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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Buddists and Scientists

The Dalai Lama said Buddhists and scientists have something in common -- they both seek to dispel ignorance with knowledge, gained from experimentation and investigation. They are both trying to find reality.

"There is much work to be done to integrate the various fragments of life and its general understanding through interdisciplinary inquiry, and no one intellectual discipline alone can fulfill this need," said Tenzin Priyadarshi, the future Institute's director.

The Dalai Lama's stated that "Up to now, science mainly dealt with external things, while the Buddhist tradition is to analyze and investigate our inner world and to transform it. There is potential in working together,"

"Human values do not have a place in science, at least not yet. Beauty or meaning does not exist for science. Strictly speaking, science does not have a worldview, only a small, partial view. But science is universal. It can be shared across many countries, many cultures, and it has the possibility for growth. For 400 years, science has been accumulating, growing, and modifying its own principles by its own power. Buddhism can help provide a more integrated view of things to it".

"For Buddhists, the basic attitude is that you should remain skeptical at the beginning. This skeptical attitude automatically brings up questions. Questions bring clearer answers, or investigation. Therefore, Buddhist thinking relies more on investigation rather than on faith. I feel that that attitude is very, very helpful in communicating with scientists. Buddhist ethical discourse often speaks about wrong views as constituting a negative state of mind. There are two kinds of wrong views: One exaggerates what is actually there.The other denies what is actually there. So both absolutism and nihilism are seen as wrong views."

As much as the Dalai Lama enjoys dabbling in science, he has a greater purpose: to alleviate suffering. Buddhism has an extensive toolkit of techniques intended to reduce misery and perfect humanity through quieting the mind and cultivating compassion. The Dalai Lama wants to extract these methods from their religious context and ground them in the science of the brain in the hope that they will be widely adopted.

"I'm seeking scientific backing or findings in order to help everybody have a happy mind," also said the Dalai Lama. "Everybody is making an effort for material comfort but not as much effort to be happy." He said he hopes that by studying the minds and bodies of Buddhist monks and other saddhus (ascetic holy men) who, through meditation techniques, have developed extraordinary control over their mental and physical processes, scientists will be able to help all of humanity to achieve a happy mind.

5 comments:

Uncle Tree said...

Hello, Mariana.

Last time I tried to comment it didn't go through. I will see if this works before making a reply.

Buddhism clashes a bit with my ingrained Christian sensibilities,
nevertheless, I made myself read a few books concerning their philosophy and history. I think I've ended up with a strange mixture, too. Maybe it shows.

I have to forgive myself for wrong thinking and wrong doing at all the wrong times. Happy happy, UT

chicaenminifalda said...

Budismo tiene mucha belleza y sabiduría. si se juntara con ciencia...bingo evolutivo!

Paul said...

A happy mind is a wonderful thing. You have a truly amazing mind, Mariana and I have put you on my links in the Thinkers category. Your writing is so complete that it leaves very little to say but I will be reading all of it from now on.

Mariana Soffer said...

uncle tree: It's good to give things a chance, you never know, although they have to be promissing for trying them.

chica: cierto, estan buenisimos los libros de estos encuentros.

Paul: Txs a lot, glad you like it, you should read the books that have been published as a result of these gatherings, they are pretty interesting.

alfredo said...

creo que la ciencia nada tiene que ver con el conocimiento de la instrospeccion, la cual es subjetiva. tendrá el budismo un metodo? objetivo?

creo que la ciencia y el espiritualismo tienen caminos diferentes. lo que no es excluyente con la idea de la conjuncion mente-cuerpo.
pero soy mas positivista. por eso me gusta la psicologia cognitiva.