october spotlight on: the sacred and the scientific

In each atom of the realms of the universe, 
There exist vast oceans of world systems.
– The Great Flower Ornament, 
an ancient Buddhist scripture

The following excerpt is from The Universe In A Single Atom, the Dalai Lama’s book about the convergence of science and spirituality. I’ve always found this notion — that fact and faith, although not mutually exclusive, can and should work together to better humanity, alleviate suffering, and generate compassion — fascinating. Throughout history, it seems like each camp has had great fear for the other, and little desire to collaborate or even open a discussion. Leave it to His Holiness the Dalai Lama to say it best, and with openness and generosity, as usual.

As my comprehension of science has grown, it has gradually become evident to me that, insofar as understanding the physical world is concerned, there are many areas of traditional Buddhist thought where our explanations and theories are rudimentary when compared with those of modern science. But at the same time, even in the most highly developed scientific countries, it is clear that human beings continue to experience suffering, especially at the emotional and psychological level. The great benefit of science is that it can contribute tremendously to the alleviation of suffering at the physical level, but it is only through the cultivation of the qualities of the human heart and the transformation of our attitudes that we can begin to address and overcome our mental suffering. In other words, the enhancement of fundamental human values is indispensable to our basic quest for happiness. Therefore, from the perspective of human well-being, science and spirituality are not unrelated. We need both, since the alleviation of suffering must take place at both the physical and the psychological levels.

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2 responses to “october spotlight on: the sacred and the scientific

  1. Science and spirituality become still more intertwined and inseparable when we look at post-positivist conceptions of science – particularly narrative inquiry. Have you read or heard much about these alternate understanding of the nature of knowledge and existence and the spiritual/liberating benefits of inquiries based on such principles? Buddhism and narrative inquiry seem, to me, to be particularly suited for one another…

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