Self exists only as an idea. In reality, there are just transient moments of mental and physical experience — there is nothing that continues on, no controlling entity, no fixity p. 134, Buddhism: The Plain Facts, by Robert Mann and Rose Youd


The Dalai Lama and the Mind & Life Institute

The popular animated film “Inside Out” is an example of the hidden influence Buddhism and the Dalai Lama have had on the culture. The Dalai Lama is involved in ongoing efforts to legitimize Eastern meditation and Buddhism with science, which is why for years he has urged scientists (neuroscientists especially) to study the effects of meditation on the brain at his annual Mind & Life Conferences. This has led to a profusion of material from neuroscientists on the brain and on meditation (with many conclusions disputed or indefinite).


One of the goals from Mind & Life is:


Increasingly, we’re focused on the theme of interconnection, and how the integration of science and contemplative wisdom can contribute to individual well-being–and collective flourishing. From Mind and Life Institute site


This is only one of many indicators the Mind & Life Institute is not an unbiased scholarly or scientific organization, but rather one immersed in the Dalai Lama’s spiritual traditions and vision. The phrase contemplative wisdom refers to the Tibetan Buddhist meditation practices that are a crucial aspect of that religion. Collective flourishing relates to the Dalai Lama’s vision that all are bettered by Buddhist teachings and meditation. This will speed the day, the Dalai Lama believes, when everyone finally becomes Buddhist (after many rebirths).


Eastern meditation is designed to bypass the thinking process, which is considered part of the material world and is therefore temporal and insubstantial, in order to grasp or realize what is considered to be the true nature of reality. Understanding what is viewed as the true nature of reality is the apogee of Buddhist practice, as well as of Hindu and Taoist practice.


An examination of the Mind & Life Institute shows how active it is and how widespread its influence is in the field of psychology.


The Dalai Lama has paid at least $750,000 to a psychologist who consulted 149 emotion scientists, neuroscientists and psychologists to develop an atlas of emotions so that people can learn to deal with their emotions and allegedly be happy (according to how Buddhism views it).


Specifically, he [the Dalai Lama] commissioned his good friend Paul Ekman — a psychologist who helped advise the creators of Pixar’s “Inside Out,” an animated film set inside a girl’s head — to map out the range of human sentiments. Dr. Ekman later distilled them into the five basic emotions depicted in the movie, from anger to enjoyment.
“We have, by nature or biologically, this destructive emotion, also constructive emotion,” the Dalai Lama said. “This innerness, people should pay more attention to, from kindergarten level up to university level. This is not just for knowledge, but in order to create a happy human being. Happy family, happy community and, finally, happy humanity.”
 From “Inner Peace? The Dalai Lama Has a Website for That,” New York Times


The movie “Inside Out” promotes the idea of viewing emotions as disassociated from the person in order to be happier. The way the movie illustrates this is by having the emotions as sort of a committee of beings inside the mind and the main character, Riley, acting separately from them as though they are distinct from her. Such a perspective is Buddhist but it is unhealthy. God made man with emotions. While it is true that emotions can be difficult and cause problems, they are a natural part of how man was created.


Emotions and thoughts in Buddhism are allegedly merely passing illusionary phenomena. Identifying with these emotions and thoughts fools people into a belief that they are individuals, which is also another false reality in Buddhism. Buddhism uses the word Skandhas or Aggregates (sometimes translated as Heaps) to name the five phenomena that cause this identification: form, feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness. This identity as individuals keeps one attached to this false reality which has no actual substance, thus ensuring rebirth. To escape rebirth and therefore suffering is the goal of Buddhism.


By having Riley viewing emotions in this way (as a group or committe in her mind), it puts distance between her and her feelings, which is the goal of Buddhism. Buddhism teaches that one must first put a distance between themselves and their mind, which includes feelings, thoughts, memories, etc. before progressing on to the (false) realization that one is not their mind. This later progresses to perception that one is not the individual self (the concept of no-self).


