- Approaching the Frontiers of Mind
- Bhikkhu P.A. Payutto
Science, and in particular physics, has made such great advances that
it can almost be said to have reached the limits of its field. At one time it was believed
that scientific research would lead to an understanding of the whole universe simply
through observation based on the five senses. Scientists considered that all phenomena
relating to the mind were derived from matter. By understanding matter completely, the
mind would also be understood. Nowadays very few scientists still believe this, because
the enormous amount of knowledge amassed about matter has not led to a clearer
understanding of the nature of the mind.
At the present time, concepts about the reality of matter and mind fall
into two main categories, or models:
1. That the world of matter and the world of mind are like two sides of
one coin. That is, they are separate, but they interact with each other. Those who
maintain this view believe that these two realities are on opposite sides, and each side
must be independently studied and then integrated into one body of knowledge.
2. That the world of matter and the world of mind are like two rings.
In this model, the borders of knowledge are pictured as a big ring, containing within it a
smaller ring. The inner ring is limited to its own circumference, while the outer ring
covers both its own area and that of the smaller one. That is, one ring surrounds the
other. If the larger ring is understood, then all is understood, but if only the smaller
ring is understood, such knowledge is still incomplete.
Now if, in this model, the knowledge of matter is the smaller ring,
even if our knowledge covers the entire world of matter, still it is only the smaller ring
that is understood. The outer ring, which includes the mind, is still not known. If, on
the other hand, the outer ring is matter, then to know the truth of matter will
automatically be to know everything. Now which model is more correct?
Many eminent physicists have said that the knowledge of science is only
partial, it is only a beginning. In terms of the model of the two rings, it would seem
that the knowledge of matter is only the inner ring, because it is limited to the five
senses. Beyond these senses we arrive at the world of symbols, mathematical proofs, in
relation to which we have Sir Arthur Eddington's words:
"We have learned that the exploration of the external world by the methods of the
physical sciences leads not to a concrete reality but to a shadow world of symbols."
Another eminent physicist, Max Planck, winner of
the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1918, and regarded as the father of modern Quantum Theory,
once stated that no sooner was one of science's mysteries solved than another would arise
in its place. He conceded the limitations of scientific truth in these words:
"... Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in
the last analysis, we ourselves are part of nature, and, therefore, part of the mystery
that we are trying to solve."
One scientist went so far as to write:
"...the most outstanding achievement of twentieth-century physics is not the
theory of relativity with its welding together of space and time, or the theory of quanta
with its present apparent negation of the laws of causation, or the dissection of the atom
with the resultant discovery that things are not what they seem; it is the general
recognition that we are not yet in contact with ultimate reality."
So it has reached this stage: the most
significant advance of science is the realization that it is incapable of reaching the
truth. All it can lead to is a shadow world of symbols. If scientists accept this, then it
must be time to choose a new path: either to redefine the scope of science, or to expand
its field of research in order to attain a more holistic understanding of nature.
If scientific research remains limited to its original scope, it will
become just another specialized field, incapable of seeing the overall picture of the way
things are. If, on the other hand, science is to lead mankind to a true understanding of
nature, it must expand its field of thought by redefining its fundamental nature and
transcending its present limitations.
The material world: science's
Fundamental questions remain unanswered, even in
the world of matter, in which science specializes. There are still many things that
science cannot explain, or were once taken to be understood but which now are no longer on
sure ground. One example is the "quark." The quark is taken to be the most basic
constituent of matter, but whether it really is or not is still open to question. At
present it is believed to be so, but the possibility that there is a more fundamental
particle cannot be dismissed. In fact, the very existence of the quark has not been
conclusively proven. The same applies with quanta, fundamental units of energy. Once
again, these are not irrefutably known to exist, they are only understood or believed
We are still not sure that matter and energy are like two faces of the
same thing. If that's the case, then how can they be interchanged? Even light, which
scientists have been studying for so long, has still not been clearly defined. The
fundamental nature of light is still considered to be one of the deeper mysteries of
science. Light is an energy force that is at once a wave and a particle. How can this be
so? And how can it be a fixed velocity when, according to the Theory of Relativity, even
time can be stretched and shrunk? The electromagnetic field is another mystery, another
form of energy which is not yet clearly defined as a wave or a particle. Where do cosmic
rays come from? We don't know. Even gravitation is still not completely understood. How
does it work? We know that it's a law, and we can use it, but how does it work? We don't
know. And the Theory of Relativity tells us that the space-time mass can be warped. How is
that? It is very difficult for ordinary people to understand these things.
