Sunday, March 28, 2010

Where Science and Buddhism Meet





A friend sent me links to a couple of videos that look at similarities between what Buddhism and science say about reality. The videos are two parts of a video called "Where Science and Buddhism Meet".

When I first became interested in Buddhism, I used to think that science and Buddhism were far apart in what they say about the world. To me Buddhism was a kind of religion, and I assumed it said things about reality that were different to what science says. After checking it out for a few years I began to see that Buddhism and science weren't that far apart after all. I gradually figured out Buddhism is mainly about understanding reality, and anything about the world that is scientifically proven is okay by Buddhism. In that way, Buddhism doesn't set itself up to conflict with science. The big difference between them though is that Buddhism says there are some things about reality that science hasn't discovered yet, and maybe never will. So in some ways, Buddhism considers itself ahead of science as far as understanding the universe goes.

A big difference between Buddhism and science is the approach they take to studying reality. Buddhism places a big emphasis on understanding the world based on our own experience. So the things Buddhism say about reality are based on what people have experienced for themselves. For example, Buddhism says that the universe is "one" and that everything is "interconnected". This is because after practicing Buddhism for a while, you can start to feel that things are interconnected in a real way. Science takes a different approach. It tries to understand reality by gathering knowledge about the world, and making observations and proving theories based on the knowledge. In that sense, science and Buddhism are looking at reality from different dimensions. Buddhism looks at reality from the dimension of our own experience, while science looks at the world based on the scientific knowledge that's been accumulated so far. It's hard to know if either way is going to give a perfect answer, but I think that the more science finds out about the world, the better Buddhism starts to sound. Because what seems to be happening now is that as scientific knowledge increases, in some areas the scientific viewpoint is approaching the same viewpoint as Buddhism. And that makes the Buddhists think, "See, we were saying that all along, but no-one would listen!"

I was surprised by some of the parallels that came up in the video. One thing it looks at is Einstein's theory about "Spooky Action at a Distance", which is a lot like something that Buddhists notice. The video doesn't get into too much detail about the various similarities, but it's definitely worth a look if you've an interest in this kind of thing.

One idea that comes up that I found a bit hard to agree with, though, is where he seems to be saying that we can somehow control reality by using our mind. This isn't the way I understand Buddhism, but maybe I've misunderstood that part. I was thinking about this the other day, and it reminded me of a part on one of Neil Young's live albums where the rain starts to pour down during an outdoor concert he's doing. Neil tells the audience, "Maybe if we yell real loud, we can stop this rain!" And everybody starts shouting "No rain! No rain! No rain!" Unfortunately, it didn't work so well, and Neil had to play on in the rain. Mind you, if that kind of thing did work, I know we'd have been shouting it almost everyday when I was growing up.

Anyway, here are the videos. They're both about 10 minutes long.










Regards,

Peter

9 comments:

Al said...

Peter,

That was excellent. Thank you.

Is Nishijima's computer up and running yet?

Regards,

Al

Uku said...

Hi Peter,

thanks for those videos! I have to check them when I have time.

Good post. Sometimes Buddhists have said that Buddha was like a scientist or a doctor and Four Noble Truths is a similar method that a doctor is using to cure his/her patient. "There's a cancer, you have a cancer because of smoking, there's a way to cure your cancer and here's the solution." But I don't like of that metaphor because it's suggesting that our personal life or reality or samsara is somekind of disease what should be cured with a help of Buddhism. I think that's a bit of pessimistic and idealistic point of view.

Anyway, thanks for your post!

Be well, my friend.

Markus

Peter said...

Thanks Al,

I don't think Nishijima's computer is ready yet. His daughter is helping him to buy one, but it may not have been delivered yet. He'll need someone to come in and help him set it up for the web too, so it might take a while longer.

Regards,

Peter

Peter said...

Hi Markus,

Thanks for your comment. I agree that that idea is a bit pessimistic. For me, one big thing about Buddhism is that it made me notice that I was living now. Before I used to kind of feel like I was living in the past or the future. It also helped me notice that the world is sometimes different to the way I think it is.

All the best,

Peter

Uku said...

Hi Peter,

yeah, that was a really big thing for me too. It was also very painful to notice how a-hole I have been and occasionally I still am. But I think that's really big and important part of Buddha's Path; to be and to become aware of own faults and mistakes and also good things, and to allow to make mistakes and trying to be a better person. After all, practicing Buddhism is growing up, letting go.

Thank you for your efforts, Peter.

Markus

Constitutionalism said...

what's happening is the way that everything led to ,so what's happening now is the result from the past ,buhhda told everyone that you should just "know" the result because it's the first of the main four rules of the everything ,for example u cannot stop the rain ,in fact if the rain pours into your body,u might feel upset (because u might don't wanna wet) ,the buddha told us that rain is just rain ,rain doesn't make us feel happy or sad itself.Your own mind makes yourself happy or sad .

Constitutionalism said...

If u don't understand what I said,please go to google and search"the Buddha first sermon" . You'll find the answer

Anonymous said...

Fantastic video! Thanks for sharing!

As for Neil Young and the rain situation during the concert,
perhaps it would have been more effective if the had made the audience shout 'More sunshine' instead of 'No rain'....

Anonymous said...

Fantastic video! Thanks for sharing!

As for Neil Young and the rain situation during the concert,
perhaps it would have been more effective if the had made the audience shout 'More sunshine' instead of 'No rain'....

 
blog template by suckmylolly.com : header image by Vlad Studio