Truth of the Matter

In his latest book, The Bonobo and the Atheist, primatologist Frans de Waal describes a forum held at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia where he spoke alongside the Dalai Lama. De Waal reflected on the great interest that Tibet’s spiritual leader had in the findings of modern science and particularly the latest research on the evolution of empathy and compassion, areas central to Buddhist thought. It was, de Waal wrote, “a refreshing departure from attempting to drive a wedge between religion and science.”

According to the Dalai Lama, there is no conflict between his own spiritual pursuits and those of modern science. Quite simply, if any principles of Buddhist thought are found to be wrong by employing the scientific method, “Buddhism will have to change.” Just as he did in his 2005 address to the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, the Dalai Lama emphasized that his deeply held religious philosophy was both enriched and informed by an empirical worldview.

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Scientific American, July 2013