All in all, science still does not clearly know how the universe and
life came about. The ultimate point of research in science is the origin of the universe
and the birth of life. At the present time, the Big Bang Theory is in fashion. But how did
the Big Bang occur? From where did the primal atom originate? The questions roll on
In short, we can say that the nature of reality on the fundamental
level is still beyond the scope of scientific research. Some scientists even say that
there is no way that science will ever directly know the fundamental nature of reality.
It might be said that the fundamental truth will naturally continue to
elude us if we confine our research to the material world. Even the most fundamental truth
of the physical universe cannot be understood by searching on only one side, because in
fact all things in the universe are interconnected. Being interconnected, looking at only
one side will not lead to a final answer. The remaining fragment of the mystery might
exist on the other side of reality, the side that is being ignored.
There will come a time when science will be forced to take an interest
in solving the riddles of the mind. Many scientists and physicists are in fact beginning
to look at the mind and how it works. Is the mind merely a phenomenon which arises within
the workings of matter, like the functions of a computer? Can a computer have a mind?
Numerous books have been written on this subject.
Some people say that, on one level, even the Theory of Relativity is
simply a philosophical concept. Space and time depend on consciousness. Mundane
perceptions of form and size are not merely the workings of the sense organs, but are also
a product of interpretation. Eye sees form, but it doesn't know size or shape. The
apprehension of size and shape are functions of the mind. Thus, awareness of the material
world is not limited to the five senses, but includes mental factors.
It is the mind which knows science, but science has yet to discover the
nature of the mind, which it must do if science is to reveal the ultimate truth. Doubt
will not be dispelled until science takes an interest in the field of mind. The problem of
whether mind and matter are one and the same or separate things will come to the fore.
This problem has existed since the time of the Buddha, and is related in the abyakata
pa˝ha (questions the Buddha wouldn't answer).
Nowadays, leaders in the field of science seem to be divided into four
main approaches to the nature of reality.
The first approach is that of the orthodox or conservative scientists.
They stand by their conviction that science can eventually answer all questions, and that
only through science can reality be understood.
The second approach is that of a group of "new" scientists,
who concede that science is not able to explain the reality of the mind. They feel that
science doesn't need to become involved and are willing to leave research into the mind to
other fields, such as religion.
The third approach is a that of a group of new physicists who believe
that the Eastern religions can help to explain the nature of reality. They believe that
the way for future of scientific research is pointed out in Eastern religions. The most
well-known of these is Fritjof Capra, author of The Tao of Physics and The
The fourth approach is that of another group of new physicists, who
maintain that the material world is one level of reality contained within the realm of the
mind. This is the model I mentioned earlier, of the large ring with the smaller ring
Ethics: a truth awaiting
Ethics is a very broad subject,
one which is normally considered a religious matter, but here we will consider it in
relation to science. Some people go so far as to say that good and evil are merely social
conventions, almost a matter of personal preference. Such an idea seems to contain some
measure of truth, when it is considered how in some societies certain actions are deemed
good, but in other societies those very same actions are deemed evil.
However, the perception of good and evil as merely social conventions
arises from confusion of the factors involved. It stems from:
1. A failure to differentiate between ethical principles and
conventions. (A failure to differentiate between naturally good behavior (cariyadhamma)
and that which a society or culture agrees on as good or appropriate behavior (pa˝˝attidhamma).)
And more profoundly ...
2. A failure to see the relationship that connects ethical principles
with reality. (A failure to see the relationship between good behavior and reality; namely
that actions are good and appropriate when they are in harmony with the way things are.)
