Arthur Zajonc

Last updated

Arthur Guy Zajonc ( /ˈz.ənts/ ZAY-ənts; born 11 October 1949, Boston, Massachusetts) is a physicist and the author of several books related to science, mind, and spirit; one of these is based on dialogues about quantum mechanics with the Dalai Lama. Zajonc, professor emeritus at Amherst College as of 2012, [1] has been teaching there since 1978. He has served as the General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America. From January 2012 to June 2015 he was president of the Mind and Life Institute. [2] [3]

Dalai Lama Tibetan Buddhist spiritual teacher

Dalai Lama is a title given by the Tibetan people for the foremost spiritual leader of the Gelug or "Yellow Hat" school of Tibetan Buddhism, the newest of the classical schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The 14th and current Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso, who lives as a refugee in India.

Amherst College liberal arts college in Massachusetts

Amherst College is a private liberal arts college in Amherst, Massachusetts. Founded in 1821 as an attempt to relocate Williams College by its then-president Zephaniah Swift Moore, Amherst is the third oldest institution of higher education in Massachusetts. The institution was named after the town, which in turn had been named after Jeffery, Lord Amherst, Commander-in-Chief of British forces of North America during the French and Indian War. Originally established as a men's college, Amherst became coeducational in 1975.



Zajonc received a B.S. in engineering physics from the University of Michigan in 1971. He received an M.S. (1973) and Ph.D. (1976) in physics at the University of Michigan as well. From 1976-1978 he was a research associate at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics at the University of Colorado and the National Bureau of Standards, Boulder, Colorado.

University of Michigan Public research university in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States

The University of Michigan, often simply referred to as Michigan, is a public research university in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The university is Michigan's oldest; it was founded in 1817 in Detroit, as the Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania, 20 years before the territory became a state. The school was moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 onto 40 acres (16 ha) of what is now known as Central Campus. Since its establishment in Ann Arbor, the flagship university campus has expanded to include more than 584 major buildings with a combined area of more than 34 million gross square feet spread out over a Central Campus and North Campus, two regional campuses in Flint and Dearborn, and a Center in Detroit. The university is a founding member of the Association of American Universities.

Zajonc became an assistant professor of physics at Amherst College in 1978, and was promoted to associate professor in 1984 and full professor in 1991. In 2006 he became an Andrew W. Mellon Professor at Amherst. He retired from this position in 2011, and is now Andrew W. Mellon Professor Emeritus at Amherst College. [4]

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation of New York City in the United States is a private foundation with five core areas of interest, and endowed with wealth accumulated by Andrew W. Mellon of the Mellon family of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is the product of the 1969 merger of the Avalon Foundation and the Old Dominion Foundation. These foundations were set up separately by Paul Mellon and Ailsa Mellon Bruce, the children of Andrew W. Mellon. It is housed in the expanded former offices of the Bollingen Foundation in New York City, another educational philanthropy supported by Paul Mellon. Elizabeth Alexander is the Foundation's president. Her predecessors have included Earl Lewis, Don Randel, William G. Bowen, John Edward Sawyer, and Nathan Pusey. In 2004, the Foundation was awarded the National Medal of Arts.

From 1981-82 he was a Visiting Associate Professor of Physics at the École Normale Supérieure at the Laboratoire de Spectroscopie Hertzienne in Paris. In 1984 was a Visiting Research Physicist at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, Garching (Munich), Germany with H. Walther. In 1986 he was a visiting scientist at the Institute for Quantum Optics at Leibniz University Hannover in Germany. In 1991 he was a visiting scientist at the Department of Physics at the University of Rochester with L. Mandel. In 1993 he was a Fulbright Professor at the University of Innsbruck, Austria teaching and doing research on the experimental foundations of quantum physics.

Munich Capital and most populous city of Bavaria, Germany

Munich is the capital and most populous city of Bavaria, the second most populous German federal state. With a population of around 1.5 million, it is the third-largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg, and thus the largest which does not constitute its own state, as well as the 12th-largest city in the European Union. The city's metropolitan region is home to 6 million people. Straddling the banks of the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps, it is the seat of the Bavarian administrative region of Upper Bavaria, while being the most densely populated municipality in Germany. Munich is the second-largest city in the Bavarian dialect area, after the Austrian capital of Vienna.

