THE BUDDHIST VIEW OF INTERDEPENDENCE
IN THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD
EAST DIALOGUES WITH WEST
THE BUDDHIST VIEW OF INTERDEPENDENCE IN THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD EAST DIALOGUES WITH WEST
Interdependence, which sees us all connected, will be the focus of a debate between great teachers of the Buddhist philosophy and Western experts from different disciplines, who will join the special webinar meetings organized by ASIA and the Centre for Buddhist Studies of the University of Naples “L’Orientale”.
A great opportunity to investigate the scientific, ethical, philosophical, environmental, educational and economic dimensions of a concept that is increasingly widespread and debated, also in the light of recent events, that have disrupted our lives in every corner of the world.
From 19 to 28 March, five appointments of 1.30 hours each, during which this issue will be addressed from multiple perspectives, revealing the interconnections that rule the universe, the mind, the body, nature and society.
The event is part of the education project Diverse but not distant, promoted by ASIA and funded by AICS – Italian Agency for Development Cooperation.
The project aims to promote some universal values such as empathy, interdependence and nonviolence to foster equality and interaction between different peoples, in an ever closer intertwining of local, national and global, that as individuals and as a community, each one with our own specificities, we can knowingly affect.
THE BUDDHIST VIEW OF INTERDEPENDENCE
IN THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD
EAST DIALOGUES WITH WEST
PHILOSOPHY AND QUANTUM PHYSICS
3:00 p.m. / 3:05 p.m.
Host: Giacomella Orofino
University of Naples “L’Orientale”
Chief of the Office Civil society organizations, Partnerships and Finance for Development – AICS
Director of the Department of Asian, African and Mediterranean Studies – University of Naples “L’Orientale”
Director of ASIA Onlus
Geshe Dorji Damdul
Tibet House New Delhi
What is Interdependence in Buddhist Philosophy?
University of Salerno
A Quantum Field Theory Approach to the Study of Brain-Mind Interdependence
Giacomella Orofino got her Master Degree in Tibetan Studies at the University of Naples “L’Orientale” in 1982 and her Ph.D at the University of Rome “La Sapienza” in 1987.
She is Professor of Tibetan Studies at the University of Naples “L’Orientale” and President of the Centre for Buddhist Studies that promotes the knowledge of Buddhist philosophy, literature, art and culture. She is President of the Italian Association of Tibetan, Himalayan and Mongolian Studies. She authored numerous publications on Tibetan religious literature and cultural history. For a list of publication see: https://unior.academia.edu/GIACOMELLAOROFINO
Geshe Dorji Damdul
Ven Geshe Dorji Damdul is presently Director at Tibet House, New Delhi, Cultural Centre of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In 1988, Geshe Dorji Damdul joined the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, Dharamsala for formal studies in Buddhist logic, philosophy and epistemology.
After 15 years of study in Buddhist philosophy he finished his Geshe Lharampa Degree (Ph.D.) in 2002 from Drepung Loseling Monastic University. He joined Gyudmed Tantric College for a year for Tantric studies.
In 2003, the Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama sent him to Cambridge University, England for Proficiency English studies. He was a visiting fellow at Girton College, Cambridge University.
He is appointed as the official translator to H.H. the Dalai Lama since 2005. He has been serving as the interpreter for H.H. the Dalai Lama for so many years and at the same time involved in doing written translations of many texts from Tibetan into English such as Arya Nagarjuna’s “Mulamadyamikakarika” (Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way), Acharya Shantideva’s “Bodhicaryavatara” (Wisdom Chapter).
He was appointed as the Director of Tibet House, Cultural Centre of H.H. the Dalai Lama, New Delhi in March 2011.
As assigned by the Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama, he visited the US in 2008 to work with Prof. Paul Ekman, a world renowned Psychologist, one of the pioneers of the science of micro-facial expressions, on H.H. the Dalai Lama’s book “Emotional Awareness” which is co-authored by Dr. Paul Ekman of the University of California Medical School.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama also assigned him with a text book project. He was one of the chief editors for the text book on Buddhist Science and Philosophy. This text book is to be used for Centres and Institutes all over the world to study more thoroughly on Buddhist philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology, and science.
He was also assigned, along with few other scholars to work on H.H. the Dalai Lama’s book “Ethics for the New Millennium – Part II, later came up with the title Beyond Religion,” and the series of “Art of Happiness” book which were jointly written by H.H. the Dalai Lama and Prof. Howard Cutler. Likewise he is actively involved in critical editing works with other books of H.H. the Dalai Lama like “The Graded Path.”
