Aging and Cognitive Reformation

Sunday, April 28, 2019, 2 pm

April's Science & Buddhism Discussion continued our 2019 theme of Wellness. The discussion was on Aging and Cognitive Reformation, led by TokuHo Cliff Isberg, PhD. We addressed the nexus of aging and cognition.


Cognitive decline is usually associated with aging, but see, for example, the book This Chair Rocks – A Manifesto Against Ageism, by Ashton Applewhite, for an entirely different if somewhat polemic view that ranks Ageism with Racism and Sexism, particularly in America.

Cognitive Reformation, particularly compassion, uprightness, and intimacy, are ongoing topics that were also addressed in several recent SB Discussions, see for example, March 2019's Self-Compassion, November 2018's Altered Traits, and States, the December 2017 topic Zen and the Brain, the November 2017 discussion of The Righteous Mind, by Jonathan Haidt, and also the 2014-2016 Discussions. Altered Traits, and States in particular documents the science of "how meditation changes mind, brain, and body". Personal Reformation testimonials are readily available from most practitioners; see for example the dharma talk given just before the Discussion, by Cynthia Kear. Reformations can be very deep and profound but seldom ultimate; we continue including our evolutionary inheritance of selfishness.

The Zen practice of reformation is characterized, for example, in Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner Mind, which will be the topic of ongoing, open dinner discussions at Jikoji, Thursdays at 6pm, beginning April 25. Suzuki’s classic has also been a foundation of Zen practice since the 1970s, when the Zen reformation began in America. Note however that this cognitive reformation is occasionally accomplished solely through age and experience. Zen itself was characterized as a religion before religion, and includes many other religions within its practitioners. Perhaps most important is returning to uprightness of posture and demeanor, rather than seeking reformed states.

For quick summaries of the main issues, Google “aging and cognitive decline” and/or the book titles above, for which there are several online videos and pdfs.


As always, our “Last Sundays” Science & Buddhism discussions are quite open and informal with all invited to participate. All are welcome. No prior experience with science, Buddhism, or meditation is necessary. Hope to see you there!

Sunday Program: We also invite you to join us that Sunday morning for our 10 am Sunday Program, Dharma Talk, and social lunch, ahead of our 2 pm Science & Buddhism session.