Initiated by Drs. David Fresco, Marieke van Vugt, Marcel Bonn-Miller, & Joshua Pollock, the Monastic Analytic Collaborative has partnered with Science for Monks and a number of monastics to study monastic analytic meditation...
Group Phone Meeting
Birth of the Idea
The idea of a scientific study of debate was born when three of the investigators, Marcel Bonn-Miller, David Fresco, and Marieke van Vugt, were together at the 2014 Cosmology & Consciousness Conference, a dialogue with Tibetan Buddhist monastics about science. These monastics were learning about neuroscience and physics in a month-long program organized by Science for Monks. In the evenings, as the researchers observed the monks engaging in spirited debates, they began wondering what kinds of effects this debating would have on the way these debaters were relating to each other, and whether this debate would show measurable changes in cognitive and affective function.
A First Research Visit to Collect Pilot Data:
In December 2015, we found ourselves arriving at 2 am at Bangalore airport, in India, to start our first research trip. The goal of this trip was to find out whether it would be possible to study monastic debate scientifically, and to develop some initial hypotheses for study. But most importantly, we hoped that on this first trip we would build good relationships with a core group of monastic collaborators. Upon our arrival at Sera Monastery in Bylakuppe, we found a group of very eager monks who donated a lot of their spare time to wok with us in the lab. Fascinated by our EEG equipment, they quickly learned how to apply EEG electrodes while they shared with us some of their wisdom of debate. This first trip provided us with a solid batch of EEG data and a lot of ideas and concepts to start designing a proper multimodal, multi-method study of monastic debate.