He was affiliated with Drepung Loseling Library where he served as the editor of Dreloma Magazine for eight years from 1994-2001. Prior to that he was the editor and contributor for 5 years for “Lhaksam Tsekpa” – a journal of comparative studies, the theme of which is on Modern Science and philosophy, published by the Institute of Buddhist Studies.
He wrote number of important papers for National and International Conferences held in Delhi University, and so forth. The papers constitute topics such as “The Paradox of Brain and Mind” and “The Ultimate Reality According to Arya Nagarjuna.”
He is in the process of writing two important books, one on “Journey into the Paradox of Brain and Mind” and the other “What Constitutes the Ultimate Reality: The Effects of Understanding the Ultimate Reality.”
In 2004 – 05, for two years, he was assigned as the Philosophy Lecturer for the Emory University Study Abroad Program which was being held in Dharamsala, India since 2001.
In 2008, he was appointed as a visiting fellow in Delhi University to give lectures in three of the University’s departments – Philosophy, Psychology, and Buddhist Studies.
In 2011, Indira Gandhi National Open University recruited him as one of the chief experts to design the syllabi for B.A. and M.A. course on the Tibetan Studies as a part of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) program.
While assigned with the responsibility of the Directorship of Tibet House, the Cultural Centre of H.H. the Dalai Lama, New Delhi, India, he also gives regular lectures in Tibet House and many other places like Universities and Institutes. He also travels widely within India and abroad, like Mumbai, USA, U.K., and Singapore to teach Buddhist philosophy, psychology, logic and practice.
WHAT IS INTERDEPENDENCE IN BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY? Through an electron microscope, what is seen are mere random atoms, mechanically operating in entropy, just as from a distance, what is perceived is a forest. When in the forest, however, what is seen are only individual trees. Similarly, atoms are the only facts that exist on that microscopic level, although from a broader lens, the incredibly intricate physiology and anatomy of the human form are undeniably seen to operate. More strikingly still, the sophisticated mind is seen to operate with free will to a great extent, in quite the opposite way to the mechanical operation of atoms. What modern science labels as emergent property is what the Buddha taught as the undisputable truth of conventionality, that arises out of the interdependency of multiple factors. This network of factors take the resultant form of the infallible functional world.
It is the fabric of interdependency that leaves room for the intra and inter play of various factors, giving rise to the infinitely detailed and diverse micro and macro world. Underlying this massive and coherently operating universe of the cosmos, as well as the universe of the human anatomy, or of global warming, or of the natural healing of pollution of the environment during Covid – 19 due to the slowing down of the human activities of factories and so forth, are just an infinite number of atoms that are seen to operate mechanically. These atoms do not know each other, nor do they know themselves that their electrons are revolving around their nucleus following a specific atomic track, let alone knowing this magical play of the macro world in great coherence!
The Buddha very clearly identifies this mysterious phenomena in The Heart Sutra, as, “Form is empty; Emptiness is form”. While the macro world theory of relativity, and the micro world theory of quantum mechanics, challenge scientists to see the compatibility of the two, the Buddha discovered the macro world of functionality and the micro world of emptiness as two variables mutually interwoven to the emergence of each other’s possible existence.
In the contemporary world, the reality of interdependency is even more markedly witnessed. The most immediate example is the tiny virus of Covid – 19, which originated from a tiny place in Wuhan, yet managed to put a halt to the whole world, its economy, schools, universities, family gatherings, travel, tourism and so on. It is a wakeup call for the citizens of the world, and more precisely, for world leaders, to become aware of the reality of interdependency and act accordingly, in harmony with the whole world, as opposed narrow-mindedly privileging only the local. An appreciation of, and paying heed to, the interdependent nature of reality, as taught by the Buddha Shakyamuni, can do much to save the world from unnecessary man-made disasters, which otherwise create so much pain for citizens of the world.
Giuseppe Vitiello is Honorary Professor of Theoretical Physics, University of Salerno, Italy. Associate (1983-2018) to INFN (Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare).
