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Biologist Dr Francisco Valera, Who Started Dialogues With The Dalai Lama and Others 15 Years Ago, Passes Away

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 01/06/01; June 1, 2001.]


Dr Francisco J. Varela Biologist died the 28th of May in Paris. Francisco J. Varela, was borned in 1946 in Chile, was a cognitive biologist whose work on autopoesis inspired much subsequent learning organization and living systems theory. He had a Ph.D. in biological sciences from Harvard University. Dr. Varela's interests had centered on the biological mechanisms of cognitive phenomena and human consciousness, on "the ongoing bringing-forth of a world through the very process of living itself." He was the author of thirteen books, including The Tree of Knowledge (written with Humberto Maturana)—the groundbreaking work on autopoesis and cognition—The Embodied Mind (with Evan Thompson and Elanor Rosch) and, most recently, Naturalizing Phenomenology: Contemporary Issues in Phenomenology and Cognitive Science.

Dr. Varela, who has taught extensively in South America, the United States, and Europe, lived and worked in France, where he was director of research at the Centre Nationale de Recherche Scientifique, and Head of the Neurodynamics Unit at LENA (Laboratory of Cognitive Neurosciences and Brain Imaging) at the Salpetriere Hospital in Paris. He was also Senior Faculty at CREA, Ecole Polytechnique. In 1999, a team led by Dr. Varela was the first to be credited with monitoring the arising of a thought in the brain.

A student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Dr. Varela has practiced Buddhist meditation for many years, and has been a prominent participant in the modern dialogue between Buddhism and science. He has published several articles and books on this subject, including the recent Sleeping, Dreaming and Dying (Wisdom, 1997), the fourth of the "Mind and Life" dialogues that he started with the Dalai Lama and other scientists more than ten years ago.

Selected Books related to Buddhism and Science :

- J.Hayward and F.Varela (Eds.) Gentle Bridges: Dialogues between the Cognitive Sciences and the Buddhist Tradition, Shambhala Publishers, Boston, 1992 (French: Passarelles, Albin Michel, German: Gewagte Denkwege, Piper Verlag, Spanish: Un Puente para Dos Miradas, Dolmen, Italian: Ponti Sottili, Neri Pozzi Editori, Japanese: Seidosha,Tokyo, Chinese: Cung Sheng Publishing House, Taiwan)

- F.Varela (Ed.) Sleeping, Dreaming and Dying: Dialogues between the Sciences and the Buddhist Tradition, Wisdom Book, Boston, 1997 (French: Dormir, Rever, Mourir, NIL Editions, German: Traum, Schlaf und Tod, Diederichs, Spanish: Dormir, Sonar, Morir, Dolmen Ediciones)

Selected articles and Conversation with H. H. Dalai Lama :

- Varela, F. (1999) Steps to a science of Interbeing: Unfolding the Dharma implicit in modern, Cognitive Science, In: S.Bachelor, G.Claxton and G.Watson (eds.), The Psychology of Awakening: Buddhism, Science and Our Day to Day Lives, Rider/Randon House, pp.71-89. revised version in: Envisioning Knowledge, B.Wiens (Ed.), Dumont, Cologne, 1999. french translation: Theorie, Litterature, Enseignement, No.17, pp.7-21, 1999. italian: Argonauti de la Noosphera, Centro Piu Manzu (in press).

-Varela, F. Imagining: Embodiment, phenomenology, transformation, In: A. Wallace (Ed.), Breaking New Ground: Essays on Buddhism and Modern Science

- Varela, F. (1999), What a relief! I don't exist: Buddhism and the Brain (Wes Nisker), Inquiring Mind, vol.16 No.1, 1999, p.7-9.

- Varela, F. (1994), Intervention, in: Dalai-Lama, Au-dela des dogmes, Alban Michel Paris, pp.226-258

-Varela,F. and other scientists, (1987) Mind and Life I, II, IV: Conversation with H.H.Dalai Lama, Dharamsala, India, 12 videocassetts

Submitted by Philippe Horellou horellou@infobiogen.fr

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