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The Universe in a Single Atom the Universe in a Single Atom the Universe in a Single Atom

4.05  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,016 Ratings  ·  393 Reviews
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, faithvs. 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 scienti
ebook, 256 pages
Published September 13th 2005 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2005)
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Amy Drew
Feb 25, 2008 Amy Drew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
very few people are able to give me hope about mankind and our future as a species. the dalai lama delivers that and so much more in all his books, but this one stands out to me because of my interest in science, and especially my fascination with (if complete misunderstanding of) the universe and quantum physics, etc. this book contains all those big universe questions that are usually way too scary to ask (where did time begin? how big is space? what existed before the big bang?) but presents ...more
Steven Stark
Nov 17, 2008 Steven Stark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a brilliant book. The Dalai Lama's theme is that science's emphasis on non-personal, "third-person" study and religion's emphasis on "first person" experience and awareness could be complementary.

If you have heard the Dalai Lama speak in his non-native tongue (English), he is a fantastic personality and he smiles a lot, but his communication is limited. It is a pleasure to read his ideas written first and then translated into English. This book reveals a mind that sparkles with wit, inte
Christopher Wojcik
Fresh off of reading books by the likes of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, this was an interesting change of scenery.

The Dalai Lama draws comparisons between the disciplines of science and Buddhism. Buddhism, he notes, has many schools of thought and is comfortable with the idea that there can be competing viewpoints and no exclusive claim to the final truth. If one is compelled to engage with spirituality, this seems to be the only sensible mindset.

Less convincingly, he draws parall
Aug 24, 2010 Chelsea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't remember the last book I read that so far exceeded my expectations. As soon as I finished the book I flipped right back to the first page and started all over again. I'm about half-way through the second read now, and I still find myself jotting down notes, re-reading passages, and taking long moments to pause and contemplate the profound ideas put forth in this text. I've never read a book by the Dalai Lama before, and to be honest I wasn't expecting him to be all that skilled of a writ ...more
Dec 03, 2007 Walter rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: scientists and students of religion
This was a pretty nice exploration of the intersection of Science and Buddhist religion. The Dalai Lama came at this material from a very humble standpoint and makes that his religion could be greatly improved by approaching it from the standpoint of science (e.g. he admits that Buddhist cosmology is hopelessly archaic and should be replaced with current models).

Interestingly, he also points to some current research where Buddhist monastic disciplines have made contributions to the science of t
Apr 19, 2008 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
For all my introspection and soul-searching on the subject of how to integrate Western science into my philosophical views of the world, I wish that I had read this book years ago – it would have saved me a lot of hard thinking on my own. Ouch. As it turns out, the Dalai Lama has been on a decades-long campaign to import much of the Western science canon into the training of new Tibetan Buddhist monks. A large part of the book is spent discussing where science fails (reductionism/materialism) an ...more
Jul 07, 2008 Mazola1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

With this book, the Dalai Lama shows that he is at once the most spiritual of persons, and the most practical. In
The Universe In A Single Atom, he shows one possible method for people living in the modern age of nuclear power, quantum physics and genetic engineering to combine the knowlege of science with the wisdom of spirituality. Just as Einstein thought that religion without science is blind and science without religion is lame, the Dalai Lama believes that "spirituality and science are dif
Jun 28, 2008 Mozzarella rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been a Hawking fan for years, but couldn't quite reconcile science with religion till I read this book. This was my introduction to the Dalai Lama, and I felt very comfortable first understanding his background and his curiosity, and, of course, his wisdom, as he explains, explores how empirical science and spirituality can coexist. In fact, one cannot exist without the other. I still have a lot of trouble with the Big Bang Theory, but am able to wrap my head around it a little better when ...more
David Haller
Well, the Buddhism and physics thing has been done to death; frankly, it's a little old-fashioned now. Fortunately, "Universe" doesn't dwell on this entirely, but it's a big theme. When it's there, the Dalai Lama sounds a bit like a smart, scientifically-inclined teenaged boy - I can certainly recognize much of his speculation.

