Partnership Events

Upcoming Events

Date PartnerEventFormat
21st – 23rd February, 2024
University of Padova, Italy
University of PadovaThe Elephant in the Room International Conference In person
7th – 19th March, 2024Pioneers of Change Summit8th Pioneers of Change Online SummitFree online summit
19th – 23rd June, 2024
University of Padova, Italy
International Society for Contemplative Research, Italian Buddhist Union,
University of Padova
2nd Annual Conference of the International Society for Contemplative ResearchIn person

Previous Events

Date PartnerEventFormat
18th January – 18th February, 2024
Montegrande, Chile
Claudia Vásquez Gómez | Visual ArtistRoad to Montegrande, regarding Francisco Varela
Land art, urban art, and colloquia
In person
13th-16th November, 2023
Rome, Italy
International Conference on Environmental
1st International Conference on Environmental
Mindfulness (ICEM)
Hybrid (online and in person)
25th September, 2023
University of Pardubice, Czech Republic
University of PardubiceEnactive Ethics of Responsibility WorkshopHybrid (online and in person)
July 16th – 23rd, 2023
Certosa di Pontignano, Italy
Cortona FriendsCortona Week 2023: Science and the Wholeness of Life
An interdisciplinary, international summer school retreat.
In person
May 25th – 27th, 2023
Upaya Zen Centre, USA
Upaya Zen CentreVARELA INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM: Worldmaking/Sensemaking: Precariousness, Connectedness, Cooperation A 2-day workshop with leading researchers.
Watch the recordings here
Hybrid (online and in person)
March 6th – 8th, 2023
Lorentz Center, the Netherlands
Lorentz Center“The Computational Approach to Neuro-Phenomenology”A 5-day workshop with leading researchers. In person
August 13th – 19th, 2022
Les Colloques de Cerisy, France
Les Colloques de Cerisy“Francisco Varela, A Current Thought: Autopoiesis, Enaction, and Phenomenology” A week-long conference in French and English. In person
August 11th, 2022
18:00 CEST
Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, Germany 
Tergar Meditation Community“The Natural Qualities of the Mind” Panel Discussion with Mingyur Rinpoche, Dr. Antoine Lutz, and Dr. Marieke van Vugt, moderated by HolgerYeshe
Watch the recording here
May 28th – 29th, 2022Upaya Institute and Zen Center, Nirakara, and L’Association pour le Développement de la MindfulnessVarela International Symposium 2022: Laying Down a Path in Walking (Mind in Life) Interdependance and Encation Online
March 3rd, 2022Umbrella Films and Studio 23a‘Aware: Glimpses of Consciousness’ European Live-stream PremierOnline
October 23rd, 2021Science & Wisdom LIVEScience Day: “Appearance & Reality – Quantum Physics meets Buddhist Philosophy”Online


“Worldmaking/Sensemaking: Precariousness, Connectedness, Cooperation” 

In partnership with Upaya Zen Center 

Event Description

How do we make sense of our experience and our place in this very precarious world? Powerful recent approaches have appreciated the mind as a complex system, deeply connected with the experienced world. Sensemaking, in this view, is interdependent worldmaking and includes the experience of intersubjectivity arising in complex, cooperative social interactions. Sensemaking as worldmaking is thus grounded in the interactions of a sensing, moving, living organism and its environment being and acting in the world. In this view, all of life is worldmaking and sensemaking, with the complex dynamic systems of life interdependently giving rise to the world in which each being exists. These complex dynamic systems are in constant flux, existing precariously on the edge of chaotic disorganization.

The remarkable faculty for the 2023 Varela International Symposium includes leaders in the philosophical, cultural, and scientific exploration of this view and its implications related to the precarious processes throughout the universe, the cultural embeddedness of worldviews, and the emergence of moral action.

The symposium honors, and is named for the seminal contributions of neuroscientist, philosopher, and Buddhist practitioner, Francisco Varela, who, with colleagues Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch, initially challenged the then-dominant models in cognitive science, establishing the groundwork for the research and scholarship that the symposium faculty will explore.

