- Science for Monks


creating science learning communities with tibetan buddhist monastics since 2001

His Holiness the Dali Lama visits World of Your
				Senses Exhibit

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Since 2001, the Science for Monks program has melded East and West, introducing Western science to over 200 Tibetan Buddhist monastics. Our mission is to grow and sustain science learning that engages Tibetan Buddhism with science, with an emphasis on cosmology, neuroscience, and scientific inquiry, and to disseminate the monastic's unique perspective on science and spirituality. more...

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Cosmology & Consciousness Conference 2014

The 4th Cosmology and Consciousness Conference

Bylakuppe, October 7 through 9, 2015

The 3-day conference, Cosmology and Consciousness IV, will delve into the theme “Quantum Mechanics and Buddhist Emptiness.” His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, has emphasized his long-term interest in quantum mechanics and his deep belief of a strong connection to Buddhist epistemology.

Cosmology & Consciousness Conference 2014

The 3rd Cosmology and Consciousness Conference

Dehradun, Nov 3-5, 2014

“Cosmology and Consciousness III – Harmony and Happiness” is the third conference in a four part series made possible by the generous funding of the Templeton Foundation. The conference series convenes Buddhist scholars, and western and Indian scientists in a 3-day dialogue to promote the integration of spiritual values and scientific investigations. The first conference, “Cosmology and Consciousness – a Dialogue a Dialogue between Buddhist Scholars and Scientists on Mind and Matter” was held in Dharamsala, in December, 2011, and was inaugurated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and our second conference on “Knowing and Action” was held at the Songtsen Library in Dehradun in 2013.

Humble Before the Void

Humble Before the Void

by Chris Impey

June 2014

“This book will provide readers with a greater awareness of the spirit of curiosity and inquiry that lies at the heart of the Buddhist tradition, as well as the fruitfulness of maintaining active communication between the Buddhist and scientific commu­nities.” —from the Foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

In Humble before the Void, Impey, a noted astronomer, educator, and author gives us a thor­oughly absorbing and engaging account of his journey to Northern India to teach in the first-ever “Science for Monks” leadership program. The pro­gram was initiated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to introduce science into the Tibetan Buddhist monastic tradition.

In a vivid and compelling narrative, Impey intro­duces us to a group of exiled Tibetan monks whose charm, tenacity and unbridled enthusiasm for learning is infectious. Impey marvels not only at their enthusiasm, but at their tireless diligence that allows the monks to painstakingly build intri­cate sand mandalas—that can be swept away in an instant. He observes them as they meticulously count galaxies and notes how their enthusiasm and diligence stands in contrast to many American students who are frequently turned off by sci­ence’s inability to deliver easy, immediate payoffs. Because the Buddhist monks have had a limited science education, Impey must devise creative pedagogy. His new students immediately take to his inspired teaching methods, whether it’s the use of balloons to demonstrate the Hubble expansion or donning an Einstein mask to explain the theory of relativity.

Humble before the Void also recounts Impey’s experiences outside the classroom, from the monks’ eagerness to engage in pick-up basket­ball games and stream episodes of hip American sitcoms to the effects on his relationship with the teenage son who makes the trip with him. Moments of profound serenity and beauty in the Himalayas are contrasted with the sorrow of learning that other monks have set themselves on fire to protest the Chinese oppression in Tibet.

At the end of the three week program, both the monks and Impey have gained a valuable edu­cation. While the monks have a greater under­standing and appreciation of science, Impey has acquired greater self- knowledge and a deeper understanding of the nature of learning and teaching in the East and West. This understand­ing leads to a renewed enthusiasm for making his topic come alive for others.

Print and digital editions available online.

Second Cohort Graduation 2013

Graduation of Second Cohort of Sager Science Leaders!

We are pleased to announce the graduation of our second cohort of Sager Science Leaders! These dedicated monks and nuns representing over a dozen monasteries and nunneries in India and Nepal will help develop and implement science educational programs and dialogue at their respective monastic institutions. The second cohort began training in 2010 and has completed over 500 hours of professional development training distributed over four intensive 3-week workshops. These leaders have spearheaded a variety of activities that drive science education forward – sharing the science they have learned by teaching classes large and small, organizing science exhibitions, publishing articles on science and Buddhism, and most recently launching science centers within the monasteries and nunneries. Congratulations!

Cosmology & Consciousness Conference

3-day public dialogue

Dehradun, Nov 15-17, 2013

The three-day meeting, titled ‘Cosmology and Consciousness II – Knowing and Action’ will be held at the Songtsen Library, Dehradun, from 15 to 17 November, 9am to 5pm. Themes under discussion will be How Do We Know, How Do We Extend Our Knowing, and How Do We Know How to Act? Participants from diverse backgrounds and experiences will discuss how best to advance investigations at the intersection of science and spirituality. The conference is an exploration of how science, technology and wisdom come together to address the challenges of the future.