The book is stronger in its exploration of the moral and ethical dimensions of science (predictably, the D.L. is staunchly *not* a scientific materialist), though it tends
Jan 25, 2016 Cashmere rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent! Prior to this, the only books I had read by His Holiness were his two outstanding autobiographies. This was the first of his books I have read that is more philosophical in nature and as usual, His Holiness does not disappoint. Science and religion can be seen as two opposing views, but this book brings the two together as compliments to one another. The Dalai Lama looks at both from the perspective of his own encounters with each, and also within the context of this modern age and th ...more
Ken Rideout
Mar 20, 2015 Ken Rideout rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the intersection of religion and science
Recommended to Ken by: Shan
A great read. The falseness of mental constructs that we create (and seek to get rid of through meditation) juxtaposed with what physics tells us that the basis of "solid" matter: the nothingness of the space between the particles. Fascinating stuff, but a bit weaker when the Dalai Lama turns his attention to consciousness and neuroscience. His contention that the self must be more than the sum of the physical processes in the brain were less convincing to me, but nonetheless what a positive and ...more
Noah Rasheta
Jun 01, 2014 Noah Rasheta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maybe my favorite read so far about how science and faith can work together. The Dalai Lama is rapidly becoming one of my favorite religious figures.
Eduardo Santiago
May 02, 2012 Eduardo Santiago rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Eduardo by: Sarah
This guy really gets it! And: aaaaargh, no he doesn't. And: hmmmm, maybe it's me who doesn't get it. Those were my reactions, often simultaneous, and I'm in awe of the Dalai Lama for his ability to think, reason, and express himself so clearly. Would that any other religious authority (or religious person, for that matter) be willing to put his beliefs under scrutiny. He does, sometimes despite discomfort, and that is what makes a scientist. This is an admirable man.

Unfortunately, there's a litt
Laura K
Dec 07, 2013 Laura K rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author writes with compassion, depth, and frankness. This is not a light and easy read, as the book contains some heavy scientific discussion. His assertion that science and spirituality do not have to be at odds with one another resonates with me. When a religious dogma conflicts with scientific proof, I believe, a religion can prove its strength (and does not show weakness) by acknowledging the expansion of our knowledge base and adjusting accordingly, rather than denying reality or confli ...more
Shira and Ari Evergreen
Sep 24, 2009 Shira and Ari Evergreen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: buddhists, scientists, philosophers
Recommended to Shira and Ari by: isaac
I'm a humanistic skeptic and an anarchist, so I have an uneasy relationship with organized religion. And yet, many people who are dear to me care deeply about and believe in one religion or another, and I really dig certain aspects of many religions. So I try to keep an open mind. A Buddhist friend loaned this book to me and it was just what I needed. It made me love the Dalai Lama. He's a smart guy, a science lover, who's changing the way that Buddhism is taught (he hosts science and spirituali ...more
Jun 30, 2013 Kush rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 05, 2012 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, 2012, physics, spiritual
This is the first book I've read by HHDL. I was most interested in his descriptions, conceptions, and usages of quantum mechanics and metaphysics. HHDL starts off with a strong discussion of the people in his life, many of them being prominent religious and scientific scholars, that introduced him to scientific fields and theories leading to important philosophical paradigm shifts.

His discussion of ramifications of these shifts was the most profound and thought-provoking aspect of the book. HHDL
Adam Floridia
Nov 17, 2008 Adam Floridia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Adam by: Sam Sirois
While he attempts to reconcile science and religion, the Dalai Lama also tries to bridge the gap between personal narrative and scientific analysis. He succeeds in the former but fails in the latter.

