Albert Einstein and the Dalai Lama
Einstein and the Dalai Lama have fascinated me for years. In reading their biographies and works I have noticed many significant parallels in their perspectives and personalities that shed light on relations between the rational and the spiritual, both of which are necessary for human life and society.
It is a tenet of both Buddhism and science that a spiritual seeker or a scientist should rely on his or her own mind and experience. There are no authorities to follow blindly: Facts are valid if they can be realized in the spiritual realm or can be reproduced in experimental science. A remarkable characteristic of Einstein’s and the Dalai Lama’s writings and speeches is that words come from their own minds and experiences. Scholars must find this quite significant because we are used to writing or reading numerous references, footnotes, and quotes. As I am writing now, on my desk is the first book I read about Tibetan Buddhism, The Buddhism of Tibet and the Key to the Middle Way, written by Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama (1975). This book was presented to me by the Dalai Lama in 1982 when I and Setsuko (my wife from Japan) first met His Holiness at Dharamsala. I also have a book by Einstein: Relativity: The Special and the General Theory (1952). Although both of these books are technical, and both authors give credit to their predecessors, their style of writing is interestingly similar – explaining difficult topics in a clear manner, with authoritative and yet simple language, articulating the authors’ own minds even where they employ concepts known to their predecessors.
Despite the thorny history of relations between science and religion, both Einstein and the Dalai Lama hold that science and religion can coexist and contribute to human development….