The Dalai Lama Wants to Keep Religion Out of It

The Dalai Lama said in the article, If we see this research work as relying on religious belief or tradition, then it automatically becomes limited.


The Dalai Lama is aware that presenting his ideas as Buddhist would create a barrier. So he wants to keep religion out of it, but there is no credible way to keep religion out of what he promotes or teaches. He is the head of one of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and is the alleged 14th incarnation of the same person who has served as the Dalai Lama for centuries (“Dalai Lama” is a title, not a name). Even the search for a new Dalai Lama is based Tibetan Buddhist supernatural methods:


In 1937 a mission sent out by the Tibetan government to search for the successor to the 13th Dalai Lama, who had died in 1933, felt led to him by signs and oracles. It is reported that when they tested him, Lhamo Thondup [birth name, which later changed*] correctly identified objects belonging to his predecessor, and a state oracle confirmed that he was the reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lamas. From Wikipedia
[*His name was changed to Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso]


The oracles are basically psychics who supposedly channel deities. Although the Dalai Lama likes to call himself a “simple monk,” he is believed to be much more than that. Not only is he the reincarnation of all the previous Dalai Lamas, but he is considered to be the 74th appearance of the Buddha of compassion:


The Dalai Lamas are the manifestations of the Bodhisattva (Buddha) of Compassion, who chose to reincarnate to serve the people. This Dalai Lama, the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatsois, is the 74th manifestation of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, the enlightened Buddha of compassion. Tibetans normally refer to His Holiness as Yeshe Norbu, the Wishfulfilling Gem, or simply Kundun – The Presence. From “Dalai Lama Fast Facts”


The Dalai Lama and God

The Dalai Lama is quite clear that despite anything God or Buddha can do, man is at fault and needs to take charge of emotions, which are “the real troublemaker.” The article quotes the Dalai Lama:


Even if you pray to God, pray to Buddha, emotionally, very nice, very good. But every problem, we have created. So I think even God or Buddha cannot do much… Ultimately, our emotion is the real troublemaker…We have to know the nature of that enemy.


Notice that the enemy is our emotions, according to the Dalai Lama. It is not sin that is an enemy since there is no concept of sin in Buddhism. (There is no supreme or creator God in Buddhism, so the Dalai Lama is referring to God here in order to relate to his audience.)


The Buddhist view that we have no permanent self and that the mind is part of the temporal self is compatible with a secular neuroscience view that the self is temporal. The goal is to realize that the emotions and thoughts are transient and disconnected from us, and that we ourselves are transient and have no permanent self.


Knowing this as fact is not sufficient; one must experientially grasp and realize it, usually as a result of Buddhist meditation. Meditation, such as Mindfulness, is for cultivating detachment so that one loses attachment to this reality and to self, and thus is eventually free of rebirth and suffering (being attached to this life is considered suffering in Buddhism).


Buddhism Contra God

The truth is that man is made in God’s image. But this truth is attacked by all non-Christian beliefs in one way or another — either to demean this idea or to make man more than he is (such as being divine or a part of God). In Buddhism, the attack erases the self altogether, which does away with any significance of being made in the image of God, and does away with God. It is most certainly an attack on the God who created man.


This Buddhist teaching is also contrary to the reality of this world and that God created it. God has said that although this world will be destroyed, it will be re-created (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:12-13; Revelation 21:1). The world is real, our selves are real; all are part of God’s creation.


The movie is entertaining and seemingly insightful and helpful. But when the Buddhist-influenced message is stripped away, what the film conveys is not healing or helpful, but rather destructive and contrary to who man is and how God made him.


