dalai lama conflict science buddhism change

Forum for discussion of Tibetan Buddhism. Questions specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
Post Reply
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2016 3:27 am

dalai lama conflict science buddhism change

Post by Odin » Wed Sep 20, 2017 12:34 am

What is your opinion on the dalai lama stating that if buddhism conflicts with science buddhism must change?

User avatar
Global Moderator
Posts: 5543
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Re: dalai lama conflict science buddhism change

Post by Queequeg » Wed Sep 20, 2017 12:42 am

If the facts and Buddhist doctrine are at variance, the doctrine must give.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
Posts: 8045
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA

Re: dalai lama conflict science buddhism change

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:21 am

Odin wrote:What is your opinion on the dalai lama stating that if buddhism conflicts with science buddhism must change?

My opinion is that it's a nice thing to say, and that 90% of westerners who repeat it don't know the context the comments are intended in, nor do they bother reading all the other stuff HHDL has said about the limits of current scientific knowledge, which he has definitely commented on. They also don't bother with the parts where he has mentioned that modern science in some respects lacks a moral compass, and refuses to face inward... which again, he has mentioned.

Much of Buddhadharma, much of the important bits...are basically non-falsifiable by the standards of modern science, it's great when they agree, but the Buddhist test for validity of positions is different from modern scientific empiricism. Things like the literal truth of Mount Meru cosmology..of course, those change.

So it's important to know a bit about what HHDL has said generally to make sense of some of his more famous "secular" statements, and not take them in isolation..he is not saying that Buddhism should simply adopt the mindset of materialist scientists, and if you follow him in depth you will get the distinction pretty quickly.
"it must be coming from the mouthy mastermind of raunchy rapper, Johnny Dangerous”

-Jeff H.

User avatar
Posts: 1311
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 2:50 pm
Location: South Florida, USA

Re: dalai lama conflict science buddhism change

Post by seeker242 » Wed Sep 20, 2017 2:02 am

It's a nice sentiment and encourages science minded people to take Buddhism more seriously, which is good. However, it's ultimately not very meaningful because of the unfalsifiability mentioned above. The DL knows full well that science can't disprove things like rebirth to begin with.
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!

User avatar
Posts: 3886
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: dalai lama conflict science buddhism change

Post by Wayfarer » Wed Sep 20, 2017 2:51 am

He means that if dogmas conflict with facts, especially facts previously unknown but discovered by science, then the dogma has to change. But Buddhism has always claimed to be non-dogmatic (although not always succeeded in so doing.) Furthermore, the fundamental teachings of Buddhism are not likely to be challenged by anything science might discover, so His Holiness has, so to speak, made a pretty safe bet. (The statement is from his book on philosophy of science, Universe in a Single Atom, which is well worth reading. And a good essay on the topic is here by a trusted advisor and translator of His Holiness.)
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

User avatar
Tiago Simões
Posts: 928
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2014 8:41 pm
Location: Portugal

Re: dalai lama conflict science buddhism change

Post by Tiago Simões » Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:42 am

Odin wrote:What is your opinion on the dalai lama stating that if buddhism conflicts with science buddhism must change?
This is a good article to read:

Posts: 21
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2010 1:40 pm

Re: dalai lama conflict science buddhism change

Post by dechenpa » Fri Sep 22, 2017 6:23 pm

Karma Thinley Rinpoche wrote an interesting essay on this topic, supporting the idea that some of the non-definitive teachings - like Mount Meru and eclipses, are subject to revision.

https://dechenfoundationbooks.wordpress ... -of-faith/

More and more though science is being treated as a substitute religion - i.e. unquestionable. But not all of its truths are falsifiable (does nobody read Thomas Kuhn or study the history of science anymore?). Not all of science is true or even useful. Not all scientists are motivated by seeking truth or the benefit of mankind. These things should be obvious but the 'I f***ing love science' mentality is too credulous to notice or pay attention to them.

Just look at this stupidity for example:
http://sfglobe.com/2015/07/21/kelly-bro ... cientists/

The dogmatization of science is starting to look to me like one of the biggest obstacles to the progress of dharma in the West, because it subverts what is good in science - seeking truth - and replaces it with worldly, what we would call 'samsaric' activities.

