Tuesday, May 12, 2009

On Science and the 14th Dalai Lama

A concerned member at proudlyfilipina.com recommended
Destructive Emotions:  A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama by Daniel Goleman. Having recently discovered the joys of the audiobook (and because I had lost my glasses once again), I got this.

The title states exactly what it is.  Briefly, the Dalai Lama initiated a forum with renowned Western scientists and philosophers. Buddhist spiritual practices and its effects were put up for scientific study. Acutely aware that majority would shun religious or moral doctrine, he espoused the findings of research to understand and counter destructive emotion. Can a Nobel Peace Prize recipient aspire for less?

I only recently found out that His Holiness kept up with technology, or the applied sciences. Last month, cyberspies were discovered to have infiltrated the computers at his Dharamsala offices. The 14th Dali Lama even has his own website! To find that even abstract science is of special interest leaves me in awe. Richard Davidson, a pioneer in the field of affective neuroscience had remarked, "[He had what seemed] an almost preternatural feel for data and the methods of science. I've seen His Holiness penetrate into the data when everyone else but the specialists are left behind."

More of this is revealed in the book's Foreward written by the Dalai Lama:
"Buddhism and science are not conflicting perspectives on the world but rather, different approaches to the same end: seeking truth. In Buddhist training, it is essential to investigate reality and science offers its own ways to go about its investigation. While the purposes of science may differ from those of Buddhism, both ways of searching for truth expand our knowledge and understanding.

"The dialogue between science and Buddhism is a two-way conversation. We Buddhists can make use of the findings of science to clarify our understanding of the world we live in. But scientists may also be able to utilize some insights from Buddhism. There are many fields in which Buddhism can contribute to scientific understanding...

"I have often said that if Science proves facts that conflict with Buddhist understanding, Buddhism must change accordingly. We should always adopt a view that accords with the facts. If upon investigation, we find that there is reason and proof for a point, then we should accept it."

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