The Book

The Monastery and the Microscope

The Monastery and the Microscope (Yale University Press, 2017)
edited by Wendy Hasenkamp with Janna R. White

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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? What can science do for a monk, and what can a monk do for science?

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.

“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

“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

“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