Ph.D. in Physics, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, USA, 1974. Research activity in elementary particles, condensed matter physics, biological systems and brain studies. Author of about 250 papers and of the books “My Double Unveiled – The dissipative quantum model of brain”, John Benjamins Publ. Co., Amsterdam 2001. H.Umezawa and G.Vitiello, “Quantum Mechanics”, Bibliopolis, Napoli 1986, (Japanese translation by K.Yasue and M.Jibu, Nippon Hyoron Sha. Co.Ltd., Tokyo, Japan 2005). M.Blasone, P.Jizba, G.Vitiello, “Quantum Field Theory and its macroscopic manifestations”, Imperial College Press, London 2011. G.G.Globus, K.H.Pribram, G.Vitiello (Editors) “Brain and Being. At the boundary between science, philosophy, language and arts” John Benjamins Publ. Co., Amsterdam 2004. He collaborates since 2009 with Luc Montagnier (2008 Medicine Nobel Prize), on research on the electromagnetic properties of DNA and since 2003 has collaborated with Walter J. Freeman (deceased 2016) in neuroscience.
A Quantum Field Theory Approach to the Study of Brain-Mind Interdependence. The role of quantum physics in modeling brain activity and consciousness is discussed in the presentation, with a focus on the dissipative quantum model of brain [1-3]. By repeated trial-and-error, the brain constructs within itself, through its mental activity, an understanding of its surround, that we describe as its Double [1,2]. Brain-mind relation is thus the self-Double relation. Their resulting interdependence (entanglement) constitutes the meaning of the flows of information exchanged during their interactions. The act of consciousness resides in such a dialog of the self with its Double [1-4]. The continuous attempt to reach the equilibrium in this dialog shows that the real goal pursued by the brain-mind activity is the aesthetical experience, the perfect “to-be-in-the-world”[5,6]. Active reciprocal responses between the self and the world imply responsibility and thus they become moral, ethical responses through which the self and its Double become part of the larger social dialog. Aesthetical pleasure unavoidably implies disclosure, to manifest “signs”, communication. An interpersonal, collective level of consciousness then arises, a larger stage where the actors are mutually dependent, simply non-existing without the others. Any obstruction, or breakdown, accidentally occurring or purposely planned finalized to some specific task (such as the increase of productivity in a factory, necessity of control of some group of people, inducing false needs as in publicity, etc.) produces an unbalance of fluxes between the self and its Double, which manifests as stress, a personal and social pathology, a negation of the aesthetical dimension.
 G. Vitiello, Dissipation and memory capacity in the quantum brain model, Int. J. Mod. Phys. B 9, 973 (1995)
 G. Vitiello, My Double Unveiled. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2001
 W. J. Freeman and G. Vitiello, Nonlinear brain dynamics as macroscopic manifestation of underlying many-body dynamics, Phys. of Life Reviews 3, 93 (2006)
 W. J. Freeman and G. Vitiello, Matter and mind are entangled in two streams of images guiding behavior
and informing the subject through awareness, Mind & Matter 14(1), 7 (2016)
 G.Vitiello, The aesthetic experience as a characteristic feature of brain dynamics, Aistesis 1, 71 (2015), http://www.fupress.net/index.php/aisthesis/article/view/16207
 F. Desideri, Origine dell’estetico. Dalle emozioni al giudizio, Carocci editore, Le Frecce, Roma 2018.
Dr Phuntsog Wangmo is a practitioner of Traditional Tibetan Medicine, with over 30 years of experience in clinical practice as well as teaching.
She received her advanced degree from the Lhasa University School of Traditional Medicine.
Dr. Wangmo is the Director of the Shang Shung Institute School of Tibetan Medicine. She teaches Tibetan Medicine around the world, developing programs and teaching students in the USA, Spain, Italy, Russia, and many other countries. She is the Co-Founder of the American Tibetan Medical Association (ATMA), a Tibetan Medicine professional organization in the United States.
Paradigms of Interdependence in Tibetan Traditional Medicine. In this lecture I will give some insight on the nature of interdependence, from the perspective of traditional Tibetan medicine. What is the relationship between body, mind, and our health? Tibetan medicine provides theory and practical methods for exploring the body/mind connection, harmonizing our elemental energies, and improving our health in daily life.
Antonino Raffone completed a Master in “Psychology” and a Doctorate in “Cognitive Psychology and Science” at Sapienza University of Rome.
He is currently Associate Professor at the Department of Psychology of Sapienza University of Rome (Italy), and Visiting Professor and Advisory Faculty at Nalanda University (India). He is also Director of the Interuniversity Center ECONA at Sapienza University of Rome, President of “Consciousness, Mindfulness, Compassion – CMC – International Association”, and Chief Editor of the Specialty Section on “Consciousness Research” of “Frontiers in Psychology”. His internationally recognized research is interdisciplinary, with a particular focus on cognitive neuroscience of consciousness and meditation. Finally, he is a dedicated Soto Zen practitioner.
