A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Archive for the month “July, 2011”

Emptiness is form, form is emptiness

Still with the same book as the last few days. he tackles some of the esoteric questions that arise from what appear to be contradictory statements, such as void is matter, matter is void, or Buddhism is not Buddhism, therefore it is named Buddhism through mathematical formulae. I will leave those who are interested in the formulae, to obtain a copy of the book. He then will look at he Law of Cause and Effect, and delve into how Buddhism agrees with the Theory of Relativity. Talk about standing the test of time, over 2500 years till science proved the Buddha was right. The Buddhist outlook on the universe is that it is more immense then we know. That there are Buddhist lands 100,00 constellation away from earth. It’s only since we developed high powered electron telescopes and other devices has man started to see just how vast the cosmos really is. And now they are starting to identify not just planets in other solar systems in other galaxies, but that some of these could support life similar to our own. The earth in Buddhism has just been a grain of sand on the beach, it never was the center or pinnacle of creation.

Does Buddhist Scripture meet the standards expected of a scientific paper?

To an ordinary layperson the six elements that need to preface a report, namely: The lead researcher, his assistants, time and place of the experiment, the object being studied, the materials and instruments used during the experiment are all listed. Buddhism in its earliest writings followed this format. This was long before the scientific community had developed this format, in another part of the world. He gives us the passage : “Thus have I heard. Once the Buddha was staying in the garden of Anathapindika in Srvasti with a group of 1,250 Bhiksus. . .” Faith is demonstrated by the word “thus”. The source of knowledge is identified by “I have heard”  and “once” is the time when it occurred. “Buddha” is the lead individual. The location is “in the garden of Anathapindika in Srvasti” . Finally the audience is “1,250 Bhiksus”. So if this was a paper being presented to a University for peer review, the basic 6 proofs that are expected before the main report have already been presented. He then states that unlike other important literature from Chinese history, only the  Buddhist scriptures meet these 6 proofs. He then goes through an analytical analysis, and examines the syntax and style according to accepted scientific principles. He then examines how the words were translated into Chinese and was astounded at the Buddhist dictionary that existed. One point he makes about the exactness of the translations, is that you get the same translation of terminology if you go from Sanskrit to English today, as you do if you translate from Chinese to English the same writings. The final item I will mention for today, is that on the last page of Buddhist texts the total number of words, and the total number of punctuation marks are written, as a check against inaccurate copying.

A Scientist decides to follow Buddha

Yesterday I mentioned the book “A Scientists Report on the Study of Buddhist Scriptures”,  and would like to discuss it a bit more. Mr Yiu went from an atheist or agnostic to a follower of Buddha, by using scientific analysis, based on three questions. Firstly are the theories well established, and if so are they compatible with science? Secondly are the teaching and practices of Buddhism applicable today? Thirdly to be able to clearly identify the values and benefit to the individual and to mankind as a whole, form following these teachings. He lists the Sutras and Sastra he based his research on. He describes the four conditions he will use to determine a decision. He credit’s his uncle‘s challenge to examine the scriptures as a way of learning hte truth. He went into it with an “open mind”, but expected to prove his uncle wrong.  The first book he read was given to him by his uncle, as an outline or framework to facilitate his understand of Buddhism. “The outline of Buddhism” written by Hsieh Meng was the book he was given. After reading the primer, he had three conclusions; that Buddhism was not a religion based on faith, that it had a logic to it and was a practical or useful knowledge. Secondly that it was as comprehensive as the pure science course he had taken in university. Finally that as to the mythological portions or some of the parables, that until he had a better understanding of the scriptures and discussed these with knowledgeable people, he would set them aside. He of course was still sceptical, but he was keeping an open mind. His Uncle recommended the Surangama Suta as his first scripture. This was to make his mind more open to new ideas that did not readily fir whith what he had already learned. He points out that if Einstein had not been open to new ways of looking at things, he would not have developed his Theory of Relativity to answer the missing elements in Newton’s Law of Gravity.

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