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The Shangri-La Meeting and Eating Report; Angkor Wat

Meeting and Eating in Shangri-La; Angkor Wat

Dr. Jon Cowan - Thursday, July 05, 2018

Buddha Tech 2018

I had a fascinating time in the lap of luxury at the Buddha Tech Conference in Shezhen, China.  The Conference completely sold out one of the largest hotel ballrooms, and there were over half a million listeners on a Chinese platform called We Chat.  The video screen was absolutely huge, about 100 feet wide by  40 feet high, and there was simultaneous translation between Chinese and English.  

Some of the speakers were remarkably good, including three from the Stanford Medical School Department of WellnessEd and Human Flourishing, who showed a lot of interest in the Peak BrainHappiness Trainer after they heard my talk.  They asked to collaborate.  Our group included Dr. Ken Blum, discoverer of the role of dopamine deficiency in addiction, who explained the biological basis of happiness in the dopamine system.  Dr. Jeff Rossman, the Director of Life Management at Canyon Ranch in Massachusetts, helped me demonstrate the Trainer on that huge screen and then did another demo the next day.  He is continuing to explore the usefulness of Neureka! for teaching meditation and positive mental states.  The point of the meeting, as I understood it, was to explore the various ways in which new technology could help Buddhists practice better.  I think our symposium on "NeuroTraining for Happy Mindfulness" contributed by suggesting some new approaches.

Visiting and Eating in Shenzhen

Shenzhen is an extremely modern city just across the border from Hong Kong.   It has grown tremendously in the last 20 years, due to its high tech manufacturing.  It shows evidence of the best of Chinese urban planning, and little touches like lighting designs covering large overpasses are quite delightful.  The Futian Shangri-La Hotel was quite clearly the most upscale hotel I have ever visited.  I could roll over in bed, press a button, open the drapes, and be greeted by a 180 degree view of downtown Shenzhen.  The bathtub had a TV built into the wall, and there was a separate shower.  That's only the beginning...

However, the really outstanding part of the experience was the food, from the hotel's Cafe Zen, which had so many delicious options for breakfast drawn from cuisines around the world that you thought you were eating a gourmet dinner, to the 7 exquisite banquets for the speakers for lunch and dinner, most hosted on the spot by donors at local restaurants.  I have never tried so many different foods in my life...I wish I knew what half of them were... To my surprise, I only gained four pounds, and its all gone now.  

Behind the scenes, however, the Conference was very disorganized, put together at the very last minute, and presented quite a few challenges.   For example, no one was trying to keep the speakers to their time slots throughout the day, creating a major problem for those like us who were last on the day's schedule.  

Angkor Wat, the Largest Temple in the World

Travelling through Hong Kong, which boasts the largest number of skyscrapers (303) of any city in the world, not counting the many more in neighboring Shenzhen, was a stark contrast to my next stop, Siem Riep, Cambodia, where we had to walk about four blocks outside on the hot, humid tarmac to get to the gate.  Cambodia is a bustling third world country, with no skyscrapers at all in Siem Riep.  Streets are crowded with tik-tiks trailing motorbikes, a unique style of driving and passing, and very colorful signage.  However, what it loses in height, it makes up in sheer size.  

Angkor Wat is the largest temple in the world, built by the Hindus in the 12th century, and then retrofitted by the Buddhists years later, when the state religion changed.  An amazing edifice, it has an outer wall of about 10 x 8 football fields, surrounded by a huge moat.  The spectacular central structure has an rectangular outer gallery with walls the length of about 2 x 2 football fields.  There are two further stories with steep steps inside.  What is truly amazing is that all of the stone walls and the five towers are completely covered with carvings and statutes, about 10 feet high.  From a distance, the towers look uneven, but from closer up, you can see how beautiful it is!  The strange thing is that there are no large public gathering places for worship, because it was originally intended for just the King (who proclaimed himself a god) and his close associates to honor the Hindu god Vishnu.  It took about 375,000 people to build it, and 4,400 sculptors.  That's many times the number it took to build the Pyramids!  It's remarkably well preserved.  

Even more captivating was a dinner show, Smile of Angkor, with themes drawn from the history of Angkor Wat, which was actually better than any Cirque de Soleil show I've ever seen, and also had a really huge video screen (bigger than the Shangri-La) behind the stage, with fantastic, well produced images.  There were also two museums, one rather traditional and one displaying a huge panorama painted with a 3D perspective.  I also visited several other temples, one of which was filmed in "Tomb Raider", with a huge tree growing through it.  

The contrast between the ancient and ultramodern approaches to Buddhism left my mind reeling.  Although there was a lot of beauty and taste in both places, I did not have a spiritual experience in either one.  There certainly wasn't much quiet time for meditation in either venue. I don't think that's really what the organizers tried to create.  Perhaps I was foolish to hold that expectation in the back of my mind.  

NeuroMeditation and Mindful Happiness

However, I really did enjoy meeting a wide variety of new people and renewing friendships, creating new possibilities for future experiences, based on a melding of meditation and neurofeedback--NeuroMeditation.  Together, we are making rapid progress toward developing a new technology.  I have recently added a new beta version of our MeditAider to our system.  If you own a Peak BrainHappiness Trainer and are interested in providing comments on this new improved offering, write me ( for a sample copy. 

An Upcoming Presentation

With the help of my research collaborator, Tato Sokhadze, I will be giving an hour-long presentation to the conference of the International Society on Neurofeedback and Research on "Understanding the Mysterious 40 Hz. Brain System for Attention, Learning, and Feeling Good" followed by a hour's discussion group on the topic.  I am looking forward to seeing many of you at the meeting in Glendale, Arizona, from October 18-21.  We will also be exhibiting at the United States Psychotronics Association conference in Deerfield, Il, from July 20-22.  

Excited Happiness on the Fourth of July

I have previously described Excited Happiness, which is a combination of enhanced Neureka! and Alertness.  I've discussed "Thunder Over Louisville", and "Abbey Road on the River", two huge local events which created these feelings very well.  Last night, I watched Macy's Celebration of the Fourth of July from my cool living room (rather than brave the hottest day in 6 years to catch those in Louisville).  I was definitely feeling Excited Happiness as I heard the fireworks from the front speakers and the music from the rear of my 7:1 system!  I find it strange that we don't say or write much that explicitly recognizes the importance of Excited Happiness in our emotional lives.  

Both excited and calm happiness and the many gradations in between are very important parts of our lives.  Now the Peak BrainHappiness Trainer allows you to control them better than you have before, and to add them to your meditation practice. 


Jon Cowan

Roland Czajka commented on 05-Aug-2018 04:44 PM
Rapid music direct down load link wander through guide video clip: to very clear everyone's confusion.. With any luck , it will help. Depart a comment if you nonetheless will not realize or require a lot more support!
Omer commented on 17-Oct-2018 12:51 AM
There is definately a lot to learn about this subject.
I like all the points you made.

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