[Buddha-l] nytimes article on the Emory U Tibetans and Science project

Joy Vriens joy.vriens at gmail.com
Sat Oct 12 00:46:51 MDT 2013

The outcome of this "reconciliation"? Judging by the photo, I expect new 
practises to be created (or rediscovered in the form of termas). A 
vipassana practice based on the arising and disappearing of particles. 
And a sadhana of the Hoggs boson with hymns, offerings, mantra 
recitation and a homa.


Le 12/10/2013 02:38, Dan Lusthaus a écrit :
> From nyt. There's a photo with article online.
> Dan
> http://tinyurl.com/mczwsbt
> October 11, 2013
> A Bridge Between Western Science and Eastern Faith
> ATLANTA - Quantum theory tells us that the world is a product of an 
> infinite number of random events. Buddhism teaches us that nothing 
> happens without a cause, trapping the universe in an unending karmic 
> cycle.
> Reconciling the two might seem as challenging as trying to explain the 
> Higgs boson to a kindergarten class. But if someone has to do it, it 
> might as well be the team of scholars, translators and six Tibetan 
> monks clad in maroon robes who can be spied wandering among the 
> magnolias at Emory University here.
> They were joined this week by the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of 
> the Tibetan people, who decided seven years ago that it was time to 
> merge the hard science of the laboratory with the soft science of the 
> meditative mind.
> The leaders at Emory, who already had created formal relationships 
> with Tibetan students there, agreed, and a unique partnership was formed.
> For the monks, some of the challenges have been mundane, like learning 
> to like pizza and trying to understand Lord Dooley, the university's 
> skeleton mascot.
> For the team of professors involved in the project, the Emory-Tibet 
> Science Initiative, there are the larger issues, like how to develop 
> methods to quantify the power of meditation in a way the scientific 
> world might actually accept.
> But for the Dalai Lama, an energetic 78-year-old who rises at 3:30 
> every morning for four hours of meditation, his pet project is kind of 
> a no-brainer.
> Buddhist teaching offers education about the mind, he said in an 
> interview after lunch Thursday at the home of James W. Wagner, the 
> university president.
> "It is quite rich material about what I call the inner world," he 
> said. "Modern science is very highly developed in matters concerning 
> the material world. These two things separately are not complete. 
> Together, the external and the internal worlds are complete."
> The first batch of six monks, who arrived on campus on 2010, have gone 
> back to India, where much of the Tibetan exile community lives, and 
> started teaching. Dozens of monks and nuns have taken lectures from 
> Emory professors who traveled to Dharamsala, India, to instruct them, 
> and 15 English-Tibetan science textbooks have been developed for 
> monastic students.
> The university pays about $700,000 a year for the program, which 
> includes tuition for the monks, who then go back and teach science in 
> the monasteries.
> It has not been a smooth road. It took until last year for Buddhist 
> leaders to accept science education as a mandatory part of monastic 
> education. It was the first major change in 600 years.
> But as anyone who has tried to carry out an idea from the boss knows, 
> the real work is in the details.
> Many of the toughest battles have come down to seemingly simple but 
> vexing issues of lexicon. How does one create new words for concepts 
> like photosynthesis and clones, which have no equivalent in the 
> Tibetan language or culture? How does one begin to name thousands of 
> molecules and chemical compounds? And what of words like process, 
> which have several levels of meaning for Tibetans?
> So far, 2,500 new scientific terms have been added to the Tibetan 
> language.
> "Much of our work is to make new phrases novel enough so students 
> won't take them with literal meaning," said Tsondue Samphel, who leads 
> the team of translators.
> Still, some concepts are quite easy to translate.
> "We understand impermanence of things as simply existing through our 
> traditions," said Jampa Khechok, 34, one of the new monks on campus. 
> "We are now challenged to understand the nature of impermanence 
> through the study of how fast particles decay."
> Learning has gone both ways. Professors here find themselves 
> contemplating the science of the heart and mind in new ways. A student 
> presenting a report on the cardiovascular system described the 
> physiological reaction his own cardiovascular system might have if he 
> were told the Tibetan people were free.
> Debate is a constant, said Alexander Escobar of Emory, who has gone to 
> India to teach biology. Monks have wanted to know, for example, how he 
> could be so sure that seawater once covered the Himalayas. (The 
> answer? Fossils.)
> Western scholars have had to look at their work with a new lens, too, 
> contemplating matters like the nature and origins of consciousness.
> One result has been the development of something called cognitively 
> based compassion training, a secular mediation program proven to 
> improve empathy.
> The partnership has had other, more practical applications.
> Linda Hutton, a social worker, has a longstanding clinical practice 
> treating sexually abused children and families in Greenville, S.C. She 
> drove to Atlanta this week to attend a private luncheon with the Dalai 
> Lama, who was making his sixth visit to Emory.
> She teaches her young victims and their families to practice 
> mindfulness and how to use meditation and breathing to cope with trauma.
> "I draw from a lot of medical research," she said, "but what I have 
> found here transcends that."
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