This gives us three levels to be considered: (a) reality, (b) ethics,
and (c) convention. The differences and the relationship between these three levels must
be clearly understood. The conditions involved in the stream, ranging from the qualities
of good and evil, which are true conditions in reality, to good and evil actions and
speech, which are ethics, and from there to the laws and conventions of society, are
This threefold system of reality, ethics and regulations is very
similar to the scientific system. The basis of science, pure science, is comparable to
reality. Resting on this base we have the applied sciences and technology. If pure science
is faulty, then the applied sciences and technology will suffer. From the applied sciences
and technology we reach the third level, which is the forms technology takes, which are
many and varied. One of the reasons for this is that technology seeks to work with the
laws of nature in the most efficient way. The forms of technology will vary in efficiency
because the extent to which they are consistent with the laws of nature varies. Those
forms of technology which are most harmonious with the laws of nature, and through which
those laws function most fluently, will be the most efficient, and vice versa.
Reality can be compared to pure science.
Ethics can be compared to applied science and technology.
Regulations or conventions can be compared to the forms that technology
Rules and regulations are determined to organize societies. This is
convention, which can be established according to preference. For example, in Thailand the
regulation is that cars drive on the left side of the road, while in America cars drive on
the right side. The two countries have determined different regulations. Now, which is
good and which is evil? Can Thailand say that the Americans are bad because they drive on
the right side of the road, or can America say the opposite? Of course not. These
regulations are the standard for each country, and each country is free to make its own
standards. This is convention.
However, convention is not simply a matter of preference, it is based
on natural factors. Even in very simple matters, such as deciding which side of the road
cars must drive, there is an objective in mind, which is order and harmony on the road and
well-being for society. This is what both countries want, and this is a concern of ethics.
American society wants this quality, and so does Thai society. Even though their
conventions differ, the ethical quality desired by both societies is the same. In this
instance we can see that although there is a difference in the regulations made, ethically
speaking there is consistency.
Now the problem arises, which regulation gives better results? This is
the crucial point. It may be questioned which is the more conducive to order and harmony
between the regulations of keeping to the right in America and keeping to the left in
Thailand, and there may be some differences of opinion, but this does not mean that
societies determine these regulations merely out of preference.
This is the relationship between ethics and convention, or regulations.
Regulations are made to provide an ethical result. In Buddhist monastic terms, the monks
put it very simply by saying "Vinaya is for developing sila": Vinaya
refers to the rules and regulations of society, but the objective of these is sila,
which is good and skillful behavior.
There is an exception in cases where regulations have indeed been made
out of partiality, for the benefit of a privileged few. For example, there are times when
it seems that certain laws have been made to serve the interests of a select group. In
this case we say that corruption has arisen within the regulating process, which will in
turn cause a degeneration of moral behavior. When the root of the legal structure is
rotten, it will be very unlikely to produce a good result.
Because conventions have this common objective of ethical well-being,
but their forms differ, we must learn how to distinguish clearly between ethics and
conventions. Many of these differences are observable in the customs and traditions of
different societies -- family customs, for example. In one society, a woman is allowed so
many husbands, a man is allowed so many wives, while in other societies, the customs
differ. Nevertheless, overall, the objective is order and harmony within the family, which
is an ethical quality.
However, in the determining of regulations for society, administrators
have varying levels of intelligence and wisdom, and their intentions are sometimes honest,
sometimes not. Societies have different environments, different histories. With so many
variables, the ethical result also varies, being more or less efficacious as the case may
be. From time to time these regulations must be reevaluated. Conventions are thus tied to
specific situations and considerations of time and place, while ethical objectives are
Therefore, by looking at the situation in the right manner, even though
there may be some discrepancies in the form regulations take, we can see that they are in
fact the results of humanity's efforts to create a harmonious society. That is,
conventions are not the end result, but rather the means devised to attain an ethical
standard, more or less effective, depending on the intelligence and honesty of the people
Bearing this in mind, we can avoid the mistaken belief that good and
evil are merely social conventions, or are determined by preference. We must look on
regulations as our human attempts to find well-being. No matter how useful or ineffective
regulations may be, our objective remains an ethical one.
