Fresh off of reading books by the likes of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, this was an interesting change of scenery.
The Dalai Lama draws cFresh off of reading books by the likes of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, this was an interesting change of scenery.
The Dalai Lama draws comparisons between the disciplines of science and Buddhism. Buddhism, he notes, has many schools of thought and is comfortable with the idea that there can be competing viewpoints and no exclusive claim to the final truth. If one is compelled to engage with spirituality, this seems to be the only sensible mindset.
Less convincingly, he draws parallels between the two as being disciplines of "investigation." As the scientist must test his theories through experiments in the lab, he claims, a Buddhist must examine insights gained through inward contemplation. A nice metaphorical comparison, but science has something of a leg up in its mistrust of "truths" obtained through first person means. It is true that psychology today has moved beyond behaviorism in asserting the reality/importance of mental states and cognitive processes. However, first-person reports fit into a framework which is grounded in reverse engineering the brain and its informational processing. In science, there is no "personal truth," it must be objective and appreciable to everyone.
One of the more interesting notions was the mention of Buddhist monks being willing to undergo brain scans while meditating. It would truly be fascinating to see what insights into the nature of consciousness could come out of this exchange. Ultimately I must admit that my materialist (oh there's that awful word) world view forces me to characterize any of the insight coming out of such experiments as the potential for science learning more with the help of Buddhists rather than science learning a lot FROM Buddhism. Call me narrow minded.
Clearly suffering is part of the human condition, and there may be much spiritual wisdom about how we might cope with it. It is unfortunate that to many it appears such wisdom is only valid if it comes wrapped in superstition.
Check out the article "Killing the Buddha," by Sam Harris for an interesting perspective along these lines....more