'The theological objection is that evolution states that there is a continuum
between ape and man, ie human and animal.. This is not a problem for Buddhists, who
believe that both humans and animals possess sentient minds which survive death. However
it is a major problem for theologians. The church has always taught that only humans have
immortal souls, whereas animals are automata whose minds cease at death'
'For in Him we live, and move, and have our being'
Dharma and dogma
'Buddha Shakyamuni never claimed to have any higher authority for his teachings
than his own experience.'
'Evolutionists believe that species arose by gradual change from simpler forms.
Strawberry plants, cherry trees, blackberries, raspberries, hawthorns and apples all have
a family likeness because they all arose from a common ancestor, which resembled a
primitive rose. Hence botanists call this plant family the ROSACEAE.'
' People get spiritual experiences under the influence of electromagnetic
fields such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), and from psychedelic drugs
such as mescalin, LSD, Psilocybe semilanceata and Amanita muscaria. All these
transpersonal experiences are simply delusions caused by disruption of the normal
electrochemical activity of the neurones.'
' ...Yes and No. There's no doubt that people experience other
realms of reality under the influence of TMS or psychoactive drugs. In these
conditions the functioning of the brain is indeed abnormal. But - you've got to ask
yourself - what is the purpose of the normal functioning of the brain? The brain is a
device which has evolved by selection of the fittest (not the most truthful) to project
the delusion of the inherently-existing self onto the mind. This delusion of a permanent,
unchanging self is 'imputed' over the ever-changing transitory collection of biochemical
building blocks that makes up the physical aspects of a sentient being. Disruption .... by
biochemical or biophysical agents, enables the mind to temporarily push the doors of
perception ajar and peek beyond mundane biologically-determined appearances. '
Mind - experiencing its
One of the quickest ways to convince yourself that the root mind is not physical,
(and is not therefore limited by one birth and one death), is to meditate on the formless
nature of the mind.
Christianity and Buddhism, Genesis and Science.
Christian Fundamentalists still hanker after the truth of Genesis, whereas Buddhists
are happy to accept scientific explanations for the origin of the species
Computationalism - computers and minds
'Buddhism views a sentient being, human or animal, and its mind, as a totally
different kind of thing from a machine or automaton.'
'Bible-believing creationists claim that the world and all its species were created
in six days of a single week around 4004 BC . In contrast, Buddhist philosophy is
evolutionary. Buddha taught that all things are impermanent, constantly arising, becoming,
changing and fading.'
'Dukkha is sometimes translated as suffering but in actual fact encompasses all
senses of unsatisfactoriness, even including pleasure (which evolution has
contrived will always be a transient sensation - lest it detract too much from the
grim business of survival).'
Feud between Science and Religion
'Many (most?) scientists believe religions to be irrational, obscurantist and
anti-scientific The problem goes back to Galileo, who discovered that the earth goes
round the sun, rather than vice-versa as stated in the Bible.'
Teaching religion in
'....the formation of coal deposits over millions of years, was totally at
variance with what my teachers taught about the age of the earth in Religious
'Our genes drive us along paths of action which appear to minimise suffering,
but in many cases increase it. Greed and acquisitiveness are natural reactions designed to
increase the survival of our genes, and decrease the chances of our competitors. After a
certain point, the more you've got the more you've got to lose, and so the more you've got
to worry about.'
'The description of the root mind as 'formless' doesn't just refer to its
non-material nature, but it emphasises that it is unlimited, non-mechanistic and totally
free from any structure or topology. . In Buddhist psychology the root mind is
non-physical and non-algorithmic. The mind cannot be understood in terms of circuit
diagrams and flowcharts. It is pure awareness.'
God and Gender
' When you put maleness in plain biological terms, (DNA, chromosomes, sperm, eggs
and all that stuff) there seems to be something nonsensical about a male God in the
absence of a female...God is defined in terms of
superlatives. He's the greatest in all respects. Omnipotent, omniscient, almighty,
eternal, highest in the highest, supremely good. All these are definitions of exalted
status - high versus low - powerful versus weak - wise versus stupid - permanent versus
temporary - good versus evil, and of course male versus female...'
Laws of physics - were they determined by biology?
