Cosmology and Buddhist Thought

A Conversation with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

Authored by Jerome Freedman, Ph. D.

Cosmology and Buddhist Thought is the result of a conversation with astrophysicist and television celebrity, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, that took place in New York at the end of May, 2011.

While cosmologists look at the outer space with massive instruments and difficult calculations using mathematics, Buddhists look at inner space with mindfulness and concentration.

Both paths lead to insights about fundamental questions about why and how we got here, what we are doing here, what are our connections and interactions with the universe, and what is our destiny.

Cosmologists study life on earth from an objective point of view and examine its causes.

Buddhists study life on earth with regard to understanding its challenges and how to resolve them.

Both Buddhism and cosmology recognize that we live in an emerging, evolving, and impermanent universe – everything is changing.

Dr. Tyson’s insights into the origins of life on earth, time scales, ecology, and religion are inspiring, to say the least, and extremely wise to read and contemplate.

His responsiveness to Buddhist ideas of co-dependent arising, interbeing (interconnectedness), impermanence, the self, nirvana, and consciousness demonstrates much more than a “Reader’s Digest knowledge of Buddhism.”

A close reading of the conversation reveals that Buddhist thought does not have much to contribute to cosmology. Cosmology, on the other hand, has a lot to contribute to Buddhism.

Excerpts from Cosmology and Buddhist Thought recently appeared on the Lion’s Roar Blog.

About the author: Dr. Jerome Freedman is a cancer advocate, physicist, author, mindfulness meditation teacher, and a cancer survivor since 1997.

He is a long-time practitioner in the tradition of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in which he is an ordained member of the Order of Interbeing an Earth Holder.

His recent article in The Mindfulness Bell titled “Healthy and Free” touched many people.

He is also a certified teacher of the Enneagram in the Oral Tradition with Helen Palmer.

Jerome currently teaches Mindfulness in Healing at the Pine Street Clinic in San Anselmo, California and writes daily on his blog, Meditation Practices.

Dr. Freedman served on Board of Directors of the Marin AIDS Project and the Advisory Council of the Institute for Health and Healing between 2007 and 2010.

Now he is actively engaged in the Buddhist Climate Action Network, Plum Village Climate Response, the Order of Interbeing, Marin Sangha (with Phillip Moffitt), and the Shabbat Sangha near his home in Greenbrae, California.

Dr. Freedman holds a Ph. D. in computer science, along with two master’s degrees in physics and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. He still consults internationally on software engineering problems and expert witness cases.

He successfully interviewed Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson on cosmology and Buddhist thought in 2011.

He can be reached by for consultations, dharma talks, lectures, and days of mindfulness by email at

Also by Dr. Freedman: Stop Cancer in its Tracks: Your Path to Mindfulness in Healing Yourself, Seven Steps to Stop Interruptions in Meditation: How to Concentrate and Focus on Your Meditation and Deal with Distractions, Cosmology and Buddhist Thought: A Conversation with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson – featured on The Lion’s Roar website, The Enneagram: Know Your Type! Awaken Your Potential!

He is a contributing author of I Am With You: Love Letters to Cancer Patients, Nancy Novak, PhD, and Barbara K. Richardson.

His Guided Meditation Recordings include Anger Control Guided Meditation, Achieve Goals Guided Meditation, Sound Sleep Guided Meditation, Stress Relief Guided Meditation, Reduce Symptoms Guided Meditation, and Weight Loss Guided Meditation .