Richard’s Selected Correspondence
On Daniel Goleman
RESPONDENT: And one more thing: the emotional mind sets an idea in stone and
then accepts or rejects the information presented according to its conviction. The conclusion determines the series of information
being accepted. That’s how the cults work, no matter if they are based in Himalayas or on the web.
RICHARD: All the more reason to re-visit your earlier assertion, perchance? Vis.:
[Respondent]: ‘Also I disagree with Richard’s claim that the affective capacity can become extinct (...)
the heart cannot and must not be extinguished’. (‘self vs. Self’; 30 July 2002).
RESPONDENT: The intellectual mind works the other way around: the conclusion
is determined from a series of factors: information, experiments and observable facts. After all, it might just work.
RICHARD: Whereas actualism, being neither affective nor cerebral, actually works.
RESPONDENT: I’ve already guess that as my general state is getting better,
a thing which was not common during my spiritual years despite all my best efforts and intentions. I’m not very clear though
about the affective capacity in humans. I’ve read some books about emotional intelligence and how people centred in this brain
are more considerate and have a better lived life, with much more meaning and all that stuff. It seems that this part is
responsible for our artistic expression and creativity, relating to others, understanding and it’s also genuinely interested in
experiencing an interesting life, not just surviving.
RICHARD: The popular focus on ‘emotional intelligence’ (which is an oxymoron if there ever
was) was initiated by Mr. Daniel Goleman upon publication of his book of the same name in 1995. The term ‘Emotional Intelligence’
was first coined by Mr. John Mayer and Mr. Peter Salovey who published two articles on the topic in 1990 and 1993. Their thesis
was simple: though frequently conceived as opposites, emotion and intellect often work in concert, each enhancing the other. Mr.
Peter Salovey says he and Mr. John Mayer labelled their set of interactions an intelligence ‘to be provocative, to really
challenge this idea that emotions are irrational’. Ms. Annie Paul writes:
• ‘Their articles didn’t attract much notice; even their most impressive effort, a 1990 paper that
reviewed all relevant literature and set out their first definition of emotional intelligence, was rarely cited in the five years
after it appeared. It did, however, come to the attention of Goleman. ‘I read the title and was struck by the phrase, by the
power of bringing together two seemingly unconnected and even antithetical concepts’, Goleman says now. ‘I thought it was an
extraordinarily powerful way of talking about the nature of emotional life’. He had already begun working on a book about
emotions, and he asked Salovey if he could borrow their theoretical model and its name. ‘Fine’, said the psychologist. ‘Just
tell people where you heard it’. That was in 1992. Three years later, ‘Emotional Intelligence’ arrived in stores. (...) The
book went on to be one of Bantam’s biggest bestsellers in recent memory, with more than a million copies in print (and almost 5
million copies worldwide) If its author was surprised by the success of ‘Emotional Intelligence’, the original researchers
were amazed. But their initial thrill at the book’s celebrity soon gave way to dismay. Goleman had distorted their model in
disturbing ways’. (www.salon.com/books/it/1999/06/28/emotional/index1.html).
Mr. Daniel Goleman is a prolific writer and has written many books and articles ... for example:
• ‘Destructive Emotions: How Can We Overcome Them? A Scientific Dialogue With the Dalai Lama’. Bantam
Doubleday Dell. (2003).
• ‘Healing Emotions: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on Mindfulness, Emotions, and Health’. Boston, MA: Shambhala (1997).
• ‘Gifts of the Spirit: Living the Wisdom of the Great Religious Traditions’. San Francisco, CA: Harper (1997).
• ‘The Meditative Mind’. St. Martin’s (1988).
• ‘Consciousness: Brain, States of Awareness, and Mysticism’. San Francisco, CA, Harper and Row, (1979).
• ‘Varieties of the Meditative Experience’. Dutton (1977).
• ‘Buddhist and Western psychology: Some commonalities and differences’. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. 12(1981):
• ‘A taxonomy of meditation-specific altered states’. Journal of Altered States of Consciousness. 4 (1978-1979): 203-213.
• ‘Patterning of cognitive and somatic processes in the self-regulation of anxiety: Effects of meditation versus exercise’.