'Both quantum theory and Buddhist teachings on sunyata suggest that as soon as an
observer's mind makes contact with a superposed system, all the numerous possibilities
collapse into one actuality. At some instant one of these possible alternative universes
produced an observing lifeform. The first act of observation by this mind caused the
entire superposed multiverse to collapse immediately into one of its numerous
'...The version of materialism prevalent nowadays is more accurately known as
physicalism. Physicalism has grown out of advances during the second half of the twentieth
century in the fields of genetics, evolution and computer technology. Modern
physicalism takes as its subject matter DNA codes, computer instruction sets and data
structures, rather than the bouncing billiard balls of the nineteenth and early twentieth
Mathematics - Its
unreasonable effectiveness in science and engineering
So we are left with something of a mystery. According to the physicalist
worldview, the mind (including mathematicians' minds) is an epiphenomenon of matter which
has evolved solely to ensure the survival of the selfish genes which code for it. Why
should this 'top-level' phenomenon have such intimate access to the 'bottom level'
phenomena such as quantum physics? After all, the two levels are supposedly separated by
less well-understood (in some cases) explanatory layers such as evolutionary psychology,
neurology, cell biology, genetics, molecular biology, and chemistry.
Mind over matter
Can the mind directly affect sensitive machines?
'At present the creationist/young earth view is winning within the US educational
system, as more and more boards of education outlaw the teaching of evolution. The
creationists' victory is being won not by the strength of their arguments, but by
imposition of censorship. It is likely that soon many young Americans will simply never
come into contact with the concepts of evolution either in their lessons or libraries.'
Original Sin - the evolutionary argument against
'The Buddhist concept of innate delusions is totally different to that of 'original
sin' found in some other belief systems. Innate delusions and their imprints are
seen as an inevitable consequence of where we've come from over millions of years of
evolution. There is no actual 'blame' or 'guilt' to them, though of course the
practitioner strives to understand them in order to overcome them.'
Parietal Lobe and Mystical Experience
To the average Westerner, deliberately cultivating the idea that your ego
doesn't exist as a fixed entity may seem weird and scary, but in fact it can be immensely
liberating. As one of the researcher/meditators taking part in the study said
"It feels like a loss of boundary. It's as if the film of your life broke and you
were seeing the light that allowed the film to be projected"
'The Buddhist does not doubt that the brain does some very sophisticated ordering of
its incoming nerve impulses into the data structures which are the objects of knowledge.
But when all is said and done, those data structures remain as objects.
They are not themselves knowledge, neither are they that which performs the function of
Whenever and wherever there is no mind there is no meaning and no reality. This is a
similar conclusion to the Mahayana Buddhist teachings on sunyata.
Science of the mind?
Science will never be able to analyse such phenomena...
because these 'things' do not have any structure - they do not have any nuts and bolts for
the dismantling tools of science to get a grip on.
The phrase 'Science of Consciousness' is thus a self-contradiction.
What make a sentient being different from an automaton?
Spooky action at a distance (EPR Paradox)
'One of the most vivid illustrations of the interactions of the mind of the observer
with a quantum system is given by EPR - the 'Einstein Podolsky Rosen Paradox', or 'Spooky
action at a distance' as it is sometimes known. The experimental evidence seems to show
that the observer's mind goes to its object unobstructedly and instantaneously.'
Animals above a certain level of development require more than automatic reflexes in
order to survive. Advanced organisms need motivation and intention in order to function in
complex environments. Motivation and intention are chiefly driven by dukkha - the need to
avoid suffering or unsatisfactoriness and the restless but futile search for lasting
happiness. It is the suffering and grasping of their minds - the need to avoid pain and
seek pleasure - that provides the driving force for survival and reproduction of complex
Hatred, Ignorance and Attachment
Transpersonal Psychology grew out of the rejection of the mechanistic or behaviorist
model of the mind which was the orthodoxy of the mid-twentieth century academic
establishment . Charles T. Tart refers to this orthodoxy when describing his
college experience in the 1960's: 'As to things like mystical experiences, if they
were mentioned at all, which was rare, they were relegated to the fringes of psychiatry as
being undoubtedly schizophrenic in nature and just showed how sick religions were to be
associated with superstitious nonsense like that'
'The 'young-earth' viewpoint is similar to creationism. The theological motivation
is identical - to defend Biblical chronology by proving that the world is only a few
thousand years old. The challenge facing the 'young-earthers' is that all dating
mechanisms which use the decay of naturally radioactive atoms in minerals agree that many
of the earth's rocks were formed hundreds of millions of years ago. To get round this
objection the 'young earthers' have either to invoke more conspiracy theories, or
postulate that somehow the rate of radioactive decay was very much faster on the early
earth than it is now. '
If we regard Buddhism as a combination of a philosophy, psychology and religion, then how
much mileage can we get from the first two aspects before we have to start invoking
versus Buddhist worldviews