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Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Opposites Attract: My Dialogue with His Holiness The Dalai Lama

April 6, 2013, 9:00 AM

I first met the Dalai Lama in 2000 at his headquarters in Dharamshala, in the northern part of India.  And I had absolutely no interest in the Dalai Lama. I only went because I was invited to talk to him as a scientist, as a part of a group of five. And I knew I could invite a silent observer. And my daughter was interested in the Dalai Lama and I thought, "Wouldn’t this be a wonderful treat for her?" So I introduced her as my spiritual leader.

To my amazement, I just hit it off. I felt like I’ve always known him and he seemed to have had the same reaction to me.  And so in the past 12 years, we’ve now spent over 60 hours in one-on-one intense dialogue.  I can’t think of two people who are more dissimilar than us.  I’m married with two kids; he’s a monk.  I’m a non-observant Jew; he’s a Buddhist.  I’m trained in western science; he’s trained in Buddhist philosophy.

We’re within a year of each other in age.  One thing we have in common is we have the same arthritis in the same leg.  But we also love argument and neither one of us ever gets angry in argument, and we love to switch positions just to see where it will lead.  And we love the fact that talking with each other we discover things that neither of us knew before.  And so that’s been the subject of one book of dialogue. It’s called Emotional Awareness, and now a series of videos that I’m editing where people will be able to see the two of us and get some idea about how this east/west dialogue is working.

It’s been an enormous treat and an adventure.


Opposites Attract: My Dialo...

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