Science

Current scientific research affirms, and challenges, traditional Buddhist teachings
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    Time from the Point of View of a Slime Mold Paid Member

    As we get older we wonder at our impatience, when, as children, we had to wait in the station for the train to arrive. It is one of the many signs that time has very different meanings for us, even over our own life span. Time and life are intertwined in so many different ways, something biologists are acutely aware of. Consider a few extremes: A single-cell bacterium may live its entire life cycle in half an hour, but a generation for an elephant takes twelve years, and a giant sequoia generation takes sixty years. One reason I work with slime molds in the laboratory is that their generations are short, so that if I start an experiment on Monday, I will know the result by Wednesday or Thursday. This kind of biological time—life-cycle time—is at the middle of the time scale of living phenomena. More »
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    What's at Stake as the Dharma Goes Modern? Paid Member

    In the summer of 2010, I sat a Dzogchen retreat at Garrison Institute with my teacher, a well-known Tibetan lama. He gave teachings during the day and then in the evening handed the microphone over to several academic luminaries who were also attending. In the morning and afternoon we received instructions on attaining buddhahood; in the evenings we heard lectures on how Buddhism’s contact with the West was leading to cutting-edge advances in brain-science research, medicine, and psychology. More »
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    In Namibia Paid Member

    We’re driving the Land Cruiser down a dry riverbed. All week we’ve been tracking rhinos, up in the heartless desert above, following the miracle of them, but today we have left their country—one of the driest places on earth, the Namib Desert, where only an inch or two of rain might fall each year—and we’re cruising the sand-wash beneath the cool shade of mopane trees, looking at elephants, giraffes, oryx. More »
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    If the Buddha Could be Cloned Paid Member

    Humor aside, naive optimism has been the hallmark of the average American's view of genetic research. As endless hype touts the latest advances in genetics, the imagined benefits appear irresistible: the elimination of disease and the unprecedented alleviation of suffering; an enriched and ever more abundant food supply; improved health and enhanced intellectual acuity; life spans verging on immortality. The wish list lengthens. What seemed a dream just a decade ago now seems to have become a reality. Genetic engineering, including transgenics (the process that transfers genes between organisms that would not naturally interbreed) and cloning, is fast becoming a fact of contemporary life, and one which many welcome with the same easy hope with which they greet most scientific advances. More »
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    Dharma and Psychotherapy Paid Member

    At the first New York conference on Buddhism and psychotherapy in the late 1980s, discussion between the two disciplin,es proved more difficult than many had expected. There were a lot of therapists in attendance and a number of Buddhist teachers on the program, but many of the Buddhist teachers were not particularly interested in, or knowledgeable about, the psychodynamic view. The Buddhists wanted to talk about Buddhism, while the therapists wanted to talk about emotional issues, and it was not clear what kind of common ground there might be between the two. The tension rose steadily from the opening invocation. Finally, after a day and a half, an exasperated woman rose from her chair and directed a statement at the Tibetan lama who had just finished his presentation. "I don't care how many Zen masters can fit on the head of a pin," she began, her frustration evident to all. There was a smattering of applause and a general heightening of attention. More »
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    Being Somebody, Going Somewhere Paid Member

    I have yet to experience a story. I think stories are actually lies. But they are incredibly important to our survival.  —Wim Wenders, “Impossible Stories” More »