Mindfulness Stress Reduction And Healing

Uploaded by Google on 24.07.2007


AIMEE CHRISTIANSEN: Welcome, everyone.
My name is Aimee Christiansen and I'm working on climate
change for google.org.
And my good friend Mang asked me to do the introduction to
Jon Kabat-Zinn, and I'm honored to have the
opportunity to do so.
But I first wanted to thank Mang for
organizing this event.
It's such a special occasion, and I thought that Mang title
was especially appropriate given that he's known as Jolly
Good Fellow here at Google.
It best captures John's teachings.
So just a little bit of background on his bio.
Jon Kabat-Zinn is a scientist, writer, and meditation teacher
engaged in bringing mindfulness into the
mainstream of medicine and society.
He's professor of medicine emeritus at University of
Massachusetts Medical School where he was founding
executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in
Medicine, Health Care, and Society, as well as founder
and former director of its world renowned stress
reduction clinic, which, I don't know about you guys, but
I could use a little bit of that now.
I'm looking forward to this.
He's authored many books, including Full Catastrophe
Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face
Stress, Pain, and Illness, as well as Wherever You Go, There
You Are, the book that introduced me to him.
Dr. Kabat-Zinn's work has contributed to a growing
movement of mindfulness into mainstream institutions in our
society, including medicine, health care, schools,
corporations, and perhaps even here at Google.
Dr. Kabat-Zinn received his Ph.D. in molecular biology
from MIT in 1971, and his research focused on mind-body
interactions with healing and various clinical applications
of mindless meditation, training for people with
chronic pain and stress related disorders.
We're hoping that his teachings will help all of us
to not only optimize our mental output for Google but
also optimize our quality of life wherever we are.
So welcome, John.
Thank you.

JON KABAT-ZINN: Well, thank you for that very sweet
And it's wonderful for me to be here.
I've never been here before and it does feel like an
interesting planet to be on.
I'm just feeling my way.
But I, too, want to express my gratitude to Mang
for inviting me.
And I understand that I'm part of a much larger
scheme in his mind.
How many of you heard Alan Wallace talk when he was here
some time ago?
Not that many.
So we're covering a very broad spectrum because I'm sure a
lot of people showed up for his talk.
And then Paul Ekman is going to come in May, I'm told.
And Paul Ekman is also involved in this kind of work
in another way, some of which I'll explain to you when I get
to the slides.
JON KABAT-ZINN: What's that?
And Matthieu Ricard, whose face you'll see in some of the
photographs I'll be showing, is coming next week, and I
highly recommend you to see him.
We have sort of a parallel background in that I was a
student of Salvador Luria's at MIT, who won the Nobel Prize
early on in the history of molecular biology.
And he was a graduate student at the same time at the
Pasteur institute in Paris, France with Francois Jacob,
who was a close friend of Luria's.
And then he happened to go off to Nepal and was so struck by
what he felt from the Tibetan meditation teachers that he
met there that he gave up molecular biology and has been
a monk for 40 years.
But now, as you'll see, he's been engaged in a larger
enterprise to do science on meditative experience and look
at the neuroscience of what happens in the brain when
people have been meditating for very long periods of time
and with tremendous motivation and intensity.
So it sounds like there's something of a sequence of
speakers coming to Google that are in some way all pointing
to some hidden dimension of reality that's in some way
hidden to us, in other ways completely self-evident.
But when it isn't self-evident,
it is really opaque.
And I like to think of it as an orthogonal dimension--
that is, rotated 90 degrees in relationship to
conventional reality--
but one that allows in quantum mechanics, for instance, as I
understand it, an orthogonal relationship allows, actually,
two different entities to occupy the same
space at the same time.
And in the mind, that is a very, very useful feature to
actually bring online as opposed to
leave just as potential.
So I'm going to be talking from a number
of different angles.
I entitled the talk, after talking with Mang about it,
Mindfulness, Stress Reduction, and Healing, because that's
what a huge amount of our work in the past 28 at the UMass
Medical Center has been about.
But there's another parallel element to it, and it partly
depends on how you feel about stress and stress reduction.
But when we use the word stress reduction, we're not
talking about some kind of dime store relaxation attempts
to calm people down and just make them feel a little bit
better so that they can work a little bit harder.
We're talking about, actually, a transformation in the way in
which we relate to our lives, to our bodies, to our calling,
to our loves, to our ambition, and so forth, so that we can
live lives of balance and fundamental, profound
And I believe that's true for human beings,
that that is possible.
And I think that a lot of time, the society entrains us,
if we don't do it ourselves, into severe imbalances that
can sometimes be unbelievably addictive, intoxicating, and
wonderful on one level, and on the other hand, maybe actually
draining your life's blood on another level or killing you.
And so, in a certain way, metaphorically speaking, I
would say that in this society, we seem to more and
more be dying for some authentic door into ourselves
in a way that's bigger than just what usually defines us.
And that's not to deny the beauty of what we often do,
how creative we can be, how important it is to--
I mean, at a place like this where you're basically
redefining the world and the universe in ways that
potentially are tremendously healing for the planet.
But to have this be, in some sense or other, held in a kind
of awareness that ordinarily, we're just not taught in
school and that requires a certain kind of intimacy in
cultivation in order to be able to have
it more at our disposal.
So if we're going to start with stress and stress
periodically, Time magazine and Newsweek and so forth put
stress right up there on front because--

I mean, I started the stress reduction clinic in 1979.
And when I think back to 1979, I say to myself, 1979--
what stress?