Announcing: Tibetan Buddhist Leaders Science Network

Announcing: Tibetan Buddhist Leaders Science Network

July 2013

We are pleased to announce “Tibetan Buddhist Leaders Science Network” a 3-year project made possible by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The project will involve 75 monastic graduates - geshes and equivalent degree holders (25 per year). Each year, the program will consist of a 4-week intensive introductory science course and conclude with a 3-day public program that positions the monastic participants into dialogue and critical conversations with Indian and Western scientist. The monastic graduates will also team-up with more junior monastic science leaders that are leading science education initiatives, and help shape the future of science learning at their respective monasteries and nunneries. The first program is scheduled in October, 2013. The program is a continuation of our 1-year pilot project, “Engaging Tibetan Buddhist Leaders in Science,” that took place in 2011. Read more about our pilot year…...

World of Your Senses Exhibition at the Exploratorium

World of Your Senses Exhibition

May 1-10th, 2012

Exploratorium, San Francisco, CA

The monks and nuns will be hosting the exhibit at select times and we encourage visitors to stop by and meet the monastics on the following days :

  • Tuesday, May 1
  • Morning: 10AM to 1PM, Afternoon: 3PM to 5PM
  • Wednesday, May 2
  • Morning: 10AM to 1PM, Afternoon: 3PM to 5PM
  • Thursday, May 3
  • Morning: 10AM to 1PM, Afternoon: 3PM to 5PM
  • Evening (Afterdark!): 6PM to 10PM
  • Friday, May 4
  • Morning: 10AM to 1PM
  • Saturday, May 5
  • Morning: 10AM to 1PM, Afternoon: 3PM to 5PM
  • Sunday, May 6
  • Morning: 10AM to 1PM, Afternoon: 3PM to 5PM
  • Please note the museum will be closed on Monday, May 7th and Tuesday, May 8th
  • Wednesday, May 9
  • Morning: 10AM to 1PM, Afternoon: 3PM to 5PM
  • Thursday, May 10
  • Morning: 10AM to 1PM, Afternoon: 3PM to 5PM
World of Your Senses

The World of Your Senses, an exclusive exhibition featuring Tibetan Buddhist monastics and their scientific illustrations makes its first U.S. premiere at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, from May 1 to 10, 2012. Admission to this exclusive event is included in the ticket price.

The exhibition was created by Tibetan Buddhist monks who studied western science while living in exile in India. It explores sensory perception (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch) from both a Buddhist and western science perspective. Nine monks and nuns, who received teacher training in India from Exploratorium staff, will accompany the exhibition and serve as its interpreters. This delegation is part of a group charged by the Dalai Lama with teaching science to the next generation of monastics and their communities. The nuns are among the first ever to be trained to become science education leaders for their communities.

Daily, from 10 am to 1 pm, (Tuesday May 1, through Sunday, May 6 – and Tuesday, May 8 through Thursday, May 10), museum visitors will be able to interact with and observe the visiting monastics as they discuss their work and create new paintings. Master painter Jampa Choedak will have a work space in the Exploratorium’s Wattis Web Cast Studio, where he’ll be painting a landscape of the San Francisco Bay and its marine life. The completed work will be displayed at the Exploratorium’s new location at Pier 15 in 2013. The exhibition is supported through a collaboration between the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (LTWA), the Exploratorium, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Sager Family Foundation through the Science for Monks Program.

Dalai Lama Templeton Prize

His Holiness the Dalai Lama wins Templeton Prize

New York, March 29, 2012

The Dalai Lama has been awarded the Templeton Prize, a 1.7 million dollar award for his work with science and religion. His Holiness will accept the award on May 14th in London, England.

Cosmology & Consciousness Conference

International Conference on Cosmology & Consciousness

Dharamsala, Dec 16-18, 2011

Leading international scientists join Buddhist philosophers to discuss such intriguing questions as life after death, the possibility of extraterrestrial life, and the nature of consciousness at a conference in Dharamsala.

The three-day meeting, titled ‘Cosmology and Consciousness – a Dialogue between Buddhist Scholars and Scientists on Mind and Matter', promotes the integration of spiritual values and scientific investigations

Engaging Tibetan Leaders in Science

Engaging Tibetan Buddhist Leaders in Science

October 2011

We are delighted to announce the funding of a new grant with the Templeton Foundation. The 1-year pilot project will introduce science to Geshes (and other monastic graduates) who shape religious and higher education, so that the monastic community can itself continue to explore connections between the Tibetan Buddhist traditions and Western science. The project will immerse 25 monastic graduates in 150 hours of science training and discourse. more...

2nd Cohort of Tibetan Monastics Begins

2nd Cohort Begins

May 2011

The Sager Science Leadership Institute began training the second cohort of monastic science leaders. The new group of future leaders will build upon the ongoing efforts of the first cohort. The new cohort includes 34 monks and nuns, and will reach 6 new monastic institutions located in India, and now, also include institutions in Nepal. The new cohort began with a 2-week workshop organized at the Deer Park Institute in Bir, India. The focus of the first workshop of the new cohort was perception. more...

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