Discussions help to refine both our understanding and practice, that are considered and discussed from the diversity of the participants' viewpoints. We study independently but we learn mostly from sharing and comparing our viewpoints. Each discussion is held on the last Sunday of the month starting at 2 pm, usually in the large zendo. Topics are selected from the nexus of Science and Buddhism as it applies to us, and to all sentient beings. No prior experience with science, Buddhism, or meditation is necessary.
Our theme for 2019 is Wellness, considering the investigations, conflicts, and consensus trends emerging from the intersections of Science and Buddhism. Each last Sunday at 11:45 am Jikoji’s Dharma Talk (part of Jikoji's regular Sunday Program), generally addresses a Wellness sub-topic from the perspective of Buddhist teachings, and Zen, while the 2pm SB Discussion addresses the same topic but from the perspectives of science. Wellness as optimization of potential is intriguing from the perspectives of both dharma (e.g., morality, happiness, perfections, awakening, enlightenment) and science (e.g., absence of illnesses and ailments, positive psychology, sociology, political science, ecology and environment).
Our July 28 Discussion was reflections on Death and related topics, e.g., enlightenment, happiness and joy. Death as a topic also reflects the ending of our weekend honoring the memory and legacy of Jikoji founder Kobun Chino Otogawa Roshi.
June 30 2 pm Our Discussion was on Suffering and Pain, led by Mark Adams who also gave our Sunday Program dharma talk on that same topic.
May 26 2 pm looked at Mindfulness of the Senses, and Intimacy with Nature. Doug Jacobson led the discussion, incorporating insights from Vasubandhu's "Treatise on the Five Aggregates", and also the recently published "Mindfulness & Intimacy" by Ben Connelly. More information. Doug also gave Jikoji’s Sunday Program Dharma talk at 11:45 am on that same topic.
April 28 2 pm on Aging and Cognitive Reformation was led by TokuHo Cliff Isberg, PhD. We addressed the nexus of aging and and cognition, usually associated with decline in aging but see for example the book This Chair Rocks; A Manifest against Ageism. Cognitive Reformation has was addressed in several recent SB Discussions, see e.g., Nov 2018 below, and is characterized for example in Zen Mind, Beginner Mind, a foundation of zen practice since the 1970s, when the Zen reformation began in America.
The March 31 2 pm SB Discussion addressed Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself; a book by Krisin Neff, Ph.D., considering the role of self-criticism in our psyche, self-esteem vs self-compassion, self-compassion practices, compassion for others, emotional resilience, and the traditional Buddhist practices of metta. Earlier that Sunday, Vanja Palmers gave our regular 11:45 am Dharma talk.
Feb 24's 2 pm SB Discussion addressed Climate Change: Causes, Consequences and Potential Remedies; see e.g., Climate Change, (the UN overview, with links to IPCC reports). Humans are currently adding significantly to the environment's burdens, particularly of carbon dioxide. Continuing emissions will increase average global temperature several degrees over the next few decades, and potentially ten degrees over the next century, with catastrophic consequences, see e.g., the recent NYTimes article Time to Panic. This article suggests that only massive worldwide intergovernmental efforts could remedy these potential increases; efforts comparable to the international mobilizations during World War II. See also Can Buddhism Meet the Climate Crisis? Buddhadharma magazine Spring 2019. And/Or search online for options and alternatives relating Buddhism and/or Climate Change; there are thousands of good articles on the latter.
The Jan 27 discussion addressed Robert Wright's book “Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment". The perspective is of factual, psychological and behavioral aspects of Buddhism, rather than teleological or theological issues such as reincarnation and the supernatural. “Science is Catching up to the Buddha" offers a quick summary of 17 of Wright’s key ideas. See also the recent NYTimes articles: What Science Can Learn from Religion, Feb 1 2019, and You Should Meditate Every Day, Jan 16.
Social Psychology 2018
November’s Science & Buddhism discussion was on Altered Traits, and States, the science of the behavioral, psychological and neurological changes resulting from meditation-related practices. Jen Hohman led our discussion, highlighting recent books including, Goleman and Davidson’s Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body; and Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.
Our October S&B discussion was on consciousness and Near-Death Experiences (NDE.) The near-death experience is a reported phenomenon occurring in clinically "dead" conditions from which the patient recovers. They can have some stereotypic features, such as seeing "light" and "divine beings." Are NDEs real, or the echo of a nervous system shutting down? Gary Heit, Ph.D., M.D., Chief Scientist at Vorso Corporation, led our discussion.
The Science & Buddhism Discussion in September, Sleep and Unconsciousness, investigated the connections between sleep and pain, and why sleep is vitally important. Lack of sleep is epidemic in the US and a leading correlate with incidence of most major diseases. We also looked at sleep in relation to meditation and Zen.
Our Sunday, August 26, Science & Buddhism discussion was lead by Jikoji teacher Doug Jacobson on current efforts to understand the nature of reality and human consciousness.
On June 24, at 2 pm, Laurent Ginestet, a molecular and cell biologist, and Saeko Ginestet, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (and Laurent's mother), discussed "Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst," by Robert M. Sapolsky.
On May 27, Cliff Isberg led a discussion on The Evolution of Emotions and their Social Implications.
On April 29, Jikoji's Eric Remington looked at the relationship between Meditation and Nature, and read passages from his new book of poetry, "The Soft Rain of Solitude: How a Field Biologist Works."
Our March 25 discussion was led by Ross Smith, who looked at the first several chapters of Jonathan Haidt's "Happiness Hypothesis."
The January 28 meeting was a discussion of Social Psychology led by Lance Hilt and Saeko Ginestet. This discussion began our 2018 explorations of the social sciences and of rational inquiry.
The March 31 2 pm SB Discussion will address Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself; a book by Krisin Neff, Ph.D., considering the role of self-criticism in our psyche, self-esteem vs self-compassion, self-compassion practices, compassion for others, emotional resilience, and the traditional Buddhist practices of metta.
And/Or search online for options and alternatives relating Buddhism and/or Compassion.
Earlier that Sunday, Vanja Palmers will give our regular 11:45 am Dharma talk
Brain and Mind, 2017
A variety of recent books, articles and talks focus on how the brain gives rise to the human mind, as well as the nature and characteristics of both mind and brain. The questions of transcendence and naturalism provide welcome background, but Discussions focus on promoting health and well-being through understanding the science of our lives and of other living beings, and through refining our practice of Zen Buddhism.
This link above includes for each Science and Buddhism Discussion at Jikoji a capsule topic paragraph for the Discussion, with links to relevant books, articles and talks.