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India

When Buddhist Monks Meet Quantum Physicists

Scientists and Tibetan Buddhists gathered in Gangtok, India earlier this month for an unlikely meeting of the minds.

Monks working on a project with Science for Monks
Monks working on a project with Science for Monks
Vasudevan Mukunth

GANGTOK — Geshe Thabke is a Buddhist monk at the Sera Jay monastery near Mysore, Karnataka. On the sidelines of a conference called "Science for Monks," I sat down with him for a chat, during the course of which he mentioned a curious thing. When most people think about the meditative element of the practice of Buddhism, he said, they think only about single-point meditation, which is when a practitioner closes their eyes and focuses their mind's eye, so to speak, on a single object.

But there is also a less well known, second kind of meditation: It's an analytical exercise by which two monks engage in debate and question each other about their ideas. Each challenges the other's beliefs by pointing to impossibilities and contradictions. For obvious reasons, this is also a louder form of meditation. Thabke said that sometimes, people walk into his monastery expecting it to be a quiet environment and are surprised when they chance upon an argument. Analytical meditation is considered to be a form of evidence-sharpening and a part of proof-building.

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Geopolitics

The Days After: What Would Happen If Putin Opts For A Tactical Nuclear Strike

The risk of the Kremlin launching a tactical nuclear weapon on Ukraine is small but not impossible. The Western response would itself set off a counter-response, which might contain or spiral to the worst-case scenario.

An anti-nuclear activist impersonates Vladimir Putin at a rally in Berlin.

Yves Bourdillon

-Analysis-

PARISVladimir Putin could “go nuclear” in Ukraine. Yes, this expression, which metaphorically means “taking the extreme, drastic action,” is now literally considered a possibility as well. Cornered and humiliated by a now plausible military defeat, experts say the Kremlin could launch a tactical nuclear bomb on a Ukrainian site in a desperate attempt to turn the tables.

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In any case, this is what Putin — who put Russia's nuclear forces on alert just after the start of the invasion in late February — is aiming to achieve: to terrorize populations in Western countries to push their leaders to let go of Ukraine.

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