The success of regulations is very much tied to the presence of a moral
standard within the people who are determining them, and whether or not they have made
their decisions intelligently.
Ethical principles must be based on ultimate reality or truth. That is,
moral principles must be in conformity with the process of cause and effect, or causes and
conditions. In the field of convention, whenever a regulation brings about an ethically
satisfactory result, it has been successful. For example, if we establish that cars must
run on the left or right side of the road, and this regulation is conducive to order and
harmony, then we say that it has fulfilled its purpose.
Reality (saccadhamma), ethics (cariyadhamma) and
convention (pa˝˝attidhamma) are abstract qualities. Because ethical qualities
are tied to reality, it follows that they are factors within the whole stream of causes
and conditions. Failing to understand or see the relationship and connection between
reality, ethics and convention, we will not be able to enter into a thorough consideration
of values, which are mental properties, and see their proper place within the laws of
nature and the process of causes and conditions.
"What is" versus
"what should be"
Buddhism learns the laws of
nature, and then applies them to an ethical perspective. When people practice in
accordance with ethics, they receive the results in accordance with the natural law of
cause and effect, and attain well-being, which is their objective. This gives us three
stages: (1) knowing or realizing the truth; (2) practicing according to an ethical
standard; (3) attaining a good result.
Science learns the truths of nature, but only on the material side, and
then uses the knowledge gained for technology, with the objective of a life of abundance.
One path leads to a healthy life, while the other leads to abundance;
one way deals with the nature of man, the other deals with the nature of material things.
Science does not connect the truth to ethics, but instead, because it deals only with the
material world, connects it to technology.
It is generally understood that science concerns itself exclusively
with the question "What is," shrugging off any concern with "What should
be?" as a concern of values or ethics, which lie beyond its scope. Science does not
see that ethics is based on reality because it fails to see the connection between
"What is?" and "What should be?"
Science applies itself to problems on the material plane, but on
ethical questions it is silent. Suppose we saw a huge pit full of fire, with a temperature
of thousands of degrees. We tell someone, "The human body is only able to withstand a
certain temperature. If a human body were to enter into that fire it would be burnt to a
crisp." This is a truth. Now suppose we further say, "If you don't want to be
burnt to a crisp, don't go into that pit." In this case, the level of science tells
us that the hole is of such and such a temperature, and that the human body cannot
withstand such a temperature. Ethics is the code of practice which says, "If you
don't want to be burnt to a crisp, don't go into that fire."
In the same way that technology must be based on the truths of pure
science, ethics must be based on reality. And just as any technology which is not founded
on scientific truth will be unworkable, so too will any ethic not founded on natural truth
be a false ethic. The subject of ethics covers both "What should be?" and
"What is?" in that it deals with the truth of human nature, which is that aspect
of natural truth overlooked by science. For that reason, a true understanding of reality,
which includes an understanding of human nature, is impossible without a clear
understanding of proper ethics. The question is, what kind of reality, and how much of it,
and in what degree, is sufficient to bring about an understanding of ethics?
True religion is the foundation
Science does not have any advice
on how human beings are to live or behave. However, the origin and inspiration for the
birth and growth of science was a desire to know the truth and a conviction in the laws of
nature, which are mental qualities. Even the secondary values which were later
incorporated into this aspiration, such as the aspiration to subjugate nature, are all
mental processes. Not only the aspiration for knowledge, but even the great discoveries of
science have been products of the mind. Some scientists possessed a quality we could call
"intuition." They foresaw the truths that they discovered in their mind's eye
before actually verifying them in the field.
Without this quality of intuition and foresight, science might have
become just another baseless branch of knowledge, or largely a matter of guesswork,
lacking direction or goal. Intuition has played a vital role in the history of science.
For many eminent scientists it was involved in making their most important discoveries.
