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May 14, 2012

Address by Dr. John M. Templeton, Jr.

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Might it seem as we listen to the music this afternoon already as if the gates of heaven opened up upon us.  I am John M. Templeton, Jr., the President of the John Templeton Foundation and I would like to welcome each and every one of you here at the majestic St. Paul’s Cathedral and to all of you around the world who are watching our webcast.

It’s a real joy to welcome you today to the Templeton Prize ceremony – honoring the 2012 Prize Laureate, His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

It is an extraordinary privilege to present the 2012 Templeton Prize to His Holiness here, at one of the most magnificent houses of worship in the world.  This cathedral embodies the spiritual life and heritage of the British people, a heritage that is both regional and also worldwide.

Jesus said, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations.”  And so here we are, gathered in this house of prayer for all the nations.  We are, indeed, people from many nations, and we are also people from many religions.  We come together today to honor His Holiness, who has dedicated his life to spiritual progress, most particularly as both a teacher and as a role model.  He has contributed breakthroughs in opening our eyes and our minds to a pervasive Humility, itself an enormous contributor to non-violence, to harmony among all, and to understanding among all of the religions, of all the nations of the world.

Therefore, the Templeton Prize and the John Templeton Foundation are extremely grateful for the opportunity to present the Templeton Prize to His Holiness here in St. Paul’s Cathedral.  For that privilege, we express our special gratitude to:

The Right Reverend Michael Colclough, the Canon Pastor of St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Bishop Colclough, you and all the members of your staff have so much blessed our meeting today and have greatly added to the overwhelming sense of global gratitude which might be is the order of the day.

I also want to recognize the Bishop of London, the Right Reverend and Right Honorable Richard Chartres who is with us here today.

And most emphatically, we are grateful to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Rowan Williams for joining with us on this occasion of both celebration and vision for spiritual progress.

Thus, today is a particularly appropriate day to share with all of you these reflective words:

“How little we know; how eager to learn.”

Those words are the motivating vision of the Templeton Prize, created exactly 40 years ago by my Father, Sir John Templeton.  My father was for his entire life a seeker of, and an investor in, those things of enduring value.  Thus, although he passed away in 2008, he has left us with a philanthropic heritage of the pursuit of excellence and value.

The words I just shared are from Sir John himself and have long been a major part of the vision for the Templeton Prize.  This vision fosters an eager pursuit of discovery, especially in the seeking of new insights into the limitless potentials in the realm of the spiritual.  This is what Sir John summarized as “Spiritual Progress.”

Following Sir John’s spiritual and philosophical world views over many decades, the Templeton Prize affirms that there are indeed “spiritual realities.”  Humans have a fundamental spiritual dimension, in addition to their physical or material one.

This timeless belief is shared by the overwhelming majority of the peoples of the world, both past and present, and I think, by most of you here today.

But what exactly do we mean by “Spiritual Realities?”  What do they encompass? 

Concepts associated with the timeless and universal evidence and sensibility of limitless Spirit clearly include prayer, altruism, thanksgiving, love, and a pursuit of the Divine.

But so, too, are complexity, creativity, cosmic purpose, and infinity.  These are also essential Spiritual Realities.

Sir John envisioned that the Templeton Prize would identify “entrepreneurs of the spirit” — people who devote their talents to expanding our vision of human purpose and even unto “ultimate reality”.

Thus, in raising concepts like creativity and purpose in its pursuit of Spiritual Progress, the Prize often honors those who use the tools of science and also philosophy to undertake spiritually relevant research.

But the optimal context for such a vision is to encourage an open-minded spirit of humility in all of these approaches.

Sir John stressed that humility causes an open mind, which in turn makes it possible for us to learn from each other.  Furthermore, an open mind is a major, and perhaps essential contributor to progress.

The Templeton Prize seeks to recognize that spirit of humility so that people of all nations can learn about the rich variety of ways that all might love others beyond themselves, and understand a supreme spirit. 

Sir John even foresaw the day when new information on Spiritual Realities from scienceresearch might reduce conflict between religions.  He felt that, from such research, people will come to acknowledge the spiritual information which is universal to all people.

In this way, it is hoped that all religions and all people of all nations will embrace Sir John’s vision of “How little we know, but how eager we are to learn.”

And so, in that spirit of spiritual progress, each year the nine Templeton Prize judges – a number of whom are with us today, for which we are so grateful – who represent a wide range of disciplines, cultures and religious traditions, individually, and separately of each other, carefully evaluate all of the Prize candidates.

From this process, the Templeton Prize Judges chose this year the 2012 Templeton Prize Laureate:  His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

The blessings that His Holiness has brought forth include his being an incomparable global voice for universal ethics, nonviolence, and harmony among the world’s religions.

But many may not know why the judges have chosen him as the 2012 Templeton Laureate. For example, one judge remarked:  “(Through his) spiritual stamina, the Dalai Lama has remained serenely steadfast in his stand for religion in its most positive dimensions.”

Clearly then, His Holiness exemplifies Sir John’s vision of spiritual progress.  For more than 25 years, His Holiness has focused on the connections between the investigative traditions of science and the contemplative traditions of Buddhism as a possible way to better understand and advance the best that both disciplines might offer the world. 

His Holiness has not only encouraged but, indeed, has catalyzed serious scientific investigative review of, for example, the power of compassion and kindness and their potential to address fundamental problems of the world.  This search is at the core of his teachings.

And within that search, he explores the types of “Big Questions” which are at the core of the John Templeton Foundation.  The Foundation’s mandate for breakthroughs in discovery and outreach relevant to “Spiritual Progress” are part of the spirit for today and hopefully the spirit for days to come.

One of the questions he raises is:  “Can compassion be trained or taught?”  Another question which is so relevant to the respect for which His Holiness has for every single person — might be:  “What is the significance that each and every human being is unique in all of human history?”

In summary, His Holiness has fostered the inclusion of careful scientific methods to the study of spiritual perspectives, which – in turn — are expanding the horizons for spiritual progress that the Prize has sought to recognize for the past 40 years.

Even with a range of increasingly beneficial technological advances to solve the world’s problems, humanity, as a whole, seeks the reassurance that only a spiritual quest can answer.

In this quest, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama offers a universal voice of compassion that is underpinned by a love of others and respect for spiritually relevant scientific research that centers on every single human being.

Indeed, countless millions of people around the world have been drawn by his appeal to compassion and understanding for all, regardless of their religion or cultural heritage.

In several videos which you can view on the Templeton Prize website, the Dalai Lama specifically says, in a global embrace of all:

“You can develop genuine sense of concern of well-being for others, including your enemy.  That kind of compassion, unbiased, unlimited, needs training, and awareness.”

Further, he says:

“The basis of genuine friendship is trust.  Trust depends on openness.  So, through these things, we can change.  That’s my belief, but my friends have a lot more research work to do!”

And thus we hear, as we just did from His Holiness, in these few visionary words:  the power of unlimited compassion, and the quest to use science research to discover more about Spiritual Realities.

These concepts, central to the teachings of His Holiness, are also fundamental to the core purpose of the Templeton Prize:  Namely, to encourage progress in the spiritual realm by fostering new research and new insights arising from investigating life’s spiritual dimensions. 

Therefore, today, as we celebrate the Templeton Prize and its 40 Years of hopeful contribution to spiritual Progress, we pay homage to His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, for his insights into the spiritual dimensions of human experience and most especially for his advancement of spiritual progress as a universal reality.

Thus, I now have the distinct honor of introducing to you, as if he needed an introduction, the Dalai Lama, and presenting to him, the 2012 Templeton Prize.