September 21, 2007

One fundamental difference between the scientific pursuit of objective truth and the Buddhist pursuit of spiritual awakening is that the former has relied principally on third-person modes of investigating external, physical phenomena, while the latter has relied principally on first-person modes of investigating internal, mental phenomena. If all mental phenomena are in fact merely epiphenomena, or emergent processes, of physical events that occurred very late in the evolution of the universe, then scientists, not Buddhists, would speak with the greatest authority about the nature of the mind. But modern science has yet to devise any means of objectively studying the origins, nature, or role of consciousness in nature, either at present or over the billions of years since the Big Bang. Since scientists have no way of objectively detecting the presence of consciousness in any sentient being now – even those we know firsthand to be conscious – they certainly cannot claim to know whether consciousness of any kind existed in the distant past. If, as Buddhists claim, consciousness is at least as fundamental to the universe as mass-energy and space-time, then it is plausible that the deep exploration of consciousness might reveal truths about the objective world as well as the subjective, even truths concerning the origins of the universe. This is a question to be explored empirically, with as few metaphysical biases as possible. The way forward in any fruitful collaboration between Buddhism and science is by letting go of subjective, ideological biases of any kinds, and uniting forces in the pursuit of empirical discoveries and open-minded, rational inquiry.

– From Contemplative Science by B. Allan Wallace


One Response to “”

  1. dave in the back said


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