Monday, January 23, 2006

self-confidence and education

This week we'll have the first neuroscience recruits come visit Penn again. I like the US system a lot where the university actually invites prospective grad students to visit, and interviews with them. This is not only for the university as a means for selection but also to try to lure the student into studying at the university. Letting the student know in this way that she/he is valued creates a lot of confidence in them; it makes them feel more valued and accepted. This is very important in a time where students are so focused on performance and academic results that they often feel very insecure.

Sogyal Rinpoche teaches that often we are so insecure because we feel that the love we received as a child was always conditional, conditional upon being "good", having good results in school, in sports, in whatever we did. If we could only just remember that no matter what, we can always connect with the gigantic store of love that is somewhere within all of us, that Buddhists call the buddha nature, then we can become so much more confident!

So, both encouraging not to rely too much on achievement for self-confidence, as well as a supportive environment in which the person feels respected are important principles in education.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

the beauty of dedication

As the new year starts, I always feel it's a time for reflection, and for reshuffling priorities. I think that one of the sicknesses of our current society is an overdose of choices. There is no time to think, yet we constantly have to do different things in order to stay interested and maybe even, to stay interesting for other people. One beautiful movement (I think) is that of the Simple Living Network ( I think that people would probably be a lot happier if they would simply be dedicated to one cause. There is something incredibly beautiful about people who have a lot of dedication to whatever they are doing, such as those people who traverse thousands of kilometers from remote regions in Tibet to the capital Lhasa, all the way prostrating. Isn't that amazing?