Science

Current scientific research affirms, and challenges, traditional Buddhist teachings
  • Talking about Mindfulness Paid Member

    While media coverage of the mindfulness phenomenon has been frequent, plentiful, and occasionally lively, it has also fallen along a narrow spectrum. After a prolonged glut of self-congratulatory puff pieces, we’ve finally witnessed what some have called a backlash. We might now arrive at what could be a more nuanced take, with a number of writers, scientists, and thinkers complicating the received narratives about mindfulness. More »
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    The Music of the Mind Paid Member

    In the Pali canon, the story is told of a king who hears a sound he has never heard before, and finds that sound to be “tantalizing, lovely, intoxicating, entrancing, and enthralling.” He asks about it and is told it is the sound of a lute. He then asks that this lute be brought to him so he can see what sort of thing it is. The lute is delivered to the king, who examines it with great interest. He takes the lute apart, piece by piece, until it is little more than a pile of splinters. He then declares disdainfully, “What a poor thing is this so-called lute.” Casting it aside, he asks, “Never mind this lute, bring me just the sound.” More »
  • Six Questions for B. Alan Wallace Paid Member

    The past four centuries have brought an explosion of scientific knowledge and technological know-how. The march of material progress has, however, left many Buddhist practitioners wondering whether Western society’s external transformation has been matched by an internal one, and if so, what role Buddhism can play in promoting a deeper understanding of both the external and internal worlds. Below, B. Alan Wallace, a uniquely interdisciplinary thinker, responds to six questions on this subject. More »
  • Don’t Believe the Hype Paid Member

    Last May, an article about mindfulness on a popular mainstream news website finally spurred neuroscientist and meditation researcher Catherine Kerr to act. The article cited 20 benefits of meditation, from “reducing loneliness” to “increasing grey matter” to “helping sleep,” and painted a picture of meditation as a kind of golden elixir for modern life. Kerr posted the article on her Facebook page. “It is not like any of this is grossly inaccurate,” she wrote in her post. “It is just that the studies are too cherry-picked and too positive.” More »
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    The Body After Death Paid Member

    Methods of caring for the body after death vary from culture to culture. What follows are some suggestions that come from my experience as a Buddhist and a caregiver of dying people. IMMEDIATELY AFTER DEATH Keep the atmosphere around the deceased simple and peaceful. If possible, do not disturb or touch the body immediately after death. If the body must be touched, do so very gently. Pray for peace and freedom for the one who has died. If appropriate, read sacred texts or conduct any practices or death rituals from the deceased's tradition. BEFORE THE ONSET OF RIGOR MORTIS More »