Klaus Hebben, empresário alemão e praticante budista, vai construir um enorme centro de educação e esportes na ilha de Phuket (Tailândia) – Phuket International Academy – e vai ceder um espaço para um centro de retiros que será dirigido por Alan Wallace – Phuket Mind Training Academy. O centro abrirá em 2010, possuirá quartos e banheiros individuais para 40 pessoas, e será usado para retiros de 80 dias, acompanhados por cientistas que conduzirão exames neurológicos e psicológicos conduzidos em um laboratório local.
Alan Wallace está chamando o projeto de “observatório da mente“. Segundo ele, a ciência desenvolveu ótimos métodos para investigar fenômenos cerebrais e comportamentais, mas ainda não há nenhuma aplicação do método científico aos processos mentais e emocionais. Wallace afirma que o instrumento para isso é a própria mente e que ela deve ser refinada e ajustada, assim como um microscópio para analisar células ou um telescópio para descobrir estrelas. Surgiriam, portanto, cientistas contemplativos, uma união do método científico e dos ensinamentos budistas sobre a mente:
“To help train such contemplative scientists who are expert in Buddhist theory and practice and are willing and able to collaborate with modern scientists, it is important to establish contemplative research centers, where intensive training is offered that integrates Buddhist theory and meditative practice. In the spring of 2010, such a center, called the Phuket Mind Training Academy (one of three facilities in the Phuket International Academy), will begin operating on the island of Phuket, off the west coast of Thailand. This will be a forty-room retreat center where a series of eighty-day intensive retreats will be offered each year. These will cover basic training in three phases: (1) the cultivation of renunciation, the four immeasurables, and śamatha, (2) the cultivation of the bodhicitta, namely, the altruistic motivation to achieve perfect enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings, and mind training (blo-sbyong) (3) practices of vipaśyanā, specifically the four applications of mindfulness (dran pa nyer gzhag bzhi) according to both the Śrāvakayāna and Mahāyāna traditions of Buddhism. The central aim of this series of trainings is for students to achieve the Mahāyāna Path of Accumulation (tshogs lam), thereby setting out on the Bodhisattva path to enlightenment. On that basis, more advanced training will be offered in Vajrayāna theory and practice, including Mahāmudrā and Dzogchen.
Obviously, eighty days is generally too short a period to master any of the above practices, we who are developing this retreat center are in correspondence with individuals and groups around the world who are establishing long-term retreat centers where people who already know how to meditate can continue in full-time, singlepointed practice for months or years on end for only the cost of their food and utilities. So people may come to the retreat center in Phuket for intensive, eighty-day trainings, then move to one of these “satellite centers” for as long as necessary to master the practices they are following. Eventually, we hope that the Phuket International Academy will also be able to provide accommodation and guidance for contemplatives to continue their training for months and years on end.
This center will also have a scientific laboratory where scientists will conduct research on the psychological and physiological changes that take place as a result of such intensive, sustained, meditative practice. Scientists will also be welcome to participate in the meditation courses, just as Buddhists will be encouraged to learn as much as they wish about scientific theories and practices. In this way we hope to train a new generation of “contemplative scientists” who are well versed in both science and Buddhism. Such individuals may take a seminal role in bringing about a renaissance in Buddhism and a revolution in the mind sciences.”
Alan Wallace vem ao Brasil em 2009. Em suas palestras, saberemos mais detalhes sobre o projeto.