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The Quantum and the Lotus


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About the Author

Mattieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk residing at the Shechen monastery near Kathmandu in Nepal. He is coauthor of the critically acclaimed The Monk and the Philosopher and is the official French translator of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Trinh Xuan Thuan is a professor of astronomy at the University of Virginia and the author of the critically acclaimed The Secret Melody and several other popular science books.


This transcribed and expanded dialogue between Buddhist monk Ricard and astrophysicist Thuan claims few original insights but provides a good general introduction to science-and-religion issues representing two notably different Buddhist perspectives. At its best, the book is animated by contrasts. Thuan, a Vietnamese-American trained at CalTech, identifies with Buddhist ethics and spirituality, but his worldview often reflects Western science and philosophy. Ricard, a French biologist who emigrated in the 1970s to become a disciple of Khyents? Rinpoche, speaks from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Although Thuan and Ricard find common ground on many ethical matters and agree in a general way about the "interconnectedness of phenomena," they also run into genuine disagreements about cosmic origins, the nature of consciousness and the orderliness of the universe all areas where traditional Buddhist beliefs are in tension with scientific theories or their implications as commonly understood in the West. To the authors' credit, they avoid superficial reconciliation of these differences, although Ricard, who renounces "dogmatism" but consistently defends orthodoxy, sometimes claims to "refute" opposing viewpoints a little too neatly. The conversational format also limits the precision and depth of the authors' positions and at times becomes unnecessarily repetitive. Philosophical dialogue is an ancient but exquisitely difficult art, and even the most engaging verbal exchange may occasionally appear banal or rambling in print, especially when the same points of debate arise time and again. (Aug. 7) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Tibetan Buddhist monk and author of another recent dialog, The Monk and the Philosopher, engages astrophysicist and popular author Thuan (The Secret Melody) in a discussion about the nature of reality. Each chapter focuses on a theme, e.g., the origin of the universe, time, multiple/parallel universes, and interdependence. Some themes seem outside the boundaries of physics (e.g., creation), and Ricard often has the final say at the end of each chapter. In addition, the content of the book can be challenging at times. But Ricard and Thuan excel at bringing the fundamental elements of each perspective to the lay level, and even when minds do not meet, the reader is enriched with a better understanding of Buddhist and scientific explanations of reality. Those put off by the dialog format should not dismiss this book, as the content successfully carries the reader. This volume will appeal to those who enjoyed works such as Fritjof Capra's The Tao of Physics (Shambhala, 2000) and B. Alan Wallace's Choosing Reality (Snow Lion, 1996). Extensive end notes provide myriad avenues for further exploration. Recommended for public librar-ies. Andy Wickens, King Cty. Lib. Syst., Seattle Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"The Quantum and the Lotus is a mind-expanding, eye-opening exploration of the exciting parallels between cutting-edge thinking in physics and Buddhism-a scintillating conversation any thinking person would delight in overhearing.' -Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

"The Quantum and the Lotus is the rich and inspiring result of a deeply interesting dialogue between Western science and Buddhist philosophy. This remarkable book will contribute greatly to a better understanding of the true nature of our world and the way we live our lives." -His Holiness the Dalai Lama

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