Psychosomatic Medicine. 40 (1978): 321-328.
• ‘The role of attention in meditation and hypnosis: A psychobiological perspective on transformations of consciousness’.
International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. 25 (1977): 291-308.
• ‘Meditation and consciousness: An Asian approach to mental health’. American Journal of Psychotherapy. 30 (1976): 41-54.
• ‘Attentional and affective concomitants of meditation: A cross-sectional study’. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 85
• ‘Mental health in classical Buddhist psychology’. Journal-of-Transpersonal-Psychology. 7(1975): 176-181.
• ‘The Buddha on meditation and states of consciousness: II. A typology of meditation techniques’.
Journal-of-Transpersonal-Psychology. 4 (1972): 151-210.
• ‘Meditation as meta-therapy: Hypotheses toward a proposed fifth state of consciousness’. Journal of Transpersonal
Psychology. 3 (1971): 1-25.
Mr. Don Salmon, in an article titled ‘Indic Influences on Modern Psychology’, writes:
• ‘Although there had been Indic influences on psychology, psychiatry and psychotherapy since the late
1800s, the late 1960s and early 1970s saw a virtual explosion of interest in meditation and Eastern spirituality in general. This
was true in the popular culture (...) but spread into the sciences as well. Many young people who went to India, Burma, Thailand
and other Asian countries in the 1960s returned in the 1970s to receive first-rate scientific training in psychology. (...) Daniel
Goleman, a psychologist and former chief editor of the periodical ‘Psychology Today’, wrote ‘The Varieties of Meditative
Experience’ in 1977. Goleman is worth dwelling on for a bit. A friend of Richard Alpert, he went to India to study Hindu and
Buddhist meditation. He returned to study psychology at Harvard. He wrote his dissertation studying under Herbert Benson. I’m
not absolutely sure of this, but if my memory is correct, it was Goleman who, in what I think was a spark of inspiration with
decidedly mixed results, suggested that meditation could be presented in a palatable form to modern secularised individuals as a
form of ‘stress management’. He took ideas developed in the 1920s by the physiologist Walter Cannon and later refined by Hans
Selye in the 1950s as the ‘stress cycle’ (dealing with the continual arousal of the autonomic nervous system leading to
nervous exhaustion). He then suggested that the technique of meditation primarily served to deactivate this stress cycle. At the
time, I thought this was a brilliant way of bringing meditation into the mainstream.
Mr. Steve Hein has this to say about Mr. Daniel Goleman’s book ‘The Meditative Mind’:
• ‘The back cover tells us that Goleman ‘spent two years in the Far East with the meditation masters’.
The dedication page says: ‘To Neemkaroli Baba and Sayadaw U Pandita for Tara, Govinddas, and Hanuman’. In the foreword ‘Ram
Dass’ (Richard Alpert) talks about how he met Dan Goleman. (...) Alpert also tells us a little about their experiences in India
with Neemkaroli Baba. Baba is Alpert’s ‘guru’ and ‘Mahariji’. (...) Alpert talks about the monkey god that they all
worshipped: ‘I sat before an eight foot statue of a monkey painted red, and I sang to him and meditated upon him’ (p. xiv) His
‘guru’ convinced him that if he meditated enough he would ‘know God’. He later tells us that he and Goleman had the same
‘guru’ (p. xv). (...) Goleman proceeds to tell us about the many kinds of mediation techniques he learned. In chapters one and
two he tells us about something called the ‘visuddhimagga’. He also tells us a little about sila, samadhi, sati, vipassana,
sanghas, the eight levels of jhana, etc. In chapter three, he tells us, among other things, that the ‘great danger for the
meditator is mistaking what is not the Path for the Path’ (p 27) He also tells us the meditator’s mind has ‘abandoned both
dread and delight’ (p 29) Then he talks about ‘nirvana’ and tells us that it is ‘describable only in terms of what it is
not’, saying it has ‘no experiential characteristics’. He also says that in nirvana ‘all desires originating from
self-interest cease to control’ the meditator’s behaviour. Next he tells us about the ‘stream enterer’ and how he can’t
do anything wrong once he has entered the stream, such as lying stealing or earning his living at the expense of others. The book
continues in this way. Here are just a few more samples: (p. 44-45): ‘The enraptured devotee is on the threshold of samadhi, or
jhana. His ecstasy indicates the access level; he verges on the first jhana. Should he concentrate with enough intensity on his
ishta, he can enter samadhi. Once samadhi is reached, according to Swamin Muktananda (1971), there is no further need for chanting
or japa ...’. (http://eqi.org/gole.htm).
