Past Talks


Mind, Consciousness, & Reality – Dr. David Presti

The physical description of reality that contemporary science offers is one of stunning beauty and powerful utility. The biological sciences fit nicely into this model, with their description of life in terms of molecular components, and their hypothesis that consciousness somehow arises in association with neural complexity. But is this the full story?  There are reasons to believe that there is more–and that far more interesting things are going on than an understanding based on current biophysical sciences can provide. Dr. Presti will outline several ways in which scientific investigation might move forward, and argue that a true scientific revolution may accompany a transition to a deeper understanding of consciousness and the mind-brain connection.


David E. Presti is Teaching Professor of Neurobiology, Psychology, and Cognitive Science at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught for 25 years.  He also worked for more than a decade in the clinical treatment of addiction and post-traumatic stress at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in San Francisco.  Since 2004, he has been teaching neuroscience to Tibetan monastics in India, as part of a program initiated by the Dalai Lama.  He has doctorates in molecular biology and biophysics from Caltech, and in clinical psychology from the University of Oregon.  He is the author of Foundational Concepts in Neuroscience: A Brain-Mind Odyssey (W.W. Norton, 2016).

Mind and History: The Miraculous U.S. Constitutional Convention | November 7, 2-3:30pm | Curt Caton

The delegates to the 1787 Constitutional convention in Philadelphia arrived with what seemed to be irreconcilably polarized positions, both on general philosophical matters and on very specific suggestions for a new government.  Five months later they emerged with consensus on a brilliant framework that endures over 225 years later.  How and why did this transformation take place?  We look at the dynamics of this process through the prism of Dharma College teachings about the mind and its operations.   For the audio link click here.  For the YouTube link click here.



“Science and the Spiritual: What are the Limits of Scientific Knowledge?”

We were excited to have two Dharma College faculty, Jack Petranker and Richard Dixey, present their talk on September 26.

Our culture accepts science as the most trustworthy form of knowledge, and people interested in spirituality are pleased when scientific research seems to confirm the value of spiritual practice. But perhaps we are making a mistake to use science as our yardstick for truth. The tools science has available for inquiry may leave important questions off-limits. In this discussion, we look at what science can and cannot discover about the nature of human experience.



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