Video Lecture "An Unfolding Dialogue on Buddhism and Neuropsychology”

Dr. Steve Prime, a Neuro Scientist from the University of Manitoba, stops off in Calgary and Vancouver Buddhist Temples to share his thoughts about Buddhism and Neuro psychology. Some treatment schools use techniques founded on principles similar to the four noble truths.

Dr. Prime talks about the controversial correlation between spiritual practices and neuro cognitive science observations. Empirical studies comparing the brain activity of highly trained meditation practitioners with those who do not meditate including the significant effects of the Nembutsu practice of the Jodo Shinshu tradition of Buddhism amongst many other techniques such as love and kindness meditation. This clip was filmed in the Vancouver Buddhist Temple with the support of the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada.

Your Brain on Buddhism - an unfolding dialogue on Buddhism and Neuropsychology from Greg Chor on Vimeo.

Dr. Steve Prime is currently at the University of Victoria, Wellington, New Zealand. While working as a CIHR-funded Postdoctorate Research Fellow in Dr. Jonathan Marotta's Perception & Action Lab at the University of Manitoba, Dr. Prime researched the cognitive and cortical processes that underlie perception and sensory-motor coordination. He developed a multi-disciplinary research approach that combines traditional cognitive and psychophysical methods with sophisticated eye tracking technologies, motion capture systems, computational modelling, and an innovative technique called trans-cranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

How Meditation May Change the Brain

Scientists say that meditators may be benefiting from changes in their brains. The researchers report that those who meditated for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had measurable changes in gray-matter density in parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress.


2 Minutes of Doing Nothing

People often ask how can I meditate.
Here is a great way to start.

Created by Alex Tew, this website features an image of a sunset, the ocean, the sound of crashing waves and a small clock.

Try relaxing for the next two minutes. If you nudge your mouse or press a key on your keyboard, the clock resets.

Sound easy? Think again.

Going nowhere, being nobody, doing nothing... try it here.

Meditation and Jodo Shinshu

As we continue to hold our monthly meditation session at the temple, it's interesting to note that meditation is not a true practise of Jodo Shinshu Buddhists.

While temples in Calgary and Vancouver are both holding "Walking Meditation Relays", these are held as events and not a regular practise of our sect of Buddhism.

Jodo Shinshu Buddhists do not believe in self-power practises. To use an analogy (from the blog, Nembutsu), if we are like the circus tightrope walkers, then meditation provides us with the technique of how to walk and the pole to balance ourselves. In contrast, Jodo-Shinshu lends little assistance on the "how" of walking but simply says, "Don't worry, there is a safety net in case you fall!"

Traditionally, Shin Buddhism has limited its meditation practices to sutra chanting and recitation of the Nembutsu (Namo Amida Butsu). However, there is an increasing demand from within our temples and from those wishing to join us, for "quiet sitting" meditation instruction in addition to chanting meditation.

So, the debate continues on the website, Echoes of the Name. Here's an excerpt from one of the articles.

If we take the word meditation in the proper sense of its consideration, study, self preparation, exercise, practices, declamation, then Shin Buddhism has five kinds of meditation activity or service. These do not form an actual practice, though Shin dislikes and even refuses the word. Moreover, since Shin is a fusion of the principles of the ancient Sanron and Kegon sects reflected against the Buddhism of the Kamakura era, Shin does not define certain activities or services as practice, but insists that every action, even the most insignificant of daily life, may be an essentially religious action within the Way of Buddha …The goals of all such meditative exercises in Buddhism must be carefully analyzed. Westerners, and even ill informed Buddhists, too easily fall into the trap of believing that the goal of Buddhist “meditation” is the attainment of enlightenment of Nirvana. This however, is an erroneous notion …The correctly aware disciple knows that his meditation was undertaken as a result of past conditioning, and that, however much he thought he was doing it of his own innate volition, he actually was caused to meditate. The five kinds of meditation which are practiced in Shin are: ritual service, practical service, regular service, social service, and quietist service.”

--On Meditation by Rev. Phillip Karl Eidmann


Loving-Kindness in Kansas

Sensei Ulrich of the Manitoba Buddhist Temple took some time to visit his 93-year old mother in Lawrence, Kansas in January. And through his sister, Dr. Lois Kay Metzger, he was invited to teach a two hour meditation session on Loving-Kindness (Metta) to a unique women's group.

The Woman's Spirit Connection is a support group that includes women of all faiths and ethnic derivations. The evening of meditation was a success because the women were well prepared by their years together. Rev. Ulrich claims that it was one of the best Loving-Kindness sessions that he has ever experienced. And while there were some participants who were new to this kind of practice, the positive relationships in this spiritual group readily included these 'beginners' in the activities.

Many of the participants have since reported to have continued these meditations on their own as an important component of their own private practice. It turns out it was an important two hours for everybody.


Meditate Online

Have the holidays left you more stressed, than rested?

Here's an easy way to meditate, online. It includes a ringing bell and a program that automatically times the length of meditation you choose. Try it at home or at your office.

Meditation Question

A recent e-mail:


I was wondering if you teach meditation to beginners? Where would I go for this, and when would I come if so. Thank you.

We do some meditation in our Sunday Services. I also teach meditation on a biweekly basis for five meetings. That is coming to an end on Nov 8. If you want to drop by at 7pm then to observe that would be ok. The same is true for our Sunday services at 10:30am. some are formal and others are informal, still some are geared to meditation. There are also many groups in the city.

A word of advice:

1. There are many types of meditation. Choose a group and a teacher that suits you and your needs. Don't be afraid to change a few times until you are getting the work you need.

2. Meditation is so popular now that everyone is getting into the act. some teachers are borrowing extensively from Buddhism but do not give credit where credit is due. Other jump on the bandwagon and really don't know what they are doing. There is now money to be made, books to sell, and reputations to have; all at a great price.

3. To use Buddhist meditation is to have Buddhist experiences: awareness of the universal experience of suffering, universal compassion, relativity of all our identity scenarios, oneness with emptiness, moral and ethical groundedness, nirvana (end of ignorance, hatred and greed). Many people are not ready to face these and want a kind of feel-good escapism. They want to borrow status from their teacher and gain a spiritual superiority. This can be very misleading and waste years of effort.

Buddha Smiles
Sensei Ulrich