Because of you folks and people like you, I can get
more work done in a day than I used to be able to get done in
a month, and it's far better work.
But it still has a cost. Do you know what I'm saying?
Because then the expectation is-- not just from other
people but from myself--
that I will just be--
so the digital revolution already has catapulted us into
a condition where increasingly, there's no end
to the work day.
There's no end to the work week.
And so there's a way in which work can encroach all of life.
And if you love work more than anything else in the world,
hey, no problem with that.
And there have always been people
like that on the planet--
scientists, musicians--
where it's all that.
But there's also potential costs to pay in terms of
burnout, in terms of addiction, in terms of
overdosing, so that you're not actually tapping into the
creativity that maybe you once were.
And it requires more and more effort to get the certain kind
of return, as opposed to less effort, more dance.
But for 20 or 25 years, there has been a lot of research
being done epidemiologically, what the effects of various
kinds of risk factors on human health, mentally and
Everybody knows smoking is a big thing in this society, to
actually demonstrate that cigarette smoking is not good
for your health.
And in 1964, the Surgeon General's report actually came
out and said that.
So there's that and there's high blood pressure and
there's high cholesterol and all sorts of risk factors for
coronary disease, for cancer and so forth.
But stress was always considered not measuring up to
a bona fide risk factor.
But a couple years ago at UCSF, in the laboratory of Liz
Blackburn, Elissa Epel, who actually happens to be a
mindfulness teacher but is a young assistant professor at
UCSF, did a study looking at the rate at which the repeat
subunits at the ends of all of our chromosomes, which are
called telomeres and which are required for every cell
division in every cell in our body that divides, that it
turns out that long-term chronic stress can accelerate
the rate of telomere degradation enormously.
And so if you have ever heard the words coming out of your
mouth after a particularly horrific experience, "god,
that one just took years off my life," it
turns out it's true.
Because the telomeres, once they degrade, the cells can't
divide any more.
So if stress increases the rate of telomere degradation,
I mean, you can't get more somatic and molecular than
that in terms of evidence that stress has, potentially, if
it's not mitigated, the consequence of basically
increasing aging.
And I'm not going to go into the study in any great detail.
It was published in the PNAS--
Proceedings of the National Academy of Science-- in 2004.
But just to say that they did this study on parents of
children with chronic medical problems that are basically
not going to get better.
So it just doesn't get any more stressful than
that kind of thing.
It's not like, well, at a certain point, I'll get to go
on vacation or this will evolve in some way.
No, that's just going to be the way it is for life.
But they actually took parents who didn't have chronically
ill children, which are the blue points, and what they
found was that they were also showing telomere degradation.
And what really mattered was how much stress they thought
they were under.
They were under a lot less stress than the other parents,
objectively speaking.
But if you think you're under absolutely intolerable levels
of stress, you create that reality.
But that's a very positive finding because it says, if
you change your relationship to your perception of the
stress, then you could actually, potentially, reduce
the rate of telomere degradation.
And now, every study on meditation has thrown in the
telomerase assay and so forth now, and we don't know any
results yet.
But looking to see whether training in a course of
meditation over a period of time might actually slow or
restore to normal, say, the rate of telomere degradation.
So I just want to throw that out to you because there's so
many exciting things going on in the field nowadays about
that kind of thing.
But I want to make some pretty fundamental points here.
If you stare at that word for too long, it doesn't mean
anything, as you know.
But I want to make a distinction between how much
doing we know we do and-- what's that?
Yes, if you're Swedish, it's doing.
How much doing we wind up doing over the course of the
day, as opposed to what you could call, and the Chinese
might call, non-doing, or what I like to call "being." We're
called human beings.
But it might be more appropriate, the cliche goes,
for us to rename ourselves "human doings" because we seem
to be very much doing all the time.
And often, the doing is coming out of the head, but not
necessarily coming out of the heart or
coming out of the body.
And so it's, in some sense, disembodied doing.
And over time, even the greatest doing, disembodied,
can get you into real trouble at the level of the body and
its health but also at the level of our human
Have I lost the audience already?
Or am I making some sense here?
OK, because a lot of this is going to be impressionistic.
In the amount of time I have, I'm not going to be able to go
into this in tremendous detail.
But what I'm going to be doing is trying to point you at some
places where you'll be able to verify this or not for
yourself on the basis of your own experience just by paying
attention in a certain kind of way that ordinarily we don't.
And if you want a brief definition of meditation, it's
about paying attention.
It's got nothing to do with Buddhism, mysticism, the East,
the West. It's about paying attention.
So by virtue of the fact that it's about paying attention,
it universalizes it.
It's about something that's totally universal.
And it's not attention for its own sake.
It's attention for the sake of a profound capacity that we
all have innately that we ordinarily never pay any
attention to.
And that is awareness.
And I'm going to argue that awareness has a way of
balancing out thought in ways that are profoundly intuitive
and also profoundly creative.
And we were would never taught that in school.
Were were only taught to think in school, and we get better
and better at being critical thinkers, but we are not so
good at holding our thoughts and emotions and sensations
and relationships in ways that have coherence, groundedness,
the potential for greater satisfaction, balance, and, if
you will, happiness.
And Matthieu Ricard is going to talk on happiness.
And he'll come in his very colorful Tibetan robes.
And Matthieu is the real thing, so you're going to
really enjoy him, and I urge you not to miss him.
So we call what we do "mind-body medicine." We've
been calling it that for a very long time.
Finally, the media has picked up on that.
Because from the very beginning, we've been trying
to actually transform medicine.
Medicine itself is suffering from some
serious chronic diseases.
You may have realized that in your own encounters with the
medical profession.
And so we're, in some sense, trying to breathe new life
into medicine, and through science and through some other
ways, get it back to its Hippocratic roots and not lose
the art of medicine while we're developing the science
of medicine.
I'll just point out in passing, the word meditation
and the word medicine sound a little bit alike in English,
don't they?
And there's a very, very deep root meaning that they share,
and that makes it not quite so weird that we would be
bringing meditation into the mainstream of medicine.
Whereas, it could have been thought 30 years ago that it's
tantamount to the Visigoths being at the citadel and about
to tear down the gates of the city and so forth.
Far from it, meditation has now become completely accepted
within mainstream medicine the past 30 years.
And I'll show you some evidence of that.
This is basically a photograph of a 150 doctors and other
health professionals being trained in mindfulness in one
of our professional training retreats.
I just got back from another one last week.
And what we call mindfulness-based stress
reduction is spread--
this map is 10 years old.
And by the way, I'd just like to pitch-- this is the perfect
environment to do it.
If any of you folks can put me in touch with software that I
can put points on a map at will, I would that.

Without the coordinates.
Just name the city and it shows up on
my map of the world.
I'm looking for it.
And I'm serious.
I'd love that.
So this is a poster of a daylong seminar that was held
at the National Institutes of Health at their giant
auditorium in the Natcher Conference Center, right on
the grounds of the NIH in 2004 called Mindfulness Meditation
and Health.
And what I want to say is, from the perspective of 1979
when I started the stress reduction clinic, the idea
that the National Institutes of Health would hold a daylong
symposium entitled Mindfulness Meditation and Health, it's
more infinitesimally improbable than that the big
bang would stop expanding and the universe
would begin to collapse.
I mean, this is like a huge sea change at the NIH.
And they are now funding studies of meditation in the
range of between $10 million and $100
million at the moment.
And are really interested in this, in part because the more
you can teach people how to take care of themselves as a
complement to what the health care system can do, the
cheaper it is and the more effective.
Because then what you're doing is you're creating a
participatory medicine as opposed to an auto mechanic's
model of medicine.
And we mostly practice auto mechanic's in medicine.

