Yang Ming GLORIA’s speech for entrepreneurs: Discovering the mysterious world of the human brain and Zen through brain science

Jen-Chuen Hsieh, a much respected brain scientist from National Yang Ming University, gave a lively, impressive speech on the brain and Zen


A new speech for entrepreneurs under the Biomedical Ark of the Global Research & Industry Alliance (GLORIA), National Yang Ming University was just held on August 13, 2020 at Ying Tsai Memorial Hall. For the second time, professor Jen-Chuen Hsieh of the Institute of Brain Science was invited to share his views on the following subject, “the brain and Zen: looking at Zen through brain science.” Based on scientific analyses, Hsieh discussed the brain’s activities and one’s perceptions in a deep state of Zen. While Zen seems like an undefinable spiritual experience, it is an inner state that can be touched, explored, felt, and practiced. With a sense of humor, Jen-Chuen Hsieh proposed a discourse on Zen and brain science, while showing a few cases and studies. Particularly through the study of genes, human behaviors, the brain, and the mind, the professor pointed out a spiritual path from “the self” to “non-self” based on the “neuroscience of the mind.” The hall was filled with people who came for the professor's impeccable speech.

Professor Gau-Jun Tang, the first superintendent of National Yang Ming University Hospital and professor in the Institute of Hospital and Health Care Administration, NYMU attended the occasion. From the right: Dr. Hung-Yu Lin , GLORIA liaison officer, NYMU; Hsien-Chi Pei, GLORIA CEO, NYMU; Chun-Chung Wu, principal of the School of Biomedicine and Engineering, NYMU; Yu-Te Wu, Director of Research and Development, NYMU; Jen-Chuen Hsieh, professor in the Institute of Brain Science, NYMU; and Chen-Huan Chen,the incumbent superintendent of National Yang Ming University Hospital.


Zen used to be known as religious or ritualistic meditation. While it seemed mysterious at first, through scientific analyses of the brain, Zen has gradually become non-religious, non-mysterious, and non-ritualistic today. In fact, learning about this seemingly esoteric activity - yet in fact a highly natural and practical method - through brain science and mind science has become a popular subject in the global research community. Hsieh shared that one can define Zen as “neuroscience of the mind.” Taking advantage of modern science, especially MRI, researchers can already observe the workings of the mind alongside a functioning brain. Upon analyzing the state of Zen, researchers have actually proven that Zen is a scientific method for a person to move from “the self” to “non-self.”


Yu-Te Wu, Director of Research and Development, NYMU (right) presented a certificate of gratitude to professor Jen-Chuen Hsieh (left). Wu noted that Hsieh has devoted himself to brain science for many years and thus an iconic figure in the global community. Wu thanked Hsieh for establishing a solid academic ground of brain science for the university and leading fellow teachers and students to the world of brain science. By visualizing the workings of the mind, it becomes possible for people to learn about the secrets of the human brain.


Hsieh pointed out that most western philosophers focus on the perceptions and values of “the self.” Buddhists however emphasize the fulfillment of “no-self.” A healthy “self” can create memory. It perceives this world through the past and the present, and it is capable of sympathizing with others. Based on general knowledge, it can even assume a future through logical reasoning. It can thus be inferred that the human brain is “installed with a default web” by birth. That is, consciousness and the mind exist along with the brain.


The hall was packed with people. Everyone listened carefully.


According to Vimalakirti Sutra, Zen is not about sitting there for nothing, but rather about keeping one’s thoughts in order. True Zen means to be separate from the outside world, while feeling undisturbed at heart. Meditation is not a prerequisite of Zen, however. If one’s mind is clear and it goes with nature, the person can acquire Zen. Professor Hsieh noted that Zen helps to develop a peaceful mind. Even in the face of injustice, a positive attitude can still be achieved.

The attendants enjoyed discussions with the professor so much that they felt it was a pity to leave


Near the end of the speech, Jen-Chuen Hsieh shared with the audience a famous quote of Sixth Patriarch Huineng, “being separate from all external marks is Zen and being internally unconfused is concentration,” as well as “I shut my eyes in order to see” by Paul Gauguin. Hsieh encouraged people to keep their true minds and learn to feel at ease in solitude. The attendants praised Hsieh for his insights on Buddhism and brain science. Through this speech, they all felt inspired by the scientific research results on the brain and Zen.