Quantum theory tells us that the world is a product of an infinite number of random events. Buddhism teaches us that nothing happens without a cause, trapping the universe in an unending karmic cycle.
Reconciling the two might seem as challenging as trying to explain the Higgs boson to a kindergarten class. But if someone has to do it, it might as well be the team of scholars, translators and six Tibetan monks clad in maroon robes who can be spied wandering among the magnolias at Emory University in Atlanta.
They were joined this week by the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, who decided seven years ago that it was time to merge the hard science of the laboratory with the soft science of the meditative mind.
The leaders at Emory, who already had created formal relationships with Tibetan students there, agreed, and a unique partnership was formed.
The first batch of six monks, who arrived on campus on 2010, have gone back to India, where much of the Tibetan exile community lives, and started teaching. Dozens of monks and nuns have taken lectures from Emory professors who traveled to Dharamsala, India, to instruct them, and 15 English-Tibetan science textbooks have been developed for monastic students.
For the Dalai Lama, who rises at 3:30 every morning for four hours of meditation, his pet project is a no-brainer.
Buddhist teaching offers education about the mind, he said Thursday.
"It is quite rich material about what I call the inner world," he said. "Modern science is very highly developed in matters concerning the material world. These two things separately are not complete. Together, the external and the internal worlds are complete."