There is a pretty widely-accepted clash between science and religion. Buddhism, however, is one of the few religions that I have found through much research to defy all religious stereotypes. That’s not to say all other religions are universally against science, but Buddhism, in my opinion, significantly stands against the rest. At the core of all scientific exploration and discovery, we must start with the scientific method: forming a hypothesis, searching for facts, and the idea that knowledge gained through personal experience. Buddhism doesn’t rely on a holy text of higher beings to discipline you- it fully embraces the freedom of the mind.
One of the best examples of this “freedom of mind” comes from the teaching, “Kalama Sutra.” It is a piece that inspires the Buddha’s audience to explore their personal sense of identity with curious independence. It is in human nature, after all, to question everything that is presented to us.
“Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another’s seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, ‘The monk is our teacher.’ Rather, when you yourselves know that these things are good; these things are not blamable; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness, then and only then enter into and abide in them.”
The goal of Buddhism is not to please a higher power through set ideals and missions. The goal is self-discovery, curiosity, and deeper thinking. The goal is questioning everything that has been presented before you, and utilizing what brings you a sense of joy and fulfillment. And, more notably, Buddhism emphasises the impartial investigation of nature. There is an extremely strong correlation between Buddhism and nature- especially including ways in which we can use nature to strengthen our worldly connection. The spiritual ideas expressed by Buddhism can be interpreted quite literally as well, especially when pertaining to science. One of the most well-known prospects of Buddhism is the idea that everything is recycled and reborn, and that’s easily applicable into biology. I mean, think about the literal recycling of molecules. After death, everything is recycled and rebirthed back into the rhythm of nature. Buddhism not only accepts this phenomenon, but embraces and encourages us to think about it in terms of our own self-growth. Buddhism and psychology are a whole ‘nother tangent I could explore, especially in regards to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. (Seriously, let me know if you want to see that).
Whether or not you identify as a Buddhist (I actually identify as an atheist,) it’s still worth it, in my opinion, to explore the teachings of the Buddha. I’ve been listening to Ajahn Brahm’s talks on the Buddhist Society of Western Australia’s youtube channel for about six years now, and have learned more about life through those videos than I have in any classroom or textbook. Self-discovery through religion doesn’t have to be limited to a god or deity; sometimes, you can be your own higher power.
Coming up next: The Health Benefits of Knitting