The Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Pisa and the Lama Tsong Khapa Institute was born following the encouragement by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to establish collaborative relationships with academia and ,therefore, with the University of Pisa, expressed during his visit to the Lama Tsong Khapa Institute in July 2014. A few months later the first meeting took place between the then Director Filippo Scianna, the Dean of the monks ,Ven. Massimo Stordi ,and Prof. Bruno Neri, who had already been attending the Institute for several years, to identify a road map that would lead to an agreement between the two institutions. The idea was born to prepare a Framework Agreement that would establish the objectives, terms and methods of collaboration between the Institute and the University as a whole, or with the individual teaching and research structures which, from time to time, could be interested in specific research activities of common interest. A series of meetings began in which, on the one hand teachers and researchers from various disciplines participated, including Prof. Angelo Gemignani and Maurizio Iacono, and on the other the Director, some monks and the resident Geshes: Geshe Jampa Gelek and Geshe Tenzin Tenphel.
The meetings aim to develop a common language while avoiding or reducing the problems deriving from the use of the same terms, sometimes with very different meanings, and from the difficulty of translating them from the original language into other languages. In February 2016 the Memorandum was approved by the Academic Senate of the University and its Board of Directors, and on 15 February 2016 it was signed by the Dean, Prof. Massimo Augello, and the Director of the Lama Tzong Khapa Institute.
The Memorandum concerns the conception, organisation and conduct of activities of common interest in the scientific, cultural, training and publishing fields.
To seal the collaboration and give it concrete fruition, in September 2017 the first edition of The Mindscience of Reality Symposium, organised in collaboration between UniPi and ILTK, took place. The guest of honor was His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who was awarded a Honorary Degree in Clinical and Health Psychology. International experts from various disciplines and contemplative practices participated giving gave the symposium a broad multidisciplinary characteristic, demonstrating how science and contemplation can collaborate and integrate each other in the composition of a complete description of both the physical and internal reality. The symposium website is still active after 6 years and receives thousands of visits every month. A second edition is planned.
The first contact with the Tibetan Monastic University of Sera Jey (Bylakuppe, India – Karnataka) takes place during the Dental Camp, a volunteering imnitiative organised by the University of Palermo aimed at verifying the dental health status of pre-adolescent children and young people and carrying out emergency surgery within the Tibetan settlement of Bylakuppe. The Memorandum was born in 2018 with the primary objective of collaborating on a research project relating to the effects of deep meditative states on brain activities. A feature that makes the project, which is still ongoing, unique is the collaboration, as volunteers, of a large number of expert meditators, some of whom have been in retreat for several years within the Sera Jey Monastery. The research has delivered its first results which are the subject of an initial scientific work being published in an international journal.