Since his success at Gordon Brothers Group, he has been an executive producer of the 2006 film “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints,” an author, photographer, and inspiration for the 2009 NBC show “The Philanthropist.” He is now trying to revive Polaroid as the chairman of its board.
Ultimately, though, he describes what he and his family do as “selfish.” They simply want to be involved in “hands-on, eyeball-to-eyeball philanthropy.”
Their participation in the Science for Monks program has been both “very challenging and incredibly rewarding,” said Sager, who said he is not a practicing Buddhist, but that he meditates. He and his family have had the experience of living, eating, and overcoming obstacles with the clerics — what he called a privilege.
Although other tradition-based religions might get stuck on the topic of how science integrates with their beliefs, eminent Buddhists consider them interconnected.
“There is no contradiction between the two,” the Dalai Lama said in Sager’s book. “Each gives us valuable insights into the other. Both science and the teachings of Buddha tell us of the fundamental unity of all things.”
Throughout the 10-year cultivation of the program, there have been some obstacles. Most notably, Sager pointed to the translation issue: not just of language, but of scientific terms that had no comparable Tibetan words. Similarly, there was the lack of a baseline science background for many of the monks and nuns.
But even so, the initiative has flourished and is now a core part of the monastic curriculum, with a goal to make it sustaining by getting monks and nuns to teach one another and, hopefully, to eventually make their own contributions to science. Similarly, Sager said, the hope is to train as many monks and nuns as possible in a broad range of technologies, and to encourage them to take that knowledge into leadership roles that can help the Tibetan community.
“This is as much about monks as leaders as it is about monks as budding scientists,” he said. “It’s important for their voice to be part of the chorus of voices that are trying to figure out who we are, where we’re going, and how to make the world a better place.”
Taryn Plumb can be reached at email@example.com.