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Gentle Bridges: Conversations With the Dalai Lama on the Sciences of Mind

by Bstan-Dzin-Rgya-Mtsho, Francisco J. Varela, Jeremy Hayward

Buy the book: Bstan-Dzin-Rgya-Mtsho. Gentle Bridges: Conversations With the Dalai Lama on the Sciences of Mind

Release Date: 16 October, 2001

Edition: Paperback

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Buy the book: Bstan-Dzin-Rgya-Mtsho. Gentle Bridges: Conversations With the Dalai Lama on the Sciences of Mind


The Dalai Lama's a great guy,but I think sometimes overrated

This book presents us with a few men of ancient Eastern tradition interlocuting with a few men of Socratic Western tradition on the nature of the world around us. Before any specifics of scientific architectonics are covered, they question the method of science. Logical positivism is questioned, and they do not attempt to invalidate it but do attempt to jeopardize its optimistic infallibility. Despite this doubt, it is also discovered that the Dalai Lama's Buddhist attitude is nearly identical with science, and that he emphasizes direct experience over tradition or scripture. (though one of his sacred texts proclaims a flat Earth, he does not try to retain belief in it due to the more recent discovery that our planet is indeed not flat.) There are other times where he does however introduce the Buddhist cosmology. It has never occurred to me however that this should be of any concern to Buddhism. The stories of the Buddha himself portray him as abstaining from any theological discussions on such things as cosmogony. I ask you to recall his response to such questions as 'is the world eternal.' He did not answer. The purpose of following the Dharma was to eliminate sorrow from life, not to find answers as many neophytes to Christianity and other overly theistic religions do. So for example, I do not see why it matters so much to the Dalai Lama whether or not consciousness is generated from and dependent on brain chemistry. In the book he says that a Buddhist cannot accept this idea. He says that you must either believe that the universe just happened to form itself for no particular reason at some point or that consciousness has an eternal origin. I know that this idea is essential to some other Buddhist ideas on the nature of mind, BUT if it were proven indisputable that consciousness was only an emergent property of neurological arrangements, it would not destroy the Four Noble Truths upon which the Buddhist way of life rests. So in a certain sense these disagreements I see as outside of Buddhist concerns.

Nonetheless this work is a delightful read and includes multitudes of other scientific (and Buddhist) issues like nervous systems (spanning from hydra to human), artificial intelligence, ontogenetic neurology, and behaviorism. Lots of jewels.

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