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Templeton Report
News from the John Templeton Foundation
April 11, 2012

Dalai Lama Wins Templeton Prize in Award's 40th Year

VIDEO: Big Questions interviews with the 2012 Templeton Prize winner
VIDEO: Big Questions interviews with the
2012 Templeton Prize winner

The 2012 Templeton Prize has been awarded to Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama. The $1.7 million award was announced on March 29, in the 40th year of the Prize.

The Tibetan spiritual leader is best known for his commitment to compassion, universal ethics, and harmony among religions. His spiritual inspiration speaks to millions. He also has an abiding interest in the interface between science and religion.

He has focused on the investigative traditions within both science and Buddhism as a way to understand and advance what both disciplines might offer the world. His interest in the Big Questions, such as whether compassion can be taught, leads him to foster the use of scientific methods for the study of spiritual claims—an aim that the Prize has recognized for the past 40 years. (See online videos in which the Dalai Lama offers his answers to four Big Questions on the Templeton Prize website).

"His Holiness the Dalai Lama offers a universal voice of compassion underpinned by a love and respect for a spiritually relevant scientific research that centers on every single human being," said Dr. John M. Templeton, Jr. in a statement titled "40 Years of Spiritual Progress & the 2012 Templeton Prize Laureate." "These concepts, central to the teachings of His Holiness, are fundamental to the purpose of the Templeton Prize, namely, to encourage progress in the spiritual realm by calling attention to new research and new insights arising from investigating life's spiritual dimensions."

Established in 1972, the prize identifies "entrepreneurs of the spirit." "The 2012 Laureate is befitting for the 40th anniversary of the Templeton Prize and mirrors extraordinarily well Sir John's own vision on spiritual progress," said Judith Marchand, director of the Templeton Prize.

The award was widely welcomed in the world's press. USA Today reported that the Dalai Lama "has been a voice for the complementary roles [of] science and religion." The Guardian noted that the award "could not have been more timely."

Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama

The Washington Post reported on the "Science for Monks" program, initiated by the Dalai Lama. It hosts Indian and Western scientists who wish to explore connections between science and Buddhist traditions. The Times of India highlighted a series of talks the Dalai Lama gave at Stanford University that led to the creation of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science noted that several thousand people came to hear him speak at the 2005 annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. The Wall Street Journal carried an interview with the Dalai Lama on teaching compassion.

The Dalai Lama becomes the second Templeton Prize laureate who has also won the Nobel Peace Prize, alongside Mother Teresa, the first winner of the Templeton Prize. Both figures are spiritual leaders like several other laureates, including Lord Jakobovits (1991), Billy Graham (1982), and Brother Roger (1974).

The award has also honored individuals from the world of science whose work has cast substantial light on spiritual questions. It is striking that, in recent years, this has drawn attention to a number of physicists, including Martin Rees (2011), George Ellis (2004), John Polkinghorne (2002), and Freeman Dyson (2000).

Another group of winners are remarkable humanitarians, including Cicely Saunders (1981), the founder of the hospice movement, and the writer and exile, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1983).

Templeton Prize

The 2012 Templeton Prize will be presented to the Dalai Lama on May 14, at a ceremony at St. Paul's Cathedral, London. When he accepts his award, it will be the first time he has visited the cathedral. The Right Reverend Michael Colclough, canon pastor at St. Paul's, commented, "The awarding of the Templeton Prize to the Dalai Lama under the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral will be a reminder that working towards peace and harmony is a practical and spiritual challenge to all faith communities." The ceremony is open to the public, though tickets are required.

From the Dalai Lama's statement:

"This award, I feel, is your recognition about my little service to this field. I am very proud, very happy indeed, great honor. But at the same time, personally, when Nobel Peace Prize announced my name, at that time I expressed that I am no more, no less, just a simple Buddhist monk. So still, I am a simple Buddhist monk, no less, no more, after receiving this award. Of course more people may pay some attention about my talks, my thoughts, so in that sense, I think, very very helpful. You are helping my effort. Thank you very much."



The Spirituality of Medicine

The Spirituality of Medicine
©istockphoto/Derek Thomas

More than 9 out of 10 US physicians claim a religious affiliation. According to research conducted by Farr Curlin, associate professor of medicine and co-director of the Program on Medicine and Religion at the University of Chicago, more than half of responding doctors agree with this statement, "My religious beliefs influence my practice of medicine."

His work is supported by a $2.5 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation. "Often religion is construed as a set of personal beliefs and ideas that threatens to prejudice a physician's practices or responses to patients, and interferes with physicians' professional obligations," Curlin explains. But is that true?

Curlin and his team will try to find out, thanks to a new program to help faculty scholars study these questions. The Chicago Tribune carried an extensive report on the work earlier this month. "When doctors are dispirited, the care they give to patients is worse," Curlin said. "Patients should be very hopeful that their doctor sees their work as a remarkable privilege, even a holy privilege, that will make the doctor respond to that patient out of joy."


Teaching Thrift with History

Teaching Thrift with History

"A penny saved is a penny earned," Benjamin Franklin remarked. The virtue of thrift has a long history in American life. Franklin argued that it rests on three pillars: industry, frugality, and stewardship.

A unique 5-day teacher workshop titled Franklin's Thrift: A Classic American Idea for the 21st Century will explore the subject of thrift through the examination of historical materials and artifacts. The workshop is being held by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in conjunction with the Center for Thrift and Generosity, an initiative funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

Starting on Sunday, July 29, the workshop will be open to teachers in Philadelphia and Florida. Thrift expert David Blankenhorn will guide educators in the use of primary documents and help participants to craft lessons in their own disciplines around this core virtue.


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