Mark's Reviews > The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality

The Universe in a Single Atom by Dalai Lama XIV
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Apr 19, 08

bookshelves: non-fiction
Read in January, 2006

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) and how Buddhism can be used to bolster the scientific understanding of the natural world. The Dalai Lama’s arguments for incorporating science into formal Buddhist training are two-fold: In his view, Buddhism is empirically based. If the mind is put through a certain set of exercises, certain results can be expected. This empiricism meshes well with the construct of Western science. As a result, if something can be empirically proven, then that finding trumps any historical religious teachings, dogmas, or texts.

The second reason is that the Dalai Lama has great hope in meshing the spirituality of Buddhism with science. In particular, he is interested in applying the powers of science to the study of consciousness. Whereas science has historically taken on the role of a third person observer, the D.L. would like to produce a science of the first person where consciousness can be pulled out into the open and more fully described and appreciated. Fascinating stuff.
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