February 26, 2021
In this episode, Wendy speaks with Buddhist scholar John Dunne. John has interfaced with contemplative scientists for over two decades to help advance rigorous research on meditation by incorporating a nuanced Buddhist perspective. They touch on many topics, including:
- his path to integrating Buddhism and science, and the early days of contemplative research;
- defining “meditation” for research purposes;
- focused attention vs. open monitoring meditation;
- a deep dive into meta-awareness;
- subject/object duality and whether anything really exists;
- the different ways we experience the sense of self;
- hallucinogens, ego dissolution, and non-dual practices;
- decentering and dereification;
- and where he thinks the field should go next.
John Dunne (PhD 1999, Harvard University) holds the Distinguished Chair in Contemplative Humanities at the Center for Healthy Minds of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, with a co-appointment in Asian Languages & Cultures, where he serves as Department Chair. With a research focus on Buddhist philosophy and contemplative practice, his publications appear in venues ranging across the humanities and the sciences. His current research interests include the role that collaborative cognition plays in human experience, and an inquiry into the core features—such as meta-awareness and dereification—that empirically manifest in numerous styles of contemplation.
- Online course: Buddhism for Beginners
- Papers mentioned in the episode:
- Lutz A, Slagter H, Dunne J & Davidson R. (2008). Attention Regulation and Monitoring in Meditation. Trends in Cognitive Science
- Dahl C, Lutz A, Davidson R. (2015). Reconstructing and deconstructing the self: cognitive mechanisms in meditation practice. Trends in Cognitive Science
- “The Cube Paper” – Lutz A, Jha A, Dunne J, & Saron C. (2015). Investigating the Phenomenological Matrix of Mindfulness-related Practices from a Neurocognitive Perspective. American Psychologist
- Dunne, J, Thompson E, and Schooler J. (2019). Mindful Meta-Awareness: Sustained and Non-Propositional. Current Opinion in Psychology
- Popular essays:
- Dunne J. (2019). Is Buddhism Scientific or Religious? Tricycle.
- Lisa Feldman Barrett and John Dunne (2018). Does Buddhist Detachment Allow for a Healthier Togetherness? Aeon