The "Science meets Dharma" (SmD) Project
In 1998, H.H. the Dalai Lama sought assistance from the Tibet Institute Rikon (TIR), Switzerland: The TIR was to explore ways in which monks and nuns in the Tibetan exile monasteries in India could have better access to Western natural sciences. Out of this idea the project "Science Meets Dharma" (SmD), supported by the Tibet Institute Rikon, was born: "Science Meets Buddhist Teaching".
During the first project phase (2001 - 2011) it was demonstrated in eight monasteries in South India that natural science education is feasible and fruitful. In the meantime, it has become an official part of monastic reforms stipulated by H.H. the Dalai Lama. Accordingly, all Tibetan exile monasteries in India and Nepal have decided to include natural science education in the monastic training for monks and nuns in the future.
Since 2012, natural science education - which had previously been offered through SmD - has been organized and carried out by the monasteries themselves. At the beginning of this transfer phase (2012 - 2014), "Science meets Dharma" continued to support the monasteries in recruiting and training local teachers. In addition, SmD contributed to the training of assistant teachers. It also helped in creating syllabi customized to the needs of the monasteries and in preparing teaching material.
In the current consolidation phase of the project (i.e., since the beginning of 2015), SmD has been concentrating on the introduction of continuous teaching in monasteries of other traditions and therefore also the development of natural science syllabi in cooperation with those monasteries. In addition, as a replacement for the earlier yearly study weeks, the project is now offering "Science Introduction Workshops" in the monasteries that have hitherto offered no natural science education and are in the process of introducing it. Their number is increasing every year.
The project management is in the hands of a Swiss project manager, who is supported by a Tibetan consultant and an experienced Tibetan coordinator/teaching assistant.
Since many years I have been interested in modern science, which has made great contributions to the improvement of the quality of life. I have personally been engaged in dialogues with scientists for many years and have been found it to be extremely useful and enriching. I also believe that modern science can benefit from Buddhist perspectives.
Today, science means a valid method of explaining the observed reality. The well-founded disciplines of modern science are in a way related to Buddhism since Buddhist philosophy also searches and establishes truth through rational analysis, similar to that of science.
The Tibetan Institute in Rikon, Switzerland, has accepted to implement a project of training Tibetan Buddhist monks in modern scientific disciplines and thus further opening the dialogue. The project is called "Science meets Dharma" and will help to provide the infrastructure and human resources needed for such implementation. I believe the "Science meets Dharma" project has great potential and I sincerely hope you will extend all your help to the Institute in its endeavour.
5 January 2002
The Dalai Lama
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 1989