Presentations and panel discussions occur along with contemplative practice during this unique program which is organized and sponsored by Upaya Zen Center and Institute, Santa Fe, NM and Mind and Life Europe.

Maximum Participants in person: 15
Tuition (Members): $585.00
Tuition (Non-Members): $650.00


“The Computational Approach to Neuro-Phenomenology”

A 5-day workshop at the Lorentz Centre, the Netherlands, with 25 researchers in the fields of phenomenology, neuroscience, philosophy, and computational modeling. 

  • Cooperation partner: Lorentz Centre (The Netherlands).
  • Type of event: Workshop (in-person). Click here to see the program.
  • Dates: March 6th – 10th, 2023 
  • Registration ended

About the event:

The intention of this workshop is to explore the possibilities to naturalize phenomenology using modeling techniques developed in computational neuroscience and biology. Specifically, we intend to develop a new version of neurophenomenology as ‘generative passages’ (Lutz, 2002; Roy et al., 1999; Varela, 1997), based on methodological innovations that have emerged recently under the rubric of generative modeling (Friston, 2019; Hesp et al., 2021; Sandved-Smith et al., 2021). This approach represents a distinctive formulation of computational phenomenology because it applies methods from computational modeling directly to phenomenology. The aim of this workshop is to present a specific application of computational phenomenology to what phenomenological philosophers have called ‘constitution’, see Sokolowski (1964). The aim of such model is to map phenomenological constitution onto the notion of inference, as it is used in generative modeling to infer the (causal) structure of the process generating some data or, more simply, making sense of data.

During this workshop we will come together with 25 researchers in the fields of phenomenology, neuroscience, philosophy, and computational modeling to discuss how the recent advancements in computational modeling–specifically bayesian mechanics and the active inference framework–may inform the study of lived experience and vice versa. The program during these days will consist of one or two keynote lectures per day, discussion rounds, and working groups that are aimed to translate our discussions into a special issue for the neuroscience of consciousness journal. 

Find out more here!




  • Cooperation partner: Les Colloques Cerisy (France).
  • Type of event: Conference (in-person). Click here to see the program.
  • Dates: August 13th (7pm) – 19th (2pm)
  • Language: French 
  • Registration: click here to register (registration in French and English language).

About the event: 

Francisco Varela contributed significantly to the development of the field of cognitive sciences by proposing, as early as the 1970s, with his professor Humberto Maturana, the formulation of his theory of life, autopoiesis, whose resonance has been decisive, even beyond the field of biology, in the artistic and educational fields. In the 1980s and 90s, from the theories of emergence, he built a new theory: enaction. In contact with phenomenology, he forged an innovative approach to consciousness from neuronal dynamics while being irreducible to it: neurophenomenology. At the same time, he founded the Mind and Life Institute, a place for dialogue with the Dalai Lama and reflection on the possible links between science and contemplative practices, including meditation.

20 years since his passing, it is essential to revisit his thought and measure his influence in the many current fields and disciplines that make his thought bear fruit. He was present in Cerisy, especially at the 1981 meeting “Self-organization: from physics to politics” (Seuil, 1983), which opened a research program to which he contributed and drew many of his inspirations.

This symposium offers a dialogue between natural sciences and humanities, art and science, science and philosophy. It will also be an opportunity, through various artistic performances, to reflect on the practice of interdisciplinarity. Open to all those interested in Francisco Varela’s thought, it is about studying its strength and international influence by giving voice to loved ones, scientific collaborators and philosophers, as well as Buddhist “meditators”. Finally, videos will be broadcast testifying to the life contexts in which his work has deployed and matured, according to his multiple interactions.

NB: Since this symposium was originally scheduled for 2021, you can access its 2021 presentation: click here.

