Guide Buddhism and Science: A Guide for the Perplexed (Buddhism and Modernity)

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The Scientific Buddha: Past, Present, Future - "The Future of the Past"

Contemporary Buddhism Volume 18, - Issue 2. Published online: 3 Jan Published online: 31 May The Buddhism that the majority of lay Buddhists in Asia practice is a sort of folk-religion—usually a blend of ancestor worship, animism, perhaps Hindu influences and Buddhist thought.

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This is just one more form of Buddhism, sometimes a heavily distorted one. You see them this way because you do not understand what Buddhism is about, recognizing only superficialities. Yet there is a strong monastic tradition running through most forms which preserves the original meaning well. And of course this meaning is preserved in the sutras with variation in interpretation of course.

The various strands of Buddhism existed in relative isolation from one another for centuries.

Buddhism and Science: A Guide for the Perplexed - Donald S. Lopez Jr. - Google книги

In the 19th and 20th centuries the world entered a global age which allowed the West to draw from all of them as well as Western thought and culture, producing new forms. The West was also in a position of having sophisticated techniques of scholarship which have allowed us to trace the origins and evolution of all forms of Buddhism in a way that were impossible previously. And the authentic second wave of Buddhist thought is found in the Mahayana sutras. The principles of Buddhism are about the way out of suffering to inner freedom and are not about the existence or not of ancestor spirits, gods, God and so on.

There may be fewer in the West who take concepts like rebirth literally, but the principles of Buddhism still work and, according to the Pali Canon, the teachings are for such people too. It is precisely because Buddhist teachings have universal applicability and resonance in every culture that they have this cultural adaptability. Buddhism can be understood in terms of philosophy, psychotherapy, pantheistic religion, even Christianity — as long as certain core principles are understood and practiced.

To do so avoids the material conditions, the practices and on-the-ground teachings what people say that accompany the apotheosis of Buddha into the modern figure Lopez tracks in Arnold and others.

Meditating on consciousness

The Buddha is already unnecessary for Buddhism in his own words at the end of the Maha-parinibbana Sutta. Dogen is a reference in himself too, though his authority is zazen practice and not a person or scripture. Regardless of the characteristics or teachings of the historical personage of Gautama Buddha, one should not look to him as the ultimate authority on the practice, but rather to the various distinct yet surprisingly often mutually congruous cultural practices of Buddhism, all culturally modified trappings of an underlying worldview that is not, to my poor eyes, adulterated by the multiplicity of practices adorning it.

There is no single authoritative practice of Buddhism. Even more dubious, though, is equating any scripture with what the Buddha taught. Clearly, that does not mean we ignore issues of historicity in the scripture, but I think it changes what effect they have on our reception of them. Take the Raft Analogy as a way to consider the issue.

Buddhism and Science: A Guide for the Perplexed

Clinging to them, to the thought of them, in this way seems to be beside the point. The Buddha was supposed to be only one who turns the Dharma wheel; he did not create it. The Dharma is what he left, but why are we to suppose that this is reducible to a historical text, to something he made?


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If historical texts like the Pali Canon relates us to what he taught, it can only be by way of pointing. The Buddha makes his historical personage more explicitly beside the point than Jesus, as is clear in the parinibbana sutta and his insistence on his just being another human being albeit with the 32 marks of perfection. A great synopsis to be sure. While it may be tempting to go on about how Buddhism is a transcendent, amorphous phenomenon that is infinitely adaptable while never losing its inherent purity, it is the duty of scholars to map what is actually happening during periods of translation, that is, what is kept, what is left out, and what is reinterpreted and how.

For a historical analysis of how Zen Buddhism came to the West, via D. Any of Dr.

In all the Asian traditions of Buddhism, the authority of practice often rests quite strongly upon lineage, which is always conceived as a continuous, non-broken succession of teaching and transmission, passed on from teacher to student. For some, that leads back to the historical Buddha; for others, that lineage leads back to other Buddhas. But all are anchored ultimately in an individual who discovered the truth of the Dharma and passed it on to those after him.

The Buddha

Only a Western Buddhist would think to look to the underlying unity of cultural practices beneath living persons and social institutions. So very post-Enlightenment. Donald S Lopez Jr. Walmart Tell us if something is incorrect. Book Format: Choose an option. Add to Cart. Product Highlights Beginning in the nineteenth century and continuing to the present day, both Buddhists and admirers of Buddhism have proclaimed the compatibility of Buddhism and science. Their assertions have ranged from modest claims about the efficacy of meditation for mental health to grander declarations that the Buddha himself anticipated the theories of relativity, quantum physics and the big bang more than two millennia ago.

Lopez Jr.

Rethinking public religion: Word, image, sound

Lopez opens with an account of the rise and fall of Mount Meru, the great peak that stands at the center of the flat earth of Buddhist cosmography--and which was interpreted anew once it proved incompatible with modern geography. From there, he analyzes the way in which Buddhist concepts of spiritual nobility were enlisted to support the notorious science of race in the nineteenth century.


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  • Bringing the story to the present, Lopez explores the Dalai Lama's interest in scientific discoveries, as well as the implications of research on meditation for neuroscience. Lopez argues that by presenting an ancient Asian tradition as compatible with--and even anticipating--scientific discoveries, European enthusiasts and Asian elites have sidestepped the debates on the relevance of religion in the modern world that began in the nineteenth century and still flare today. About This Item We aim to show you accurate product information.

    Manufacturers, suppliers and others provide what you see here, and we have not verified it. See our disclaimer. In Buddhism and Science , Donald S.