How Buddhism relates to Science

📚 Happiness | Science | Meditation| Buddhism

Excerpt From: Dalai Lama. “The Art of Happiness.

The key question is: Does Buddhism have anything to contribute to the scientific investigation of happiness? In considering this question, it is important to understand that Buddhism is not a faith-based system in the traditional sense. In fact, when the Buddha first began to teach, he advised his disciples not to blindly accept his teachings out of faith, but rather to investigate the validity of his theories and test his methods for themselves. This reliance on empirical investigation, the uncompromising commitment to truth, and a total dedication to discovering the nature of reality are things that both Buddhism and science have in common. In fact, the Dalai Lama has demonstrated his total commitment to these principles, stating, “If science was to conclusively prove that some part of the Buddhist scriptures or basic beliefs turned out to be untrue, then the Buddhist scripture or belief would have to change.” Such a shocking statement would seem to be almost inconceivable coming from any other religious or spiritual leader in the world! For 2,500 years, Buddhists have been practicing techniques to “train the mind” and develop their inner resources. And one would guess that after more than two millennia, ineffective techniques and methods would have been gradually abandoned, while only the most effective and reliable methods would have survived. It would seem reasonable to assume, therefore, that Buddhism might have much to contribute to our understanding of happiness and how to achieve it, and some remarkable recent developments certainly suggest that this is the case. When The Art of Happiness was first published, there was little scientific research available that related to the Dalai Lama’s fundamental views on human happiness. It has been very gratifying for me to see that since that time there has been an explosion of research on happiness, and even more gratifying to discover that the growing body of scientific evidence has consistently supported the views expressed by the Dalai Lama in this book. One example that illustrates this is the research on” “happiness and compassion discussed below. Another fascinating line of evidence is based on some cutting-edge research conducted by Dr. Richard Davidson, a highly regarded neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Using the latest technology, Dr. Davidson and colleagues identified a specific area in the left prefrontal cortex of the brain that is associated with states of happiness. He then measured the average level of activity in this “happiness” region among a large group of ordinary Americans. Later, he invited some Tibetan Buddhist monks into his lab and performed the same studies. He was astonished to find that their levels of activity in the happiness area of the brain were the highest he had ever seen, and by a huge margin— so far above the others that they were essentially off the chart! Of course, this may not be proof of anything, but

For 2,500 years, Buddhists have been practicing techniques to “train the mind” and develop their inner resources. And one would guess that after more than two millennia, ineffective techniques and methods would have been gradually abandoned, while only the most effective and reliable methods would have survived. It would seem reasonable to assume, therefore, that Buddhism might have much to contribute to our understanding of happiness and how to achieve it, and some remarkable recent developments certainly suggest that this is the case. When The Art of Happiness was first published, there was little scientific research available that related to the Dalai Lama’s fundamental views on human happiness. It has been very gratifying for me to see that since that time there has been an explosion of research on happiness, and even more gratifying to discover that the growing body of scientific evidence has consistently supported the views expressed by the Dalai Lama in this book. One example that illustrates this is the research on” “happiness and compassion discussed below. Another fascinating line of evidence is based on some cutting-edge research conducted by Dr. Richard Davidson, a highly regarded neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Using the latest technology, Dr. Davidson and colleagues identified a specific area in the left prefrontal cortex of the brain that is associated with states of happiness. He then measured the average level of activity in this “happiness” region among a large group of ordinary Americans. Later, he invited some Tibetan Buddhist monks into his lab and performed the same studies. He was astonished to find that their levels of activity in the happiness area of the brain were the highest he had ever seen, and by a huge margin— so far above the others that they were essentially off the chart! Of course, this may not be proof of anything, but

One example that illustrates this is the research on” “happiness and compassion discussed below. Another fascinating line of evidence is based on some cutting-edge research conducted by Dr. Richard Davidson, a highly regarded neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Using the latest technology, Dr. Davidson and colleagues identified a specific area in the left prefrontal cortex of the brain that is associated with states of happiness. He then measured the average level of activity in this “happiness” region among a large group of ordinary Americans. Later, he invited some Tibetan Buddhist monks into his lab and performed the same studies. He was astonished to find that their levels of activity in the happiness area of the brain were the highest he had ever seen, and by a huge margin— so far above the others that they were essentially off the chart! Of course, this may not be proof of anything, but nevertheless, such extreme findings are highly suggestive of the potential value of Buddhist practices in the quest to find effective methods of increasing individual happiness.”

Karl Niebuhr

Karl Niebuhr

I'm Karl! I like to read, learn and self-improve.
Karl Niebuhr

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