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Destructive Emotions: How Can We Overcome Them?: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  1,856 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews
The bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence offers a front-row seat at a groundbreaking meeting between the Dalai Lama and some of the foremost scientists and philosophers in the world.

Imagine sitting with the Dalai Lama in his private meeting room with a small group of world-class scientists and philosophers. The talk is lively and fascinating, as these leading mind
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Published February 22nd 2003 by Macmillan Audio (first published February 29th 2000)
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Aug 08, 2009 Aimee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm an atheist, but I find Buddhism to be a compelling religion. I admire the Dalai Lama (duh), but what is truly stunning is his scientific curiosity. Never before have a I heard a religious leader say that if scientific evidence contradicts the dogma of a religion, that religion *must change* to accommodate this new data - that's exactly what the Dalai Lama states in this book. Read it!
Nov 16, 2012 J rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not an easy read. This is not the kind of material that I breezed through and I've found that while the rational and logical aspects kept me rooted, some realizations along the way were pretty painful. I read this with a journal next to me. And I'm not finished reading it yet. The book offers a lot of self-reflection and one of the most poignant takeaways I received from this is how the Dalai Lama had to take a break during one seminar when he learned that Westerners hated themselves. He ...more
Michael Vagnetti
It's unfortunate that this book is titled what it is. It's really a book of comparative psychology/philosophy of mind: Western vs. Buddhist. It explores in detail the complex Buddhist concept of emotions/afflictions, and how Western language and philosophy have framed ideas of compassion, mind, and ethics in contrasting ways. A practical bridge between the mythical elusiveness of concepts like nirvana and samsara and the way that the brain actually handles emotions across cultures. The scientist ...more
The structure of the book took some getting used to with its propensity for "dialogues". But the book holds many gems. One of my favorites takes place when the Dalai Lama is asked how we're supposed to have compassion for others.

This is paraphrased:
He said the greatest example of compassion is the compassion a mother has for her child. If we can take that type of compassion and focus it on all we come in contact with. That is compassion. That is love.
Jul 16, 2014 Andreea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book was written as the proceedings of the eighth Mind and Life meeting, having as the main topic destructive emotions. The biographies of the participants are as interesting as the topic of the discussion. In order to better portrait the participants, The author also gives some short information about their lives and what motivates them in their research. We are told about the Dalai Lama’s childhood and his interest in science from a young age. Another nice example is Jeanne Tsai, who was b ...more
Nov 08, 2012 Raheel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great primer for anyone who wants to get some knowledge on neuroscience. Additionally one would appreciate how the author explains on length different sections of the brains anatomy ,for many of the uninitiated it would be their first time coming across terms such as as Amygdala, Hippocampus , Frontal Lobes et al.
Going beyond just explaining brain anatomy , Daniel Goldman illustrates how all of these parts have a great bearing on our personalities and behavior.The book breaks through the Freu
Jan 21, 2008 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately, Daniel Goleman rather gets in the way of the "dialogue” to which the title refers. He seems much more intent on creating a Dalai Lama hagiography than presenting the reader with a pellucid transcript of the proceedings of what, to be fair, does seem to have been an amazing colloquium. Notwithstanding the annoying smarminess of Goleman, the book has its moments. In particular I found discussions in which neuroscience research findings were described and related to Tibetan Buddhism ...more
Dawn Frese
Mar 03, 2017 Dawn Frese rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was perspective-changing for me. I came across this book when I was in a state of hurt and uncertainty. The combination of Western science and Eastern philosophy, and how to apply both to our lives, was incredibly engaging. If more people read this book, I think a lot of lives would be changed.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ricardo Roman
Nov 05, 2007 Ricardo Roman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Como pocos libros teóricos, Emociones Destructivas tiene la facultad de evocar emociones profundas de afecto y admiración por seres humanos visionarios en el sentido más profundo de lo que necesitamos en estos tiempos. Comprender las emociones como parte de la mente, y la mente como algo más que una máquina de procesamiento de información. Es un diálogo entre científicos experimentales y sabios del budismo tibetano, que incluye sorprendentes experimentos de primera línea científica, que debiera ...more
Mar 21, 2008 Christi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Christi by: Brandon DeCuir
Fascinating! While it was a long read (because I kept re-reading), it was worth every minute. This book is the account of the eighth Mind and Life meeting, held March of 2000 in Dharamsala, India.

