Science and Conscience, Passion and Compassion

As a writer, individual words are important tools in collecting thoughts into coherent stories. My first book, Death and the Dream, touches on science and conscience. “Con” with “science” adds the thought and the heart to it. What is the work of science without conscience? It’s a little frightening to say that I know what it is.

My new book, Vector, centers on passion and compassion (currently in edit). What is passion without compassion? Here too, the “com” adds the thought and heart to it. I won’t provide a spoiler, but most of us know that moment of passion, even if it is just the angry shout-out, carries consequences.

Sunlight Image, Pantheon, Roma

Using the opposite forms of the word is a way of kneading through the different sides of the idea. When I think about compassion, I often turn to an expert of our own times, who is both wise and a prolific writer, the Dalai Lama. His book, The Universe in a Single Atom, is one of my favorites.

Compassion is a connecting theme of most recent quotes from the Dalai Lama.

  • On education:”Modern education pays attention to the development of the brain and the intellect, but this is not enough. We need also to be able to develop warm-heartedness in our educational systems.” – Dalai Lama, Sept 9, 2011
  • On Sept 11 remembrance: “This tragedy in particular has reinforced my belief that fostering a spirit of peaceful co-existence and mutual understanding among the world’s peoples and faith traditions is an urgent matter of importance to us all.” – Dalai Lama, Sept 11, 2011

From Tibet, in his later years he is facing the question of what comes next for his reincarnations as a leader. The Tibetan culture throughout hundreds of years, has had a Dalia Lama reborn to lead them – both their experience and belief.

Facing the death experience and the future after death, is a difficult gray area for most of us. I was delighted to see the Dalai Lama outline the Tibetan experience of reincarnations in a public statement Sept 24th. His description of his experiences as a Tibetan, and his thoughts of death and rebirth are fascinating.

I was completely surprised to see in his statement on reincarnation, that a political authority can plan not only to take a person’s life but their rebirth. It seems that because of this, he may chose not to be reborn at all.

What do you think?

Read the Dalai Lama’s inspiring and full statement is at his site at:

Please leave a comment to share views with readers. I’ll look forward to hearing from you here.

Related links: you may also be interested in Short Stories “Death and the Dream” available at and book retailers world wide, as print and ebook editions.

11 thoughts on “Science and Conscience, Passion and Compassion

  1. I see no need to separate science from spirituality. Like you, I see them as the study of the same thing. Investigating Creation is a kind of worship. And a recognition, even if the practitioner isn’t fully aware of it on that level. Lack of total awareness doesn’t change what is.
    Thanks for the Dalai Lama’s link, Jennifer. 🙂

    1. Thanks Cynthia for sharing this insight, that studying creation is a kind of worship. Appreciation of nature is a kind of love. I was surprised to see the Dalai Lama statement here, but he has to assert himself before the time comes to move on it seems.

  2. There is no conflict between science and spirituality for those who practice the convergence of the two. You don’t have to go far ~ Jennifer (the author of this blog) won’t tell you ~ so I will. She herself practices the convergence.

    You don’t have to believe me. Just read her interview on my blog 🙂

    As for the Dalai Lama and reincarnation ~ yes, I believe he can choose his future at any moment. All enlightened souls can ~ and he definitely is one.


    1. Thanks Kumud, if there were ever a reason to think enlightenment was the place to be, chosing your own future at any time would be it. What a tremendous freedom. I enjoyed interviewing with you on science at spirituality at your blog, and the discussions with readers afterwards.

  3. Congratulation for your new book.
    Your post reminds me of the words of Rabelais “Science without conscience is but the ruin of the Soul”
    Why do Modern Science isolate us from our soul?

    About convergence, there is a good article by Hussein Nasr : “Spirituality and Science, Convergence or divergence?”
    It can be read at :
    Convergence seems to lead to a new sacred science…

    1. Thank you for these new references, and the wise words of Rabelias–so true. If science were taught along with ethics or social responsibility, it would be a good start. I look forward to reading the new citations here.

  4. Jennifer, your account of the present Dalai Lama’s book led me to an online search where I found a September 18, 2005 review of it by George Johnson writing in The New York Times (Books) .

    In your post you wrote about two “c” words: conscience and compassion. The Dalai Lama’s subtitle is “The Convergence of Science and Spirituality,” which includes yet another important “c” word. Furthermore, Johnson wrote in his review that the book offers “…a compassionate and clearheaded account by a religious leader who not only respects science, but, for the most part, embraces it.”

    Your questions, (paraphrased by me), “What is science without conscience?” and “What is passion without compassion?” prompt me to think about their “convergence.”

    1. Barbara thanks for bringing up the idea of convergence here. It’s always more intereseting to me to look for what we have in common, than what separates us, more comforting as well. Science and spirituality have so much in common, as if looking at the same thing through two lenses.

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