The dominant paradigm in science is that mind is an emergent property of the brain whereas Buddhism sees mind as forerunner. If Buddhists want science to recognise the Buddha’s claims about the mind then Buddhism has to play by the rules of science. The burden of proof is upon Buddhists to devise experiments that show beyond reasonable doubt that purely mental activity can be detected and measured independently of matter. Until then, any talk of “Scientific Buddhism” is meaningless.
Although Theravada claims to be the most orthodox Buddhist tradition, modernists within that tradition have promoted vipassana or insight meditation as the Buddha’s unique meditation practice. In the Pali Canon, however, insight generally comes after mastery of the jhanas. Modern understandings of the word “vipassana” appear to differ from the understanding of the Early Buddhists who transmitted the Sutta Pitaka.
‘Tis the season for resolutions. The tradition of making a New Year resolution can be a useful one for cultivating the kinds of wholesome habits that the Buddha recommended (generosity, compassion, mindfulness… etc.). Here’s a collection of habit-building tips that can stop any good intentions crashing and burning by the end of January 2017. Merry Christmas everyone!
Buddhism is less about following rules and more about abandoning self-serving narratives. The Precept, “I resolve not to kill but to cherish all life”, must be understood on three levels – fundamentally as an exercise in mindfulness; flexibly as a guide to ethical living; ultimately as a meditation on selfless interdependence.
The Buddha taught that suffering is rooted in attachment to all that’s beloved and pleasing yet destined to change and vanish. So why bother with working out and dietary management if my body will inevitably succumb to ageing, sickness and death? Should I not just let nature take its course, watch what happens and accept it all gracefully?
Experiencing life as a personal affront and entertaining denial and anger is not only physically/mentally draining but also stresses the people around us. Accepting the situation and not taking it personally, on the other hand, not only eases our suffering mind but is kinder to others and a sets a good example. Our patience may be strengthened by contemplating the following mantra on waking each morning…
“The theme of this book is working with the Five (Mental) Hindrances (nīvarana). It is thus perhaps mainly a book for people with some experience of meditation who have encountered these Hindrances, obstructions, disturbances to some degree, and who are interested in knowing how to work with them.” – Ajahn Thiradhammo…
War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death… The world’s troubles never cease – an uncomfortable truth graphically illustrated by the 24/7 litany of horror stories being broadcast by global media corporations in all formats. The bad news is, there are no magic bullet solutions. The good news is, there are skilful behaviours for maintaining resilience and calmness…
Does modern science lend support to Buddhist ideas about the human mind? Does modern science lend support to the logic behind Buddhist meditation practice? After summarizing what Buddhism says about human minds and meditation, I refer to three scientific studies which may enable one to answer ‘yes’ to both questions.
An enlightened being remains equanimous under any circumstances. If awareness is present we, too, can recognise all experiences as impermanent (anicca) and unsatisfactory (dukkha), and we can remain calm because we do not mistake them as ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘mine’ or ‘self’ (anatta). However, we are unlikely to develop and maintain this ability if our practice is confined to a daily session on a cushion in the shrine room at the appointed time.