Leibniz University Hannover public university located in Hannover, Germany

The Leibniz University Hannover, long form in German Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universität Hannover, is a public university located in Hanover, Germany. Founded on 2 May 1831, it is one of the largest and oldest science and technology universities in Germany. In the 2014/15 school year it enrolled 25,688 students, of which 2,121 were from foreign countries. It has nine faculties which offer 190 full and part degree programs in 38 fields of study. It was named University of Hannover in 1978. In 2006, it was named after Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, the 18th century mathematician and philosopher. In 2018, Leibniz University Hannover was adopted as the official English name.

University of Rochester private, nonsectarian, research university in Rochester, New York, United States

The University of Rochester is a private research university in Rochester, New York. The university grants undergraduate and graduate degrees, including doctoral and professional degrees.

Zajonc was the physics department chairman at Amherst College for three different appointments: 1987-1989, 1998–2000, and 2005–present. Later that same year [ when? ] he was a Scholar-in-Residence at the Fetzer Institute. He was the Senior Program Director of the Fetzer Institute 1995-1997. He was the director for the Academic Program of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society from 2004 to 2009, and served as Executive Director from 2009 to 2012. In this role, he focused the organization's work on the development and application of contemplative practices within higher education.

The Fetzer Institute is a private operating foundation based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, US, founded by broadcaster and former Detroit Tigers baseball team owner John E Fetzer. Since its founding in 1962, the Fetzer Institute has been interested in individual and community health and wholeness, from its early days of mind-body health research to its current mission of fostering awareness of the power of love and forgiveness in the emerging global community. As an endowment, the institute has supported reconciliation projects in Colombia, Rwanda, and South Africa. It has also funded development projects in the US such as Camp Abilities, a New York-based sporting camp for visually impaired children and Baltimore Clayworks, a community arts program for inner city residents.

Love is the core energy that rules everything is the one ingredient that holds us all together.

Zajonc held a number of dialogues with the Dalai Lama in 1997 which were published in 2004 under his scientific coordination and editorship as Dalai Lama: The New Physics and Cosmology. He was moderator for the 2003 dialogue with the Dalai Lama at MIT.

Other accomplishments


See also

Related Research Articles

Francisco Varela Chilean biologist

Francisco Javier Varela García was a Chilean biologist, philosopher, and neuroscientist who, together with his mentor Humberto Maturana, is best known for introducing the concept of autopoiesis to biology, and for co-founding the Mind and Life Institute to promote dialog between science and Buddhism.

Lee Smolin American cosmologist

Lee Smolin is an American theoretical physicist, a faculty member at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, an adjunct professor of physics at the University of Waterloo and a member of the graduate faculty of the philosophy department at the University of Toronto. Smolin's 2006 book The Trouble with Physics criticized string theory as a viable scientific theory. He has made contributions to quantum gravity theory, in particular the approach known as loop quantum gravity. He advocates that the two primary approaches to quantum gravity, loop quantum gravity and string theory, can be reconciled as different aspects of the same underlying theory. His research interests also include cosmology, elementary particle theory, the foundations of quantum mechanics, and theoretical biology.

David Bohm American theoretical physicist

David Joseph Bohm was an American scientist who has been described as one of the most significant theoretical physicists of the 20th century and who contributed unorthodox ideas to quantum theory, neuropsychology and the philosophy of mind.

Buddhism and science Relation between Buddhism and modern scientific methods and modes of thought

Buddhism and science have increasingly been discussed as compatible, and Buddhism has entered into the science and religion dialogue. The case is made that the philosophic and psychological teachings within Buddhism share commonalities with modern scientific and philosophic thought. For example, Buddhism encourages the impartial investigation of Nature — the principal object of study being oneself. Some popular conceptions of Buddhism connect it to discourse regarding evolution, quantum theory, and cosmology, though most scientists see a separation between the religious and metaphysical statements of Buddhism and the methodology of science. In 1993 a model deduced from Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development was published arguing that Buddhism is a fourth mode of thought beyond magic, science and religion.

Fred Alan Wolf American theoretical physicist

Fred Alan Wolf is an American theoretical physicist specializing in quantum physics and the relationship between physics and consciousness. He is a former physics professor at San Diego State University, and has helped to popularize science on the Discovery Channel. He is the author of a number of physics-themed books including Taking the Quantum Leap (1981), The Dreaming Universe (1994), Mind into Matter (2000), and Time Loops and Space Twists (2011).

