Research on Monastic Debate at Sera Jey and Sera Mey – Visit #7

(August 7 to 21, 2019)

During this research visit, the team of monastic investigators expanded to include monks from Sera Mey Monastery. The team collected EEG data for approximately 70 new debates. Half of these debates were on a topic considered easy, and the other half was on a difficult topic. To help address the question of how debate is different from meditation, we asked the monks to perform a single-pointed meditation (focused attention meditation) on the statue of Buddha for 5 minutes before the debate, and an analytical meditation reflecting on the debate at the end. A new rating system for the EEG study was also field-tested. For example, the new rating system includes prompts for the standard debate answers such as “yes”, “why”, and “no pervasion,” and includes ratings for emotions such as aggression and laughter. We also began to look at the effects of debate on youth and tested 6 pairs of teenage monks from the Sera Jey secondary school, who follow a modern education but also learn to debate (4 times a week, for 1 hour).