Asia Consciousness Festival probes into mind and body

The first ever Asia Consciousness Festival was opened today (5 June) by Mr James Tien, Chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB); and Ms Florence Hui, Undersecretary for Home Affairs at a ceremony held on the campus of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU).

Hosted by PolyU School of Design, the Festival includes a wide array of over 30 events, bringing together leading international scientists, philosophers, spiritual teachers, artists, and performers to shed some light on this most illuminating topic of consciousness and its relevance to our society and daily life. The Festival will last until 21 June 2009.

According to the Festival Chairman Dr Gino Yu, who is also an Associate Professor of the School of Design, the whole event started with a number of intriguing questions: Who are you? What is real? How does the body create the mind? Or is it the other way around?

“Over the past 2,500 years, western science has developed explanations for nearly every aspect of life; how our bodies function, our cells, and down to our DNA. Despite our advances, we still have very little insight into the relationship between our mind and body. Nearly all top scientists consider the problem of developing an understanding of how the mind emerges from the body to be greatest challenge facing science today,” he said.

Chairman of the HKTB Mr James Tien said, “Hong Kong is at the forefront of innovation and research in many areas, and has top-notch venues, facilities and professional services to offer. All these contribute to the city’s success as an ideal location for hosting any kind of conference, including a prestigious event like the Asia Consciousness Festival. We are very pleased that the Festival, which is the first of its kind in Asia, is taking place in Hong Kong. HKTB will work closely with PolyU and endeavour to deliver a remarkable experience for delegates during their stay in Hong Kong.”

Among the highlights include the Toward a Science of Consciousness Conference, now in its 15th edition and Hong Kong debut; the inaugural About Consciousness Conference; the IEEE Conference on Cognitive Informatics; several one-day conferences on Social Approaches to Consciousness, Meaningful Media, and Machine Consciousness.

The Festival is by no means restricted to academic discussion. It will see the Asian premiere of several consciousness-related films including The Living Matrix, What About Me, BlindSight, Consciousness and Beyond, Flicker, Leap, and Ambition to Meaning; Art exhibitions throughout Hong Kong; musical and theatrical performances, including an inspiring performance by internationally renowned violinist Martha Curtis, who will also talk about her experiences with epilepsy; many hands-on workshops by renowned teachers; social activities that highlight Hong Kong; and trips to spiritual sites in Chinese mainland.

Among the international attendees include the followings:

Mr Stuart Hameroff, an early developer of quantum consciousness with Sir Roger Penrose
Mr David Chalmers, a philosopher who formulated the notion of a “hard problem of consciousness”
Baroness Susan Greenfield: She has written numerous books and produced the BBC Series “Brain Story”
Mr Eric Pearl, a hands-on healer
Dr Marilyn Schlitz, Director of Research, Institute of Noetic Sciences
Mr Ken Mogi, a brain scientist and senior researcher at Sony Japan
Professor Ovid Tzang, Chancellor of the University Systems of Taiwan and neuroscientist
Mr Jeff Warren, a Canadian author, performer, and consciousness explorer
Dr Ben Goertzel, an Artificial Intelligence and Singularity expert
Ms Carmela Anand Byrnie, an award-winning singer
Mr Masaru Emoto, a leading figure exploring the relationship between water and the mind
Mr Ronald Laura, a leading author and health expert
Professor Alan Combs, an author and leading transformative studies professor
Mr Stanley Block, a developer of the Mind-Body bridging method
Ms Shubhraji, a Vedanta teacher
Mr Wang Yingxu, a cognitive informatics pioneer
The Festival is organized with the support of other local universities and professional organizations. These include the Centre on Behavioural Health of the University of Hong Kong (HKU); the Centre of Buddhist Studies of HKU; PolyU Department of Computing; the Centre for Religious and Spiritual Education of the Hong Kong Institute of Education; the Internet Professional Association and the Hong Kong Computer Society.

The Festival events will take place at the PolyU campus in Hung Hom, the Langham Place Hotel, local art galleries including the Sundaram Tagore Gallery and Sin Sin Fine Arts, and other venues around Hong Kong.

For further details, please visit the Festival’s official website at


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