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The Universe in a Single Atom | [His Holiness the Dalai Lama]

The Universe in a Single Atom

After 40 years of study with some of the greatest scientific minds as well as a lifetime of meditative, spiritual, and philosophical study, the Dalai Lama presents a brilliant analysis of why both disciplines must be pursued in order to arrive at a complete picture of the truth. Science shows us ways of interpreting the physical world, while spirituality helps us cope with reality. But the extreme of either is impoverishing.
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Publisher's Summary

Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Niels Bohr, Einstein. Their insights shook our perception of who we are and where we stand in the world and in their wake have left an uneasy co-existence: science vs. religion, faith vs. empirical enquiry. Which is the keeper of truth? Which is the true path to understanding reality?

After 40 years of study with some of the greatest scientific minds as well as a lifetime of meditative, spiritual, and philosophical study, the Dalai Lama presents a brilliant analysis of why both disciplines must be pursued in order to arrive at a complete picture of the truth. Science shows us ways of interpreting the physical world, while spirituality helps us cope with reality. But the extreme of either is impoverishing. The belief that all is reducible to matter and energy leaves out a huge range of human experience: emotions, yearnings, compassion, culture. At the same time, holding unexamined spiritual beliefs, beliefs that are contradicted by evidence, logic, and experience, can lock us into fundamentalist cages.

Through an examination of Darwinism and karma, quantum mechanics and philosophical insight into the nature of reality, neurobiology and the study of consciousness, the Dalai Lama draws significant parallels between contemplative and scientific examination of reality. "I believe that spirituality and science are complementary but different investigative approaches with the same goal of seeking the truth," His Holiness writes. "In this, there is much each may learn from the other, and together they may contribute to expanding the horizon of human knowledge and wisdom."

This breathtakingly personal examination is a tribute to the Dalai Lama's teachers, both of science and spirituality. The legacy of this book is a vision of the world in which our different approaches to understanding ourselves, our universe, and one another can be brought together in the service of humanity.

This audio includes an interview with Richard Gere.

Listen to an interview with the Dalai Lama on Charlie Rose.

©2005 His Holiness the Dalai Lama; (P)2005 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"This book offers something wiser: a compassionate and clearheaded account by a religious leader who not only respects science but, for the most part, embraces it." (The New York Times Book Review)
"The Dalai Lama lost spiritual leadership in his own country, but now exercises it around the world. Like all good teachers, he comes to learn. He found that what Buddhism lacked in his country was a fruitful interchange with reason and modern science. Here he fosters that exchange, at a time when some Christians have turned their backs on science and the Enlightenment. We are losing what he has gained." (Garry Wills)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Theresa Bloomington, IN, USA 09-24-05
    Theresa Bloomington, IN, USA 09-24-05
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    "This book is right on the mark"

    While I had wished that it was read by the Dalai Lama himself (I saw him speak two years ago and his presence and speaking was warm and wonderful).. However, Richard Gere does fine.

    This book is right on the mark for the current debate about religion and science as shown in the national debate over Evolution being taught in schools. This would be a wonderful teaching tool for any science educator or a self discovery tool for any scientist who struggles with questions of faith in order to show an example of how science could enhance religion versus challenge it. It definitely gave me a lot to think about it.

    79 of 84 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 11-21-05 Member Since 2005

    Johnny

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    "Nice bridge between science and spirituality"

    This book is an excellent bridge between spirituality and science. The facinating discoveries in physics actually affirm faith rather than challenge it. Refreshing read from a spiritual giant. Fundamentalists the world over would benefit from his ballanced view of life.
    It's a great presentation of some of the more difficult ethical questions involving bio-technologies. It is presented with solid logic and clarity.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott 12-05-05
    Scott 12-05-05 Member Since 2013
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    "A scientist 2 cents"

    If you have pondered the ethical questions confronting not only the direction but the application of scientific discovery this book is a must. I found some passages very rich in both information and philosophical implication and was compelled to review them several times. His Holiness the Dalai Lama embarks on an eminently relevant and refreshingly engaging dialog about the interface and role of ones core values and science. Being a Christian with little knowledge of Buddhism I found the insight I gained into Buddhism valuable and the ethical parallels poignant. Although several of Buddhism???s core beliefs differ drastically from my own, the compassion and quest for the good of all should resonate with every true citizen of the world.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roger South Orange, NJ, United States 04-08-10
    Roger South Orange, NJ, United States 04-08-10 Member Since 2004
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    "Brilliant"

    This is a multi-layered book that shows the Dalai Lama's engrossing curiosity. His mind grasps the major themes of the most complicated sciences, and he sees connections between the scientific method and the Buddhist quest for knowledge.

