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Ancient scientific knowledge seeks to relieve suffering and strengthen humanity

Buddhism, brain science and the mind-body connection. Photo: Outlook Tibet/File
Dharamshala: - Buddhism, as taught by the Buddha, flourished as a way of understanding our universe.

The first two volumes of a series explaining the ancient sciences will help those studying various mental states which include both Buddhists and non-believing researchers, according to Buddhist scholars.

By combining the ancient philosophy of Buddhism with modern Western science, it is hoped that a better understanding of the nature of the relationship between the body and the brain as separate entities, or ontological dualism, can be attained. It is also expected to produce fruitful secular applications and uncover new areas for scientific research without immersion in Buddhist culture or involving religious practice.

The series explores the evolving world of Buddhist science and seeks to reinvigorate interest in the Buddhist school of thought, one of the concerns addressed in a recent discussion with His Holiness The Dalai Lama.

The series will offer an overview of the history of Buddhist science and attempt to create a common platform for Buddhism and modern science. The goal is to complement modern science and contribute to the study of consciousness. Early attempts to bridge these two schools of thought began in the 19th century, but only now is there an earnest movement to investigate how Buddhist science might benefit individuals and society, rather than using western science to prove or disprove Buddhism as a whole.

Scientists will focus on consciousness and the mind by looking at brain activity, the effects of both suffering and happiness on the brain, and what actions move the dial from the former to the latter.

One area of study is the long-term effects of meditation and how it relates to the brain, the body, the notion of suffering, and the human condition.  For example, the study of neuroplasticity shows us that the brain can indeed change via continuous production of neurons through the practice of meditation.

The publication of these works is essential for the preservation of Buddhism as an honest science of the mind, a value espoused by Buddha-vacana and various commentaries to Buddhist teachings.

The research in the first two volumes has been peer-reviewed by leading practitioners and scholars at universities based in India, and translations into 19 languages, including English, will be published in coming years. The Buddhist scientific literature will be the first ever to be translated into English.

Four more volumes will be released in the near future with the stated objective of serving humanity as a whole by articulating a better understanding of the world.

Expanding our knowledge of the mind and our ability to find compassion, to feel interconnected, and embrace our shared responsibility, we will surely create foundation for a more peaceful planet for the future.