Interdependence in mind-brain-body interactions. Consciousness studies and recent developments in neuroscience of brain networks and integrated brain states jointly suggest interdependence in mind-brain-body interactions. In particular, mental and body states are highly interdependent and, with a particular involvement of some core brain networks, influence consciousness. In turn, consciousness influences mental and body states, besides selecting actions that influence the environment and other persons, which in turn influence perception, and thus body and mental states, as well as consciousness. I will thus discuss how core notions in Buddhist psychology, such as the “five aggregates”, “co-dependent arising” and “emptiness” can be related to such developments, to suggest new advancements in cognitive and affective neurosciences, as well as for our increased scientific understanding of consciousness, emotion and self. Finally, I will address how meditation practices can transform mind-brain-body patterns in a wholesome (healthy) way.
Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, founder and spiritual director of Ligmincha International, is one of only a few masters of the Bön Dzogchen tradition presently living in the West.
An accomplished scholar in the Bön Buddhist textual traditions of philosophy, exegesis, and debate, Tenzin Rinpoche completed a rigorous11-year course of traditional studies at the Bönpo Monastic Center (Menri Monastery) in India, where he received his Geshe, degree. In 1992 Tenzin Rinpoche founded Ligmincha International in order to preserve and introduce to the West the religious teachings and arts of the ancient Tibetan Bön Buddhist tradition.
Fluent in English, Rinpoche is known for his clear, lively, and insightful teaching style and his ability to make Tibetan practices easily accessible to the Western student. He is a highly respected and beloved teacher to students throughout the United States, Mexico, Europe, and Asia. In addition to Ligmincha International’s affiliates in the United States, Rinpoche has established centers in Central and South America, Europe and India.
Rinpoche is the author of 10 books: Wonders of the Natural Mind; The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep; Healing with Form, Energy, and Light: The Five Elements in Tibetan Shamanism, Tantra, and Dzogchen; Unbounded Wholeness; Tibetan Sound Healing; Tibetan Yogas of Body, Speech and Mind; Awakening the Sacred Body; Awakening the Luminous Mind; The True Source of Healing, and Spontaneous Creativity: Meditations For Manifesting Your Positive Qualities.
Connecting with the Living Universe: Theory and Practices from the Ancient Bon Tradition of Tibet. According to the ancient Tibetan spiritual traditions, our planet is alive and sacred. The five natural elements-earth, water, fire, air and space-can be considered fundamental aspects of a living universe.All of our experiences, from the sensations of the physical body, to the emotions, to the most fleeting of thoughts, are said to be composed entirely of these five elements in interaction. Through ancient practices, we can connect with the elements to support us in internalizing their essential vital qualities, and to nourish and restore health and vitality.
Jampel Dell’Angelo is Associate Professor of Water Governance and Politics in the Department of Environmental Policy Analysis at the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
He is an environmental social scientist interested in the political economy of natural resources, in particular water.
Dell’Angelo is the Principal Investigator and Coordinator of the EU’s Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) NEWAVE ‘Next Water Governance’. The NEWAVE consortium includes 10 host organizations and 19 partners from academia, the public and private sectors and organizes the research and training of 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) enrolled in different Phd programs.
His research is on the multilevel dimensions of cooperation and conflict over freshwater resources. The focus of his research spans from socio-environmental dynamics of climate change adaption in community irrigation schemes of rural Kenya to global patterns of virtual water appropriation associated with transnational land investments.
Socio-enviromental interdependencies. On the long-distance impact of our actions. How much water does it consume to grow an avocado? When the avocado is produced in Kenya, but eaten in the Netherlands after being wrapped in plastic and transported with an air cargo, what are the overall environmental implications? This is only one of many possible examples of how our daily actions have impacts that are very broad and often unexpected. Many long-distance impacts are far reaching and paradoxical. These “tele-coupled” dynamics are not only the result of individual actions but they also reflect policy decisions. The best example of the worst possible policy driven long-distance perverse effect is the one of biofuels. Triggered by the climate change and decarbonization momentum the EU started a massive program of biofuels incentives which resulted in large-scale agricultural production in many tropical countries eventually leading to deforestation! We need to understand these dynamics from a scientific point of view and be sure that they are reflected in policy decisions and that the large public is made aware of what these implications are. The world we live in is based on interdependencies and we need to be sure that we are aware of how they manifest and understand what are the effects of our actions on people and the environment around and far from us. As our actions have long-lasting effects, these interdependencies are important not only for our present world but will very much shape the life on our planet in the generations to come.
