Mindfulness of the range of feeling tones in human experience, known as vedanā in Pāli and Sanskrit, is an essential practice in the Buddhist meditative tradition and is the focus of the second of the contemplations (anupassanā) outlined in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta. Scientific research into the meaning of vedanā, together with an examination of the practice of mindfulness of vedanā in daily life, could both enhance and significantly contribute to an increased understanding of the relevance of meditation in the contemporary world and its study in scientific contexts. In this symposium, practitioners from a Buddhist or meditative background, as well as scholars and research scientists with an interest in vedanā and mindfulness, will come together to investigate and discuss vedanā. In addition, a small audience of residential and non-residential participants from both Buddhist and scientific backgrounds will have the opportunity to respond to the presentations and offer further reflections.
Akincano Weber will attempt to clarify the notion of adukkhamasukha-vedanā (neutral vedanā), and Martine Batchelor will try to explain why she came to see the neutral feeling tone as a restful baseline or homeostatic “returning to the means.” Judson Brewer will look at vedanā from the point of view of his research into addiction. Anurag Gupta will share his work on bias within the context of race, examining the connection between vedanā and the latent likes and dislikes associated with appearance and phenotype. John Peacock will examine the idea that the Buddha directs us to a freedom from reactive patterns based on vedanā and the development of a 'skills' base that allows for the development of character in a more positive and potentially more ethical direction.
Other speakers include Robert E. Buswell, Paul Fleischman, Anne Klein, Sara Lazar, and Paul Grossman.