Some train of thought, never before thought of, would arise in the scientist's mind,
initiating systematic reasoning, formulation of a hypothesis and experimentation, and
eventually a new theory. All the advances of science made so far have arisen through
faith, conviction, aspiration to know, intuition and other mental qualities, and in the
minds of the most eminent scientists, those who made the most far-reaching breakthroughs,
these qualities could be found in abundance. Even observation begins with a thought, which
establishes a path of investigation, and constrains observation to the relevant framework.
For example, Newton saw the apple fall and understood the Law of Gravity. According to the
story, he saw the apple fall and immediately had a realization, but in fact Newton had
been pondering the nature of motion for months at that time. It was a mental process in
his mind, which culminated in a realization when he saw the apple fall.
This kind of thing may happen to anybody. We may be thinking of some
particular problem to no avail for a long time, and then, while we happen to be just
sitting quietly, the answer suddenly flashes into the mind. These answers don't just arise
randomly or by accident. In fact, the mind has been unctioning on a subtle level. The
realization is the result of a cause and effect process.
Mind, through faith and motivation, is the origin of science; through
intuition and foresight it is the drive for scientific progress; and through the goals and
objectives which are envisioned and aspired to in the mind, it is the direction for
science's future advancement. The search for fundamental truths is possible because the
mind conceives that such truths do exist.
Having reached this point, I would like to tell you the name of the
eminent scientist who inspired the title of this talk. He is none other than Albert
Einstein. He didn't, however, say the exact words I have used. What he did say was:
"... in this materialistic age of ours the serious scientific workers are the only
profoundly religious people ..."
Einstein felt that in this age it is hard to
find people with religion. Only the scientists who study science with a pure heart have
true religion. He went on to say,
"... but science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the
aspiration toward truth and understanding ... those individuals to whom we owe the great
creative achievements of science were all of them imbued with the truly religious
conviction that this universe of ours is something perfect and susceptible to the rational
striving for knowledge ..."
The desire to know the truth, and the faith that
behind nature there are laws which are constant truths throughout the entire universe is
what Einstein called religious feeling, or more specifically, 'cosmic religious feeling'.
Then he went on to say,
"... cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and noblest motive for scientific
"... Buddhism, as we have learned especially from the wonderful writings of
Schopenhauer, contains a much stronger element of this ..."
Einstein says that Buddhism has a high degree of
cosmic religious feeling, and this cosmic religious feeling is the origin or seed of
scientific research. So you can decide for yourselves whether the title I have used for
this talk is suitable or not.
I have mentioned this to show in what manner it can be said that
Buddhism is the foundation of science, but please don't attach too much importance to this
idea, because I don't completely agree with Einstein's view. My disagreement is not with
what he said, but that he said too little. What Einstein called the "cosmic religious
feeling" is only part of what religious feeling is, because religion should always
come back to the human being, to the nature of being human, including how human beings
should behave towards nature, both internally and externally. I cannot see that Einstein's
words clearly include self-knowledge and benefit to the human being. However that may be,
from Einstein's words it is evident that he felt that science had its roots in the human
desire for knowledge, and conviction in the order of nature.
However, I don't wish to place too much emphasis on whether Buddhism
really is the foundation of science or not. It might be better, in fact, to change the
title of this talk, to something like ... "What would a science which is based on
Buddhism be like?" This may give us some new perspectives to think about. The
statement "Buddhism is the foundation of science" is just an opinion, and some
may say a conceited opinion at that. And that would get us nowhere. To ask "How
should science be in order to be founded on Buddhism?" would be much more
In answer, we must first expand the meaning of the word
"religion" or "religious feeling" in order to correspond to Buddhism:
a. The words "cosmic religious feeling" must cover both the
external natural world and the natural world within the human being, or both the physical
universe and the abstract, or mental.
b. The definition of science as originating from the aspiration to know
the truth must be complemented by a desire to attain the highest good, which Buddhism
calls "freedom from human imperfection."