Lobsang Tenzin Negi
Lobsang Tenzin Negi, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics at Emory University, is a former Tibetan Buddhist monk and current Professor of Pedagogy in the Department of Religion at Emory University.
Prof. Negi is a pioneer in the development of compassion training programs and for over two decades has contributed to the burgeoning field of compassion science through his research initiatives, collaborating with researchers from multiple disciplines to understand the role of compassion in human development and its effects on the body and mind. In 2004, Prof. Negi developed CBCT® (Cognitively-Based Compassion Training), a secularized contemplative program for adults, based on ancient Tibetan Buddhist mind training practices. Since 2015 he has led the creation of SEE Learning™ (Social, Emotional and Ethical Learning) to provide compassion-based education to children ages 5 to 22 internationally.
Ancient Wisdom, Modern World. Ethics for the New Millennium. This presentation will focus on His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s vision for infusing compassion and wisdom into education at all levels and how Emory University’s Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics has built its SEE Learning (social, emotional and ethical learning) program on the framework His Holiness has articulated in books like Ethics for the New Millennium” and “Beyond Religion.”
In these writings, His Holiness has pointed out how modern education that is heavily focused on material progress has neglected the education of the heart, that is, the promotion of basic human values which is one of his principal commitments. Drawing from his understanding of the ancient Nalanda tradition and decades of dialogues with scientists, educators and policy makers,
His Holiness makes a persuasive case for how this neglect has had a negative effect on decision-making in the world at large, and how the promotion of basic human values is needed to insure the survival of humanity.
Emory’s SEE Learning program has translated His Holiness’s view into an educational framework and accompanying curricula for use in kindergarten through university level education. The culmination of a two-decades long collaboration, SEE Learning is conveys a non-sectarian, science-based approach to bringin the ethical development of the whole student into education and includes a resilience and trauma informed perspective. Incorporating key components such as attention training, compassion and ethical discernment, and systems thinking, it intentionally demonstrates how the principles of interdependence inform the cultivation of these values.
Primary school teacher and president of the non-profit association Maestri di strada (street teachers), he was one of the founders as well as the coordinator of the project “Chance” for the recovery of children missing from middle school (1998-2009).
He was also one of the founders, in 2001, of the non-profit association Maestri di strada, which promotes and implements educational projects for the prevention of early school leaving in the eastern suburbs of Naples. He is also a senior trainer and the editor of the book “Insegnare al Principe di Danimarca” (teaching to the Prince of Denmark) by Carla Melazzini, published by Sellerio, which over the years has become a reference text for teachers and educators throughout Italy.
Autonomy, dependencies, interdependence in the outskirts of the soul, of the cities, of the world. Maestri di Strada believes there is a secret and intimate correspondence among the outskirts of the soul, the outskirts of the city and the outskirts of the world: they are the closet to confine into what people don’t want to see; what whole societies want to hide in order to ignore what wickedness a social organization can produce on the flip side of a “progress” based on possession and domination.
In this context, autonomy is nothing more than a bad faith illusion compelling the individual to believe it’s possible to live without other people and without anything that doesn’t belong to the market. The myth of autonomy, companion of the myth of unbridled competition, is at the origin of a disintegration of the self – a split between the rational and competitive part and the emotional and fragile part, – which is at the origin of all dependences, first of all the passive dependence from social environment, felt as the author of an inevitable fate. Maestri di Strada is building a new educational paradigm – starting from one of the most degraded suburbs of Europe, in the East outskirts of the city of Naples, Italy, in neighborhoods branding their inhabitants with infamy – by setting a learning environment to help youths to get out of pre-written scripts. In order to do this it’s necessary to be deeply immersed in youths’ psychic reality, to allow contamination by the pain and discomfort they live in those places, to be able to work in a conscious way to educate together and get out of difficult situations together. We have been saying for a long time that the most difficult phase of our approach is the initial one: of listening and observation, that a mystical-contemplative attitude is necessary, a self-emptying approach which leaves space and oxygen to the other, allowing the creation of an empathic flow between learners and teachers/educators.
It is in this moment that the interdependence between the educator and the youth is experienced; it is when we enter in contact with our fragility that we discover empathy and solidarity.
