Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Be careful what you (whatever you are) say when toss around words as inadequate as "soul", "mind", and "self".

Buddhism and the Brain | SEEDMAGAZINE.COM


Wired monk science progress
Consider how easily Buddhism accepts what happened to Mr. Logosh. Anatta is not a unified, unchanging self. It is more like a concert, constantly changing emotions, perceptions, and thoughts. Our minds are fragmented and impermanent. A change occurred in the band, so it follows that one expects a change in the music. 
Both Buddhism and neuroscience converge on a similar point of view: The way it feels isn’t how it is. There is no permanent, constant soul in the background. Even our language about ourselves is to be distrusted (requiring the tortured negation of anatta). In the broadest strokes then, neuroscience and Buddhism agree.
See also: The Links Between the Dalai Lama and Neuroscience | NPR.org (2005) & Op-Ed: Dalai Lama receives $1.7m Templeton Prize in Washington | digitaljournal.com

I want to be careful here because I don't mean to imply or endorse anything like the notion we should give up science and all be Buddhists. No. What I am after is an attitude that's something better than dismissiveness when it comes to what can be learned from the application of logic to introspection. That's not to say that we even trust all introspective findings; there should perhaps be emphasis on the "application of logic" part of that sentence.

We also need to be open to scientific findings that seem to contradict our gut feelings or intuitions about ourselves (and the world). We know our perceptions of the external world, and of our own selves, can be dodgy. Science can help us understand ourselves and our world better than we can without its methodological framework. Where the "science of Buddhism" has demonstrated results, let's also that methodology and find out if or why it works.

The Morning News 

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