Gallileo, Copernicus, Newton, Niels Bohr, Einstein. Their insights shook our perception of who we are and where we stand in the world and in their wake have left an uneasy co-existence: science vs. religion, faith vs. empirical enquiry. Which is the keeper of truth? Which is the true path to understanding reality?
After forty years of study with some of the greatest scientific minds as well as a lifetime of meditative, spiritual and philosophical study, the Dalai Lama presents a brilliant analysis of why both disciplines must be pursued in order to arrive at a complete picture of the truth. Science shows us ways of interpreting the physical world, while spirituality helps us cope with reality. But the extreme of either is impoverishing. The belief that all is reducible to matter and energy leaves out a huge range of human experience: emotions, yearnings, compassion, culture. At the same time, holding unexamined spiritual beliefs–beliefs that are contradicted by evidence, logic, and experience–can lock us into fundamentalist cages.
Through an examination of Darwinism and karma, quantum mechanics and philosophical insight into the nature of reality, neurobiology and the study of consciousness, the Dalai Lama draws significant parallels between contemplative and scientific examination of reality. “I believe that spirituality and science are complementary but different investigative approaches with the same goal of seeking the truth,” His Holiness writes. “In this, there is much each may learn from the other, and together they may contribute to expanding the horizon of human knowledge and wisdom.”
This breathtakingly personal examination is a tribute to the Dalai Lama’s teachers–both of science and spirituality. The legacy of this book is a vision of the world in which our different approaches to understanding ourselves, our universe and one another can be brought together in the service of humanity.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: The Universe in a Single Atom|
|Release Date: 09-13-2005|
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|Publisher: Crown Publishing Group||Store Sales Rank: 11085|
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The Universe in a Single Atom
I have spent many years reflecting on the remarkable advances of science. Within the short space of my own lifetime, the impact of science and technology on humanity has been tremendous. Although my own interest in science began with curiosity about a world, foreign to me at that time, governed by technology, it was not very long before the colossal significance of science for humanity as a whole dawned on me-especially after I came into exile in 1959. There is almost no area of human life today that is not touched by the effects of science and technology. Yet are we clear about the place of science in the totality of human life-what exactly it should do and by what it should be governed? This last point is critical because unless the direction of science is guided by a consciously ethical motivation, especially compassion, its effects may fail to bring benefit. They may indeed cause great harm.
Seeing the tremendous importance of science and recognizing its inevitable dominance in the modern world fundamentally changed my attitude to it from curiosity to a kind of urgent engagement. In Buddhism the highest spiritual ideal is to cultivate compassion for all sentient beings and to work for their welfare to the greatest possible extent. From my earliest childhood I have been conditioned to cherish this ideal and attempt to fulfill it in my every action. So I wanted to understand science because it gave me a new area to explore in my personal quest to understand the nature of reality. I also wanted to learn about it because I recognized in it a compelling way to communicate insights gleaned from my own spiritual tradition. So, for me, the need to engage