Is Buddhism scientific?

Dear Bhante, You are doing a great service to the people of Pittsburgh and surronding areas and also online inquisitive minds. These questions are asked with great humility. Q1: Is Buddhism scientific? Q2: Can the essence of Buddhism be taught without appealing to faith and belief in rebirth etc ... Q3: If a person kills an animal to feed his hunger, can the person be a Buddhist? Q4: Should a monk not aspire to attain enlightenment as the main purpose of the human existence? Q5: If a monk happens to break seela what recourse is there to restablish seela? Neduk wethwa! Neerogi wethwa! Suwapath wethwa! Ravi

1 answer

Dear Mr Ravi,   Q1: If we interpret science as objective and critical analysis of phenomena, then we find that Buddhism too encourages objective and critical analysis of one's experiences. However, the focus of Buddhist analysis is on the inner experience while science focuses on external world. Furthermore, Buddhist analysis has a goal, which is to extinguish the suffering (Dukkha) of human mind and establish enduring peace. Science usually does not have a goal and it analyzes things for the sake of analysis, though sometimes it can have some political or economical agendas. Q2: The essence of Buddhism is four noble truths, which explains the origin of human suffering and how to cease it. Since the focus here is human experience, it can be taught without asking people to believe. If one pay honest attention to one's own experience of suffering and happiness and understand how they were created by ourselves. Then rebirth can also be understood as happening at every moment of our existence. We are constantly being dead and reborn. This process continues as long as we remain self centered and feed our identity. However, to start the Buddhist practice with certain commitment, we need to have a confidence (saddha) in the Buddha and his teaching. Q3: Killing an animal to feed one's hunger means putting his hunger over the life of the animal. It is difficult to justify that action in Buddhist point of view. Q4: The main purpose of a monk should be walking on the path of enlightenment while helping others to follow the same path. Q5: There remedial measures for monks to follow in order to be purified from their transgression of precepts. Bhante Pemaratana 2011-01-05 20:50:11

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