Can concentration be controlled? Can attention be practiced and perfected? These are questions that are of increasing interest today to scientists but which Buddhist monks have been exploring for thousands of years.
With the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader, sitting between them, the two sides gathered over the weekend at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a search for common ground in their pursuit of understanding of the mysteries of the human mind.
The Dalai Lama, who is halfway through a 16-day tour of the United States, said he hoped science could provide answers in areas where inward contemplation can't.
"I myself am not clear," he said at one point, drawing laughs from the overflow crowd that included actors Richard Gere and Goldie Hawn.
The scientists want to pick the minds of the Buddhist scholars about how best to use technology such as brain imaging to study consciousness.