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
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?
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
"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
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:
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
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
material world: science's unfinished work
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 to exist.
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
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 endlessly.
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
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
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 pañha (questions the Buddha
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 Turning Point.
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
truth awaiting verification
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
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
(paññattidhamma).) 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
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 always interconnected.
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.
conventions can be compared to the forms that technology takes.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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 universal.
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 determining them.
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.
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.
ethics (cariyadhamma) and convention (paññattidhamma)
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
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
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?"
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
religion is the foundation of science
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
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,
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
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 constructive.
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
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
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 well-being.
values on scientific research
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 potential.
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 likewise.
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 twenty-two
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 completed it.
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.
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 nature.
4. Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of
the Physical World (new York: Macmillan, 1929), p. 282. [Return
5. Max Planck, "The Mystery of Our Being," in
Quantum Questions, ed. Ken Wilbur (Boston: New Science Library,
1984), p. 153. [Return
6. Sir James Jeans, The Mysterious Universe
(Cambridge University Press, 1931), p.111. [Return to text]
7. Roger Penrose, The Emperor's New Mind
(New York, Penguin Books USA, 1991). [Back
8. Albert Einstein, Ideas and Opinions (New
York: Bonanza Books, 1954), p.40. [Back
9. Ibid., pp. 45, 52. [Back
10. Ibid., p.39. [Back
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.