For life’s big questions, Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns try a scientific approach

A program teaching Buddhist monks about neuroscience and related fields was inspired by a personal relationship between the Dalai Lama and a psychological anthropologist in the U.S.

Where do compassion and empathy come from?

What makes life sentient?

Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns have grappled with these questions for centuries but, for the first time in their history, they are using science to help find the answers.

This summer, as they have the past several years, professors from across the United States and elsewhere are traveling to three major Tibetan monastic universities in Southern India to train monastics in the philosophy of science, physics, biology, and neuroscience.

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

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