creating science learning communities with tibetan buddhist monastics since 2001

About Science for Monks


To develop the leadership needed to grow and sustain science learning that engages Buddhism with science, and to disseminate the work of the monastics and their unique perspective on science and spirituality.

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

The Science for Monks project is a direct result of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s long-term personal interest in science. In 1999, the Dalai Lama provided a vision and directive for the exiled Tibetan monastic community in India to engage science, and to initiate science trainings that would eventually support new learning at the frontiers of science and Buddhism.

His Holiness

“Since many years I have been interested in modern science, which has made great contributions to the improvement of the quality of life. I have personally been engaged in dialogues with scientist for many years and have found it extremely useful and enriching. I also believe that modern science can benefit from Buddhist perspectives. -His Holiness the Dalai Lama, January 5, 2002

“One of the results of these ongoing conversations which began initially out of my own personal interest was that it became increasingly clear that this kind of exposure to the scientific world view would be very important and also beneficial for my Buddhist colleagues and particularly in the academic centers of Buddhist learning. And because of this we began the process of trying to introduce formal scientific studies in the monastic colleges initially targeting selected group of students and it has now been about seven years since that kind of education began. So of course the discussions began about how best to introduce formally within the curriculum of the monastic academic centers where they have study programs, the scientific education.” -His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Mind and Life XIV, April 9, 2007

Read more about the Dalai Lama’s interest in science...

Project Background

The Library of Tibetan Works & Archives (Tibetan Library) monastic science initiative began in 1999 through the instruction of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to former director, Achok Rinpoche. In the presence of the abbots from the major monastic centers of learning and hundreds of key monastic scholars and leaders, His Holiness announced that he would like to introduce science education to the monastic curriculum and his request for the Tibetan Library to shoulder this historic undertaking. Although the Tibetan Library had almost no expertise in science at the time, their capacity as a center of learning serving all the major Tibetan Buddhist traditions was well suited for launching the initiative. In the first year of the project, the Tibetan Library set-up a team of 3 translators to translate various educational scientific writing into Tibetan and at the same time planed a 4-week science course for a select group of scholarly monks. In 2000, a group of 50 monk scholars with a deep understanding of Buddhist philosophy were selected to participate in the first 4-week science workshop.

In 2001, the Sager Family Foundation created a partnership with the Tibetan Library to grow and sustain the Library’s historic undertaking - Science for Monks. Since 2001, Science for Monks has brought Western scientists to India to implement workshops designed to share salient concepts of Western science with Tibetan monastics in exile. Sparked by the interests and directives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the program has sought to introduce science education and dialogue to major Buddhist monastic centers of higher learning within the exiled community. Over the years, 30 Western scientists have taught more than 200 monks and nuns about physics, quantum mechanics, cosmology, biology, neuroscience, and mathematics, all with a strong emphasis on scientific inquiry.

The Science Workshops were an historic pilot program and represent the first formal teachings of science within the history of Tibetan Buddhism. Overcoming a multitude of challenges of finding qualified teachers, translators and the daunting but vital task of coordinating participants from several monasteries and teachers from around the world, nine 4-week intensive science workshops were successfully implemented between 2000 and 2007:

View Science Workshops Page

A major outcome of these workshops was an overwhelming demand for science education within the monastic institutions. In 2008 a group of 30 monks, the first cohort of the Sager Science Leadership Institute, began training to teach science and start implementing science education programs and dialogue within their local monastic institutions.

Western Faculty

Expert science educators and science scholars provide instruction and professional development that engages monastic in science. Western Faculty Page

Project Staff

The director of the Tibetan Library, Geshe Lhakdor, and a team of dedicated staff, lead the implementation of the program and provide written and oral translation. Project Staff Page

Partners and Collaborators

Science for Monks was created through a unique partnership between the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamshala, India and the Sager Family Foundation. In addition many several collaborating institutions and individuals have helped make this work a success. Read More....

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