September 16, 2018

Ajahn Brahm on Buddhism and Science | 7 November 2012

Ajahn's talk starts from 5:50mins. Ajahn opens by talking about his unique position as an ex-theoretical physicist who still keeps up with physics, as well as a Buddhist monk with actual experience with the deeper states of mind. Ajahn then talks about the interface between Buddhism, psychology and science.   Ajahn shares that real science is about making a hypothesis and trying "(one's) damnest" to disprove a hypothesis. Modern science, instead, focuses on finding evidence in support of the hypothesis; this is driven by the need for grants: Ajahn uses the example of the Higgs Boson, which, in Ajahn's view, is not definitively proved but is still very tentative. But the pressure to justify the expenditure has warped perceptions of the scientists involved.   Ajahn points out that in modern society, the burden of proof on religion is much higher than the burden of proof in modern science. Ajahn also points out the problem of peer review, which does not provide rigorous review.   Ajahn emphasises the importance of challenging the status quo in search of the truth, in both real religion and in real science. Ajahn emphasises that the intersection of real Buddhism, psychology and real science is when there is space to question.   Ajahn also mentions that secular mindfulness has a limitation: it does not include compassion. Ajahn illustrates the limitation of bare awareness with a parable of a guard who was mindful of the burglars. "Mindfulness (alone) is not enough. Mindfulness and kindness is enough."

Ajahn Brahm gave this public talk on "Buddhism and Science" at the University of Toronto on November 7, 2012. Teaching retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoUMLb8es4A (YouTube Channel: urbanbuddhistmonk)

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