The Lama Tzong Khapa Institute

European Summer Research Institute 2024

Click here to Apply!
Deadline: Tuesday 30th April 2024 at midnight CEST

The European Summer Research Institute (ESRI) is an event initiated by Mind & Life Europe bringing together around 120 scientists and practitioners in a unique retreat setting.

ESRI 2024 will take place from August 4th to 8th (arrival on the 3rd and departure on the 9th) at the Lama Tzong Khapa Institute in Pomaia, Italy.  


What is ESRI?

Cross-disciplinary dialogue and collaboration

The primary aim of ESRI is to further develop and promote the interdisciplinary community of contemplative science in Europe, with a special focus on preparing the next generation of researchers and practitioners in the field and building ‘gentle bridges’ (F. Varela) between an ever-widening array of disciplines. The program features interdisciplinary scholarly presentations and dialogue, inquiry through first-person experience, active contemplative practice, and ample intergenerational networking opportunities. Scientists, scholars, researchers, educators, clinicians, and professionals working in this field come together as a community to share ideas, knowledge, methodologies, and experiences from their lives and work, in order to bring about concrete advances in the field.

Attendees of the ESRI are eligible to apply for the European Varela Awards for contemplative research. Click here for more information about the European Varela Awards (EVAs). The application period for the EVA 2024 cycle starts this fall and the awardees will be announced via our MLE website, newsletter and social media in March 2025.

ESRI 2024: “Living in Groundlessness with Responsibility”

This year marks the second year in a three-year thematic arc, “Caring for Life”, which aims to foreground caring as an active, processual, and participative feature of being sentient in a wildly complex and rapidly evolving ecosystem.

In year 1, we explored the theme of Sentience and Responsibility in Critical Times. This year, we will interrogate more closely the notion of groundlessness in all its conceptual and existential density, carefully reflecting on the phenomenology of ground/lessness, how meaning arises from groundlessness, and how groundlessness intimately informs our sense of ethics and being-in-the-world. The week will loosely follow an arc of investigation, allowing faculty and participants to:

  • reflect together on the basic terms of inquiry (what exactly does one mean by ground and groundlessness?);
  • consider the import and valence of groundlessness within and across several academic disciplines (philosophy, neuroscience, quantum physics, psychology, anthropology, and more);
  • explore the possibility of a ‘middle path’ that considers wisdom and compassion as two sides of the same coin;
  • and find ways of integrating the experience of groundlessness — or the realisation of it — in our everyday lives and work. 

Mind & Life Europe will be partnering with the Lama Tzong Khapa Institute (ILTK) and the Italian Buddhist Union for the European Summer Research Institute 2024 and the MLE Retreat.

More information about the programme and faculty for ESRI 2024 will become available soon.

Alongside ESRI 2024, Mind & Life Europe is also arranging an in-person MLE Retreat at the same venue, from 31st July – 2nd August (arrival on 30th July). Find out more here!


  • Yochai Ataria
  • Sagaradevi Barratt
  • Aviva Berkovich-Ohana
  • Jennifer Branlat
  • Jay Garfield
  • Hsuan-Hsiu Hung
  • Miriam Kyselo
  • Wolfgang Lukas
  • Edel Maex
  • Fr. Francis Tiso
  • Martijn van Beek
  • Marieke van Vugt
  • and more!

Who should attend

ESRI fosters interdisciplinary dialogue and potential project collaborations, and thus is limited to 120 participants. A selection process identifies those whose interests are best matched to the annual theme.

Applicants should self-categorize into three categories: Research Fellow, Senior Investigator and Professional.

Research Fellows

“Research Fellows” include undergraduate and graduate students, as well as postdoctoral fellows conducting research in neuroscience, biological and medical sciences, experimental and clinical psychology, the social sciences, or the humanities. Students and early-career researchers and contemplative scholars who work in the interdisciplinary field of contemplative sciences and scholarship are encouraged to apply in this category.

Senior Investigators

This category includes established academic researchers, contemplative scholars and educators who hold university or college faculty appointments (full-time, clinical or adjunct).


Professionals (e.g. educators, clinicians, therapists, HR managers, change agents) who are independent practitioners or affiliated with non-academic institutions apply in this category. This includes people working in business and (social) entrepreneurship.

About the Venue

Lama Tzong Khapa Institute is a Tibetan Buddhist center located in the heart of Tuscany (near Pisa). They offer regular courses on Buddhism, meditation, and many other topics, all aimed at the development of the human qualities of kindness, compassion, and wisdom. The Institute community consists of a sangha of Buddhist monks and nuns, an international body of lay students and visitors, and a large group of staff and volunteers. They welcome everyone interested in following a course or just to spend some quiet time enjoying the beautiful, peaceful setting.

Since its founding in 1977, Lama Tzong Khapa Institute has grown into one of the largest Tibetan Buddhist centers in Europe. As an international school for Buddhist studies and practice, it attracts students from around the world who are interested in deepening their understanding of Buddhism and the mind through intensive study of Buddhist philosophy and psychology. These courses also include introspective meditation methods and an opportunity for active service.

