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Chang Hwa Fashi Shared the Topic of "How Meditation Changes the Scientific Understanding of Life?” at the 42nd Annual Convention of CAAPS in NY

On August 19, 2017, the Chinese American Academic & Professional Society (CAAPS) held its 42nd Annual Convention in Flushing, New York. The theme for this convention was “New Thinking and New Technology in the Changing Era.”

CAAPS invited three keynote speakers for this convention: Dr. Henry Lee, Venerable Chang-Hwa, and Secretary Elaine L. Chao. Dr. Henry Lee, a famous forensic scientist, spoke during the opening ceremony on “Sharing My Life Experiences - New Concept in Homicide Investigation”.

Venerable Chang-Hwa, graduated from North Carolina Chapel Hill with a PhD degree in Biochemistry, completed her postdoctoral research at UCLA in Biophysics, and is currently the Director of Chan Meditation Center in NY. She also spoke during the opening ceremony on “How Meditation Changes the Scientific Understanding of Life?”

Elaine L. Chao, the current United States Secretary of Transportation, spoke during the banquet. She encouraged new immigrants to have confidence in America, integrate with mainstream society, enhance communication skills, to not be afraid of failure and be resilient, and to have persistence, determination, and energy.

In the past few years, increasing numbers of scientists have become interested in pursuing the topics of life and consciousness. Chang-Hwa Fashi shared what she has learned from conferences she attended regarding how current scientists study consciousness. She also mentioned a number of scientists and doctors who published books regarding these issues as references, such as The Buddha Mind, Universe, and Awakening-A dialogue between astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell and late Master Sheng-Yen. Biocentrism and Beyond Biocentrism by Dr. Robert Lanza, and Zen and the Brain by Dr. James H. Austin. Dr. Robert Lanza was selected for the 2014 Time 100 list of the hundred most influential people in the world.

However, Fashi also quoted a personal statement by Dr. Max Kalin, a Swiss MD-Ph.D, one of Master Sheng Yen’s western dharma heirs with deep meditation experiences, who said “it is my understanding that meditation does not change the scientific understanding of life, but that Science and Dharma (with meditation included) march in a similar (if not that same) direction. The problem is there are great limitations and challenges for scientists to prove their hypotheses about the consciousness. Fashi also discussed these scientific issues from the perspective of Buddhism.

Although time was limited, Fashi used diagrams of Consciousness Only and Great Vehicle Hundred Dharmas (Mahayana-satadharma-prakasamukha-sastra) to briefly discuss the Buddhist view of the understanding of life. Fashi concluded with a quote from Master Sheng Yen: “If you contemplate that all five skandhas are empty, practice mindfulness, and understand the true mind and inherent nature, then you will be liberated from time and space.” Chang-Hwa Fashi received a Community Service Award.

There were many scholars and scientists who attended the convention’s opening ceremony. Chang-Hwa Fashi felt that this was a valuable opportunity to discuss the Buddhist perspective of life. Fashi’s talk led to many people’s interest in this topic and people approached Fashi afterwards to ask questions.

Dharma Drum Mountain’s Wen-Chiao Peng, a clinical professor at Columbia University, also gave a talk on “Stroke - Time is Brain”. Her talk attracted many people to listen and ask questions.

Other topics covered over the course of the convention included Medical Technology and Healthy Life, Social Science and Cultural Creativity, Emerging Information and Communication Technologies, Multidisciplinary Education and Cultural Innovation, Economic Development and Business Administration,, Technology Innovation and Applications, Urban Planning and Transportation, and Environment Protection and Smart Architecture.

By Lucas Yingshyan Ku, Chan Meditation Center

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