Eduard Prugovečki was a Canadian physicist and mathematician of Croatian-Romanian descent.

Avshalom Elitzur Israeli academic

Avshalom Cyrus Elitzur is an Israeli physicist and philosopher.

Evan Harris Walker, was an American physicist and parapsychologist.

Arthur Edward Ruark (1899–1979) was an American physicist who actively played a role in the development of quantum mechanics. He wrote the book "Atoms, Molecules, and Quanta" with Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner Harold Clayton Urey in 1930, and is the author of numerous scientific papers on quantum physics.

Quantum mysticism is a set of metaphysical beliefs and associated practices that seek to relate consciousness, intelligence, spirituality, or mystical worldviews to the ideas of quantum mechanics and its interpretations. Quantum mysticism is considered by most scientists and philosophers to be pseudoscience or quackery.

Michał Heller Polish theologian

Michał Kazimierz Heller is a Polish professor of philosophy at the Pontifical University of John Paul II in Kraków, Poland, and an adjunct member of the Vatican Observatory staff. He also serves as a lecturer in the philosophy of science and logic at the Theological Institute in Tarnów. A Roman Catholic priest belonging to the diocese of Tarnów, Heller was ordained in 1959. In 2008 he received the Templeton Prize for his works in the field of philosophy.

Charles W. Misner American physicist

Charles W. Misner is an American physicist and one of the authors of Gravitation. His specialties include general relativity and cosmology. His work has also provided early foundations for studies of quantum gravity and numerical relativity.

B. Alan Wallace American author, translator, teacher, researcher, interpreter, and Buddhist practitioner

Bruce Alan Wallace is an American author and expert on Tibetan Buddhism. His books discuss Eastern and Western scientific, philosophical, and contemplative modes of inquiry, often focusing on the relationships between science and Buddhism. He is founder of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies.

14th Dalai Lama The 14th Dalai Lama

The 14th Dalai Lama is the current Dalai Lama. Dalai Lamas are important monks of the Gelug school, the newest school of Tibetan Buddhism, which was formally headed by the Ganden Tripas. From the time of the 5th Dalai Lama to 1959, the central government of Tibet, the Ganden Phodrang, invested the position of Dalai Lama with temporal duties.

Mind and Life Institute organization

The Mind & Life Institute is a US-registered, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1991 to establish the field of contemplative sciences. Based in Charlottesville, Va., the institute provides a home for scholars and scientists from different disciplines around the world to incorporate contemplative practices into various fields of study. Mind & Life unifies and catalyzes this community by funding research projects and think tanks, and by convening academic conferences and dialogues with the Dalai Lama.

Daniel F. Styer is an American theoretical physicist and distinguished professor of physics at Oberlin College. He is author of several books on theoretical physics.

<i>The Universe in a Single Atom</i> book by Tenzin Gyatso

The Universe in a Single Atom is a book by Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama and published in 2005 by Morgan Road Books. In this book Dalai Lama engages in several scientific areas. He explores the topics of quantum physics, cosmology, consciousness and genetics in relation to Buddhism.

Contemplative neuroscience is the field in which neuroscience tools, like fMRI, are used to study the effects of meditation; B. Alan Wallace is a founder of the field. It often emphasizes Buddhist approaches to contemplation and meditation, and conflates meditation with various contemplative practices.

R. Adam Engle American lawyer

R. Adam Engle is an American social entrepreneur who initiated and developed the Mind and Life Dialogues between the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet and panels of prominent scientists in the 1980s. Over the 22 years of his subsequent tenure as chief executive of the Mind and Life Institute, which he co-founded in 1990, his work contributed significantly to the establishment of contemplative science as a new field of research.


  1. "Arthur Zajonc and Michael McCullough". On Being with Krista Tippett. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
  2. O'Brien, Chris (December 8, 2011). "Arthur Zajonc Appointed as the New President of the Mind & Life Institute". Mind & Life Institute. Archived from the original on January 27, 2012.
  3. Jinpa, Thupten (June 25, 2015). "With our Most Sincere Gratitude to Arthur Zajonc, In His Transition from the Mind & Life Presidency". Mind & Life Institute.
  4. "Curriculum Vitae". Archived from the original on 2007-07-01.Curriculum vitae posted on Zajonc's personal website.