After reading this, I came away with a much better understanding of Buddhism and, consequently, a greater respect for it--hell, it definitely kicks Christianity's ass as far as logical religions go! Despite some of the interesting philosophical questions and various schools of thought discussed by t
michael spencer
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 20, 2008 Anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in science and/or spirituality
Shelves: spirituality
I enjoyed the book and probably would have given it a higher rating had I had more of a science background. Despite the fact that the Dalai Lama has had no offical science training, he is quite knowledgeable on the subject. I respect his attempt at tying in the spiritual world with the world of science. He believes it is important to extend science to the understanding of all humanity, whether, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc. etc. The Dalai Lama is clearly highly intelectual... ...more
Jan 01, 2008 Dan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found out about this book from a recommendation from The topic is one I am very interested in. The reviews were mostly very positive. Given the Dalai Lama's reputation, I was very interested to see what he had to say. While I applaud his effort to take on this topic, I was surprised and disappointed to discover several blatant misunderstandings about physics. Although I would not expect someone of his background to necessarily have a thorough grasp of physics, I would expect him to ...more
Apr 23, 2008 Jaime rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone with insomnia
I really wanted to like this book, but I decided to quit about 50 pages in. I skimmed the rest and decided that I had made the right decision. I found that the majority of this book was a bland and unfocused account of the Dalai Lama's friends who happened to be scientists over the years. It reads more like a biography than an intellectual exploration of the compatability (or lack thereof) between science and religion. I was hoping for a Jared Diamond-like narrative of facts and insights, but I ...more
Fantastic reflection on and insight to various popular topics in science such as the Big Bang, genetic modification of crops, and consciousness. Through these examples, he shows how science and Buddhism agree in areas and disagree in others. Throughout, he expresses the joy conversations with scientists have brought him in learning about another perspective and integrating that knowledge with his already extensive understanding of Hindu and Buddhist knowledge.[return][return]It reads much like a ...more
Bryan Wood
May 31, 2012 Bryan Wood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Initially, I thought a "science" book written by the Dalai Lama would be akin to a breakdown of String Theory by Doctor Seuss. But, I was actually quite surprised! The book really isn't based on the Dalai Lama's own scientific theories, but his compilation of what he's learned from others and how he interprets them. Some aspects of the book left me saying "Really?!!?" For the most part though, I thought it was an inetresting take on the blending of physical science and philisophical ideaology. I ...more
I had really, really high hopes for this book, and I feel awful for giving the freaking Dalai Lama a bad book review (of all things), but it was a major disappointment. I couldn’t help but continuously wonder where the narrative was going, the anecdotes and stories weren’t particularly intriguing or compelling, and it was frankly hard to finish. There are other, more interesting books on this and related topics. I hope this assault on the Lama’s writing doesn’t mean that I’m slated to reincarnat ...more
Jul 02, 2008 Randy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Dalai Lama has a first-rate mind, and this book shows that mind at work. He takes scientific phenomena like quantum physics and relativity and links them to Buddhist concepts like emptiness and dependent origination. He is fascinated with science (particularly brain science) and with achieving a synthesis of science and spirituality. The Dalai Lama's worldview is sufficiently flexible and mature that he is able to ditch or reinterpret Buddhist teachings that are disproven by scientific disco ...more
Jan 12, 2016 Aurelien rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
I am not quite sure what the Dalai Lama wanted to achieve here. If I take him to his own words in the introduction:

'(...) spirituality and science are different but complementary investigative approaches with the same greater goal, of seeking the truth. 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. Moreover, through a dialogue between the two disciplines, I hope both science and spirituality may deve
Nan   at
I heard about this book, like the last one, from the article on books that people love to reread. In this book the Dalai Lama explores, compares what science and Buddhism know, or believe to be true about physics, human consciousness, evolution and more. He calls throughout the book for a greater compassion and for scientists and society to have as a primary goal the well-being of humanity and of our planet.

I don’t pretend to be anything even remotely close to an expert on these topics, but it w
James Anthony
Apr 16, 2016 James Anthony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Humbling. Always enjoy an uplifting read to put me back on the right path. I'm never more compassionate than after reading books of this nature. Two main points I will take with me forever: the fact that we haven't annihilated one another while living in the nuclear age for over half a century gives us hope that deep down we do in fact care for one another and that first image of earth from outer space shows we are all one family sharing a tiny little home. May we act as such.
Jul 04, 2009 Aimee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brainy-reads
This book would have been more enjoyable had I a deeper background in physics, biology or Buddhism. That said, however, I think everyone should read the Introduction, Chapters 1 & 2, and the chapter on science and ethics. The Dalai Lama brings out a number of issues that modern science isn't equipped to deal with, and makes a compelling argument for the inclusion of compassion as a criterion for guiding the direction of scientific discovery and application.
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Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso (born Lhamo Döndrub), the 14th Dalai Lama, is a practicing member of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism and is influential as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the world's most famous Buddhist monk, and the leader of the exiled Tibetan government in India.

Tenzin Gyatso was the fifth of sixteen children born to a farming family. He was proclaimed the
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“If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.” 137 likes
“What we do and think in our own lives, then, becomes of extreme importance as it effects everything we're connected to.” 20 likes
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