    The Dalai Lama also recognizes the limits of modern science. Physics, chemistry and biology can show how we work, but they do not answer the question of what makes us who we are. For example, identical twins, with the same DNA, do not share the same consciousness. Psychology begins to deal with the question, but the Dalai Lama offers certain Buddhist meditative techniques as potential new tools to explore the subject.

    At heart, the Dalai Lama is concerned with ethics. Moral values may have an evolutionary basis, but they demand choices of us. The Dalai Lama explores the ethical questions of what avenues science should and should not explore, but he is even more deeply interested in understanding how our moral values have developed and how they can be developed even further.

    The guiding principle of Buddhism is compassion, and His Holiness hopes to balance the individualism of the West with compassion for fellow humans.

    The Dalai Lama epitomizes a religious tradition of welcoming new knowledge, even from outside the religion, for the benefit of the insights it can provide. How much more advanced might Western science, and even Western society, be if our ancestors had worked within a similar environment? I finished the book wishing I could have continued a conversation with the Dalai Lama.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    fuzzmello Norman, OK USA 11-06-05
    fuzzmello Norman, OK USA 11-06-05 Member Since 2004
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    "plenty to think about, thoughtfully presented"

    This book is an excellent presentation of some of the more pressing problems with advancing technologies, especially bio-technologies. His Holiness exposes us to timely ethical questions uniquely posed from a solidly logical view. Such is the advantage of the Vajrayana as practiced in Tibet.

    This book is a refreshing change of pace from religious and\or scientific authors who attempt to persuade by thumping a book and reminding us that it alone contains every answer. His Holiness goes to great lengths to assure that the answers to these difficult problems must come from within each of us and all of us.

    A remarkably warm book about the cold world of facts and theories.

    16 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean Albuquerque, NM, USA 02-21-06
    Sean Albuquerque, NM, USA 02-21-06 Member Since 2005
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    "Prior experience required"

    As noted by several other readers the buddhist approach to teaching difficult religious and philosophical concepts translates beautifully to teaching difficult scientific concepts. His Holiness does a wonderful job of taking complex scientific discussions and reducing them to concepts that can be grasped by the average listener. Of course, some of the detail is lost in this translation, but on the whole this book contains a good explanation of both its subject matters.

    That being said this is a very difficult book to read in audio format. One of the failings of the audio format is that in technical discussions you do not have the ability to set the book down and ponder the issues raised. As both the religious/philosophical questions raised by his holiness and the scientific concepts discussed need a fair amount of time for contemplation this is one book that may be better for those with at least a rudimentary understanding of both subject matters.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ginger Sherman Oaks, CA, USA 02-01-06
    Ginger Sherman Oaks, CA, USA 02-01-06
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    "Great Book, Excellently Narrated"

    This is a terrific read for someone who is into both Buddhism and science and it's excellently read by Richard Gere.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    nicholas BEVERLY, MA, United States 11-11-13
    nicholas BEVERLY, MA, United States 11-11-13 Member Since 2013
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    "One of the most important books of our time"
    Would you listen to The Universe in a Single Atom again? Why?

    The depth of curiosity and insight this book provokes is amazing. Here HIs Holiness addresses the issues that arise when examining our conditioning and unseen presuppositions A humanist and profoundly inspiring inquiry into what is real what is true.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Albuquerque, NM, USA 05-03-08
    Paul Albuquerque, NM, USA 05-03-08
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    "We should all love this man"

    i wish they tought this in school.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brad Crete, NE, USA 12-28-05
    Brad Crete, NE, USA 12-28-05 Member Since 2005
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    "Not terrible"

    Again, another book which demonstrates how a little knowledge is dangerous. The Dalai Lama expounds on how Buddhism is similar to our current understanding of science. I think it is an error to find similarities between science and any religion and use that similarity to pat your religion on the back. To do so, the religious must ignore all the dissimilarities of their religion and the world as we now know it. Also, this is an error as the knowledge of science will surely move on. That any religion has found similarities is surely a temporary thing. It is like be righteous because there is a mountain outside your window and no one else’s (For those of you who do not know, mountains are constantly being built and eroded.). I'm not arguing for or against Buddhism (Buddhism is probably one of the only religions I would feel comfortable with),rather his Holiness the Dalai Lama,is making claims regarding the similarity of his religion and the world as we know it. Whether his religion or any religion is the "correct" one simply cannot be based on its similarity to science.

    That said, it is a very interesting book and an enlightening window into the thoughts of the Dalai Lama. He does an excellent job describing the study and understanding of the conscious particularly from the Buddhist point of view. It is not a particularly easy read unless you happen to be interested in this, but I enjoyed it very much.

    The audio quality of this book is excellent.

    8 of 19 people found this review helpful
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