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Panel 1: Moral free enterprise: Economic perspectives in business and politics
AEI President Arthur Brooks has long argued that human flourishing requires more than material prosperity. Spiritual development and ethical leadership are indispensable to bring about the full blessings of free enterprise. To take this forward, AEI hosted an important event featuring His Holiness the Dalai Lama and key scholars from the field.

The first panel discussed the idea of moral free enterprise and shared perspectives from business and politics. Glenn Hubbard (Columbia University) opened the conversation by explaining how free enterprise — not government action — has been central in rewarding hard work in different parts of the world. But our goal should move beyond celebrating free enterprise to spreading prosperity.

Reflecting on his experiences from capital markets, Daniel Loeb (Third Point LLC) argued that decision-making skills honed by meditative practice and anchored in ethical intention are vital to making good choices in business. He further called for a greater dispersion of power at the individual level, and argued for the importance of education in ensuring opportunity. Jonathan Haidt (New York University) emphasized that while capitalism is a commendable economic solution, it is still a work in progress until we find a moral narrative that is agreeable to most stakeholders.

His Holiness responded to panelists’ comments by acknowledging that he has greater respect for capitalism than ever before. He suggested that because actions are interrelated, individuals should look at the holistic picture rather than fall back on cant. Arthur Brooks summed up the discussion by noting that a capitalist society works best when free enterprise is predicated on moral living and the practice of compassion.

Panel 2: Unlocking the mind and human happiness
The second panel examined ways to unleash mental and human happiness. Connecting wellbeing with neuroscientific perspectives, Richard Davidson (University of Wisconsin) explained that although a small part of individual wellbeing is dictated by genes, there is room for larger improvement through education since wellbeing is more a skill rather than a characteristic. Diana Chapman Walsh (MIT) focused on teasing out a new kind of leadership that could bridge and balance tensions without collapsing them, open our minds to more syntheses, and strike a balance between power and love. Otto Scharmer (MIT) suggested that the key challenge to leadership is turning our focus from a narrow ecosystem to overall wellbeing of stakeholders.

His Holiness responded to these remarks by suggesting that knowledge is not enough — analysis of the holistic view is the only realistic approach. He stressed that taking action on these views is bound to generate better outcomes in a free market. Moderating the panel, Arthur Zajonc (Mind & Life Institute) closed the discussion by reminding everyone that free enterprise works best when practiced in the spirit of compassion rather than division.
–Hemal Shah

Event Description

Recent years have made clear that the free enterprise system is under immense strain. But the answer is not simply to double down on budgetary arguments, tout low-tax solutions, and explain economic basics. We must stop considering free enterprise purely in terms of economic gain and wealth creation and begin considering it in terms of human fulfillment. In working with his Holiness the Dalai Lama, AEI seeks to create an open forum among scholars, social and political leaders, doctors, and scientists to discuss the ways in which material prosperity, spiritual development, and ethical leadership can maximize human flourishing.

Far from a talk, we look forward to a conversation with His Holiness about how the free enterprise system can offer the best path toward happiness when predicated on ethical leadership, morality, and compassion for others.



This event will be livestreamed only. You can join the conversation in the liveblog below.


Panel I: Moral free enterprise: Economic perspectives in business and politics

9:00 AM
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Arthur C. Brooks, AEI
Jonathan Haidt, New York University
Glenn Hubbard, Columbia University
Daniel S. Loeb, Third Point LLC

Panel II: Unlocking the mind and human happiness
(Cohosted by the Mind & Life Institute)

10:30 AM
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Diana Chapman Walsh, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Richard Davidson, University of Wisconsin
Otto Scharmer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Arthur Zajonc, Mind & Life Institute

12:00 PM
Livestream Ends

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Alex Della Rocchetta at [email protected], 202.862.7152.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual leader of Tibet. At the age of two, he was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso. His Holiness began his monastic education at the age of six. At 23, His Holiness sat for his final examination in Lhasa’s Jokhang Temple during the annual prayer festival in 1959. He passed with honors and was awarded the Geshe Lharampa degree, equivalent to a doctorate of Buddhist philosophy. In 1950, His Holiness was called upon to assume full political power after China’s invasion of Tibet in 1949–50. In 1954, he went to Beijing for peace talks with Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders, including Deng Xiaoping and Zhou Enlai. In 1959, His Holiness escaped into exile. Since then he has been living in Dharamsala, northern India. In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent struggle for the liberation of Tibet. He has consistently advocated policies of nonviolence, even in the face of extreme aggression. He also became the first Nobel laureate to be recognized for his concern for global environmental problems. His Holiness has travelled to more than 67 countries spanning 6 continents. He has received more than 150 awards, honorary doctorates, prizes, and the like in recognition of his message of peace, nonviolence, interreligious understanding, universal responsibility, and compassion.

