Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama

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9780553801712: Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama

*Why do seemingly rational, intelligent people commit acts of cruelty and violence?

*What are the root causes of destructive behavior?

*How can we control the emotions that drive these impulses?

*Can we learn to live at peace with ourselves and others?

Imagine sitting with the Dalai Lama in his private meeting room with a small group of world-class scientists and philosophers. The talk is lively and fascinating as these leading minds grapple with age-old questions of compelling contemporary urgency. Daniel Goleman, the internationally bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence, provides the illuminating commentary—and reports on the breakthrough research this historic gathering inspired.

Destructive Emotions

Buddhist philosophy tells us that all personal unhappiness and interpersonal conflict lie in the “three poisons”: craving, anger, and delusion. It also provides antidotes of astonishing psychological sophistication--which are now being confirmed by modern neuroscience. With new high-tech devices, scientists can peer inside the brain centers that calm the inner storms of rage and fear. They also can demonstrate that awareness-training strategies such as meditation strengthen emotional stability--and greatly enhance our positive moods.

The distinguished panel members report these recent findings and debate an exhilarating range of other topics: What role do destructive emotions play in human evolution? Are they “hardwired” in our bodies? Are they universal, or does culture determine how we feel? How can we nurture the compassion that is also our birthright? We learn how practices that reduce negativity have also been shown to bolster the immune system. Here, too, is an enlightened proposal for a school-based program of social and emotional learning that can help our children increase self-awareness, manage their anger, and become more empathetic.

Throughout, these provocative ideas are brought to life by the play of personalities, by the Dalai Lama’s probing questions, and by his surprising sense of humor. Although there are no easy answers, the dialogues, which are part of a series sponsored by the Mind and Life Institute, chart an ultimately hopeful course. They are sure to spark discussion among educators, religious and political leaders, parents—and all people who seek peace for themselves and the world.
The Mind and Life Institute sponsors cross-cultural dialogues that bring together the Dalai Lama and other Buddhist scholars with Western scientists and philosophers. Mind and Life VIII, on which this book is based, took place in Dharamsala, India, in March 2000.

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Review:

Destructive Emotions: How Can We Overcome Them? A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama forcefully puts to rest the misconception that the realms of science and spirituality are at odds. In this extraordinary book, Daniel Goleman presents dialogues between the Dalai Lama and a small group of eminent psychologists, neuroscientists, and philosophers that probe the challenging questions: Can the worlds of science and philosophy work together to recognize destructive emotions such as hatred, craving, and delusion? If so, can they transform those feelings for the ultimate improvement of humanity? As the Dalai Lama explains, "With the ever-growing impact of science on our lives, religion and spirituality have a greater role to play in reminding us of our humanity."

The book's subject marks the eighth round in a series of ongoing meetings of the Mind Life Institute. The varied perspectives of science, philosophy, and Eastern and Western thought beautifully illustrate the symbiosis among the views, which are readily accessible despite their complexity. Among the book's many strengths is its organization, which allows readers to enjoy the entire five-day seminar or choose sections that are most relevant to their interests, such as "Cultivating Emotional Balance," "The Neuroscience of Emotion," "Encouraging Compassion," or "The Scientific Study of Consciousness." But the real joy is in gaining an insider's view of these extraordinary minds at work, especially that of the Dalai Lama, whose curiosity, Socratic questioning, and humor ultimately serve as the linchpin for the book's soaring intellectual discussion. --Silvana Tropea

About the Author:

Daniel Goleman, PH.D. is also the author of the worldwide bestseller Working with Emotional Intelligence and is co-author of Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence, written with Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee.

Dr. Goleman received his Ph.D. from Harvard and reported on the brain and behavioral sciences for The New York Times for twelve years, where he was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He was awarded the American Psychological Association's Lifetime Achievement Award and is currently a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science His other books include Destructive Emotions, The Meditative Mind, The Creative Spirit, and Vital Lies, Simple Truths.

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