Of science and religion

Both science and religion scrutinise human behaviour. However, you don’t have to be a scientist or a religious person to prove that destructive emotions lead to problems at home and abroad. Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, offers a remedy.

He says, “I believe we have a valuable opportunity to make progress in dealing with them, through a collaboration between religion and science. With this in mind, I have, since 1987, engaged in an ongoing series of dialogues with groups of scientists. Organised by the Mind & Life Institute, they have been on topics ranging from quantum physics and cosmology to compassion and destructive emotions.”

“Growing up, I was not very interested in science: proving something to be true by constant experiment. And religion, with its premises that led to logical conclusions left me bored. Only when I entered the world of mystical literature and my own experiments with a priori experiences (deductive as opposed to presumptive reasoning), did I begin to understand my own nature.”

Today, the words of His Holiness excite me. He explains, “Buddhist teachings stress the importance of understanding reality. Therefore, we should pay attention to what modern scientists have actually found through experiment and through measurement — the things they have proved to be reality.”

We soar through space able to observe our outer universe up close. But where is the spaceship that navigates the Inner Reality? Science discovers and proves primarily the outer. 

     The Embodiment of Compassion, says, “In contrast, Buddhism, an ancient Indian thought, reflects a deep investigation into the workings of the mind. Over the centuries, many people have carried out what we might call experiments in this field and have had significant, even extraordinary, experiences as a result of practices based on their knowledge”

The 1975 Shambala Publications book, The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism by physicist Fritjof Capra brought me to a new awareness of how the coupling of science with spirituality leads to an acceptance of the reality of our interdependence, our oneness with all beings, and to the fruition of our hopes and dreams of peace and prosperity for all. 

     What’s more, His Holiness, suggests, “Experiments have already been carried out that show some practitioners can achieve a state of inner peace, even when facing disturbing circumstances. The results show such people to be happier, less susceptible to destructive emotions, and more attuned to the feelings of others. These methods are not just useful, but cheap: you don't need to buy anything or make anything in a factory. You don't need a drug or an injection.”

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