Posts: 2396
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2011 10:30 pm

Re: dalai lama conflict science buddhism change

Post by krodha » Fri Sep 22, 2017 6:45 pm

The Dalai Lama also said:

  • Buddhism draws the critical division differently— i.e., between sentience and non-sentience— because it is primarily interested in the alleviation of suffering and the quest for happiness. In Buddhism, the evolution of the cosmos and the emergence of the sentient beings within it— indeed, effectively everything within the purview of the physical and life sciences— belong within the domain of the first of the Four Noble Truths, which the Buddha taught in his initial sermon. The Four Noble Truths state that within the realm of impermanent phenomena there is suffering, suffering has an origin, the cessation of suffering is possible, and there is a path to the cessation of suffering. As I see it, science falls within the scope of the first truth in that it examines the material bases of suffering, for it covers the entire spectrum of the physical environment—“ the container”— as well as the sentient beings—“ the contained.” It is in the mental realm— the realm of psychology, consciousness, the afflictions, and karma— that we find the second of the truths, the origin of suffering. The third and fourth truths, cessation and the path, are effectively outside the domain of scientific analysis in that they pertain primarily to what might be called philosophy and religion.

Tolya M
Posts: 225
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:26 pm

Re: dalai lama conflict science buddhism change

Post by Tolya M » Fri Sep 22, 2017 8:38 pm

I can only say that if the most advanced that there is in the philosophy of consciousness is the works of D. Chalmers then Dharma most likely will change it's wrapper with Maitreya or with some very advanced teacher. How do you imagine a refutation of phonemology? Only by the purpose for which it is directed and with the help of logic. There are no more ways.

Posts: 187
Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2013 5:54 pm

Re: dalai lama conflict science buddhism change

Post by madhusudan » Wed Sep 27, 2017 11:01 am

My perspective is that his words are skillful means. Scientific "knowledge" changes over time. Certainly in 100s of years, scientific claims will be far different than now. This is the history of science, and reflects the impermanence of compounded phenomena. Since our understanding of material qualities depends on our senses, the truth discovered is always relative to the apprehender. Emptiness and dependent origination cannot be refuted; however, materialism was refuted ages ago. I'm always somewhat mystified by extremely intelligent experts who have no inkling of this, such as those who claim that consciousness is simply a byproduct of biology. I guess it may be partly due to overspecialization. If you've encountered the Dharma, it truly is a rare blessing.

User avatar
Posts: 1115
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:39 pm

Re: dalai lama conflict science buddhism change

Post by Anders » Sat Sep 30, 2017 11:11 am

I think it's a fine statement. On matters of astronomy, atomic particles and evolution for example, I think it is only sensible that Buddhists should prefer science over the traditional Buddhist take.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

Posts: 187
Joined: Sat Jan 16, 2016 4:39 pm

Re: dalai lama conflict science buddhism change

Post by Sādhaka » Sun Oct 01, 2017 12:00 am

Odin wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 12:34 am
What is your opinion on the Dalai Lama stating that if buddhism conflicts with science buddhism must change?

Skillful Means, IMO.

I'd imagine that the Dalai Lama has dialogue with the Lokayatas or Carvakas of mainstream science (I'm aware that not all of them are Charvakas, although in general most are) for similar reasons that he has dialogue with leaders from various Tirthika traditions.

To be inclusive so that people don't leave the Buddhadharma. It would better for people to hold on to some Carvaka and/or Tirthika ideas and stay interested in Dharma, than to drop Dharma altogether.

To stay interested in the Buddha's Dharma will at least eventually lead to liberation (even if it takes three incalculable eons according to common Mahayana); whereas abandoning the Dharma could lead to infinitely circling through the various favorable & unfavorable realms of samsara.
“...we should try to acquire clairvoyance. Without it, we are like a baby bird whose wings are undeveloped and has not yet grown feathers and remains stuck in its nest, unable to fly. Without clairvoyance, we cannot work for other sentient beings.” — Khunu Lama
“Just as a bird can not fly without both wings,
The welfare of others cannot be accomplished without the higher faculties of perception,
So diligently strive for your own wellbeing, whilst mentally considering the welfare of others.” — Longchenpa

Post Reply

Return to “Tibetan Buddhism”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: billy hudson, humble.student, joehaz21, LolCat, Matt J, mikenz66 and 63 guests