Psychoanalysts and Buddhist Teachers Talking about Idealization and Awakening

Enlightening Conversations is a non-profit organization sponsoring conversational conferences between psychoanalytic scholars/practitioners and Buddhist teachers, as well as scientists doing research in areas relevant to the conversations between these two traditions. These include researchers in the areas of attachment theory, mother-infant communication, unconscious defenses, emotion theory, and some aspects of cognitive neurosciences.

The topics of conferences will range from the enlightenment sciences and healing practices of the two disciplines, to the relational contexts that undergird their practices, to the obstacles and pathologies that prevent the realization of the goals of the practices, and sociocultural topics that impinge on the two disciplines.

Founded by Polly Young-Eisendrath, Ph.D. in 2014, this series of conferences continues her work in promoting dialogue as a means to deeper understanding.

The 2015 conference, held at the Harvard Divinity School featured: Grace Jill Schireson, Melissa Blacker, Robert Caper, Andrew Olendzki, Stuart A. Pizer, Shinzen Young, Paul Fulton, Josh Bartok, Christopher Ives, Malcolm Slavin, Frank Summers, Lewis Kirshner, Robert Langen, Lamma Willa Miller and Robert J. Waldinger.

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Harvard Divinity School
Cambridge, MA

The second conference focused on idealization, with its tendencies to split our experiences into expansive and contractive or pure and impure, and is required to enter into psychoanalytic and Buddhist practices. This conference focused precisely on what it means to be enlightened and how it is a human activity with human failures and featured presenters Grace Schireson, Melissa Blacker, Robert Caper, Andrew Olendzki, Stuart A. Pizer, Shinzen Young, and Polly Young-Eisendrath.

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New York Blood Center
New York, NY

The inaugural conference was presented by Spring Journal and the Tricycle Foundation. Hosted by Enlightening Conversations founder and director, Polly Young-Eisendrath, Ph.D. and featuring Henry Shukman, Pat Enkyo O’Hara Roshi, Jeffrey Rubin, Shoji Muramoto, Pilar Jennings, Robert Caper, James Shaheen, Grace Schireson, Robert Chodo Campbell, Nancy Cater, Deon Van Zyl, Melvin Miller, Deborah Luepnitz, and Morgan Stebbins.

View additional videos from the 2015 Enlightening Conversations conference: