For the past six years David Henderson, Robert R. Chambers Professor of Philosophy, has been working with the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative (ETSI). The program is a six-year study program designed to bring together the teachings of modern science and of Tibetan Buddhism.
In December, as ETSI finished its first six years, Henderson was able to attend a ceremony at the Drepung Monastery where the initiative celebrated the graduation of its first 233 students. As one of the events that made up the celebration as a whole, the Dalai Lama gave an hour teaching and was presented with four textbooks—one for each of the scientific disciplines represented—that had been written as part of the curriculum for ETSI. During this time Henderson presented his book, The Dharma of Science: Philosophy of Science for Buddhist Scholars, and had a brief face-to-face with the Dalai Lama. He described this experience saying, “It was an honor to set on the same stage, and then to present the book to His Holiness. He was kind—even compassionate (as one would anticipate)—with this somewhat awkward philosopher.”
During the celebration, Henderson learned that he will be coming back to work with ETSI over the next six years. A group of “science-monks” will be starting to take on the role of teaching sciences at the monasteries, but for the next phase of the initiative there is a still a role for some of the scientists and philosophers working with the project. Henderson is excited to stay involved in ETSI saying that, “There is much to explore and learn on all sides.”