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What’s happening in New York?

April 21, 2009


Last night I checked out a group here in New York called The Interdependence Project (abbreviated as The ID Project). The ID Project is a group based out of the East Village that focuses on building community through meditation, activism, and the arts. As a happy coincidence, the group’s discussion topic for the night was inspired by Daniel Goleman’s book Destructive Emotions, which looks at some of the intersections of neuroscience and Buddhist practice. I’m enthusiastic about pursuing this convergence of ideas (i.e., neuroscience and Eastern philosophy). Certainly the Dalai Lama has been an avid spokesman for unifying the fields of Eastern philosophy and Western science.

What makes this a particularly nice complementarity is 1) the detailed roadmap of cognitive and inner development that has evolved over thousands of years of Eastern contemplative traditions, and 2) the falsifiability of the claims put forward by the practitioners of Eastern modalities. In other words, there is a natural give and take between the structure and description of internal life Buddhism and its sister philosophies assert, and the capabilities of Western science for probing and objectively confirming or challenging the ideas from these traditions. I am optimistic that, over time, this convergence of approaches will provide both guidance and refinement for understanding the inner self, and will indeed produce broader acceptance of means for the transformative phenomena so badly needed at both the individual and the societal level. Look for more details to come as I flesh out my own understanding of Eastern traditions and my ideas about the potential complementarity between Eastern and Western approaches.

In the more proximal timescale, The ID Project hosts a number of activism efforts for anyone interested in personally contributing to positive social change. This coming Sunday (April 26th) the group is meeting to work on an outreach project that encourages prison convicts to pursue college-level education. My initial impression of The ID Project is one of idealism and seriousness. Check out their website to learn more about their initiatives:


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