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Buddhism and Science

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I was reading this article the other day and thought it was an interesting conversation point.

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.02/dalai_pr.html

I guess the central message of the article is that people like the Dalai Lama are trying to tie Buddhism to science. That some Buddhist monks have taught their brain to focus their brains on certain things like compassion at a level that the rest of the world does not experience. Scientists can see (via MRI scans) that various parts of the brain are much more active in Buddhist monks than normal people.

I don't know why I found this article around the same time I was watching a documentary about doctors trying to find the essence of a soul but the two seem to marry.

One doctor took a patient that was in a vegetative state and could not respond to even simple commands like move your eyes right or left. When he put the same patient under a MRI and told her to think about playing tennis the part of her brain that most people use to think about a physical activity lit up. When he asked her to imagine walking through her home a completely different part of her brian lit up (the same part of the brain that would light up if asking a normal person to think about walking through their home).

And I guess as a completely random occurrence, I was reading the print edition of Wired Magazine and they had a series of articles about AI (artificial intelligence) and they were discussing about how AI researchers have given up on trying to replicate the human mind because after years and billions in research they discovered that we don't know enough about the human mind and how it works to even begin trying to replicate it.

I don't know . . . sort of interesting stuff to ponder on if you have a few extra moments :-)

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I was reading this article the other day and thought it was an interesting conversation point.

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.02/dalai_pr.html

I guess the central message of the article is that people like the Dalai Lama are trying to tie Buddhism to science. That some Buddhist monks have taught their brain to focus their brains on certain things like compassion at a level that the rest of the world does not experience. Scientists can see (via MRI scans) that various parts of the brain are much more active in Buddhist monks than normal people.

I don't know why I found this article around the same time I was watching a documentary about doctors trying to find the essence of a soul but the two seem to marry.

One doctor took a patient that was in a vegetative state and could not respond to even simple commands like move your eyes right or left. When he put the same patient under a MRI and told her to think about playing tennis the part of her brain that most people use to think about a physical activity lit up. When he asked her to imagine walking through her home a completely different part of her brian lit up (the same part of the brain that would light up if asking a normal person to think about walking through their home).

And I guess as a completely random occurrence, I was reading the print edition of Wired Magazine and they had a series of articles about AI (artificial intelligence) and they were discussing about how AI researchers have given up on trying to replicate the human mind because after years and billions in research they discovered that we don't know enough about the human mind and how it works to even begin trying to replicate it.

I don't know . . . sort of interesting stuff to ponder on if you have a few extra moments :-)[/

When one trains themselves to have thoughts of compassion, they are not truly being compassionate; they are trying to set their thoughts in alignment with some role model, archetype or doctrine. True compassion is a mindset born of an objective view of life. There's no effort or intentional focus on the part of somebody whom has such an objective view.

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I was reading this article the other day and thought it was an interesting conversation point.

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.02/dalai_pr.html

I guess the central message of the article is that people like the Dalai Lama are trying to tie Buddhism to science. That some Buddhist monks have taught their brain to focus their brains on certain things like compassion at a level that the rest of the world does not experience. Scientists can see (via MRI scans) that various parts of the brain are much more active in Buddhist monks than normal people.

I don't know why I found this article around the same time I was watching a documentary about doctors trying to find the essence of a soul but the two seem to marry.

One doctor took a patient that was in a vegetative state and could not respond to even simple commands like move your eyes right or left. When he put the same patient under a MRI and told her to think about playing tennis the part of her brain that most people use to think about a physical activity lit up. When he asked her to imagine walking through her home a completely different part of her brian lit up (the same part of the brain that would light up if asking a normal person to think about walking through their home).

And I guess as a completely random occurrence, I was reading the print edition of Wired Magazine and they had a series of articles about AI (artificial intelligence) and they were discussing about how AI researchers have given up on trying to replicate the human mind because after years and billions in research they discovered that we don't know enough about the human mind and how it works to even begin trying to replicate it.

I don't know . . . sort of interesting stuff to ponder on if you have a few extra moments :-)[/

When one trains themselves to have thoughts of compassion, they are not truly being compassionate; they are trying to set their thoughts in alignment with some role model, archetype or doctrine. True compassion is a mindset born of an objective view of life. There's no effort or intentional focus on the part of somebody whom has such an objective view.

I disagree on some many levels. The mind can always be trained. Even if we're not talking about compassion or Buddhism, the top neurologists in the world have noted that training in mental activities does something that creates new connections between different parts of the brain that didn't exist before. Compassion is a mental state. You can train your mind to get there quicker and-or to learn to live in that state of mind.