While reading, I actually felt as if I were sitting amongst the renowned scientist, monks and philosophers. This conference combines ancient Buddhist wisdom and breakthroughs in a variety of fields of scientific study (neuroscience to child development). The relevant discoveries illustrate how we can r
Luke Fullagar
Oct 20, 2015 Luke Fullagar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I *loved* how this potted summary of the conference afforded the narrative a relaxed feel.
It was so much fun hearing the way each of these luminaries would interject with their two cents when the conversation would turn to points of cultural difference.
The extended treatment of the three poisons and their twenty derivatives was the best I've come across.
Just so many subtle moments in this book where he smallest of distinctions opened whole new possibilities for how I conceive of the role emot
Munteanu Rodica
May 15, 2016 Munteanu Rodica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cartea ofera o perspectiva diferita asupra budismului, budismul fiind schitat ca un stil de viata, si nu ca o religie. Se doreste a se scoate in evidenta atat asemanarile dintre culturi in ceea ce priveste emotiile, cat si diferentele culturale. In final, mesajul de tinut minte este ca atat de ravnita schimbare a unor temperamente dificile, care ne umbresc viata, este posibila, sustinuta fiind de neurologia actuala care a dovedit existenta neuroplasticitatii. Merita cele 5 stele si doar pentru s ...more
Jan 18, 2009 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This record of conversations between the Dalai Lama, Buddhist scholars and American & European psychologists and neuroscientists was absolutely delightful. There were big, complicated ideas discussed, but explained! This book gave me a lot to think about, (like the idea that anger isn't necessarily something innate we can't get rid of). Hmmmmm.
Oct 23, 2009 Krystal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everything I love, spirituality, psychology, neurology.
Steven Day
The 3rd of these books I've read and it had some really interesting points but there was no real conclusion other than read the books by the others involved in the discussion! Kept my attention but heavier going than the other books.
Feb 21, 2017 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book on destructive emotions, their source, and what to do with them. As seen from a scientific and a buddhistic perspective. Although quite puristic at times, when the dialogue goes on about heuristic aspects of certain words and the difference in meaning in both English and Tibetan.
Juan Manuel  Charry Urueña
Aug 08, 2015 Juan Manuel Charry Urueña rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: main
Se trata del dialogo entre la inteligencia emocional y el budismo. Algunas de las cosas que dice el libro: El odio (la más destructiva de todas las emociones). Los budistas denominan los Tres Venenos (el odio, el deseo y la ignorancia). Todos los seres humanos compartamos el mismo conjunto de sentimientos básicos. Occidente ha tratado de corregir farmacológicamente el efecto de las emociones destructivas. Kierkegaard: «La pureza de corazón significa querer sólo una cosa». El vínculo existente en ...more
Jan 24, 2008 Everett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: intellectualism
This book was excellente. If it sounds at all interesting, get it and read it.

I'm really interested in the buddhist approach to emotional issues:
'"To consider whether those destructive emotions are part of the basic nature of mind, we need to examine them. Take anger, for example. A strong burst of anger seems irresistible, very compelling. We feel almost powerless not to feel angry; it is as if one has no choice but to experience it. This is because we don't really look at the nature of anger i
Peter Neiger
A fascinating meeting between scientists and the Dalai Lama to discuss negative emotions, both what they are and what (if anything) can be done about them. I particularly enjoyed the scientific research provided that showed the benefits of meditation and having a positive outlook on life. Our minds and bodies are combined and if you are a negative person you are more likely to be physically ill and have weaker social bonds. Meditation is a technique that has been shown to improve the quality of ...more
Susan Mills
Oct 11, 2014 Susan Mills rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The Dalai Lama is a fascinating person, as has been said before. The book makes it apparent that he is deeply intelligent and engaged both on a spiritual and temporal level. He has an insightful mind as to many scientific inquiries. Here, he and other high lamas are an integral part of a conference of neuroscientists exploring how the mind works and, in particular, how we can better manage and train our minds, our youth, to steer away from destructive emotions and find a happier mindset. The Da ...more
Nov 03, 2012 Yulia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Hm, it seems rather awkward (if not ungenerous) to write but I wouldn't recommend this book. I was very interested at first, learning that Buddhism is open to changing as science provides explanations that contradict Buddhist teachings, but this work is no more than a summary of a week-long presentation by various specialists in religion, biology and psychology on mental states that can be deemed destructive, whether in the East or West. In the course of the book, it became clear that the specia ...more
Feb 27, 2016 Emily added it
I thought the most interesting part of this was the beginning of the book when there were scans done on the brain of an established monk while meditating. There were distinct patterns that emerged and proved that he changed his brain through thought alone. The rest was very much a record of the discussion surrounding psychological and Buddhist interpretation of what the West calls destructive emotions.

