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Monday, June 29, 2009

Dalai Lama: No Monk Left Behind on Science

Tibetan monks and nuns may spend 12 hours a day studying Buddhist philosophy and logic, reciting prayers and debating scriptures. But science has been given a special boost by the Dalai Lama, who has long advocated modern education in Tibetan monasteries and schools in exile, alongside Tibet’s traditions. India is home to at least 120,000 Tibetans, the largest population outside Tibet.

Science may seem at odds with Tibetan religious rituals. Reincarnations of high Tibetan monks are identified through dreams and auspicious signs. The Dalai Lama credits the state oracle with helping him decide to flee Tibet in 1959 as Chinese troops advanced on Lhasa.

Yet the Tibetan spiritual leader views science and Buddhism as complementary “investigative approaches with the same greater goal, of seeking the truth,” he wrote in “The Universe in a Single Atom,” his book on “how science and spirituality can serve our world.” He stresses that science is especially important for monastics who study the nature of the mind and the relationship between mind and brain.

Initial resistance from some senior monks and fears of diluting traditional studies in monasteries have gradually eased. Now the Dalai Lama hopes that, with help from Emory and other programs, science will become part of a new curriculum, with science textbooks in Tibetan and specialist translators, leading to a generation of monastic leaders that are scientifically literate.

link: Tibetan Monks and Nuns Turn Their Minds Toward Science -


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