For instance, if you have never danced before and you train to dance, your brain changes. If you learn a new fact, it changes your brain activity.

As far as Buddhism and science, ironically, the religion that has the least amount of dogma (Buddhism) is far more in line with the cutting edges of science than any other religion. By that, I mean that physicists are starting to look at Buddhism because Buddhism explains more about how things work than religions that rely on faith and dogma.

Roughly 2500 years ago the Buddha described our oneness with the rest of the universe that scientists are just beginning to confirm through physics today. The fact that science is becoming more interested in Buddhism has to do with the fact that the more they learn the more the Buddha's teachings explain things scientists have been trying to explain for thousands of years.

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I disagree on some many levels. The mind can always be trained. Even if we're not talking about compassion or Buddhism, the top neurologists in the world have noted that training in mental activities does something that creates new connections between different parts of the brain that didn't exist before. Compassion is a mental state. You can train your mind to get there quicker and-or to learn to live in that state of mind.

For instance, if you have never danced before and you train to dance, your brain changes. If you learn a new fact, it changes your brain activity.

As far as Buddhism and science, ironically, the religion that has the least amount of dogma (Buddhism) is far more in line with the cutting edges of science than any other religion. By that, I mean that physicists are starting to look at Buddhism because Buddhism explains more about how things work than religions that rely on faith and dogma.

Roughly 2500 years ago the Buddha described our oneness with the rest of the universe that scientists are just beginning to confirm through physics today. The fact that science is becoming more interested in Buddhism has to do with the fact that the more they learn the more the Buddha's teachings explain things scientists have been trying to explain for thousands of years.


I have no dispute in your point about training the habitual thoughts and sub-processes of the mind; that, of course, is a fact. What I was saying, though, was more about the motivation one has behind seeing compassionately. If one needs to train themselves to see from a compassionate view, then they are doing so for a particular reason that is beneficial to them; whereas, in the case of the Buddha and other such sages, that compassion comes in a second when the realizations of the nature of existence become apparent. You mentioned about about The Buddha speaking of oneness, the true realization of oneness is what produces an undying compassionate view of life. It is not a training, it is why Zen is called, 'The sudden school.' If one is trained in compassionate thinking, they are fragmented in their thoughts; somebody whom has reached particular realizations is beyond the necessity for such a training in habitual thought because they are unable to see things any other way. A popular analogy used to describe this is the idea of laying in your bed and seeing what appears to b
e a snake dangling in the shadows of a tree's branches outside your window; you are afraid of the snake and have disturbed sleep. In the morning you look outside and find that the snake was an illusion, it was just a rope dangling from the tree. Now the following night, you will not see the rope and think it is a snake, you cannot return to previous biased sight when you know the truth.

I think it's also important to point out that Buddhism isn't unique in these understandings, actually, Siddhartha Guatama was a Hindu Sadhu and many have described Buddhism as 'Hinduism stripped for export' it retains the deep philosophy of Hinduism, without all the dogmatic and ritualistic aspects that you pointed out.

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I have no dispute in your point about training the habitual thoughts and sub-processes of the mind; that, of course, is a fact. What I was saying, though, was more about the motivation one has behind seeing compassionately. If one needs to train themselves to see from a compassionate view, then they are doing so for a particular reason that is beneficial to them; whereas, in the case of the Buddha and other such sages, that compassion comes in a second when the realizations of the nature of existence become apparent. You mentioned about about The Buddha speaking of oneness, the true realization of oneness is what produces an undying compassionate view of life. It is not a training, it is why Zen is called, 'The sudden school.' If one is trained in compassionate thinking, they are fragmented in their thoughts; somebody whom has reached particular realizations is beyond the necessity for such a training in habitual thought because they are unable to see things any other way. A popular analogy used to describe this is the idea of laying in your bed and seeing what appears to b
e a snake dangling in the shadows of a tree's branches outside your window; you are afraid of the snake and have disturbed sleep. In the morning you look outside and find that the snake was an illusion, it was just a rope dangling from the tree. Now the following night, you will not see the rope and think it is a snake, you cannot return to previous biased sight when you know the truth.

I think it's also important to point out that Buddhism isn't unique in these understandings, actually, Siddhartha Guatama was a Hindu Sadhu and many have described Buddhism as 'Hinduism stripped for export' it retains the deep philosophy of Hinduism, without all the dogmatic and ritualistic aspects that you pointed out.


I don't think we're too far apart though I think you tend to chop concepts too finely. Where I disagree is that it's sort of like the "overnight success" of an actor or musician who has been struggling to make it for 20 years. Yes, it is sudden but without laying the groundwork, it wouldn't happen at all.

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