So this is another stream of it that I just
want to point out.
I'm part of a group of people--
Matthieu is as well--
called the Mind and Life Institute, which has been
around since 1987 and which holds periodic conversations
between Western scientists and the Dalai Lama and other
Eastern contemplatives on subjects of mutual interest
having to do with, basically, two things.
The nature of mind and the nature of reality and how
these different streams and epistemologies and way of
knowing might actually inform each other if they have
conversations together.
And these have all been private meetings.
I'll show you some photographs of them in a bit over the
years, except that His Holiness then, at a certain
point, said, "I want to have more people be able to attend
these meetings." So we held a public one at MIT in 2003.
You probably read about it in the New York Times Magazine
about that time.
And that was on neuroscience and meditation.
And at that MIT meeting, at least 90% percent of the
questions were about the clinical applications of
So we decided we had to have a second public meeting, Science
and Clinical Applications of Meditation.
And that was held in Washington with twice as many
people as the MIT meeting, so about 3,000 people
in November of 2005.
And I also want you to note, from the point of view of the
sea change in medicine, that it's co-sponsored by Johns
Hopkins School of Medicine, which is the oldest, most
venerated school of medicine in the country, and
So they no longer are in foxholes, not wanting to be
associated with either the subject of meditation or with
somebody wearing Buddhist robes.
However, originally we were going to do it on the NIH
campus, and they just couldn't handle that because it would
look like the National Institutes of Health was
promoting Buddhism if the Dalai Lama stepped on there.
And so we took it out of the NIH.

So now I'm going to give you a brief parentheses and speak
about the Mind and Life Institute just so you have a
sense of this and a kind of parallel universe of what's
going on here, especially since Matthieu is coming in.
This is Matthieu Ricard.
And this is the 17th Karmapa, who is, I think in that
picture, 17 or 18 years old.
And in Tibetan Buddhism, everybody is the incarnation
of everybody else.
They've been family for a long time.
And this is one of the Mind and Life meetings where lots
of monks come.
And Here's His Holiness, and His Holiness's translator,
Thubten Jinpa.
And then Alan Wallace, who was speaking here a
month or two ago.
And then, the Karmapa.
And His Holiness, one of the reasons the Karmapa is part of
it is that, being 17 or 18 years old, His Holiness is
hoping that he would get interested in science because
the Dalai Lama is very interested in science.
He's just really into science and engineering.
And you can read about his history in that regard.
But it's just a natural scientific curiosity.
And if you spend days in a room with him talking about
science, he's always interrupting the presentations
and saying, "But have you thought about doing this?" And
they say, "Well, Your Holiness, that's the next
study that we decided to do." So he's right up there.
Even though he's only had, like, a high school education,
formally, in terms of science, he's really well read and also
extremely well tutored by some Nobel Laureates and so forth.
So he's got this love for science.
And this is, let's see, a bunch of scientists.
This is Steven Chu, who is a Nobel Laureate in physics, who
is now doing molecular biology.
Eric Lander, from MIT, from the Broad Center, who may very
well win the Nobel Prize for some element of--
AUDIENCE: Steven was here just last week.
JON KABAT-ZINN: Oh, Steve Chu was here last week?
Well, what do you know?
So it's a very tightly-woven, interembedded family that, no
doubt, Google--
I mean, where is Google not?

But this is a sort of framework about it, in these
private conversations.
And we dialogue.
It's a real dialogue, an inquiry, and very beautiful.
And every one of these has a book come out.
So you can find them on Google and read
them if you have time.
And this is a picture of the meeting in Washington where
I'm presenting to His Holiness about
mindfulness-based stress reduction.
And here's Matthieu, Ajahn Amaro from the Theravadin
Buddhist tradition, and Richard Davidson, who's the
head of the Keck Laboratory for Neural Imaging at the
University of Wisconsin and a collaborator of mine.
And to just say, for those young scientists here who are
interested in this interface, for whatever reasons that I
couldn't even imagine but the maybe you could, because
mostly we're talking about neuroscience and behavioral
medicine and things like that, but it may be Google people
who could add a whole other element to this thing.
We hold periodic, every summer, summer research
institutes at the Garrison Institute in New York City.
And this is an example just of us being in conversation with
a bunch of young faculty and graduate students and even
undergraduates in neuroscience and medicine and clinical
psychology on these deeply interesting questions of what
we can learn from each other.
So that's the end of the parentheses.

If you track just the number of scientific papers in the
literature on meditation, it's beginning to look like it's
going exponential.
And this is the University of Massachusetts Medical Center,
where the work that I'm going to describe comes from.
So we call what we do
mindfulness-based stress reduction.
What is mindfulness?
I had a friend of mine make some calligraphies for me.
And then, when I went to China for the first time to talk, I
thought, well, I'm going to have all these calligraphies.
I'd better bring them.
So this is the calligraphy for mindfulness.
And the reason I show it to you is that, as you know-- and
I'm sure many of you here speak Chinese, but I don't
know any Chinese, so I'm only saying what I've been told--
and some people say it's good calligraphy, other people say
it's not so good calligraphy.
There are a lot of different opinions about this.
But as I've been told this, is the word in Chinese, "nian,"
for mindfulness, and it's made up of two ideograms, one for
presence over the ideogram for heart, OK?
And the reason I'm showing it to you is not because of the
Chinese but because if you hear the word mindfulness,
it's very easy to think of it cerebrally.
And it's like, mind, OK, and so it's about some kind of
cognitive, discursive thought process.
But it's not that at all.
In Asian languages, again, I'm told, the word for mind and
the word for heart is the same in all these languages.
So we need to, when we hear the word mindfulness, also
hear heartfulness so we're not going to
understand what it is.
And my working definition of it, operationally speaking, is
it's moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness
that's cultivated by paying attention.
So moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness.
Why moment to moment?
Well, because the present moment is the only moment
we're ever alive in.
It's the only moment we can think.
It's the only moment in which we can be creative.
It's the only moment in which we can relate,
perceive, do anything.

And there are two interesting things about meditation that
are very often really not well unpacked in our society.
One is that, just like anything else,
it's a learning curve.
And so there's a certain way in which meditation is
instrumental, just like driving a car or learning to
play a musical instrument.
You just do it over and over and over again.
You do it.
You follow the algorithm of the instructions and so forth,
and you think that you're going to get better at it and
you're going to have benefits that come from it.
And so it's goal seeking and there's a certain kind
And it's always incomplete because it's on the way to
someplace else, some better place.
So there's an element of striving and
an element of thinking.
And it's like with any skill that you learn.
That's the instrumental element.
But unlike anything else that I know, and the reason that
meditation is so powerful is just like in quantum
mechanics, when you take an elementary, let's say an
electron, so I don't have to use the word "particle." It's
both a particle and a wave. Or it's neither until you do the
And depending on what kind of apparatus you use, it
manifests as particle.
It manifests as wave. But we can't really say what it is
when we don't do the experiment.
So it's kind of just different mode of reality, and they
speak of it as being complementary, that the
particle and the wave are complementary
elements of the non-thing.
And the non-instrumental dimension of meditation is
that there's no place to go and there's nothing to do,
that there's nothing to attain, that this is it.
And if you drop into this moment that it's not about
ever it getting any better than this because it can't get
any better than this.
This is it.
You'll just lose more telomeres in the next minute,
if you'll pardon my putting it that way.
But it's like we tend to persist that in the future,
it's all going to come together better when Google is
much bigger or when you work out all the kinks or whatever.
But that's a very limited way of thinking about this thing
because the future that you're living in now, this present
moment, was the future of when Google started.
So look how successful you are.
Do you know what I'm saying?
It's all an element of perspective on it.
And if we're always blasting through the present moment to
get some better moment, in a sense, we're not reading the
present moment.
We're not inhabiting the present moment.
And as you'll see, some very famous people have made some
very interesting comments about the downside of that.
So as it says in the Heart Sutra, the great Mahayana text
and all the Buddhist traditions in Asia, "Nowhere
to go, nothing to do, nothing to attain." You're already
complete, already whole, completely endowed.
And the thinking is not attached to anything.
The thought is incredibly powerful, but when it glomps
onto, like, we insist that it has to be a certain way, then
our thoughts can blind us.
And we're talking more about the quality of awareness.
So the way I like to put it in that kind of present
participle form, is awarenessing.
So mindfulness is, in a sense, it's awarenessing, We do it
all the time, but we're not aware of it, so we need to
actually cultivate metaawareness, metacognition,
or metacognitive awareness.
And I just want to say--
I don't want to go into this in any great detail--
that this is based on a kind of
non-dual view of the universe.
That we do create subject and object, we separate things as
me the viewer and what is viewed and all of that.
And from a conventional point of view, that is fine, but
there is some other element that unifies what Wordsworth
called "discordant elements" and makes them work in one
society, There's some deeper element of integration that,
very often, we are opaque to.
And so that's beyond relative opposites, like what I like
and what I don't like.
That can rule my life.

