The Exchange of Ideas Between Buddhism and Western Culture: Challenges and Opportunities, Part 1

The Exchange of Ideas Between Buddhism and Western Culture: Challenges and Opportunities, Part 1


As Buddhist ideas and contemplative practices are increasingly applied and integrated into contemporary Western societies, the views and methods of Western science are likewise beginning to enter the Buddhist world. As part of his active collaboration between modern scientists and Buddhist contemplatives, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has initiated a process for the integration of modern science education into the Tibetan monastic curriculum. With the support of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (LTWA), this process began in the late 1990s via science workshops sponsored by Science for Monks and basic courses offered by Science Meets Dharma. In 2006, His Holiness invited Emory University to collaborate with the LTWA to develop and implement a sustainable science curriculum for monastics, which is now being implemented at nine major Tibetan monasteries. In 2013, the Geluk leadership adopted a historic resolution to include science education as part of the core Gelukpa monastic curriculum, the first major change to this system in 600 years. In this session, we will hear perspectives from both sides of this cultural exchange. Geshe Lhakdor, Geshe Lobsang, and Geshe Dadul will discuss efforts to incorporate science into the monastic education system in a sustainable way, sharing successes, challenges, and future plans. Their presentations will be followed by Yangsi Rinpoche, who will offer reflections on sharing Buddhist ideas in Western culture. Drawing from his experience as the president of Maitripa Buddhist College in Portland, Oregon, his presentation will focus on the challenges and opportunities of teaching Buddhist theory and practices (mindfulness and compassion) in a Western academic setting. 

  • Dialogue 30
    19 sessions
  • December 17, 2015
    Sera Monastery, Bylakuppe, India
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Geshe Lhakdor

Geshe Lhakdor is the Director of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, India. He has served as His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s religious assistant and translator for many years and represents His Holiness’s vision and work at various national and international conferences and forums. Geshe Lhakdor studied Buddhist philosophy at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, where he received his Master of Prajnaparamita, and in 1989 his Master of Madhyamika with distinction in both. In 1989 he also received his Master of Philosophy (MPhil) from the University of Delhi. From 1986-1989, Geshe Lhakdor served as a translator and research assistant in the Tibet House, Cultural Centre of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New Delhi. In 1989 he joined the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama as his religious assistant and translator, and since then has accompanied him in this capacity to over thirty countries around the world. In 1995, he received his Geshe Degree from the Drepung Loseling Monastic University in South India. He has translated, co-translated and co-produced several books by His Holiness, including The Way to Freedom, The Joy of Living and Dying in Peace, and Awakening the Mind and Lightening the Heart, among others. Geshe Lhakdor is a trustee of the Foundation for Universal Responsibility, Director of the Central Archive of His Holiness, a member of the Advisory Board of the Institute of Tibetan Classics in Montreal, Canada, and Honorary Professor at the University of British Columbia, Canada.