Buddhism is not a collection of views. It is a practice to assist us eliminate wrong views.
— Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of Buddha’s Teaching. What’s the Big Idea? I can currently prepare for the critiques. Science is about goal, reproducible verification. Buddhist meditation, on the other hand, is about you, alone with your own subjective experience of your own mind. All of its so-called”proof, “of the positive impacts of meditation, the limitless capacity of the human heart for delight, compassion, and peace, and so on is anecdotal. Putting aside for the moment the more”spiritual” aspects of Buddhist mentor, neuro and cognitive science have actually been paying close attention to meditation for a long time now. While such research studies are a source of debate in the scientific neighborhood, there is increasing consensus that the continual practice of meditation can completely change the structure of the brain and enhance attentional capability. It’s early days still for the neuroscience of meditation, but Kadam Morten, a teacher in the New Kadampa tradition of Buddhism, argues that
the Buddha( Gautama Buddha, who resided in India roughly 2500 years ago )was the creator of a”science of the mind.” The practice of Buddhist meditation, he says(echoing Geshe Kelsang, the founder of New Kadampa), enables anyone to confirm through self-study that beneath the” deluded mind-states”of anger, jealousy, and accessory which dominate our waking lives there exists a universal, self-renewing wellspring of empathy, delight, and love. This” spiritual dimension “of our presence, which Buddhists believe is empirically verifiable through practice, is what fundamentally differentiates Buddhism from what
might be called Orthodox Atheism, which rejects the presence of any such dimension. What’s the Significance? Those elements of
Buddha’s teachings that have been preserved in various traditions share a belief in the interdependence and interconnectedness of all things– a sort of merged theory of whatever. In effect, they argue that the majority of human reality as we know it is a distortion, the result of the delusions that afflict our specific minds, and that we view differences where none exist. For humans, Buddhists think, empathy for others is the
rational response to the understanding of connection and the shared experience of suffering that deluded mind-states trigger. Through observation, the”Buddhist scientist”concerns understand the sources of her own confusion and psychic dissonance, and, seeing through the external differences that divide us, can better empathize with others. Another recent Big Believe guest, philosopher Alain de Botton, may disagree with the metaphysics of Buddhism, but he shares this core belief– that underneath our often terrible external behavior towards one another, there exists a set of shared human values such as kindness, compassion, and value of children– and that our greatest obstacle as a species is not losing track of them. Obviously if you think that, at their core, individuals are violent and competitive and terrible, then neither argument is likely to interest you much
. But if you agree that hatred, stress and anxiety, greed, and jealousy are secondary and deeply harmful elements of our nature, then– after survival– finding some dependable approach to control or remove them– and therefore liberating our better angels– ends up being pretty much the only worthwhile human pursuit. Image credit: Luciano Mortula/Shutterstock. com Follow Jason Gots(@jgots) on Twitter Source