In point (a) we are extending the scope of that which is to be
realized. In point (b) we are reiterating those values which are in conformity with the
highest good, ensuring that the aspiration for truth is pure and clear, and minimizing the
possibility of lesser values corrupting that aspiration.
With these two points in mind, we can now answer, "The science
which accords with Buddhism is that which aspires to understand natural truth, in
conjunction with the development of the human being and the attainment of the highest
good," or, "the science which is founded on Buddhism arises from an aspiration
for knowledge of nature, together with a desire to attain the highest good, which is the
foundation for constructive human development."
This kind of definition may seem to be bordering onto applied science,
but it isn't really. From one perspective, the natural sciences of the last age were
influenced by selfish motives. This is why these alternative incentives are so important,
to replace the desire to conquer nature and produce an abundance of material wealth with
an aspiration for freedom from suffering.
To rephrase our definition, we could say "The science which
attains a true and comprehensive knowledge of reality will be the integration of the
physical sciences, the social sciences and the humanities. All sciences will be connected
and as one." Or to put it another way, "Once science extends the limits of its
fundamental definition and improves its techniques for research and study, the truths of
the social sciences and humanities will be attainable through the study of science."
This statement is not said in jest or carelessness. In the present day,
the advances of the sciences and human society within the global environment have
necessitated some cohesiveness in the search for knowledge. It could be said that the time
is ripe. If we don't deal with the situation in the proper way, that ripeness may give way
to putrefaction, like an overripe fruit. The question is, will science take on the
responsibility of leading mankind to this unification of learning?
Knowledge of truth should be divided into two categories:
a. That which is necessary or useful, and is possible for a human being
to attain within the limits of one lifetime.
b. That which is not necessary or useful. Phenomena which have not yet
been verified can be looked into, but a good life should not be dependent on having to
wait for their verification.
The human life-span is limited and soon comes to an end. Quality of
life, or the highest good, are things which are needed within this life-span. Scientists
tend to say, "Wait until I've verified this first, and then you will know what to
do." This attitude should be changed. We need to distinguish between the different
kinds of knowledge mentioned above. If science is to be a truly comprehensive body of
learning, it must relate correctly to these two kinds of truth.
On the other hand, if science is to continue its present course, it
might provide a more integrated response by cooperating with Buddhism for answers to those
questions which demand immediate answers, so that the attainment of the highest good in
this very life is a possibility. In the meantime, science can seek answers to those
questions which, even if not answered, do not affect our ability to live in peace and
Effect of values on scientific
The reason we need to clarify
intermediate aims is that if pure science does not determine its own set of values, it
will not be able to escape the influence of other interests. Outside parties with personal
interests have determined science's values in the past, and these values have led to the
destruction of the environment. Science has become a "lackey of industry." A
lackey of industry cannot be a servant of mankind. These days some say that industry is
destroying mankind, a point that deserves consideration. If scientists do not establish
their own values, someone else will.
Human beings possess intention. It is one of mankind's unique
qualities, one which affects everything we do. This means the search for knowledge cannot
be totally without intention and values. Human beings, as the highest kind of being, are
capable of realizing truth and the highest good. We should aspire to realize this
As long as science lacks clarity on its position in relation to values,
and yet exists within a world of values, it will have its direction determined by other
interests. This may cause some scientists to feel cheated and frustrated in their pursuit
of knowledge. As long as industry is society's "star player," it will continue
to exert a powerful influence over science, through its influence on government policies
and financial institutions. For example, if a scientific institute submits a proposal for
research in a particular field, but such research is not in the interests of industry, the
industrial sector has the power to withhold support, thus pressuring the government to do
When this happens the scientists may get discouraged and end up like
Sir Isaac Newton. Newton was heavily influenced by values in his research. He discovered
the Law of Gravity when he was only 24 years old. However, some of his ideas clashed with
the establishment of the time, and he was ridiculed. Newton was a very moody fellow, and
easily hurt. He didn't like to associate with other people. As soon as people started to
criticize his work, he got upset and gave it up. He wouldn't go anywhere near science for
Now Edmond Halley, the scientist who predicted the cycles of the comet
named after him, saw the value of Newton's work, and so he went to Newton and encouraged
him to start work again. Newton, taking heart, began work on the momentous book Philosophiae
Naturalis Principia Mathematica. But then, when he had finished only two thirds of
the manuscript, another scientist, who, during the twenty-two years that Newton had
refused to put his ideas to print, had come to an understanding of the Law of Gravity and
calculus, claimed that he had discovered all of this before Newton. When Newton heard this
he went off into another sulk. He wasn't going to write the book after all. He had only
written two thirds of it when he gave up once more. Halley had to go to him again and give
him another pep talk to coax him into continuing his work, after which he finally
This is a good example of how values can completely overwhelm a
scientist, with repercussions for the whole scientific world. If Newton, who was a genius,
had had a strong heart, not giving in to feelings of hurt and indignation, he may have
been able to give the scientific world so much more than he did, instead of discarding his
research for over twenty years.
