Historian Garry Wills was on stage with Dalai Lama one day and he asked the Buddhist monk what he would do if he ever got Tibet back. The Dalai Lama replied that he would enforce the separation of the Church and State, the American way. Gary Wills replied that a pre-requisite would be Enlightenment (not the Buddhist one, but the 18th century movement which includes Deism). The Dalai Lama smiled and went and wrote a book, The Universe in a Single Atom which is about the need for a dialog between scientists and those interested in spirituality.
Partly due to the efforts of the Dalai Lama and partly due to the adoption of Buddhist spiritual techniques by Americans there has been a scientific enquiry into what happens to us during meditation. These studies are being conducted in reputed universities and also at the National Institute of Health. Also there has been an adoption of mindfulness as a practice for stress reduction and this program is now offered in hospitals around the country.
In this video, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn who developed Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction talks about the program and the results.