Thread: Is Buddhism Scientific?

  1. #1

    Is Buddhism Scientific?

    I came across this short article by Ven.S. Dhammika at the Buddhanet site :



    Is Buddhism Scientific?


    Before we answer that question it would be best to define the word 'science'. Science, according to the dictionary is: "knowledge which can be made into a system, which depends upon seeing and testing facts and stating general natural laws, a branch of such knowledge, anything that can be studied exactly". There are aspects of Buddhism that would not fit into this definition but the central teachings of Buddhism, the Four Noble Truths, most certainly would. Suffering, the First Noble Truth, is an experience that can be defined, experienced and measured. The Second Noble Truth states that suffering has a natural cause, craving,which likewise can be defined, experienced and measured. No attempted is made to explain suffering in terms of a metaphysical concept or myths. Suffering is ended, according to the Third Noble Truth, not by relying on upon a supreme being, by faith or by prayers but simply by removing its cause. This is axiomatic. The Fourth Noble Truth, the way to end suffering, once again, has nothing to do with metaphysics but depends on behaving in specific ways. And once again behaviour is open to testing.

    Buddhism dispenses with the concept of a supreme being, as does science, and explains the origins and workings of the universe in terms of natural law. All of this certainly exhibits a scientific spirit. Once again, the Buddha's constant advice that we should not blindly believe but rather question, examine, inquire and rely on our own experience, has a definite scientific ring to it.


    Continues at the link:

    http://www.buddhanet.net/ans13.htm


    Do you think that the beliefs, teachings and practices of the various schools of Buddhism in the modern world are scientific?

  2. #2
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    I think that meditation and the path bring about real changes measurable by science. We restructure our brains by the things we do. I think one use of science could be to monitor changes and track what we are doing, perhaps modifying meditation practice to bring about the kind of changes we want. I also think that having additional evidence for changes such as health benefits could help people here in the west decide to take up meditation, and even the path. It may help those who have difficulty 'buying into' an Eastern religion.

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    Hi Aloka

    I agree with philg and the article, I would go further in saying that early Buddhism, particularly the instruction on meditation is actually the scientific method in practice, Knowing and Seeing is a major component in the Buddhist path.

    A working definition of vipassana meditation is, knowing what is happening as it is happening, without being caught in the story or with judgement, I believe this parrallels the scientific method of setting up an experiement and seeing what happens

    Or more accurately the Scientific Method copies the Buddhist technique as this was developed 2500 years ago and science is a relatively modern

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    Forums Member Kodo308's Avatar
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    Yes, given the instruments available at the time.

    There is a query, a concept to be tested, an investigation, observation, & reproducible results.

    And argument over what the data means.

    Perfect science.

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    Without the arguments there wouldn't be science. Hopefully, though, the data hasn't been made up or collected in a scientifically poor way, and away we go, moving science on. Life will get interesting for Buddhists if science ever gets to the point where we can track the results of meditating, or following the path, or both, to the same degree that we can for contemporary scientific investigations. Unfortunately the data so far is more useful as a signpost than a set of instructions.

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