For Life’s Big Questions, Tibetan Buddhist Monks and Nuns Try a Scientific Approach

For monks and nuns, the program — organized and operated by Emory University — is the most far-reaching update to their curriculum in 600 years. And for scientists who usually reduce complex systems — like the human body — into smaller parts, the program is a window into a way of thinking that emphasizes the interconnectedness and cyclical aspects of nature. “Looking at Western problems from a Tibetan Buddhist viewpoint helps us to think about complex interactions between different organisms and cell types,” said Tom Wilkie, associate professor at the University of Texas Southwestern and a biology instructor in the program. The classes are part of the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative (ETSI), a program inspired by a personal relationship between the Dalai Lama and Robert A. Paul, a psychological anthropologist and former dean of Emory University.


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