Category Archives: India 2010-11

Buddhists, the brain and neuroscience

I recently attended a 4-day conference on “Science, Spirituality and Education” in Gangtok, Sikkim. The Dalai Lama opened the conference, and I wrote the article below about his fascinating dialogue with members of the neuroscience community. It was published today in The Times.

Buddhists, the brain and neuroscience

Photo: Anupam Nath

Andrew Duff
December 23 2010 12:25PM

At a conference in Sikkim the Dalai Lama and neuroscientists are exploring the impact of neuroscience on the brain

An American once tried to tell the Dalai Lama that science is the killer of religion. The Dalai Lama’s response was straightforward. “The Buddha,” he explained “said do not accept things out of faith and devotion. Rather investigation and experimentation. I realized that whether science is killer of religion or not, I have to investigate!” Continue reading


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Buddhists, Ibiza, earthquakes and Einstein

It was a scene of near perfection. As I sat on a stunning Himalayan hilltop, I watched a small group of Buddhist monks quietly eating a midday meal in a perfect circle, their maroon and saffron robes offsetting the crisp snow-capped peak of Kanchendzonga against a winter-blue sky.

But in India it’s best to expect the unexpected. Suddenly the strains of “We’re going to Ibiza”, the annoyingly catchy number one hit for the Vengaboys in 1999, were booming out from a stereo beside one of the monks.

Such incongruities are normal fare here – plenty of other half-familiar tunes emerge from tinny mobile phones hidden under monks’ robes below which peek the latest Nike trainers. Buddhism is nothing if not rooted in the everyday.

Did the earth move for you?

I’m currently in Sikkim. It used to be an independent Buddhist kingdom, but is now an Indian state nestled in the Himalayas between Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. (Good series of maps here). Continue reading

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Obituary: P Lal

I met the Indian publisher Professor Puroshottama Lal in his home in 2009 and wrote about it at the time. He died on November 5 2010. An obituary that I wrote (below) was published by The Times on 16 December. It is also available for subscribers to The Times website here.

Professor P Lal

Indian poet and publisher who believed passionately that his country’s writers should embrace English

Photo: Rosalind Solomon


Purushottoma Lal was a teacher, poet, translator and publisher. From his home in Calcutta, he championed Indian writing in English with his publishing house, Writers Workshop, for more than 50 years. He was the first publisher of, among others, Vikram Seth. Continue reading

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