I only react to things that are pleasant and unpleasant
things, I try to escape from all the time.
So I'm always trying to get what I want and push away what
I don't want is a very imbalanced way to live.
Getting stuck in positive emotions
and negative emotions.
I believe that there are no positive
and negative emotions.
All emotions have information, and if you know how to handle
that information, then it can all be really useful.
Whereas if you say, "well, anger is a negative emotion,"
sometimes anger is a very appropriate emotion.
But if it leads to mindless violence, for instance, then
it's not a very good use of your anger.
And even you and me, there's a separation there that is not
necessarily fundamental.
Awareness itself.
If you start to become aware of your
awareness, it's boundless.
There is no center.
There's no periphery.
It's non-dual, but it is discerning without being
completely thought grounded.
And that's something you can discern for yourself.
So anyway, mindfulness is universal, as I said, but the
most articulate expression of mindfulness on the planet
comes out of the Buddhist tradition.
And apocryphally speaking, people used to go up to the
Buddha and say, "Are you a god?"
And he was said to have responded, "No, I'm awake."
And if you know anything about Buddhist iconography, all of
these kinds of forms, whether it's the Buddha or various
bodhisattvas and so forth, they're not about the deities.
They're representations of states of mind.
They're representations of states of mind.
And that's the representation of the state of mind.
So the implication is that we are somehow in a hypnotic
dreams state that perpetuates itself.
And we're kind of awake, but kind of not awake and, in some
sense, a slave to that unawareness.
So we can zone along on autopilot for years at a time,
more or less unconscious, even while we're
thinking we're conscious.
And the implication of that-- and you can check this out for
yourself-- is that you may never be where you actually
are because you're always somewhere else.
If you start to see how much of the time your mind is in
the future, for instance, how much of the time your mind is
in the past, the present moment tends to
get a little squeezed.
This can have profound implications for creativity,
for well being, for happiness, and for physical and
psychological health.

This calligraphy is the calligraphy for tao, or path.
So it's suggesting, in those traditions, that there is a
kind of lawfulness of the universe, often mysterious,
but a way to be in line with that.
That's the chi kung and tai chi and all those
martial arts are about.
When you align yourself with a certain lawfulness of things,
then a certain kind of harmony results from that.
And when you don't, then something else.
So the notion of a way with a capital W. So part of
meditation practice is finding your way with a capital W.
It's not like there's one right way.
You have to find your own way.
You can't just have some arbitrary authority tell you
what you need to be doing to be more awake.
It's like your job, with a capital J, or your way with a
capital W. And if you don't know what your way is, great.
We always want our own way, don't we?

I love it, though.
You can see it happening in supermarkets a lot when the
kid has a meltdown and wants three different things at the
checkout line.
And the parents says, "You can't always have your own
way." And the child says, "Why not, mommy, why not?
And you wind up saying, "You'll understand when you
grow up."
But isn't it true?
We've grown up, and don't we all want our own way?
But if somebody with a shaved head and robes comes in with a
far-out looking, gnarled and carved stick and asks you,
"What is your true way?" you might not be able to even open
your mouth.

And this is the calligraphy for, literally, turning.
But it means breakthrough.
So what is a breakthrough?
It's that orthogonal turning toward something, especially
when you feel aversion for it.
Instead of recoiling from it, you turn towards it.
The whole martial art of aikido--
blending, moving in, turning towards.
And if you know Rumi's poetry--
"The Guest House," for instance.
It's all about putting out the welcome mat for all the stuff
that arrives at our door, whether we like it or not.
"This being human is a guest house.
Every moment a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, some fundamental
awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a host of sorrows, who violently sweep
your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each
guest honorably.
He may be cleaning you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
Greet them at the door laughing"--
that's advanced practice --"and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes.
Because each has been sent as a guide from beyond."
That poem is 900 years old.
But what it's suggesting is, turn towards rather than
recoil away from.
And see, open your eyes, take a look.
That's what this is really all about.
And it's suggesting that when you do that kind of turning,
there is the potential for breakthrough--
breakthrough insights, breakthrough behaviors,
breakthrough rearranging of your cellular organism.
because the body is listening to what the mind is doing.
And when the mind learns how to self-regulate in particular
ways through self-observation, interesting things happen.
So Thoreau said famously--
if you go back and read Walden, you'll see it's all a
rhapsody about the present moment.
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately,
to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I
could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when they came
to die, discover that I had not lived."
Martha Graham-- "All that's important is this one moment
in movement.
Make the moment vital and worth living.
Do not let it slip away unnoticed and unused."
And William James, I'm not even going to go into that, in
the interest of time.
But he's basically saying that a method to voluntarily bring
the mind back when it wanders off would be the foundation of
the best possible education.
But he says it's easier to conceive of that than to find
one that would really work.
But it's evidence that he didn't know anything about
Buddhism because that's exactly what it is, is the
mind goes off, you bring it back.
The mind goes off, you bring it back.
The mind goes off, you bring it back.
The mind goes off, you don't want to bring it back, you
bring it back anyway against the resistance.
And something starts to grow against the very resistance
that's a lot more interesting than a bisect.
And it's mindfulness.
MBSR is a compliment to medical treatment, not a
substitute for it.
In the hospitals, it's fully integrated into medical
clinics and subspecialties.
It does involve a certain degree of discipline and work,
although I like to think of it more as play than work.
And with our medical patients who suffer from severe chronic
medical conditions of all kinds--
including anxiety and panic and so forth--
it's a fairly intensive time commitment.
It's 45 minutes a day, six days a week for eight weeks.
And there are four formal methods that we teach: a body
scan, which is a lying down meditation, a sitting
meditation, mindful hatha yoga, and mindful walking.
And so this is an action shot of the body scan.
Just goes on like this.

