Maitreya Institute Amsterdam
The Buddha Project

Buddha Research Project

Buddha Research Project

Our Aim

The Buddha Research Project (BRP) intends to develop into a platform for collaboration and dialogue between contemplatives and scientists. The idea was born during a Mind & Life Europe conference. It became clear that contemporary research focused on contemplation and meditation could be significantly improved. The following observations were made:


  • Research is mostly done with meditation and meditators as focus, but the insights gained from meditation are rarely explored.
  • Contemplatives usually function as objects of observation, while working as equal research partners would generate much added value.
  • Research tends to emphasize the effects of mindfulness on the brain and states of wellbeing. The vast ethical, psychological, metaphysical context is rarely considered. Mindfulness in traditional settings is seldomly practiced as an end, rather it is used as a means to develop insight and emotional skills.
  • Researchers and contemplatives often experience a disconnect regarding metaphysical perspectives and language. For example, the conceptual gap between science’s reductionist perspective and the contemplatives’ non-dualist or deconstructionist perspectives. Creating a shared space through a dialogue of equals, can greatly benefit mutual enrichment and the outcome of studies.
4. BRP_Nagasena

Researchers Nicolas Pellerin (Psychology faculty, University of Nîmes), Liudmila Gamaiunova (Social Sciences of Religions faculty, University of Lausanne,), and Buddhist teacher Ven. Losang Gendun initiated a collaborative partnership to address these observations and develop novel responses. The main focus is investigating transformative processes in long-term meditators, and their effects on such topics as mental-health, perception, semiotics (meaning creation), and a person’s identity.

The Buddha Research Project has five main objectives:
1. To explore innovative non-reductionist methods to investigate a broad range of effects of meditation, and what these insights can contribute to the understanding of ourselves, our social and environmental embeddedness, and the nature of our reality.
2. To have the Buddha Project (of which this research project is a part of) provide affiliated researchers with a platform for continuous dialogue on this field and a large community of contemplatives, to jointly explore the effects of more advanced forms of meditation.
3. To facilitate a growing community of researchers over time and have them enrich the Buddha Research Project with their research projects & input.
4. To develop an interdisciplinarian language, based on the works of Francesco Varela (neuroscientist and founder of the Mind & Life Institute), to facilitate and improve the communication between contemplatives and researchers.
5. To seek collaboration with likeminded initiatives that bridge the scientific and contemplative worlds.

During the 2022 Mind & Life European Summer Research Institute a first presentation and workshop of the Buddha Research Project were given. February 2023 Mind & Life Europe granted the European Varela Awards for a first research project.