Science

Current scientific research affirms, and challenges, traditional Buddhist teachings
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    This is Your Brain on Buddhism Paid Member

    SOMETIME IN THE 1980S while residing at a meditation center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I heard of Tibetan yogis being tested with rectal thermometers for increased body temperature, a side effect of the meditation called tumo, the inner heat that burns up subtle obscurations. The yogis, apparently, were uncomfortable with the experiment; someone told me one of them had died not long after returning to India and that the pool of tumo practitioners willing to participate in Western research had dried up for several years as a result. These were merely rumors, yet they revealed the beliefs and prejudices of both sides, as rumors tend to do, making the Westerners sound crude and ruthless, the yogis ignorant and superstitious. More »
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    Sentient Questions Paid Member

    ♦ On the level of sub-atomic particles, is there really any fundamental distinction between totally inert or inanimate things like rocks as opposed to that which goes into flesh? ♦ A proton may last for seventeen billion years, but on a momentary basis is it not subject to change? ♦ Would you consider a one-celled creature like an amoeba a sentient being? ♦ Does a one-celled creature like an amoeba have the whole range of cognitive events, such as desire, sexual desire, feeling, and so on? More »
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    Healing Mind, Healing Body Paid Member

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    Samsara Squared Paid Member

    I gaze up at a galaxy of cartoon stars. Turning my head to the right I see five checkerboard platforms linked by staircases and studded with simple geometric pillars and arches. Pressing a button on my hand control, I "fly" toward this gameboardlike space station, zooming closer and closer until I'm "walking" on an upper platform. Human and inhuman enemies are hiding. Darting around, weightless, in a bare, bright, mechanically uniform world, I try to steady the cartoon gun extended in the cartoon hand before me. The scene shifts with my gaze, though there's a tiny perceptual lag that makes me feel like I'm trying to focus underwater. A geometrically muscular cartoon man in blue pants appears. I squeeze the trigger on my hand control. Rocket grenades fall in slow white arcs. More »
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    The Science of Compassion Paid Member

    I exit the subway to my quiet Brooklyn neighborhood and there he is again, wearing a ragged T-shirt, torn jeans, and dirty sneakers, sweeping the subway steps with an old broom. He looks at me pleadingly. Feeling generous, I reach into my pocket for a coin but find only crumpled bills. Too much, I think. Mumbling a quick "Sorry," I avoid his eyes and hurry on past. More »