Tag Archives: Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama wins Templeton Prize for work on science, religion

Chris Herlinger

Photo of the Dalai Lama by Tracy Simmons

The Dalai Lama is best known for his commitment to Tibetan autonomy from China and his message of spirituality, nonviolence and peace that has made him a best-selling author and a speaker who can pack entire arenas.

But somewhat under the radar screen, the Tibetan Buddhist leader and Nobel Prize laureate has also had an abiding interest in the intersection of science and religion.

That interest won Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, the 2012 Templeton Prize on Thursday (March 29), a $1.7 million award that is often described as the most prestigious award in religion.

The Dalai Lama is the highest-profile winner of an award that in recent years had been given to physicists and theologians not well known to the general public, but earlier had been given to the likes of evangelist Billy Graham and the late Mother Teresa.

“With an increasing reliance on technological advances to solve the world’s problems, humanity also seeks the reassurance that only a spiritual quest can answer,” said John M. Templeton, Jr., the president and chairman of the Pennsylvania-based John Templeton Foundation and the son of Sir John Templeton, who founded the prize in 1972.

“The Dalai Lama offers a universal voice of compassion underpinned by a love and respect for spiritually relevant scientific research that centers on every single human being.”

For his part, the Dalai Lama, in a video statement released during a live webcast announcing the prize, struck a modest note. He said he was nothing more than “a simple Buddhist monk,” despite the 2012 Templeton or his 1989 Nobel Peace Prize.

The Templeton honor, he said, was “another sign of recognition about my little service to humanity, mainly, nonviolence and unity around different religious traditions.”

The Templeton Foundation noted that the Dalai Lama has long had an interest in a variety of scientific subjects, including astrophysics, behavioral science, neurobiology and quantum mechanics.

As one example, the Dalai Lama helped initiate a “Science for Monks” program, based at Buddhist monasteries in India. The program hosts Indian and Western scientists who wish to explore possible connections and overlaps between science and Tibetan Buddhist traditions.

In turn, the program also provides education in scientific inquiry to monks interested in biology, chemistry, cosmology, mathematics, physics and quantum mechanics.

In its announcement, the foundation noted “the rigorous commitment of Buddhists to meditative investment and reflection similarly follows the strict rules of investigation, proof and evidence required of science.”

But the Dalai Lama also has been involved in many academic conferences on science and religion. Some of these have resulted in best-selling books like “The Art of Happiness,” “The Universe in a Single Atom,” and “The Dalai Lama at MIT.”

Aside from the “Science for Monks” program, the foundation noted that the Dalai Lama co-founded the Colorado-based Mind & Life Institute in 1987, dedicated to “collaborative research” between science and Buddhism.

Among other things, the institute hosts conferences focusing on contemplative science, consciousness and death, and destructive and healing emotions.

Another institution formed with the Dalai Lama’s collaboration is Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.

In his recommendation to the awards committee, Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, wrote: “More than any other living human being, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has served humanity to catalyze the advancement of ‘spiritual progress’ and to help us all to cultivate a better understanding of the spiritual dimensions of human experience.”

The Templeton Prize — the world’s largest annual monetary award given to a single individual — will be presented to the Dalai Lama at a May 14 ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

The Dalai Lama becomes the second Templeton Prize laureate who has also won the Nobel Peace Prize. Mother Teresa won the first Templeton, in 1973. Six years later, she received the Nobel Peace Prize.

How do we stop a drop of water from evaporating?

Editor’s Note: This guest column was written by a SpokaneFAVS reader who currently resides in London.

Guest column by Lisa Tully

Flickr photo by tinney

Many of us are working super hard on a daily basis with one common dream that just about gets us up in the morning — that holiday coming up in the way too distant future!  As we grind away time flies by so quickly that before we know it we are packing our bags and joyfully putting the out of office responder on the emails.  In those days running up to the ‘getting away from it all’ life seems like a bit of a Disneyland.  Nothing can get to us because we are blissfully getting out of dodge.  Sound familiar?

Fast forward to the holiday itself and there we are having the time of our life, meeting all sorts of magical people and breaking all our diet rules.  Yet unfortunately that wonderful speed of time that brought our holiday around so quickly doesn’t slow down when we get there.  Before we know it we are back staring at our computer screen with 500 emails to answer and an auto responder to cancel that we can’t remember how we activated in the first place! All we can see ahead of us is another year that seems to be getting in the way of us feeling happy.

Now if we have been on the type of trip that enabled us to do a bit of self-development work then the chances are we are feeling even more isolated and alone than ever before on top of everything else.  Our problems have all potentially bubbled to the surface after our ‘soul diving’ and are making a mess all over the place.  Taking time out is so needed but I would like to suggest that taking care of wellbeing afterwards so we can maintain our happiness momentum is just as important.

I experienced a big bout of the post holiday blues after a wonderful time in India.  Feeling at my wit’s end I ended up having a reading with a lady called Carmel Robb who is based in my homeland Ireland.  She is a channel and gives guidance on any area of your life you request.  Upon seeing my current state at the time she gave me a warning that at the time I understood, but still struggled to implement.  She said, “Lisa your heart is in India and you are in London, and that leaves you very vulnerable.  To make the right choices you need your heart here to guide you.”

So I went around for the next few weeks trying to see through the eyes of my heart, trying to feel once again from the inside out.  Then along came another great opportunity.  A Tibetan master was in town down at my local Buddhist centre, Dr. Akong Tulku Rinpoche, and I booked a private audience with him.  The title ‘tulku’ is given to a reincarnated master and I wanted to see what guidance he could add to the whole situation.

Now if you have ever had an audience with a high level Buddhist practitioner you will understand it when I say that sometimes you can feel like you are wasting their valuable time.  We go in with our heads filled full of stories and dramas, which they seem to slice through straight away with their liberating words of wisdom.  Then you still have three-quarters of the time left! What to do?  Sure enough this happened to me but it was so worth it plus I had brought along a statue for blessing to fill in the inevitable gaps!

Upon sharing my plight of leaving my heart behind in India and not really wanting to be in the here and now of day-to-day reality he replied with, “You need to have your mind in India, and your heart here in London.”  So simple right? Easy to do? Well I hold it close every time I find myself wanting to be back where it was better, so I can fully apply the wisdom of my own heart to guide myself back there again.  I strive to keep a calm mind and an open heart to the opportunities  all around us to bring about lasting happiness.  And I make sure I surround myself as much as possible with like-minded people who are also on a path of growth. The trick to stopping a drop of water evaporating is to place it in the ocean. So simple right?

Lisa Tully runs spiritual group tours to India which her two Tibetan friends Lama Buga and Lama Kalden.  She takes people to attend teachings by the Dalai Lama and learn meditation, she does this work to open hearts and expand minds way beyond norm.  And who better to help do that than the Dalai Lama himself? Read her blog at: www.spiritualbackpackersindia.com