What Buddhism and Science Can Teach Each Other — and Us — About the Universe

Chris Impey: The program I teach started in response to the Dalai Lama’s desire to inject science into the training of Buddhist monastics. In our spartan classroom — the windows are open to catch a breeze in the monsoon heat and monkeys chatter in the pine trees outside — we talk cosmology. The monks and nuns eagerly absorb the latest research I present — dark energy, the multiverse, the big bang as a quantum event. Their questions are simple but profound. They approach learning with joy and humility. Outside class, I see them applying critical thinking to decisions in their daily lives. Yes, the Buddhist monastic tradition has been rebooted with a dose of 21st-century science. But how has Buddhism influenced science? Scientists are increasingly using Buddhist wisdom for insight into several research topics and to illuminate the human condition.

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