In the present time, with the industrial and financial sectors
all-powerful, scientists must adhere to their own ethics to prevent external values from
overwhelming them. In this age of environmental ruin, some of the truths being discovered
by scientific research may not be in the interests of some of the industrial and financial
sectors. We hear statements in the USA from research teams that the greenhouse scare is
unfounded, that the world isn't going to heat up. Then, at a later time, another group of
researchers tells us that the first group was influenced by financial considerations from
industrial sectors. The situation is very complicated. Personal advantage begins to play a
role in scientific research, and subjects it even more to the influence of values.
At the very least, ethical principles encourage scientists to have a
pure aspiration for knowledge. This is the most powerful force the progress of science can
have. At the present moment we are surrounded by a world which is teeming with values,
mostly negative. In the past, science and industry worked together, like husband and wife.
Industry spurred science on, and science helped industry to grow. But in the coming age,
because some of the interests of industry are becoming a problem in the natural
environment, and because science is being questioned about this, scientific research may
come up with facts that are embarrassing to the industrial sector, science and industry
may have to part their ways, or at least experience some tension in their relationship.
Science may be forced to find a new friend, one who will help and encourage it to find
knowledge that is useful to the human race.
As science approaches the frontiers of the mind, the question arises,
"Will science recognize the sixth sense and the data which are experienced there? Or
will scientists continue to try to verify moods and thoughts by looking at the chemicals
secreted by the brain, or measuring the brain's waves on a machine, and thereby looking at
mere shadows of the truth?" This would be like trying to study a stone from the
"plops" it makes in the water, or from the ripples that arise on the water's
surface. One might measure the waves that correspond to stones of different sizes, and
then turn that into a mathematical equation, or estimate the mass of the stone that's
fallen into the water by measuring the ripples extending from it. Has this been the
approach of science's study of nature? The fact is, they never actually pick up a stone!
If this is the case, science may have to take a look at some of the ways of observing and
experimenting used in other traditions, such as Buddhism, which maintains that observation
and experiment from direct experience in the mind the best way to observe the laws of
4. Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington,
The Nature of the Physical World (new York: Macmillan, 1929), p. 282. [Return to text]
5. Max Planck, "The Mystery of Our Being,"
in Quantum Questions, ed. Ken Wilbur (Boston: New Science Library, 1984), p. 153.
[Return to text]
6. Sir James Jeans, The Mysterious Universe
(Cambridge University Press, 1931), p.111. [Return
7. Roger Penrose, The Emperor's New Mind (New
York, Penguin Books USA, 1991). [Back to text]
8. Albert Einstein, Ideas and Opinions (New
York: Bonanza Books, 1954), p.40. [Back to text]
9. Ibid., pp. 45, 52. [Back to
10. Ibid., p.39. [Back to text]
11. Ibid., p.38. [Return to text]
[Taken from Bhikkhu P. A. Payutto., Toward Sustainable
Science, A Buddhist Look at Trends in Scientific Development. (Bangkok:
Buddhadhamma Foundation, 1993), pp. 103-128].
Sincere thanks to Ti.nh
Tue^. for transcription of this article.