Scientific Committee:

Michel Bitbol, Amy Cohen-Varela, Natalie Depraz, Ivan Magrin-Chagnolleau, Claire Petitmengin, Jean Petitot

Program Schedule

Saturday, August 13

Welcoming Participants 

Presentation of the Center, the symposium and the participants, as well as the Foyer de création et d’échanges

Sunday, August 14


Jean-Pierre DUPUY: Francisco Varela, thinker of autonomy [videoconference]
Valérie BONNARDEL: Color, human experience and cyborgism

Shaun GALLAGHER: Reenacting ethics: Joining Varela’s adventure
Urban KORDEŠ: Horizons of Becoming Aware

Around the movie Monte Grande: What Is Life? by Franz Reichle
Claudia VÁSQUEZ GÓMEZ: An artistic project in Monte Grande

Monday, August 15

The DALAI-LAMA: Testimony
Amy COHEN-VARELA: Mind and Life
Alan WALLACE: Toward a Renaissance in Contemplative Inquiry within the World’s Religions

Raphaële JEUNE: Varela on the adventure of art

Tuesday, August 16

Michèle DUZERT: Making Francisco Varela’s breath dance: some situations experienced [videoconference]
Andreas WEBER: Skincentric Ecology


Round table, moderated by Ivan MAGRIN-CHAGNOLLEAU, with Carole HOFFMAN (The emergence, in the oscillation of the in-between), Xavier LAMBERT (Autopoiesis and generativité), Célio PAILLARD (The emergence between: accumulation as a creative strategy) and Nico DOCKX (Through Time and Day

Wednesday, August 17

Pierre LIVET: Varela and her influence: self-organization, chasing or even extended mind, and social complexity
John PROTEVI: Political issues in Francisco Varela’s thinking

Charles LENAY: Enaction and interaction: the question of the possible
Olivier GAPENNE: What can enaction do for reason?
Claire PETITMENGIN: Enaction as a lived experience [videoconference]

Ivan MAGRIN-CHAGNOLLEAU: Approaching emergence, autopoiesis and enaction from a phenomenological point of view in artistic creation and pedagogy

Thursday, August 18

Jean PETITOT: What does it mean to naturalize phenomenology? [videoconference]
Tom FROESE: Enaction as an irruption of consciousness

Natalie DEPRAZ: Cardiophenomenology. Or how to refine neurophenomenology?
Antoine LUTZ: Impact of awareness on perception and pain: neurophenomenological and computational exploration
Michel BITBOL: The dialectic of body and consciousness: a metaphysical translation of neurophenomenology [videoconference]

Presentation of the artistic works created during the symposium

Friday, August 19

Final round table and assessment


 “The Natural Qualities of the Mind”

A panel discussion with Mingyur Rinpoche, Dr. Antoine Lutz and Dr. Marieke van Vugt, moderated by HolgerYeshe

in partnership with the Tergar Meditation Communtity

In a panel discussion, Mingyur Rinpoche and scientists from Mind and Life Europe explore The Natural Qualities of Mind


  • Mingyur Rinpoche, Tibetan Buddhist meditation master
  • Dr. Marieke van Vugt, Bernoulli Institute of Mathematics, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence of the University of Groningen
  • Dr. Antoine Lutz, French Medical Research Institute (INSERM) in the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center (CNRL)

The panel discussion was moderated by HolgerYeshe.

Following the panel discussion we will show the film “Wandering… But not lost” in the presence of the filmmaker Paul MacGowan. (For in-person attendees only).

The film is a personal account of Mingyur Rinpoche’s four and a half year retreat, interspersed with Rinpoche’s own guidance on applying Buddhist wisdom to our daily modern lives, which will touch and inspire audiences everywhere. Info about the film HERE.

Date, Time, & Accessibilty

Date: Thursday, August 11th, 2022 

Location: Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, Germany (for ticket holders)


  • 18:00 – 20:00 Panel discussion The Natural Qualities of Mind (live-streamed on YouTube)
  • 20:00 – 20:30 Break
  • 20:30 – 22:00 Film screening “Wandering… But not lost” with director Paul MacGowan in attendance (no streaming for online attendees)

Watch the recording on the MLE YouTube channel here!

Concept Note

What are the natural qualities of mind? How can we study them from both the third- and first-person perspectives? What do the Eastern and Western traditions have in common (or not) when it comes to the cultivation of a healthy mind? How can these two traditions interface with each other in light of the most recent advances in the study of the human mind?

