Science and Buddhism
Buddhism and Science)
As far as I have found there is no conflict between
Buddhism and Science.
Buddhism is not a "revealed religion", that
is it has not been revealed to humankind by a superhuman being. It was discovered
by a normal person, who did not claim to be special, in fact he said that he had
just re-discovered a lost path.
There is no "creator" in Buddhist
beliefs, so there is no conflict with the theories of evolution or the "big
bang". Buddhism does talk about " created things", but does not
postulate that they are created by a superhuman creator. There are gods in Buddhism,
but they are subject to the same laws of cause and effect and birth and death
as the rest of us.
The natural laws described in Buddhism do not conflict
with present day science. For example there are 'laws' governing the physical
order (such as the seasons and the weather), the biological order (such as genetics)
and the mental order (the processes of thought and consciousness). The 'law' which
is best well known and perhaps least understood is the law of Karma and Vipaka,
governing actions and results. It is often portrayed as a form of justice - bad
deeds will be punished. But there is no superhuman judging our actions; it is
just a natural law, just like gravity. No one would suggest that apple fell down
on to Newton's head as a punishment!
The message of Kalama Sutta, to me, is
the most obvious bit of good advice that you could give a scientist - don't believe
what someone tells you but test it for yourself! The Buddha was talking about
finding the truth in religious teachings, but it applies equally to the true investigative
spirit of science. Good scientists make their own observations and try to find
patterns. It is tempting to read a theory or come to a conclusion and then try
to make the evidence fit - but this is bad science and bad religion!
book "Beyond Dogma" the Dalai Lama writes 'At the heart of Buddhism
and in particular the Mahayana, great importance is placed on analytical reasoning.
This view holds that we should not accept any teaching of the Buddha's if we find
any flaw or inconsistency in the reasoning of that teaching. It is advisable to
maintain a critical mind, even with regard to the Buddha's own words. Does He
Himself not say...."O Bikkhus, as gold is tested by rubbing, cutting and
melting - accept my word only on analysis and not simply out of respect".
The Buddha's central teaching on the origin of unhappiness is so logical
that few scientists could find fault with it. To paraphrase it - we create our
own unhappiness by having desires that cannot be fulfilled; our desires come from
the illogical belief that I have a separate eternal self - every thing around
me is subject to the laws of nature but for some strange reason I think they will
not affect me!
The natural sciences can remind us of the impermanence of life
and the constant state of change that exists. Natural objects such as flowers
are often used on Buddhist altars as a reminder of impermanence. Crystals or fossils
can be used as an aid to meditation.
written and maintained by Mike Horne