Editorial reviews for Mr. Daniel Goleman’s latest book ‘Destructive Emotions: How Can We Overcome Them? A
Scientific Dialogue With the Dalai Lama’ have the following to say:
• ‘[This book] forcefully puts to rest the misconception that the realms of science and spirituality are
at odds. In this extraordinary book, Daniel Goleman presents dialogues between the Dalai Lama and a small group of eminent
psychologists, neuroscientists, and philosophers that probe the challenging questions: Can the worlds of science and philosophy
work together to recognize destructive emotions such as hatred, craving, and delusion? If so, can they transform those feelings
for the ultimate improvement of humanity? As the Dalai Lama explains, ‘With the ever-growing impact of science on our lives,
religion and spirituality have a greater role to play in reminding us of our humanity’. (Silvana
• ‘This eighth ‘Mind and Life’ meeting is the seventh to be recorded in book form; Goleman’s account is the most
detailed and user-friendly to date. The timely theme of the dialogue was suggested by the Dalai Lama to Goleman, who took on the
role of organizer and brought together some world-class researchers and thinkers, including psychologist Paul Ekman, philosopher
Owen Flanagan, the late Francisco Varela and Buddhist photographer Matthieu Riccard. In a sense, the many extraordinary insights
and findings that arise from the presentations and subsequent discussions are embodied by the Dalai Lama himself as he appears
here. Far from the cuddly teddy bear the popular media sometimes makes him out to be, he emerges as a brilliant and exacting
interrogator, a natural scientist, as well as a leader committed to finding a practical means to help society. Yet he also
personally embodies the possibility of overcoming destructive emotions, of becoming resilient, compassionate and happy no matter
what life brings. Covering the nature of destructive emotions, the neuroscience of emotion, the scientific study of consciousness
and more, this essential volume offers a fascinating account of what can emerge when two profound systems for studying the mind
and emotions, Western science and Buddhism, join forces. Goleman travels beyond the edge of the known, and the report he sends
back is encouraging. (From ‘Publishers Weekly’; ©2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.).
• ‘Instead of just transcribing and editing the March 2000 ‘Mind and Life’ meeting involving the Dalai Lama, other
Buddhist scholars, and experimental psychologists, Goleman, the meeting’s scientific organizer, gives a narrative account of the
five-day event. As a pair of Pulitzer Prize nominations for journalism and a succession of best-sellers beginning with Emotional
Intelligence (1995) confirms, experimental psychologist Goleman is no mean writer, and this book is one of the most absorbing and,
yes, entertaining reports of brainstorming in the public interest since Plato wrote up those symposia of Socrates. The meeting’s
focus was on the emotions and the prospects for enabling people to defuse fear, anger, and other potentially destructive emotions
before they trigger damaging behaviour. The Dalai Lama’s interest in these matters stemmed from the desire to find a secular
means of achieving the compassionate and peaceable conduct of life that individual Tibetan Buddhist meditation practitioners have
realized. (From ‘Booklist’, Ray Olson; © American Library Association).
• ‘Buddhist philosophy tells us that all personal unhappiness and interpersonal conflict lie in the ‘three poisons’:
craving, anger, and delusion. It also provides antidotes of astonishing psychological sophistication – which are now being
confirmed by modern neuroscience. With new high-tech devices, scientists can peer inside the brain centres that calm the inner
storms of rage and fear. They also can demonstrate that awareness-training strategies such as meditation strengthen emotional
stability – and greatly enhance our positive moods. The distinguished panel members report these recent findings and debate an
exhilarating range of other topics: What role do destructive emotions play in human evolution? Are they ‘hardwired’ in our
bodies? Are they universal, or does culture determine how we feel? How can we nurture the compassion that is also our birthright?