In this evening of dialogue, we’ll take a cross-sectional look at the natural qualities of the human mind, reaping insights from Western neuroscience and the age-old wisdom of Buddhist thought and practice. Mingyur Rinpoche, known throughout the world as a clear and charismatic Tibetan Buddhist teacher, has long been interested in Western science and psychology. In this unique encounter, he will co-investigate the natural qualities of mind with two prominent European scientists who specialize in the neuropsychology of meditation practice. Dr. Antoine Lutz, who was trained by Francisco Varela and worked extensively with Dr. Richard Davidson, has been a pioneer in Europe for his work on the neurophenomenology of mindfulness and compassion meditations. Dr. Marieke van Vugt will offer key insights from her own body of work on mind-wandering and the cognitive processes underpinning meditation and mindfulness.

This conversation will be an important step in extending the long tradition at Mind & Life Europe of exploring how to integrate the third-person perspective of Western science with the first-person perspective of serious contemplative practice. We hope you’ll join us for the exploration.


in partnership with Upaya Institute and Zen Center

Laying Down a Path in Walking (Mind in Life) – Interdependence and Enaction (Online 2022)

Over the past three decades, a transformative view of life, now known as “the enactive view,” has been developed and expanded by thinkers in philosophy and the sciences of mind; prominent among them was the late Chilean neuroscientist, philosopher, and Buddhist practitioner, Francisco Varela, for whom this symposium is named. The Varela International Symposium, 2022, with its extraordinary international faculty of scientists, philosophers, and contemplatives, explores the enactive view that living beings are fundamentally sense-making creatures that bring forth meaning in their interactions with their physical and social environments. As such, a subject enacts the world he or she is part of, including the physical environment, and this world reflects social, ethical and political values and structures. Recent contributions within the enactive framework by faculty in this year’s Varela Symposium have expanded how we understand social cognition, social interaction, and cultural institutions, including science, medicine, politics, and our relationship to the natural world. The 2022 Varela International Symposium will explore the potential outcomes and psychosocial impacts of shifting our extractive, reductionistic, mechanistic, predictive views to an enactive view that could be profoundly transformational at a personal as well as global level. Presentations and panel discussions will occur along with contemplative practice during this unique program which is organized and sponsored by Upaya Zen Center and Institute, Santa Fe, NM and Mind & Life Europe.

Varela International Symposium 2022 | Recordings

All recordings of the Varlea International Symposium are available to view on the MLE YouTube channel here

Saturday, May 28th, 2022Morning Session 1“Enaction and the Dialetics of Nature”Ezequiel Di Paolo
Saturday, May 28th, 2022Morning Session 2“Enaction: An Engaging Epistemology”Hanne De Jaegher
Saturday, May 28th, 2022Afternoon Session 1“The Enactive View: Looking Back, Looking Forward” Evan Thompson
Saturday, May 28th, 2022Afternoon Session 2“Science, Practice, and Encaction: Reminiscences of Francisco and Reflections of Embodied Engagement”Richard Davidson
Sunday, May 29th, 2022Morning Session 1“On Doing Physics and Being a Subject”Adam Frank
Sunday, May 29th, 2022Morning Session 2“Complexity and Machine Learning”Abeba Birhane
Sunday, May 29th, 2022Afternoon Session 1“The Enactive Perspective”John Dunne
Sunday, May 29th, 2022Afternoon Session 2Participant Q&A SessionFaculty


in partnership with Umbrella Films and Studio 23a

‘AWARE: Glimpses of Consciousness’

In partnership with Umbrella Films and Area 23a, MLE invited our community to the European Live-Stream of “AWARE” on Thursday, March 3rd at 7:00 PM CET (6 PM London Time, 1 PM NYC)

What is consciousness? Is it in all living beings? Why are we predisposed for mystical experience? And what happens when we die? With haunting cinematography, AWARE follows six of the world’s most brilliant researchers approaching the most mysterious of enigmas, consciousness, from radically different perspectives, from within and without: through high-tech brain research and Eastern meditation, by scientifically exploring inner space through psychedelic substances and delving deep into the consciousness of plants. Scientists are arriving at new insights – some which have been integral to Indigenous knowledge for millenia.

