The Consolidation Phase: SmD since 2015
Following the transfer phase, the SmD project was able to set a new course. Four important decisions on the part of the exile monasteries were decisive:
- In 2011 the monasteries in which SmD had been active decided to take the education of all the nuns and monks into their own hands (see The Transfer Phase: SmD from 2012 to 2014), thus multiplying the number of students.
- At approximately the same time, the organisation "Gelugpa International" declared natural science education to be obligatory as of 2014 in all the monasteries of its tradition. This education was to begin with the Abhidharma / Vinaya studies and last six years.
- The decisions of the "Conference on Development of Education of Four Major Tibetan Buddhist Schools and Bon Tradition" followed in May 2013. It dealt with the gradual introduction of natural science education in all monasteries, the bridging of the interim period with Science Introduction Workshops, as well as uniform remuneration of all natural science teachers.
- Finally, also of importance was the commitment of the "Library for Tibetan Works and Archives", together with Emory University in America, to running a four-week training block of courses annually at the Mundgod and Bylakuppe monasteries.
Thus SmD has devoted itself to a new, major task: In order to develop the changes in the training concept for Buddhist nuns and monks with lasting effect, it is of foremost importance to create an official curriculum and corresponding syllabus as quickly as possible. Experienced SmD teachers, in collaboration with the model monastery Sera Jey, have been creating drafts during the past months. By the beginning of 2016, these drafts should be discussed and validated with the exile governing body and the 51 Buddhist monasteries in India and Nepal.
Once the targets for the monastic education in natural sciences have been established, the necessary teachers can be trained accordingly. SmD is prepared to contribute its experience and competence to a relevant educational concept and its implementation, but is dependent upon collaboration with other institutions. In this context, networking with nuns who have completed the "Empowerment Program", as well as with the "Tibetan Scientific Society" is extremely valuable.
As an important contribution during the consolidation phase, SmD is offering so-called "Science Introduction Workshops" to those monasteries that are not yet familiar with natural science teaching.
During all of these endeavours, the superordinate goals of the "Science meets Dharma" project remain unalterably in effect.