The Dalai Lama has been awarded the 2012 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion. Formal presentation of the prize will take place May 14 at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London; a press conference will be held before the ceremony, and both will be webcast live.
A statement from the Templeton Foundation cited the Dalai Lama’s “long-standing engagement with multiple dimensions of science and with people far beyond his own religious traditions [which] has made him an incomparable global voice for universal ethics, nonviolence, and harmony among world religions.” His emphasis on the scientific investigation of compassion dovetails with the interest of Sir John Templeton, founder of the prize, in applying scientific methods to the study of spirituality.
The Templeton Prize--valued at £1.1 million (about $1.7 million or €1.3 million)--is the world's largest annual monetary award given to an individual. It recognizes “a living person who has made exceptional contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimension.” Past honorees include Mother Teresa and Billy Graham.
The Dalai Lama, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, has authored or co-authored more than 70 books, among them the bestsellers The Art of Happiness (1998) and The Universe in a Single Atom (2005). His most recent book is Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World (HMH, 2011).
In a video statement posted at www.templetonprize.org, the Dalai Lama said, “When I heard today your decision to give me this quite famous award, I really felt this is another sign of recognition about my little service to humanity, mainly nonviolence and unity around different religious traditions.” He also speaks about the power of compassion to address the world’s ills: “You can develop genuine sense of concern of well-being of others, including your enemy. That kind of compassion, unbiased, unlimited, needs training, awareness.”