Another view, sitting meditation.
It looks like nothing's happening.
I want to tell you, this is the hardest work in the world.
To be in the present moment, non-judgmentally, for even a
fraction of a second is hard work.
And I'm basically challenging you to consider that it might
have some enormous benefits.
We do it in Spanish as well as in English in
our inner-city clinic.
So it's shown to be cross-cultural.
Mindful yoga.
I won't say more about yoga.
We're in the Bay Area, after all.
And I know that there's yoga here and massage here and
meditation here.
So in a sense, I'm probably just
wasting my breath talking.
The real meditation practice, however, is not
these formal practices.
It's living your life is if it really mattered.
So in other words, your whole life becomes
a meditation practice.
That's what this is really about--
living in awareness, living with a certain degree of self
compassion and kindness, and cultivating what the Dalai
Lama-- and other people-- calls wisdom.
And the body has its own natural wisdom.
The mind also has its own natural wisdom.
And sometimes, we get out of touch with it.
So I'll just give you one example.
The next time you're in the shower, just as homework from
this talk, check and see if you're in the shower.
You may be already at Google.
Of course, maybe you're always at Google and
you shower at Google.

But you would be amazed how much, like, when you're in the
shower, you're already at work.
You might have your whole first meeting of the day in
the shower with you.
You might be in the middle of an argument.
But you're not feeling the water on your skin.

So you can begin to just gently--
and remember, it's non-judgmental.
So you don't beat yourself up for non-performance on the
meditative side.
But you just let the water be in touch with your
skin and know it.
That's that sensorium of feeling.
You can know it, and that becomes meditation practice.
So was a slide that I was showing His
Holiness and that talk.
I was trying to get through about MBSR. I said, well, if
you consider life to be the bicycle, then MBSR--
or any training in mindfulness--
would be like training wheels.
You just get the feel of it, but then you throw the
training wheels away.
It's all about the somatic experiencing of it.
And you can't, I don't think even-- at Google, you can
develop an algorithm for riding a bike.
You read the algorithm, and you just ride, never fall.
The body has to learn from doing, from the
engagement of it.
And then, once you do know how to ride, you don't need the
training wheels.
And there are a lot of different ways that people
approach bike riding.
How many of you ride bikes to work?
I saw a lot of bikes out there.
So there's biking and biking.

And there's meditating and meditating too, OK?
But it's not about--
Einstein never needed to be like Lance Armstrong.
It wasn't his thing.
Seven-time winner of the Tour de France.
The amount of mental energy that it takes to accomplish
something like this-- virtually unthinkable.
It's why the issue of drugs will come up.
But the fact of the matter is that you don't have to be like
anybody else.
You use your bicycle your away.
So in the last few minutes of this before we have questions,
I want to just run by you some clinical studies so you have a
sense of the kind of work that's being
done in this area.
And just very briefly to say, with a whole bunch of medical
patients going through the stress reduction clinic who
were medical patients-- they had chronic pain conditions,
heart conditions and so forth--
but they also qualified for, clinically, a mental health
diagnosis in either anxiety or panic disorder.
So they had a psychiatric diagnosis on top of the
medical diagnosis.
And you can see that, if this is an anxiety scale, you have
a step function down over the eight weeks of the stress
reduction clinic.
People come to the hospital once a week, 2
and 1/2 hour class.
In the sixth week, there's also a day-long silent
meditation retreat.
And so it is eight weeks, 2 and 1/2 hours once a week, 45
minutes of practice every day.
You see a step function in anxiety.
You also see a step function in depression.
And then, I won't show you the data, but that goes out not
just three months but three years.
So something people do in eight weeks can have an effect
on their lives three years down the road.
Now I'm going to just very briefly talk about two
randomized clinical trials.
One, the effect of mindfulness-based stress
reduction on emotional processing in the brain and
immune function in response to a flu vaccine.
And then, if there's time, very briefly, the effect of
the mind on the healing process that you can actually
see and photograph.
Because healing is sort of a double-edged word in medicine.
You have to be very careful how you use it or people start
to roll their eyeballs and think you're weird.
But wound healing, nobody thinks that about.
So we tried to find a healing process that would not create
that kind of resistance.
So this is a study that we published in 2003 with Dr.
Davidson, my collaborator.
Can mindfulness training in the form of MBSR be used to
modify the central circuitry of emotion?
And I just want to say-- and maybe Paul Ekman will talk
some about this-- but you probably know that in the past
eight years, the entire basis of neuroscience has been
transformed by the discovery that the dogma that we were
taught for a generation, that after about the age of two
there's no new neurons laid down in the
central nervous system.
And that it's all loss of neurons, it's downhill from
about the age of two and you can hear the neurons going
exponentially, that turns out not to be true.
It turns out that we're not to not just
synthesizing new neurons--
which is called neurogenesis--
but laying them down in particular regions of the
brain, and they're functional up to the day we die.
And it's driven more than anything else by experience,
and more than any kind of experience, repetitive
When you do the same thing over and over and over again,
like ride bikes up mountains or meditate or play the violin
starting at a very early age where what you do with the
right hand and what to do with the left
hand are very different.
It turns out you can morph what's going on in your motor
cortex and somatosensory cortex by
just fingering a lot.
And there's a very famous study of the London taxi cab
drivers downloading the street map of London into their
heads, and you see the anterior hippocampus shrink
and the posterior hippocampus get bigger over a
period of two years.

