The Dalai Lama Wins 2012 Templeton Prize

The following article is from the Spring, 2012 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

Adapted from http://www.temple-tonprize.org/currentwinner.html

THE DALAI LAMA, the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader whose long-standing engagement with multiple dimensions of science and with people far beyond his own religious traditions has made him an incomparable global voice for universal ethics, nonviolence, and harmony among world religions, has won the 2012 Templeton Prize.

Valued at £1.1 million (about $1.7 million or €1.3 million), the prize is the world's largest annual monetary award given to an individual and honors a living person who has made exceptional contributions to affirming life's spiritual dimension.

For decades, Tenzin Gyatso, 76, the 14th Dalai Lama has vigorously focused on the connections between the investigative traditions of science and Buddhism as a way to better understand and advance what both disciplines might offer the world. Specifically, he encourages serious scientific investigative reviews of the power of compassion and its broad potential to address the world's fundamental problems—a theme at the core of his teachings and a cornerstone of his immense popularity.

Within that search, the big questions he raises—such as "Can compassion be trained or taught?"—reflect the deep interest of the founder of the Templeton Prize, the late Sir John Templeton, in seeking to bring scientific methods to the study of spiritual claims and thus foster the spiritual progress that the Prize has recognized for the past 40 years.

The Prize will be presented to the Dalai Lama at a ceremony at St. Paul's Cathedral in London on the afternoon of Monday, May 14. A news conference with the 2012 Prize Laureate will precede the ceremony. Both events will be webcast live at www.templeton-prize.org and to global media.

The announcement praised the Dalai Lama for his life's work in building bridges of trust in accord with the yearnings of countless millions of people around the globe who have been drawn by the charismatic icon's appeal to compassion and understanding for all.

With an increasing reliance on technological advances to solve the world's problems, humanity also seeks the reassurance that only a spiritual quest can answer, said Dr. John M. Templeton, Jr., president and chairman of the John Templeton Foundation and son of the late Prize founder. The Dalai Lama offers a universal voice of compassion underpinned by a love and respect for spiritually relevant scientific research that centers on every single human being.

In concert with his efforts to achieve peace for Tibet, the Dalai Lama's extensive travels have promoted cross-cultural understanding with other religions and with disciplines as varied as astrophysics, quantum mechanics, neurobiology, and behavioral science.

He often notes that the rigorous commitment of Buddhists to meditative investment and reflection similarly follows the strict rules of investigation, proof and evidence required of science.

Among his most successful efforts is the Mind & Life Institute, co-founded in 1987 to create collaborative research between science and Buddhism. The Institute hosts conferences on subjects such as contemplative science, destructive and healing emotions; and consciousness and death. While initially beginning as quiet academic affairs, they have evolved into enormously popular public events.

In 2005, after a series of dialogues at Stanford University among the Dalai Lama, scientists in the fields of neuroscience, psychology, and medicine, and contemplative scholars, the university became the home of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. The interdisciplinary discourse recognized that engagement between cognitive sciences and Buddhist contemplative traditions could contribute to understanding of the human mind and emotion. The center now supports and conducts rigorous scientific studies of compassion and altruistic behavior.

Many of these conferences have led to popular best sellers written or co-written by the Dalai Lama, including The Art of Happiness (1998), The Universe in a Single Atom (2005), and The Dalai Lama at MIT (2006).

Brief videos of the Dalai Lama discussing key issues can be viewed at:

www.templetonprize.org/currentwinner.html

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