We learn how practices that reduce negativity have also been shown to bolster the immune system. Here, too, is an enlightened
proposal for a school-based program of social and emotional learning that can help our children increase self-awareness, manage
their anger, and become more empathetic. Throughout, these provocative ideas are brought to life by the play of personalities, by
the Dalai Lama’s probing questions, and by his surprising sense of humour. Although there are no easy answers, the dialogues,
which are part of a series sponsored by the Mind and Life Institute, chart an ultimately hopeful course. They are sure to spark
discussion among educators, religious and political leaders, parents – and all people who seek peace for themselves and the
world. The ‘Mind and Life’ Institute sponsors cross-cultural dialogues that bring together the Dalai Lama and other Buddhist
scholars with Western scientists and philosophers. ‘Mind and Life’ VIII, on which this book is based, took place in
Dharamsala, India, in March 2000. (Book Description; Amazon.com).
I have provided these detailed quotes because the problem with the peoples who discard the Christian/Judaic
god is they do not realise that by turning to the Eastern spiritual philosophy they have effectively jumped out of the frying pan
into the fire. Eastern spirituality is religion ... merely in a different form to what people in the West have been raised to
believe in. Eastern spirituality sounds so convincing to the Western mind which is desperately looking for answers. The
Christian/Judaic conditioning actually sets up the situation for a thinking person to be susceptible to the esoteric doctrines of
the East. It is sobering to realise that the intelligentsia of the West are eagerly following the East down the slippery slope of
striving to attain to a self-seeking divine immortality ... to the detriment of life on earth. At the end of the line there is
always a god/goddess/truth, of some description, lurking in disguise wreaking its havoc with its ‘ancient wisdom’.
Have you ever been to India to see for yourself the results of what they claim are tens of thousands of years
of devotional spiritual living?
I have, and it was hideous.
RESPONDENT: There are 4 brains in the human body: intellectual, emotional,
motor and instinctive. Why are the all emotional and instinctive brains’ functions considered as ‘unuseful’ and the others
(thinking and moving) as useful? It’s a point I don’t understand.
RICHARD: As all I am pointing the finger at is the instinctual passions and the intuitive ‘presence’
they form themselves into – and not the instincts per se – then in your ‘4 brains’ model it is only the ‘emotional
brain’ which is the spanner in the works. A readily observable instinctive reaction in oneself, that is not necessarily
affective, is the automatic response known as the reflex action (inadvertently touch a hotplate, for instance, and there is an
involuntary jerking away of the affected limb) or the startle response.
A classic example of this occurred whilst strolling along a country lane one fine morning with the sunlight
dancing its magic on the glistening dew-drops suspended from the greenery everywhere; these eyes are delighting in the profusion
of colour and texture and form as the panorama unfolds; these ears are revelling in the cadence of tones as their resonance and
timbre fills the air; these nostrils are rejoicing in the abundance of aromas and scents drifting fragrantly all about; this skin
is savouring the touch, the caress, of the early springtime ambience; this mind, other than the sheer enjoyment and appreciation
of being alive as this flesh and blood body, is ambling along in neutral – there is no thought at all and conscious alertness is
null and void – when all-of-a-sudden the easy gait has ceased happening.
These eyes instantly shift from admiring the dun-coloured cows in a field nearby and are looking downward to
the front and see the green and black snake, coiling up on the road in readiness to act, which had not only occasioned the abrupt
halt but, it is discovered, had initiated a rapid step backwards ... an instinctive response which, had the instinctual passions
that are the identity been in situ, could very well have triggered off freeze-fight-flee chemicals.
There is no perturbation whatsoever (no wide-eyed staring, no increase in heart-beat, no rapid breathing, no
adrenaline-tensed muscle tone, no sweaty palms, no blood draining from the face, no dry mouth, no cortisol-induced heightened
awareness, and so on) as with the complete absence of the rudimentary animal ‘self’ in the primordial brain the limbic system
in general, and the amygdala in particular, have been free to do their job – the oh-so-vital startle response – both
efficaciously and cleanly.
Cattle, for example, are easily ‘spooked’ by a reptile and have been known to stampede in infectious
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