Losing a limb.
Very often, different aspects of the brain are recruited to
different parts of the body because the limb
is no longer there.
So neuroplasticity, basically, means that the brain is not
static but is continually morphing itself in response to
Negative traumatic experience can actually atrophy brain
function and, actually, brain size.
And therapy and moving in the positive direction can restore
it, potentially.
That's an area of ongoing, very exciting research.
So I'm going to talk about a part of the brain called the
dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex, which has a kind of
division of labor left and right.
There's an asymmetry in the lateralization.
So left activation is associated, shorthand,
happiness, feelings of well being, approach behaviors.
Right activation, all other things being equal, avoidance
behavior and difficult emotions.
There are also, of course, many other complex
regions of the brain.
So this is the left prefrontal cortex associated with
positive affect in some studies.
So here is the summary slide.
Left, happy.
Right, unhappy.
I won't belabor it, in the interest of time, except that
if you take people and put them into scanners or use a
quantitative EEG electrode helmet, which I'll show you
shortly, and just get people and you don't do
anything with them.
You just study whether they are more
left or right activated.
People who are more left activated described themselves
with words like interested, excited, strong, enthusiastic,
alert, and active.
And if they are more right activated, they described
themselves this way.
And it is thought that in adulthood,
you're pretty much fixed.
It becomes a trait.
And a study that I will show you now suggests that that,
what was called a set point, is actually malleable, that
with training in meditation, in eight weeks in a work
setting, it will change.
And we did this in a biotech company in Madison, Wisconsin.
So this is Matthieu, who is coming next week, who has been
a subject in many of these studies along with a lot of
other monks.
And the qualification is you have to have at least 10,000
hours of intensive meditation practice.
Which is the equivalent of, say, the concert master
violinist in one of the great symphony orchestra.
Lots and lots of practice and training.
But mostly, these monks are over the
40,000 or 50,000 hour.
And if Dr. Davidson comes, he will show you a lot more about
this story.
And this is just to give you a little background, than.
This is 150 undergraduate psychology majors and their
profile in terms of left and right.
So you see there are some outliers on the left, there's
some outliers on the right, but it's basically a Poisson
Nice bell curve.
This is Matthieu when he's meditating, cultivating what
they call non-referential compassion.
Non-referential compassion.
No subject, no object.
And in case this distance looks fairly close, this is
eight standard deviations from the mean.
Eight standard deviations.
Neuroscience had never seen anything like this.
And we're seeing this time and time again.
It's reproducible, not just in one person but in many people,
that the brain is capable of the same kind of thing Lance
Armstrong is capable of when you push the envelope in that
kind of way--
in the non-dong kind away, in the non-striving kind of way,
in the non-instrumental kind of way.
And then this is more evidence from a study in PNAS with
Richie and Matthieu, who's an author on the paper, and
Antoine Lutz, just showing undergraduates
and Buddhist monks.
I won't say any more except to say that it's a global
recruitment of the cerebral cortex in the monk meditators
and the college students, with two weeks of instruction,
trying hard, but that recruitment is something that
takes time to teach.
So in our study, we went to a biotech company.
High stress, beautiful work environment.
Biotech company.
The president agreed to let us do the study there, randomized
people between they take the eight-week
program or they don't.
The anxiety is reduced in the people that take the program,
not reduced in the weightless control.
They all go into the laboratory.
And very briefly, this is just a way to show left versus
right activation.
Time one is before randomization.
Time three is a four-month follow-up.
And the meditators are in the red and the control group are
in the purple.
And there's no significant difference before.
By time two, which is at the end the eight weeks but I
don't have it on this graft, and time three, the meditators
are shifting more from right activation to left activation.
That was not supposed to happen by the dogma, that
there was supposed to be a fixed point.
But in eight weeks, during work hours learning the stuff,
they are shifting in the same direction as
the Buddhist monks.

Meanwhile, the control group is actually getting worse
because we are interpreting that as that by the time they
are in the laboratory for the third time, it's very, very
aversive, and so they're getting more right activated.
And we gave everybody the influenza vaccine.
at the end of the eight weeks and then monitored their blood
titers for antibody.
The meditators mount a stronger immune response that
the non-meditators.
And then, when we plot the degree of brain shift right to
left over the antibody titer, we get a linear relationship
with a fairly significant correlation in the meditators
and no relationship whatsoever in the control group.
So that's just one little thumbnail sketch of the kind
of science that's being done now, and it's coming out of
the hospital into the work setting.
And people who took the MBSR program reported that they
were much more effective in managing their stress.
And this regulation of emotion, you could think of as
enhancing the effectiveness of our emotional intelligence.
And then it has effects on health, at least in terms of
the immune system.
And we don't know enough about it to say any more than that.
That's why all these other studies are ongoing.
I'm just going to say very briefly about this skin
disease that you can see and photograph in healing.
Bill Moyers was filming in the stress reduction clinic back
in the early '90s.
And we had done a pilot study that showed that people with
psoriasis who were meditating while they were receiving
ultraviolet light treatments for their psoriasis healed
much faster than the people who were just getting the
ultraviolet light treatments.
Now, ultraviolet light's not a cure for psoriasis, but
psoriasis is an uncontrolled cell proliferation in the
epidermis, But it's not cancerous, but it's got
kissing cousin genes to cancer.
So it was like a really interesting question.
Can the mind influence healing, right down to the
level of gene expression, control of cell division and
so forth, for its own sake and also because of its potential
applications for cancer.
So when he was filming in the clinic, we had this very
exciting pilot result, but we couldn't talk about it because
we were in the middle of doing the replication study.
So this is what psoriatic skin looks like.
And it can cover the entire body, and it's very labile
with emotional stress.
So the more stressed you are, the more--
your body can be covered.
This is what an elbow looks like, and that's what the same
elbow looks like clear.
So we randomized people between two conditions.
They either get the meditation while they're undergoing
ultraviolet light, or they just get the
ultraviolet light by itself.
And this is how you get exposed to ultraviolet light.
You go into a light box like a telephone booth. it's on
wheels so the door closes.
And then it's like you're standing there naked with a
pillowcase over your head and goggles on to shield your
corneas from the UV.
It's not like going to the beach.
It's more like going into your toaster oven.
I'm serious.
So you are really getting grilled.
You can only be in for short periods of time and we titrate
people up in time as they accommodate to the
intensity of it.
And we put speakers on the top and we did a guided
meditation, if you were in the experimental group, while they
were doing it.
And I'll just jump to the chase and say, this is the
probability of clearing graph for the meditators listening
to the guided meditation tape.
That's the only meditation training they got.
No person, just a disembodied voice.
No classes, no group support, anything like that.
The meditators are obviously healing with a different
kinetics from the people who are just getting the UV.
And that's whether it's what's called photochemotherapy--
I'm glossing over a lot of the details, but these are
published studies-- or just the ultraviolet light by
itself, which is a weaker treatment, so everything's
translated more to the right.
But still, at the midpoint of the probability of clearing,
you've got a 35 to 40 day difference.
And when you do the statistics, it turns out the
meditators are healing at four times the rate of the
And I won't walk you through the table but, there are
implications of the study.
One is that the mind can positively influence the
healing process and speed it up by a factor of
approximately four.
That's pretty interesting, if that's true.
We've seen it twice, so we tend to believe that more than
we would otherwise.
And it's got to do it down to the level of gene expression.
There are all sorts of other implications of this study
which I won't go into right now.
And just for the sake of having some time for dialogue,
I'm going to stop and just quote William James again--
of for the first time, since I didn't the first time.
"I have no doubt whatever that most people live, whether
physically, intellectually, or morally, in a very restricted
level of their potential being.
They make use of a small portion of their possible
consciousness, much like a man who, out of his whole bodily
organism, should get into a habit of using and moving only
his little finger." And then, very famously, "We all have
reservoirs of life to draw upon, of which we do not
So I just want to say in closing, there are plenty of
opportunities to do this kind of training if you're
The Bay Area has more MBSR teachers--
a higher density of MBSR teachers than anyplace else on
the planet.
And if you're interested in the work of the Center for
Mindfulness, that's this website.
And if you're interested in the work of the Mind and Life
Institute and the Dalai Lama, that's that website.
I want to apologize for blasting through this so
quickly, but I wanted to give you a broad enough range of
this is so that you understand that there's an art to this,
there's a science to it, and the fun really comes in the
interface between the two.
And then there are very, very real, 28 years worth of data,
on clinical applications of this kind of thing, now more
and more grounded in molecular changes at the level of cells
and also neuroscience and the level of the brain.
So it's a very exciting time in both medicine and science
to start unpacking these kinds of things.
But even beyond the science of it, there is the kind of
excitement of maybe making accessible to us a dimension
of living that's been--
if you don't mind my using this in a pun-like way--
right under our noses from the very beginning and that we
easily miss because we blast so much through our moments.
And we're so into thinking but not so much into being aware
of what we're thinking.
So I want to thank you for your attention and now open it
up to any kinds of questions, comments, or observations if
you care to.

