Neuroscience Backs up a Buddhist Belief?

Neuroscience Backs Up A Crucial Buddhist Belief Regarding The Self

 

neuroscience

It is unlikely that you can remember your life as a toddler. Even so, it is just as likely that your essential being has remained unchanged from then to now. Or at least, this is something that you have always suspected.

 

Yet such a belief goes against one of the core principles of Buddhism. It is believed by Buddhists that this concept of our selfhood is merely an illusion. While it is easy to dismiss such a notion, particularly if it flies in the face of something you truly believe to be the case, neuroscience and recent studies suggest that you may want to reconsider this cornerstone of the Buddhist faith. An increasing number of studies are beginning to suggest that this notion of selfhood is in fact a falsehood.

 

Not surprisingly, there is a great deal to this subject that is worth studying in greater detail.

 

What Does Science Have To Say About The State Of The Self?

One of the main arguments of Buddhism is the idea that nothing is in fact constant. Everything is capable of changing through time. Your consciousness is a constantly moving, constantly evolving stream that drives not only your reality, but your perception of your reality. From the perspective of neuroscience, our brains and bodies are in a constant state of flux. Nothing in its principles contradicts the idea of the ever-changing state of selfhood.

 

While scientists in the West and Buddhism obviously reached these conclusions in profoundly different ways, using profoundly paths to reach their respective conclusions, it is fascinating nonetheless to see these two different entities meet at a corner of cooperation. Theories put forth by Buddhists thousands of years ago are now being embraced and utilized by scientific research. Studies suggest that self-processing within our brains is not merely limited to one area or network. On the other hand, these studies indicate that all of this can be extended towards a wide assortment of fluctuating neuro processes. Furthermore, these do not appear to be self-specific.

 

For example, research suggests that our cognitive capabilities are not static. Quite the contrary, this research strongly points to the possibility that these capabilities can be trained through things like meditation.

 

Does Consciousness Extend Into Deep Sleep?

Buddhists believe profoundly in the idea that our consciousness extends into the act of deep sleep. For a long time, scientists have held on to the notion that our brains enter a blackout state during the act of deep sleep. However, recent studies are beginning to suggest that this is not in fact the case. Some research suggests that meditation impacts our electro-physical brain patterns while we sleep. These studies further suggest that at least some awareness can be carried over into deep sleep.

 

At the same time, don’t expect Buddhism and the lab coats to exist in perfect harmony anytime soon. There are still a number of topics, including deeper aspects of this subject, in which the two efforts to better understand ourselves can differ greatly. For example, Buddhists believe that there is a form of consciousness that is not dependent upon the body in any form or fashion. Neuroscience disagrees – at least for now.

 

Still, the relationship between consciousness and the brain is something that remains shrouded in mystery. Neither modern science nor Buddhism have clear answers on the subject. What they do have is a desire to dig deeper, and to understand more. On that front, you will find that both Buddhism and modern science trends have much to discuss with one another. Perhaps by combining the two, as many are beginning to do, we will get closer to finding the answers that will give us a greater understanding of ourselves.

 

Nalanda in the West

Nalanda Traditions Available to Western Students

Nalanda traditions are now being taught to Western students. However, this field of Buddhist study is not without its challenges. Today, we’re going to share information about innovations in the traditional methods which are meant to offer Western students education that they are able to process effectively. Reflecting on the differences between traditional Asian cultures and the West is important and meaningful.

 

A New Master’s Program is Available

 

An FPMT Master’s Program known as Dharma Studies in the West is now being taught.

 

Since Buddha’s time, twenty-five hundred years ago, the traditional teachings of Buddhism have been shared with students via a lineage which is uninterrupted. This teaching reached Tibet and it was popular there for twelve hundred years. Lately, as Buddhism became more interesting to people in the West, more and more Western students want to gain deeper understanding of this faith and its traditions from the distant past.

 

The new master’s program is one of the most ambitious examples of learning programs which are designed to help Western students understand the principles of Buddhism. This program is centered on teaching ordained students from the West and lay students. It shows them the value of the great texts, as well as how to practice traditions which are Tibetan Buddhist. The program requires 6 to 7 years of study, as well as an additional “retreat” year for meditation.

 

The curriculum for this master’s program is a lot like the Geshe programs which are delivered within the bigger Gelug Tibetan monasteries. However, the new program has a shorter time frame. To contrast, a Geshe program usually takes a decade and a half (or even two decades) to complete! As you can see, a lot of condensing of material needed to be done in order to teach students in just six to seven years. However, most students who take the new master’s program have a lot of knowledge already.

 

The biggest issue with creating this study program was how to transmit the traditional teachings of Buddhism, while adding Western context. Studies needed to be relevant to Western culture.

 

What Is Nalanda Tradition?

 

This Buddhist tradition is about balancing reasoning and faith. It’s focused on emphasizing the direct link between the greatest scholars of an ancient Indian Buddhist university (Nalanda University) with the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. This ancient school was a place where so many great minds of Buddhism learned and practiced. The tradition is about devotion and faith, as well as intensive critical inquiry.

 

Changes to traditional teaching methods for Nalanda Tradition were needed in order to create the Dharma Studies in the West master’s program.

 

With traditional teaching, such as teaching to Tibetans, the emphasis is on developing academic understanding which leads to spiritual development. Mostly, monks study in this manner, which involves years of debate, study and memorizing.

 

The new Dharma Studies in the West program features instruction about a trio of the five great texts, in addition to tantra “grounds and paths” and the Tantra, Guhyasamaja. As well, study of mind and awareness. reviews of key topics and study of philosophical tenets are in the curriculum. Students take examinations regularly and they get tested on all subjects at the close of the program. If they pass, they get completion certificates. Then, they embark on one-year phases of retreat.

 

This program isn’t about creating Western geshes. It’s about giving students comprehensive educations.

 

Western Students – A Different Approach

 

Western students have been raised in a different culture. They tend to reject dogmatic thinking and religious authorities which have absolutist mindsets. Therefore, the new program is innovative, as it takes Western culture into account and offers learning that is based on the Western tendency to question everything.

 

Some people may view the new learning program as an erosion and dilution of Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Others  – including our Nalanda Buddhist Group in CT – realize that the new degree program is evolution at its finest.