Buddhism will Update Itself if Science is in Conflict with Buddhist Understanding

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has a rich legacy of scientific observation. He has insisted over the years that science can update belief systems and that religion must be open to scientific discovery. For years, the Dalai Lama has written expressively on the relationship between science and religion. Within the Buddhist traditions, the Dalai Lama has fostered a mindset of examination and objective investigation with the anticipation of a better understanding of reality, which is at the very essence of Buddhism.

  • In his 2005 book, “The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality,” the Dalai Lama declared, “one fundamental attitude shared by Buddhism and science is the commitment to keep searching for reality by empirical means and to be willing to discard accepted or long-held positions if our search finds that the truth is different.”
  • In his 2003 book, “Destructive Emotions: How Can We Overcome Them?,” he wrote: “Buddhism and science are not conflicting perspectives on the world, but rather, differing approaches to the same end: seeking the truth. In Buddhist training, it is essential to investigate reality, and science offers its own ways to go about this investigation. While the purposes of science may differ from those of Buddhism, both ways of searching for truth expand our knowledge and understanding. If science proves facts that conflict with Buddhist understanding, Buddhism must change accordingly. We should always adopt a view that accords with the facts.”
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