MALE SPEAKER: After questions, can you tell people I'll be
having meditation at 3:15?
JON KABAT-ZINN: Yes, Mang is suggesting that I say that at
3:15, there'll be a meditation class for anybody who wants to
dive into the actual practice itself rather than talk about
the practice.
So please, go ahead.
AUDIENCE: It's just a basic comment.
You showed many pictures of monks and you did
the studies on monks.
I just want to say that monks, they may have less stress, but
their lives seem to be really boring.
For people who are working at Google, we have a
lot of work to do.
We have a lot of things to create.
And we do have a lot of stress.
And some kind of a balance between a monk's life and an
engineer's life, for people who have a lot of
stress-generating work to do, how do you handle this?
JON KABAT-ZINN: OK, well, I want to make sure that you
understand that the reason I'm showing the pictures of monks
is basically to show outliers, OK?
But the fact is, seventeen 17,000 people have been
through our stress reduction clinic over the past 28 years,
and none of them know anything about monks or Buddhism and
could care less and they're all stressed up the kazoo, or
the wazoo, or whatever.
So my point showing about the monks was that the regular
people in the work setting when we did that study, their
brains shifted in eight weeks in the same direction as the
monks who have been doing it for 40 years.
So there's a tremendous amount of latitude for dealing with
the stress that you're under as a person.
And very often what we think is, well, the first thing we
want is someone to just make it better, like
maybe drugs or whatever.
But there is no real solution to the kind of stress that we
are living with from the outside.
It has to be a kind of from the
inside, learning to rebalance.
And balance is always losing your balance and then
recovering your balance.
So swimming in these seas becomes
something of an art form.
And it's got nothing to do with monks.
It only has to do with regular human beings trying to put one
foot in front of the other and live our lives as if it really
mattered and not get so stressed out in a particular
direction that we lose sight of some of the
beauty in our own lives.
On the other hand, not to get so laid back that we stop
contributing to the world or to our work or whatever.
And that is an art form, and everybody, in a sense, has to
do that interior work themselves, I would say,
because no one else is going to be able to
do it for you, certainly.
So that's the challenge.
But I think there's a very, very good track record--
which maybe I didn't articulate well enough-- that
this is for real people.
It's got nothing to do with Buddhist monks.
It's just as I said, Matthieu is coming next week.
You might come and see him just for fun, see that he
ain't that different from us anyway.
And believe me, the monks have plenty of stress, and they
don't think their lives are boring.
I mean, boring is as boring sees it,
so it could be different.
AUDIENCE: You defined mindfulness as non-judgmental
awareness moment to moment.
Why is the non-judgmental so important that it takes 20% of
the definition?
JON KABAT-ZINN: Well, without that, I mean, that's the
hardest part of it, because we've got ideas and opinions
about everything.
So the invitation is to see if you can be with a percept
without getting caught in your liking or
disliking of the percept.
It turns out to be very, very challenging.
And non-judging doesn't mean--
it's not an invitation to get stupid.
It's not like, "Well, I'm not going to
be judgmental anymore.
I'll just walk out there and if a
truck's coming, no problem.
I'll just walk in front of the truck."
It's not about that.
We make a very fine distinction between
non-judging, which is like--
judging, in my vocabulary, is like black and white, good and
bad, like and dislike.
It's very binary.
And we tend to jump into those binary, plus-minus, good-bad,
very rapidly.
Discernment is seeing more the shades of gray
between zero and one.
Everything in between, between black and white, so to speak.

It's very much, as I'm saying, a way of being.
It's an art form where it's not that you don't see
clearly, it's that you do see clearly because your mind
isn't fogging it over with all your preconceived zero-one
decisions from moment to moment about what you like and
dislike, which is a little bit like a prison.