Addendum on Buddhism, The Self, Children & Emotions

Neuroscience and Buddhism

Increasingly, neuroscience is telling us who we are, and it does not match the biblical worldview of man. One source is quite explicit about the existence of the self:


The modern-day neuroscience drives home an old Buddhist point: there is no “I” — there is no fixed self — we are composite creatures, made up of fluidly rearranging aggregates (see Sunyata doctrine of “emptiness” and Anatman doctrine of “no-self”). As a civilization, we still think of our respective selves as an “I” whereas each one of us appears to be… a neural “We.” When we realize that brain is not an organ but an organization, an “I” becomes a “We” and with that we lose the stifling attachment to our self-limiting notions of who/what we are. Adaptive fluidity ensues.


The link for the above excerpt is no longer online but this information can be supported on dozens of sites about neuroscience and the influence of Buddhism on psychology. For example, on the Amazon page for the book, No Self, No Problem: How Neuropsychology is Catching Up to Buddhism, by Chris Niebauer, we read:


In this groundbreaking book, Niebauer writes that the latest research in neuropsychology is now confirming a fundamental tenet of Buddhism, what is called Anatta, or the doctrine of “no self.” Niebauer writes that our sense of self, or what we commonly refer to as the ego, is an illusion created entirely by the left side of the brain. Niebauer is quick to point out that this doesn’t mean that the self doesn’t exist but rather that it does so in the same way that a mirage in the middle of the desert exists, as a thought rather than a thing.


Stating that the self exists the way a mirage does is a twist on words. The writer is redefining the word “real” to mean something that is only perceived as real. A mirage seems real but has no substance in reality. That is the Buddhist view of self.


Buddhism and Children’s Emotions

Note in the excerpt below from A Clinical Handbook for Mindfulness, by Trudy A. Goodman and Susan Kaiser Greenland, that emotions are presented as visitors to children to help them deal with them. This influenced the plot of the movie, and there is an eerily close parallel between the movie and what is below. This is from Chapter 22 titled: “Mindfulness with Children: Working with Difficult Emotions,”


In Buddhist psychology, difficult emotions are defined as forces that visit the mind. Imagine that your mind is like water in a pot and your emotions are the wind. When the wind blows, the water ripples on the surface and the still water below is hidden from view. If you were to gaze at the water’s surface your reflection would be obscured by ripples. Damaging emotions make it especially difficult to see the water’s surface clearly; they make waves, and in the ensuing turbulence you may feel upset and confused. Mindfulness practice helps you see and calm the emotional turbulence, allowing your mind to be clearly reflected on the surface of the water. This is one way we talk to children about their feelings. p.417


More from the book on Buddhism and Mindfulness for Children:


We have found the Buddhist teaching of impermanence, that everything changes and nothing stays the same, an extremely useful concept that children can easily recognize and understand when embodied by their mentors. Mentors with a visceral understanding of impermanence will model how to relate to emotions as impermanent states, inside and out. Practicing mindfulness, children and their mentors see together how emotions arise with each moment of experience, in a continuously flowing, changing stream. Through relationship with a mentor who sees through the lens of impermanence, children can learn to experience difficult emotions as transient and situational, rather than a permanent con-dition intrinsic to them.

One way that emotions are described in Buddhist psychology is as passing, or adventitious, visitors to the heart. Emotions are viewed as healthy (leading to wise actions and happiness) or unhealthy (leading to unwise expressions that bring unhappiness in their wake). We recognize that this view of emotions is a simplification and propose it only as a practical and therapeutic way of approaching complex emotional processes with children who often find it easier to view psychological pain more clearly if they personify the emotion.” p. 421, from A Clinical Handbook for Mindfulness at Google Books site


The word adventitious is used in the above excerpt. Note the meaning of the word:


Happening or carried on according to chance rather than design or inherent nature; Coming from outside; not native.


This is very revealing because that is the Buddhist view of the self, which includes the mind and emotions. The mind and feelings are not inherent to man’s nature, and not part of one’s “real self.” This also turns the mind and emotions into mere chemical or biological reactions and undermines the view humanity is made in the image of God.


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