Thursday, February 22, 2018

'The Enlightened Gene' bridges Buddhism and biology

Tibetan monk Geshe Yungdrung Konchok (left) and Emory biologist Arri Eisen (right) pose with the Dalai Lama, who wrote an introduction for their new book, "The Enlightened Gene." The book explores how dialogue between scientists and monastics enriches understandings of biology, physics and other sciences. 

By April Hunt, Emory Report

For nearly a decade, the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative has done more than challenge the idea that religion and science don’t mix by developing and successfully launching a comprehensive science curriculum for thousands of Tibetan monks and nuns.

The first major change to Tibetan Buddhist monastic education in six centuries also demonstrated how insights and information from both the monastics and professors could enrich each other’s understanding of biology, physics and other sciences.

Arri Eisen, an Emory College professor of pedagogy in biology and the Institute for Liberal Arts, explores those connections in “The Enlightened Gene,” a book he co-wrote with one of the monks, Geshe Yungdrung Konchok.

“He grew up on the Tibetan plateau herding yaks. I grew up one of about five Jewish guys in North Carolina in the 1970s,” Eisen says. “We had different experiences, but we could use them to develop a common approach, to try to better understand our world.”

Emory has woven Western and Tibetan Buddhist intellectual traditions together since founding the Emory-Tibet Partnership in 1998. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been a Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory since 2007.

Read more in Emory Report.

Emory Tibet Science Initiative rolls out bridges to inner and outer worlds

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