Modern science offers us a startling and highly detailed account of Cosmology—the origin of everything. This same issue—and its significance—have occupied religious thinkers for thousands of years. Their insights are very different from those of science, but can also be beautifully complementary. In this unique Wonder Dialogue, an astrophysicist, a Jewish scholar, and a Buddhist monk bring their own perspectives to these vast, yet highly personal questions.

Steven Stahler is an astrophysicist at the University of California, Berkeley. Raised in Maryland, he attended graduate school at Berkeley in physics. He was a professor at MIT before returning to the Bay Area in 1992. His research centers on the problem of star formation, which he has attacked from many different perspectives. He is the author, along with Francesco Palla, of The Formation of Stars (Wiley, 2004), the first comprehensive text in this field. Steve especially enjoys the esthetic aspect of his research, which he tries to convey in his public talks and articles. Not coincidentally, he is also an accomplished artist.

Daniel Matt is one of the world’s leading authorities on Kabbalah. He has published over ten books, including God and the Big Bang: Discovering Harmony between Science and Spirituality; The Essential Kabbalah (translated into seven languages); and Zohar: Annotated and Explained. Daniel is currently engaged in an immense project of translating and annotating the Zohar, the masterpiece of Kabbalah. So far, he has completed six volumes of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition (Stanford University Press), covering approximately half of the Zohar. For this work, Daniel has been honored with a National Jewish Book Award and a Koret Jewish Book Award. The Koret award called his translation “a monumental contribution to the history of Jewish thought.” Dr. Matt has been featured in Time Magazine, and has appeared on National Public Radio and the History Channel. For twenty years, he served as professor at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and has also taught at Stanford University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Daniel lives in Berkeley, California with his wife Hana.

Rev. Heng Sure, a native of Toledo, Ohio, became a Buddhist Bhikshu (monk) at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, Talmage, California, in 1976, after finishing his M.A. in Oriental Languages at the University of California, Berkeley. He ordained in the Mahayana tradition of Chinese Buddhism with his teacher in religion, the late Chan Master Hsuan Hua. In 1977 Heng Sure commenced a “Three Steps, One Bow” pilgrimage for World Peace, traveling up the California coast from South Pasadena to Ukiah. He and his monk companion covered a distance of eight hundred miles in two years and six months, during which time pilgrimage and for three years following Heng Sure observed a vow of complete silence. Rev. Sure currently serves as Director of the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery and holds a Doctorate in Religion from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California, where he co-teaches a class on Buddhist-Christian Dialogue. He has represented Buddhism on the Global Council of the United Religions Initiative and has served on the Board of Directors of the Interfaith Center at the Presidio. Rev. Heng Sure is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, French and Japanese. He speaks around the world on topics as diverse as human values in the hi-tech world, eating a harmless, plant-based diet, and translating Buddhist music into the West. An accomplished folk musician and storyteller, Rev. Sure interprets traditional insights for contemporary seekers of the path to liberation.

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