The John Templeton Foundation has announced that the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader whose longstanding engagements with multiple dimensions of science and people beyond his religious traditions has made him a global voice for universal ethics, nonviolence, and harmony, has won the 2012 Templeton Prize.
Established in 1972 by financier and philanthropist Sir John Templeton, the prize honors an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension and includes a cash award of more than $1.6 million, making it the largest annual prize given to an individual. Having won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, the Dalai Lama becomes only the second to receive both awards. Mother Teresa was the first recipient of the Templeton Prize, in 1973, six years before she won the Nobel.
For decades, Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth Dalai Lama — a lineage believed by his followers to be the reincarnation of an ancient Buddhist leader who epitomized compassion — has vigorously focused on the connections between the investigative traditions of science and Buddhism as a way to better understand and advance what both disciplines might offer the world. At the core of his teachings — and a cornerstone of his immense popularity — is his encouragement of serious scientific reviews of the power of compassion and its broad potential to address the world's fundamental problems.
In concert with his efforts to achieve peace for his native Tibet, the Dalai Lama has worked to promote cross-cultural understanding with other religions and with disciplines as varied as astrophysics, quantum mechanics, neurobiology, and behavioral science. In 1987, he co-founded the Mind and Life Institute to foster collaborative research between science and Buddhism, and in 2005, after a series of dialogues involving the Dalai Lama, scientists, and scholars, Stanford University became the home of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, which supports rigorous scientific studies of compassion and altruistic behavior.
"With an increasing reliance on technological advances to solve the world's problems, humanity also seeks the assurance that only a spiritual quest can answer," said Templeton Foundation president and chair John M. Templeton, Jr. "The Dalai Lama offers a universal voice of compassion underpinned by a love and respect for spiritually relevant scientific research that centers on every single human being."