Following the film screening there will be a live discussion with Directors Frauke Sandig & Eric BlackRoland Griffiths, Ph.D., Director, Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research; Monica Gagliano, Professor of Plant Behavior & Cognition, University of Sydney; and Dr. med. Andrea Jungaberle Medical Director OVID Clinics I Co-founder of MIND Foundation.

‘AWARE’ reviews 

“The most moving and beautiful depiction of deep understanding of consciousness and of who we are that I have seen depicted through film.”

-Jack Kornfield, author, and Buddhist teacher

“Consciousness-elevating food for thought.”

– Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times  

“Stunningly Deep, Wise and Visually Arresting, the most Mind-Blowing Film the Maui Film Festival has presented in Twenty Years!”

-Barry Rivers Maui Film Festival Founder/Director


Science and Wisdom LIVE 

October 23 14:00 – 22:00 CEST  ‘Science Day’ online public event: “Appearance & Reality – Quantum Physics meets Buddhist Philosophy”A dialogue with Prof. John Dunne, Dr. Michel Bitbol, Dr. Carlo Rovelli, Geshe Tenzin Namdak, and Scott Snibbe.This event was open to the public.online 

About Science and Wisdom LIVE

Science & Wisdom LIVE brings meditation practitioners in conversation with scientists to address the problems of contemporary society and come to new possible solutions.

The dialogue between science and contemplative traditions can inspire positive action and inform an ethical response to the challenges of our times, grounded in the human values of cooperation, compassion and equality.


MLE Dialogues & Conferences

MLE Conferences

Mind & Life Europe regularly organizes a pan-European symposium to foster the interdisciplinary dialogue in the context of contemplative science. With this symposium, Mind & Life Europe seeks to link diverse disciplines and traditions of knowledge in order to foster an intercultural exchange between new audiences and changemakers in the area of contemplative studies and practices. For the latest MLE conference, please visit our Mind & Life Europe Calendar.

The overall aim is to bring together academics, practitioners and other interested attendees for presentations, discussions, and collaborative networking in the emerging field of contemplative studies, which can include neuroscience, clinical science, contemplative philosophy and the humanities, contemplative education, economics, and those domains of contemplative practice that relate to and interact with these fields of research and scholarship.

Dialogues with H.H. Dalai Lama

Mind & Life Dialogues are conversations between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and leading scientists and scholars, addressing critical issues of modern life at the intersection of scientific and contemplative understanding. The dialogues began in 1987 as intimate discussions and have grown to include large public and private events at locations around the world. The dialogues have resulted in a global community dedicated to a rigorous exploration of the mind.

In September 2020, MLE held a dialogue with the Dalai Lama themed “Our common Humanity amidst Uncertainty”

In June 2021, as part of our Varela 20/30 anniversaries, the Dalai Lama held a special meeting with MLE themed “Dialogue for a Better World – Remembering Francisco Varela”Watch the recording here on the MLE YouTube channel. 

CSS 2019

The Contemplative Science Symposium (CSS) themed “Beyond Confines – Integrating Science, Consciousness and Society” took place in 2019 in Fürstenfeldbruck, Germany.

In this pan-European symposium, new audiences and changemakers were encouraged to personally engage in the evolving issues and apply an interdisciplinary perspective.

Power & Care 2016

The last Mind & Life Europe Dialogue was themed “Towards Balance for Our Common Future – Science, Society and Spirituality in Dialogue”.

The symposium took place in Brussels, 2016 with around 2,500 participants.

The insights were collected and published in a book edited by Tania Singer and Matthieu Ricard together with Kate Karius.

Symposium 2013

The first pan-European symposium for contemplative science took place in October 2013 in Berlin, Germany.

World-renowned presenters from neuroscience, social sciences, and contemplative traditions presented on “Personal and Societal Change from the Contemplative Perspective”.

Matthieu Ricard shares his view on the first MLE symposium on his personal website.

Stay informed about Mind & Life Europe

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