Few imagine Buddhism to have a meaningful relationship with contemporary science. Fewer imagine that Tibetan nun-scholars embrace this relationship with insightful passion. Buddhism’s approach to consciousness & the nature of the universe, steeped in 2500 years of thought, suggests that this coming together may be beneficial to tackling the world’s pressing crises. It is this that moved the 14th Dalai Lama to turn his community to science. Tibetan monks & nuns, living in exile, travel across India to participate in science workshops where they acquire basic concepts in physical/life sciences, in quantum physics, & in theories of consciousness. The workshops, combined with the monastics’ deep study of Buddha’s teachings, raise questions about how Buddhism might mesh with present-day science to offer new insights.
My documentary, Science for Nuns/Monks allows audiences to live with Buddhist nun, Lobsang, who joins a science workshop at Dolma Ling nunnery. As she discusses science with co-students, conducts basic experiments, gazes into the universe through a telescope at a star-studded sky, and navigates daily routines at Dolma Ling, we see how 2 ways of life complement each other. We also have an intimate glimpse into Lobsang before she became a monastic: we accompany her on her days-long visit to her North Indian birthfamily, as she travels from the lush landscapes of her South Indian nunnery to a remote part of the Himalaya, before returning to her chosen life. We hear directly from His Holiness about his vision for Buddhism, science, and his strong advocacy for nuns. We also travel with Tashi, a Buddhist monk, to experience his thinking and actions. It is this web of relationships and intimate knowledge that create a profound reconciliation of both approaches.
Public engagement with Buddhism and science permits global audiences to see how two seemingly oppositional approaches together propel humanity towards action for joy, love, humility, & peace.