Lama Tzong Khapa Institute has a range of clean and bright single and double guest rooms, wooden cabins and dormitories for anyone interested in staying – whether it be for one night or to live here while studying one of our long term residential study programs. Breakfast, bedding and towels are included in the price.

For more detailed information about how to access the venue, please visit the Institute’s website

Costs (for MLE Retreat & ESRI 2024)

 ESRI               MLE retreatESRI + retreat
Research Fellows€ 600€ 300€ 900
Senior investigators€ 800€ 400€ 1,200
Professionals€ 1200€ 400€ 1,600

These prices cover the whole program and full board at the venue (including food and drink). Please note that most rooms are shared with one other participant of the same gender and single rooms are extremely limited in availability.

Financial Support

Participants of ESRI (and the retreat) are expected to cover their own registration fee and travel costs. Fee discounts might be available for selected (PhD) students and early career scholars, with a particular priority given to scholars coming from Eastern Europe, the Baltic countries and Russia.

If you have the means to make a donation in support of participants who could not otherwise afford the fees, we would be deeply grateful for any level of donation. You can state your intention to make a donation in the application form or write to office@mindandlife-europe.org.

If you would like to be considered for financial support, please submit a written request in the application form with details of your financial situation (max. 300 words). Please note that MLE operates on a limited budget, and will only be able to provide support to the selected recipients.

Jay Garfield

Jay L. Garfield directs the Buddhist Studies Program and Tibetan Studies in India program at Smith College. He is also visiting professor of Buddhist philosophy at Harvard Divinity School, Professor of Philosophy at Melbourne University and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies. Academicinfluence.com has identified him as one of the 50 most influential philosophers in the world over the past decade.
Garfield’s research addresses topics in the foundations of cognitive science and the philosophy of mind; metaphysics; the history of modern Indian philosophy; topics in ethics, epistemology and the philosophy of logic; methodology in cross-cultural interpretation; and topics in Buddhist philosophy, particularly Indo-Tibetan Madhyamaka and Yogācāra. He is the author or editor of over 30 books and over 200 articles, chapters, and reviews.
Garfield’s most recent books are Getting Over Ourselves: How to be a Person Without a Self (2022), Knowing Illusion: Bringing a Tibetan Debate into Contemporary Discourse (with the Yakherds 2021, Buddhist Ethics: A Philosophical Exploration (2021), ̛What Can’t Be Said: Paradox and Contradiction in East Asian Thought (with Yasuo Deguchi, Graham Priest, and Robert Sharf 2021), and The Concealed Influence of Custom: Hume’s Treatise From the Inside Out (2019).

Edel Maex

Dr. Edel Maex is a psychiatrist and Zen teacher living in Antwerp, Belgium. Teaching mindfulness became his way to integrate his Zen practice and his practice as a psychiatrist. He founded the Stress Clinic at the ZNA Hospital in Antwerp. He is the author of several books (in Dutch) on mindfulness and Buddhism. He is currently translating the Dharma talks he has given over the years into English and publishing them on Substack.

Francis Tiso

A New York native, Father Tiso earned a Master of Divinity degree (cum laude)at Harvard University and holds a doctorate from Columbia University and UnionTheological Seminary where his specialization was Buddhist studies. His teaching interests include Christian theology, history of religions, spirituality, ecumenism and interreligious dialogue. Father Francis V. Tiso served the US Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2004 to 2009 as liaison to Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, the Sikhs, and Traditional religions as well as the Reformed confessions. Father Tiso is a priest of the Diocese of Isernia-Venafro, Italy, where he is Diocesan Delegate for Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs. He was recently elected to the Board of Directors of Mind and Life Europe, which promotes research in neuroscience, philosophy, and contemplative traditions.

Martijn van Beek

Martijn van Beek is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and affiliated with the Interacting Minds Centre, both at Aarhus University, Denmark. Having worked and conducted research for many years on politics and development in Ladakh and elsewhere in the Himalayan region, for the past two decades his research has increasingly focused on the meeting ground between contemplative traditions, especially Buddhism, consciousness research and modernity. His research seeks to contribute to refining our understanding and the significance of emergent forms of contemplative ways of living for people and for the planet. He is also engaged in research on the (micro-)phenomenology of contemplative practice and experience. Martijn teaches sustainable ways of living and contemplative life in context, in theory and in practice at Aarhus University and elsewhere. He lives at Vaekstcenter, a contemplative community in Denmark.

Marieke van Vugt

Marieke van Vugt is an assistant professor at the Institute of Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Engineering (ALICE) of the University of Groningen (Netherlands). The research in Dr. van Vugt's lab focuses on how, when and why we mind-wander, and what the fundamental cognitive operations are that underlie meditation and mindfulness. Most recently, she started to investigate how analytical meditation practiced by Tibetan monks and nuns affects cognition and emotion. She addresses these questions using a combination of computational modeling, neuroscience, and experimental psychology tools. She very much enjoys projects were science, art (particularly classical ballet), and contemplation meet.

Mind & Life Europe

Our mission is to alleviate suffering and promote human and societal flourishing by integrating science with contemplative practice and wisdom traditions.

Event info
ESRI 2024

03-08-2024 12:00 PM
09-08-2024 12:00 PM
The Lama Tzong Khapa Institute

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