The International Shamatha Project is an international Buddhist research project modeled after the Human Genome Project, which was one of the most ambitious and successful scientific projects in recent history. It entailed the collaboration of many scientific laboratories throughout the world to map the human genome. Throughout the years that this project was conducted, researchers around the world shared their finding so that the project could be completed most effectively for the benefit of all of humanity.
Like this great, collaborative, scientific project to explore the human genome, the International Shamatha Project will bring together dedicated Buddhist teachers and meditators from both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism to collaborate in exploring the most effective methods and conditions for achieving shamatha in today's world. Individual retreat centers will network with each other by way of the internet, sharing their experiences, problems, remedies, and insights. We will also collaborate with psychologists and neuroscientists conducting research on shamatha meditators to help discover which methods of shamatha are most appropriate for which kinds of people in the modern world. Scientists may also discover the objective psychological and neurological signs corresponding to the nine stages of development leading to shamatha, thus providing a scientific map of the gradual achievement of shamatha. We have begun such collaboration in the Shamatha Project, and I am proposing that this work now be expanded worldwide, to include multiple teachers and traditions.
The achievement of shamatha is essential for the preservation of Buddhism as a true science of the mind. While many people devote themselves to the practice of vipashyana and to Vajrayana, relatively few pay serious attention to the practice of shamatha and far fewer, it seems, actually achieve it. Once shamatha is accomplished, it becomes far more feasible to achieve bodhicitta, vipashyana, and the stages of Vajrayana, and in this way, the significance of Buddhist mind science may become evident to the scientific community and to human society at large.
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