Made me want to find a way to incorporate meditation into my life on a regular basis. And gives
Dec 21, 2007 Kris rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone.
This is one of my current favorite books. It is the most lent, read, and then bought book on my shelf. The Dalai Lama has been participating in Mind and Life conferences where modern western scientists and brilliant Buddhist philosophers discuss current science findings that show the ancient philosophy of Buddhism to have been quite accurate and ahead of its time. I can not wait to hear about the next conference as there should be even more data that shows the power of meditation on brain waves, ...more
David Haws
Apr 29, 2009 David Haws rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I'm giving a lecture on commitment and the willingness to suffer (ostensibly about the death of Socrates) and I remember these two Dalai Lama books that I read a few years ago. I think the point is that empathy is human, and empathy requires us to share suffering. Suffering is in the Affective Domain, but the causes of suffering can be physical, cognitive, or affective. I think the point with Socrates (the Crito) is that he empathizes with the suffering in Athens caused by a cognitive deficiency ...more
David Hanley
A very interesting dialogue between western scientists and buddhism with the Dalai Lama. The content is engaging in that it covers philosophy, culture, history, medidation and mindfulness techniques, neuroscience and sociology. This has opened me up to another world of topics I now want to read further on.
The reason it does not go above a 3 star rating is because it drags on, and the conversation style means it can often come across as being a bit circular. I think a more direct style to the co
Mar 27, 2010 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
This book is an account of one of the fascinating annual meetings between the Dalai Lama and western scientists. There is biographical information about the participants, all of whom are at the forefront of their respective fields of research. They get into discussions about the mind - what it is, how it works. They compare Buddhist ideas about philosophy and psychology with current research into the workings of the brain. One of the interesting things was how many English words have no equivale ...more
Arne Krueger
Sep 19, 2013 Arne Krueger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: retreat
great, great, great. the connection between neuroscience, and the secularisation of the buddhist concepts and psychology, is the topic of this book. it's written by scientists, who are familiar with but definitely no buddhists nor religious. they try to understand, connect, translate and proof century old wisdom into our modern times with great success. i love the structure too, which is following a three day conference held in 2001 together with the dalai lama. he himself, is only present throu ...more
Apr 05, 2013 Wilton314 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2004
This book is an interesting mix of science and faith. Are we all just talking (and arguing and fighting) about the same things the world over, just in different 'languages'? I really liked the views of the Dalai Lama and have read a few of his books on peacefulness and mindfulness and happiness and joy from simple pleasures as a result of this book. Daniel Goleman's scientific background helps to explain why age old traditions and some would say superstitions actually work. It is not an easy rea ...more
Lisa L.
While this book is interesting, it separates the scientific point of view of emotions from philosophical and religious—which I thought is the only way to look at emotions. The book on emotions that shook my understanding of emotions to the core was Secret Techniques for Controlling Sadness, Anger, Fear, Anxiety, and Other Emotions written by Vlad Koros. Koros uses simple observations to show how emotions appear and disappear in our minds and bodies and then explains techniques (which seem like p ...more
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Author of Emotional Intelligence and psychologist Daniel Goleman has transformed the way the world educates children, relates to family and friends, and conducts business. The Wall Street Journal ranked him one of the 10 most influential business thinkers.

Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence was on The New York Times best sellers list for a year-and-a-half. Named one of the 25 "Most Influential Busine
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“Ética para un nuevo milenio. Si” 0 likes
“The Extraordinary Persons Project In fact, Ekman had been so moved personally—and intrigued scientifically—by his experiments with Öser that he announced at the meeting he was planning on pursuing a systematic program of research studies with others as unusual as Öser. The single criterion for selecting apt subjects was that they be “extraordinary.” This announcement was, for modern psychology, an extraordinary moment in itself. Psychology has almost entirely dwelt on the problematic, the abnormal, and the ordinary in its focus. Very rarely have psychologists—particularly ones as eminent as Paul Ekman—shifted their scientific lens to focus on people who were in some sense (other than intellectually) far above normal. And yet Ekman now was proposing to study people who excel in a range of admirable human qualities. His announcement makes one wonder why psychology hasn't done this before. In fact, only in very recent years has psychology explicitly begun a program to study the positive in human nature. Sparked by Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania long famous for his research on optimism, a budding movement has finally begun in what is being called “positive psychology”—the scientific study of well-being and positive human qualities. But even within positive psychology, Ekman's proposed research would stretch science's vision of human goodness by assaying the limits of human positivity Ever the scientist, Ekman became quite specific about what was meant by “extraordinary.” For one, he expects that such people exist in every culture and religious tradition, perhaps most often as contemplatives. But no matter what religion they practice, they share four qualities. The first is that they emanate a sense of goodness, a palpable quality of being that others notice and agree on. This goodness goes beyond some fuzzy, warm aura and reflects with integrity the true person. On this count Ekman proposed a test to weed out charlatans: In extraordinary people “there is a transparency between their personal and public life, unlike many charismatics, who have wonderful public lives and rather deplorable personal ones.” A second quality: selflessness. Such extraordinary people are inspiring in their lack of concern about status, fame, or ego. They are totally unconcerned with whether their position or importance is recognized. Such a lack of egoism, Ekman added, “from the psychological viewpoint, is remarkable.” Third is a compelling personal presence that others find nourishing. “People want to be around them because it feels good—though they can't explain why,” said Ekman. Indeed, the Dalai Lama himself offers an obvious example (though Ekman did not say so to him); the standard Tibetan title is not “Dalai Lama” but rather “Kundun,” which in Tibetan means “presence.” Finally, such extraordinary individuals have “amazing powers of attentiveness and concentration.” 0 likes
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