The Monastery and the Microscope

An illuminating record of dialogues between the Dalai Lama and some of today’s most prominent scientists, philosophers, and contemplatives

Edited by Wendy Hasenkamp with Janna R. White
Yale University Press


In 2013, during a historic six-day meeting at a Tibetan monastery in southern India, the Dalai Lama gathered with leading scientists, philosophers, and monks for in-depth discussions on the nature of reality, consciousness, and the human mind. This eye-opening book presents a record of those spirited and wide-ranging dialogues, featuring contributions from prominent scholars like Richard Davidson, Matthieu Ricard, Tania Singer, and Arthur Zajonc as they address such questions as: Does nature have a nature? Do you need a brain to be conscious? Can we change our minds and brains through meditation? Throughout, the contributors explore the exciting and sometimes surprising commonalities between Western scientific and Tibetan Buddhist methods of perceiving, investigating, and knowing. Part history, part state-of-the-field, part inspiration for the future, this book rigorously and accessibly explores what these two investigative traditions can teach each other, and what that can tell us about ourselves and the world.


Praise for The Monastery and the Microscope

“A treasure trove on a multiplicity of levels for meditators and scholars alike. I couldn’t put it down. You are in South India with the Dalai Lama and privy to a conversation that is an education in itself!” —Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of MBSR; author of Coming to Our Senses and Mindfulness for Beginners

“This excellent book offers a broad and accessible account of the ongoing dialogue between Buddhism and science.” —John D. Dunne, University of Wisconsin–Madison

The Monastery and the Microscope offers a powerful constellation of human potentials brought to their fullest. Shedding light on so many of life’s great questions, it is a tremendous accomplishment and clearly a labor of love.” —Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Happiness and Real Love

“In this gripping volume, Hasenkamp and White take you to India and give you a front row seat at a special moment in the ongoing dialogue between Western science and Tibetan Buddhism. Not to be missed.” —Evan Thompson, author of Waking, Dreaming, Being

“This intriguing and inspiring book captures a live event and brings us into the center of a momentous conversation. Spanning from the nature of reality and of consciousness to the neuroscience of meditation and beyond, The Monastery and the Microscope offers a fascinating and enlightening read.” —Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

“This remarkable book reflects the wisdom of the deepest insights in physics, neuroscience, and philosophy in relation to the human mind and perspectives on reality. A great contribution to human understanding.” —Joan Halifax, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center