Maestri di Strada’s methodology consists in continuously experiencing a descent into the chaotic depths of the human soul and peripheral spaces and a re-emersion from them with the strength of a community in which the interdependence of each member teaches everyone a new form of autonomy, that of multiple relationships, of considering a person simultaneously as the terminal of a stratified multiplicity of relationships and as the point of irradiation of new relationships. And all this is extended to the whole of existence, to knowing the world not by “taking” knowledge but by contemplating it, being in awe of it, letting it enter into us rather than dissecting and penetrating it.
Joined the Department of History and Culture, College of Language and Culture studies (CLCS), Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) in 2011. He has a Masters in Religious Studies from the University of Colorado Boulder.
His interest in this field of study concerns Himalayan Buddhist rituals, art and text, and the intersection of these three. His Masters research titled, Kangsol: A Vajrakilaya Performance Tradition of Sumthrang Monastery in Central Bhutan examined the intersection of lineage, ritual and visual art of Sumthrang looking at the mechanism to restore the perceived balance between the physical and non-physical realms that surrounds the monastery. He is also interested in looking in how this traditional knowledge contributed to Bhutanese culture and values and how does it plays greater role in contributing to reshape Bhutanese culture today.
In 2017, Nyenda founded the Bhutan and Himalayan Research Centre (BHRC) at CLCS and also serves as the coordinator of the centre. He organizes lectures, talks and research workshops and projects through the centre. He is currently working to publish an inaugural issue of an International Journal of Bhutan and Himalayan Research (IJBHR). He is also the founding member of Bhutan Nyo Foundation.
Mountain Hazelnuts of Bhutan – Founders: Daniel Spitzer and Teresa Law
Daniel Spitzer and his wife Teresa Law co-founded Mountain Hazelnuts (MH), a for-profit impact venture in Bhutan and the country’s first 100% Foreign Direct Investment. MH is planting 10 million hazelnut trees on degraded mountainsides, doubling the income of tens of thousands of subsistence households.
MH provides a sustainable income for the nation’s most vulnerable communities while preserving cultural traditions, rehabilitating fragile ecosystems, and sequestering CO2. MH has grown to become Bhutan’s largest private sector employer, with women comprising nearly half of the Company’s workforce.
Daniel and Teresa personally funded the venture for its first five years to de-risk and refine its business model. The Company has since raised four rounds of equity from international investors, including the IFC (World Bank’s private sector arm) and the Asian Development Bank, as well as long-term debt financing from UN-affiliated Land Degradation Neutrality Fund. Other shareholders include impact-oriented investors from the US, Europe and Asia.
Daniel Spitzer, Chairman & Group CEO
Prior to Mountain Hazelnuts, Daniel founded Plantation Timber Products Group (PTP) in 1993, which he built into China’s largest sustainable forestry company. Engaging 700,000 smallholder tree farmers, PTP invested US$200 million in production facilities and 1,000+ retail stores in Asia, and in the process, transformed China’s wood products industry and spearheaded numerous green initiatives. Daniel sold PTP to the International Paper Group in 2004 providing attractive returns for his shareholders.
Earlier in his career, Spitzer was Partner & Managing Director of a private equity investment company, after serving as CEO of the Asian operations of a global merchant bank. He received a BA from University of California, Berkeley and an MA from Stanford University.
Daniel’s background in Asia started at the age of 20 when he moved to Thailand to deepen his meditation practice as a forest monk. He traveled to Darjeeling in 1976, where a serendipitous meeting with an accomplished Tibetan meditator changed the trajectory of his life. Daniel spent the following years in the Himalayas studying and practicing with several accomplished masters. Encouraged by his primary teacher to develop skills for the benefit of others, Daniel began a career focused on social impact. He has spent most of the past 35 years living and working in Asia.
Management through a Vajrayana Lens. Inspired by compassion and luminous awareness, based on a foundation of the Six Paramitas, management is a process of both seeking wisdom and transmitting insight within an organization and amongst it’s stakeholders.
· Mentorship provides a vision.
· Practice builds the skills and stability.
· Experience provides the opportunity for wisdom to arise.
We work to protect and preserve the identity and cultural heritage of the peoples of the Asian continent, with particular attention to Tibet and the Himalayan area. We promote sustainable development through the engagement of local communities with their human, cultural and environmental resources.
ASIA is active in the Tibetan regions of western China, in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Mongolia and in Italy, where we promote intercultural dialogue and active citizenship.