AUDIENCE: So I thought the results about the psoriasis
were very interesting.
But I didn't think the control group was actually a control
group because in the set who were given the meditation,
they were given something--
AUDIENCE: --versus if people are told to take time out and
problem solve, whether there's that difference.
Because it could also be that if people were played this
tape in the middle of their treatment which said, "Now
think about all your problems and think how you're going to
solve them.
Be active," and so on. "Take care of yourself.
Take care of your health, eat properly."
JON KABAT-ZINN: We call those anti-meditation tapes.
AUDIENCE: Yeah, anti-meditation.
They might also show this increased result because they
might also take time out to take care of themselves.
JON KABAT-ZINN: Now, I'm going on long-term memory here
because I don't know of any recent studies of that kind.
And you're absolutely right in your criticism of the
psoriasis study.
It was like a pilot study where we didn't give the
control group something comparable to either fill
their mind--
even music--
but something comparable, at least. But I think the
anti-meditation, it's not simply that you are thinking.
There's a big difference between the meditators and the
thinkers, so to speak.
But that is a very interesting question, and no doubt it
needs an awful lot more investigating than has been
done so far.
AUDIENCE: I was listening to a tape recently from a book that
the Dalai Lama wrote.
And in it, he said something very funny about neurobiology.
He said he was listening to a lecturer give a lecture about
the amygdala--
and I think it was Goldman-- and how the amygdala has all
these negative impacts on our emotions.
And he laughingly thought to himself, "Well, then
enlightenment is simple.
We'll just cut out the amygdala and then we'll all be
enlightened beings."
And, of course, it doesn't work that way because when you
cut out the amygdala, there's a whole host of responses that
you excise from the opportunities that humans can
have in their interactions, such as
being rightfully afraid.
And any time you're startled, you need that.
However, I was thinking about the studies and how you were
talking about the right and left prefrontal cortex and how
there's a noticed diminished activity in the right
prefrontal cortex.
And then I thought about what the Dalai Lama was saying.
And how do we know what the effects of the right
prefrontal cortex could be and how they could possibly
contribute to a wholesome life?
And do we really want to sort of shut out those capabilities
and being present with fear and being present with those
more negative sides, isn't that casting the exact same
binary, positive-negative thing you were
talking about before?
JON KABAT-ZINN: Yes, and that's why I'm just showing
you what's been done and giving you that frame on it.
But the larger, non-dual perception is saying we hardly
understand anything about the brain.
And one of the things that I glossed over was, that
left-right shift had to do with very specific loci on the
left and on the right.
Right next door are other loci that are doing totally
different things.
The prefrontal cortex is doing a million things at once, so
to speak, most of which we don't understand.
But it has to do with executive decision making, all
sorts of things.
So it's not a matter of, well, excise the amygdala or find
the exact thing that will get you a little bit more on the
left side, because that's also dualistic.
So we're beginning to unpack some of what are called the
neural correlates of meditation, but we're light
years away from understanding the brain or what is really
involved when you drop liking and disliking, this and that,
and into an awareness that can hold it all.
But we're doing those kinds of studies with Matthieu and
other people, where they can rest for extended periods of
time, paying attention to one thing or to no thing.
and extend that out and see what the brain does.
And it's all incremental learning curve.
But nobody that I know went into meditation because they
wanted to make pretty pictures on fMRI scanners.
And they're going into it for totally different reasons, but
now, because of this interfacing between science
and meditation, it's becoming interesting.
And the risk is, it'll become materialistic.
People will glomp onto the results and they'll lose the
heart of the whole thing.
And even His Holiness and Matthieu are aware of that.
OK, last question.
Where'd the microphone migrate to?
AUDIENCE: I think this is sort of a related question, which
is, you said a few times that mindfulness and meditation
don't inherently have anything to do with Buddhism.
As someone who is a Buddhist, there is something sort of
uncomfortable about thinking about people coming to
meditation to cure their psoriasis.
And I just wonder, do you worry that something might be
lost if meditation does come to be seen as essentially just
a medical treatment and not a spiritual practice?
JON KABAT-ZINN: Yeah, but I don't see it that way at all.
First of all, the people who are with the psoriasis, they
are just agreeing to be part of a study on meditation.
They're not coming to meditation the way somebody
would come to meditation.
And even in the stress reduction clinic, why do
people come to the stress reduction clinic?
Really, one reason and one reason only.
And so this question got posed to the Dalai Lama, around
whether this kind of thing is the death knell of Buddhism
because we're taking what you might call the heart of
Buddhist meditation--
people do call it the heart--
but if it's a decontextualization of it, it
would be a desecration or a denaturing of it, and then
offering it to people who are suffering,
that would be a disaster.
And I hope we're not doing that.
What we're doing, in my view, is it's a recontextualization.
And I asked him, during their presentation when it came time
to ask some questions, I said, to him, "Do you see any
difference between Buddha Dharma and universal Dharma?
And he said no.
And so as long as this mindfulness is grounded in
ethics and morality and all of the kinds of things--
and it is-- all of the kinds of things that would go into a
full-spectrum meditation practice, it doesn't need to
be Buddhist in order to reduce suffering.
And when His Holiness is posed this question about whether
this is a good thing for Buddhism or not that this
happened, he said the following.
He said there are four billion people on the planet, one
billion Buddhists, three billion non-Buddhists.
All four billion are suffering, so what are we
going to do?
Just keep it for us Buddhists?
And he, actually, is promoting what he calls secularized
meditation, that's like beyond Buddhisms or any other isms.
And MBSR is really just an example of
that 25 years earlier.
And you use the word "spiritual." So I just want to
say that I have a lot of trouble with the word
"spiritual" because it's used in so many different ways.
My working definition of the word "spiritual" is what it
means to be really human.
We don't know what it means to be really human.
But I like that because it doesn't get into, "Oh, she's
so spiritual and he's not very spiritual."
Because what isn't spiritual?
Is chopping vegetables spiritual?
Making love spiritual?
Well, it all depends.
How present are you?
So I love that I'm even here and that we're having these
kinds of dialogues and questions, because I think
we're in a place of so much not knowing.
And the awareness itself has an element of not just knowing
but not knowing and the [INAUDIBLE]
between not knowing and knowing, that's where the
juice lies.
And so there's just tremendous creative opportunities.
And I think in terms of medicine, and I think in terms
of our society, in a certain way, you could say that the
human mind has reached a part-- if you don't mind my
branching out a little bit to a more global view.
Thinking from the last ice age, for instance, all of
human history has happened in the past, say, 13,000 years.
And everything beautiful that has come out of human culture
that is in the Louvre or anyplace else-- or Google
has come out of the human mind and the human body in 13,000
years, which is nothing in terms of the
history of the planet.
And we've managed to call ourselves
Homo sapiens sapiens.
What does that mean?
In Latin, [? saperi, ?] the present participle of the verb
[? saperi ?]
is to taste or to know.
So we're the species that knows and knows that it knows.
I don't think so.
I think we haven't lived up to that one yet.
We are still in our infancy, not even knee socks.
I mean, we're just beginning to mature enough to understand
the global nature of what we've been able to produce
with, say, the internet and Google and what the
implications of this are going to be for a society that's
still so tribal.
For a species, it's still so tribal, that you can be
Muslims and kill each other over whether you're Shia or
Sunni, never mind Christian and Muslim or whoever--
Azerbaijanis and Armenians or Chechens and Russians.
There's a certain way in which that can't
hold that much longer.
Or all of the horrors that have come out of the past
13,000 years, they also come out of the human mind when it
doesn't know itself.
So the challenge is, could humanity reach a point where
we actually own that Homo sapiens sapiens thing, take it
seriously, and then do the work of cultivating intimacy
with the full range of our human capacities and of the
human mind.
And then work out ways to deal with the dark side.
The side where we're not going to deny that we can get
incredibly violent if we get angry, if we're thwarted, if
we don't get our way, if we feel threatened.
It's not just in other people.
And so that we have a thousand different ways to maintain
some kind of mental equilibrium in the face of our
own insanity.
That might actually have political ramifications.
Like maybe we need a more mindful politics where it's
not all about self-interest in getting reelected.
You already got elected.
Do something.
But if the doing isn't coming out of being, it's going to be
the wrong doing.
So when the doing comes out of being, I think--
I'll just close this off by saying, I sometimes say that
the human species like, in some way, the autoimmune
disease of the planet.
Without this kind of awareness, we are the first
victim of our own precocity.
So we're both the agent of the disease and
also the first victim.
I don't think we need to stay stuck in that kind of thing.
And I think there are all sorts of very, very positive
and, I think optimistic forces for us to actually not only
heal ourselves as individuals but heal ourselves in a much
more global way.
And I'm sure that Google thinks about this day and
night, because of the power that Google has, and in some
way, maybe is at least collaborating in the shaping
of the present in ways that will profoundly affect the
future on the side of sanity rather than
on the side of insanity.

MALE SPEAKER: Thank you, Jon.
Thank you.

So just a reminder, we're going to have medication in
the university theater, and it's scheduled to start three
minutes ago.