research Section at the Freiburg University Medical Center looking at the topic of mindfulness and sustainability. Hendrik is employed as a forest scientist the Forest Research Institute in Baden-Württemberg (FVA) since mid 2020 working on forest growth modeling and climate change.

    www.hendrikstark.de

  • Mathis Trautwein
    Mathis Trautwein University Medical Center Freiburg - Germany
    Mathis Trautwein

    Towards the end of my psychology studies, I started to explore the world of contemplative practice, but also learnd about phenomenological philosophy. Being intrigued by the parallels of these traditions, I was captivated when I realized that they had been introduced to the empirical science of the mind by Francisco Varela and his colleagues. Their work thus opened a path for my academic trajectory.

    After finishing my psychology studies, I completed a PhD in cognitive neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, in the lab of Dr. Tania Singer, where I contributed to the ReSource project, a large-scale longitudinal mental training study. Subsequently, I completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the lab of Dr. Aviva Berkovich-Ohana at the University of Haifa. Here we explored the experience of self-boundary dissolution during meditation using the neurophenomenological approach. These different stages allowed me to gain experience in EEG, MEG and fMRI methodologies as well as first-person methods, such as the microphenomenological interview.

    In my current work at the University Medical Center Freiburg in the lab of Prof. Stefan Schmidt, I expand on this research. Here the aims include building a formal embodied and enactive model of meditative practice, explore how self/non-self boundaries act as a guiding principle in attention and social cognition and contribute to the synthesis of first-person and third-person as well as scientific and contemplative perspectives.

  • Marieke van Vugt
    Marieke van Vugt University of Groningen - the Netherlands
    Marieke van Vugt

    Please see the bio under 'Faculty'.

     

    Photo credits Sander Martens

  • Ven. Holger  Yeshe
    Ven. Holger Yeshe Tergar Meditation Community - Germany
    Ven. Holger Yeshe

    Please see the bio under 'Faculty'.