Arthur C. Brooks is the president of AEI. Until January 1, 2009, he was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Policy at Syracuse University. He is the author of 10 books and many articles on topics ranging from the economics of the arts to applied mathematics. His most recent books include “The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise” (Basic Books, 2012), “The Battle: How the Fight between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America’s Future” (Basic Books, May 2010), “Gross National Happiness” (Basic Books, 2008), “Social Entrepreneurship” (Prentice-Hall, 2008), and “Who Really Cares” (Basic Books, 2006). Before pursuing his work in public policy, Brooks spent 12 years as a professional French hornist with the City Orchestra of Barcelona and other ensembles.

Richard Davidson is the founder and chair of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he is also the director of the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior. He is also currently the William James Professor and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is the coauthor or editor of 13 books, including “The Emotional Life of Your Brain” (Penguin, 2012). He is the recipient of numerous awards for his work, including the Research Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2006, he was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine; that same year, he received the first Mani Bhaumik Award from the University of California–Los Angeles for advances in the understanding of the brain and the conscious mind in healing. In 2011, he received the Paul D. MacLean Award for outstanding neuroscience research in psychosomatic medicine. He serves on the scientific advisory board at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany; as chair of the psychology section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and has served on the board of directors for the Mind & Life Institute since 1992.

Jonathan Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. For 16 years he was a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Virginia. Haidt is the author of more than 90 academic articles and two books: “The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom” (Basic Books, 2006) and “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion” (Pantheon, 2012), which became a New York Times bestseller. His three TED talks have been viewed more than 3 million times. His research focuses on morality — its economic foundations, cultural variations, and developmental course.

Glenn Hubbard, a former chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, is currently the dean of Columbia Business School. He specializes in public and corporate finance and financial markets and institutions. He has written more than 90 articles and books, including two textbooks, on corporate finance, investment decisions, banking, energy economics, and public policy. He has served as a deputy assistant secretary at the US Department of the Treasury and as a consultant to, among others, the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Daniel S. Loeb founded Third Point LLC in 1995, where he leads portfolio management, risk management, and research activities. Before founding Third Point, he was vice president of high-yield bond sales at Citigroup. Previously, Loeb was a senior vice president in the distressed debt department at Jefferies & Co., where he worked as a bankruptcy analyst, bank loan trader, and distressed securities salesman. Before Jefferies, he was a risk arbitrage analyst at Lafer Equity Investors. Loeb began his career as an associate in private equity at Warburg Pincus. He is a trustee of the United States Olympic Committee, Mt. Sinai Hospital, the Manhattan Institute, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and AEI’s National Council. Loeb is a cofounder and board member of Students First New York, the state branch of the national education advocacy organization. He is the chairman of the board of three Success Academy Charter Schools and also serves as the chairman of its governing board. Since 2004, Loeb has been a trustee of Prep for Prep, a NYC nonprofit organization that prepares underprivileged children to attend competitive independent schools.

Otto Scharmer
is a senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and founding chair of the Presencing Institute. He chairs the MIT IDEAS program and cofounded the Global Wellbeing and Gross National Happiness Lab. He is also vice chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Leadership. In his books “Theory U” (Society for Organizational Learning, 2007) and “Presence” (Society for Organizational Learning, 2004, coauthored with Peter Senge, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers) he introduced the concept of “presencing” — learning from the emerging future. His new book “Leading From the Emerging Future: From Ego-system to Eco-system Economies” (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2013) applies mindfulness to the transformation of business, society, and self.

Diana Chapman Walsh, president emerita of Wellesley College, is a member of the Corporation and the executive committee of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and serves on the governing boards of the Mind & Life Institute, Broad Institute, Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. She is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was a director of the State Street Corporation (1999–2007) and a trustee of Amherst College (1998–2010). Before leading Wellesley College (1993–2007), she was professor and chair of health and social behavior at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Arthur Zajonc, president of the Mind & Life Institute, was a professor of physics at Amherst College from 1978–2012. He has been a visiting professor and research scientist at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, and the Universities of Rochester and Hannover. He has been a Fulbright professor at the University of Innsbruck in Austria. His research has included studies in electron-atom physics; party violation in atoms; quantum optics; the experimental foundations of quantum physics; and the relationship between science, the humanities, and the contemplative traditions. While directing the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, he fostered the use of contemplative practices in college and university classrooms. He continues to speak around the world on the importance of contemplative pedagogy.

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