The Dalai Lama Speaks on Science (2nd part)

By Matthieu Ricard on February 14, 2011

Over the past thirty years more and more scientists have been showing genuine interest in the Buddhist views of the mind and of its relation to the body. As a result some scientific institutions, in America and in Europe, have undertaken some research.

This collaboration has two purposes: First, simply to expand our knowledge, not only about matter, particles and molecules but also about the mind.
Sometimes I tell my scientist friends: ‟You have been only investigating what is detectable in the external world. Now you are beginning to investigate as well the internal mental life”.

So the first purpose is to expand our common knowledge. The second should be to bring more happiness to human beings and to protect the environment.
Some times, the scientific findings have been used for destruction, for building weapons. These really beautiful scientific investigations, which are the fountain of knowledge, become used for destruction. In such cases, scientific knowledge and intelligence lead to disasters.

Some people are intellectually brilliant but nevertheless suffer from a lot of anxiety and might end up having nervous breakdowns. Therefore to use our intelligence become fully constructive, we need to increaser our human awareness, to educate the heart and develop a sense of responsibility, a sense of the concern for the well being of others. Do you understand?

Religious traditions have been teaching these human values since thousand years but the majority of people are not really influenced by them. I am a Buddhist so and naturally consider the Buddha as the embodiment of wisdom and compassion. In spite of this, the Buddha was unable to inspire everyone. So even though he Buddha came to India, he was unable to make the whole of India a peaceful place.

In regard to other traditions, for example Jain tradition, they tried to influence the human race to become more compassionate and peaceful, but also failed. During the past thousand years, millions of people have benefitted from these traditions, but religion alone is not enough, that is a fact. This is why, I have been promoting the notion of ‟secular ethics”, in order to be able to cultivate basic human values, independently of religious beliefs.

India for instance, is a very good example of a secular country, which, according to its constitution, is not against religions, but is not associated to any particular religion.
More open-heartedness gives you endless benefits, including for your own health. There is not need to focus too much on next life. You can to see the immediate benefit of a warm heart, which will give you better health, make you more peaceful, compassionate and joyful. The fundamental source of all these benefits is compassion. So this remarkable intelligence we have must be not be used only for material development.

In India, for the past several thousands years, there has been a lot of investigation regarding all the traditions that involve samadhi (concentration), vipassana (deeper insight) and other techniques. Naturally there have provided a lot of explanation about the mind and its functions. So there is a lot of material there within these traditions and many people worldwide study them. Since science and technology can lead to some dangerous application, so now in order to check these, one must balance them with another force, which should also be based on secular ethics. That's my view.

So now, for the first time, we are meeting here in India, contemplatives and scientists together, and I am extremely happy.
I always say that for we, Buddhists, India is our Guru. We are the disciples, the ‟chela”. Sometimes I add that we are quite a good and reliable ‟chelas”. So sometimes I say this to Indians, half jokingly, half seriously, that since we have such a Guru disciple relationship, when the ‟chela” faces some problems the Guru also has some responsibilities to help the ‟chela”.

All of our knowledge comes from this country, so I consider myself a messenger of ancient Indian thought, and I try to make some contribution here and there during my travels around the world. Of course sometimes it is difficult to communicate, but however, wherever I go, I always talk about love compassion, these values that I consider important and that can be developed. Now my master, my Guru, my Boss if you want, India, should take a more active role in the promotion of religious harmony and non-violence, all values that are related to warm-heartedness. I really hope for this to happen. In such meeting in India, when you speak about your wish for all of us to continue to see one another, on my side, as a disciple, whatever the guru wants, that's my duty to do it, or to serve you. So as long as my body remains active, maybe ten for years—I'll be 85 then—I can do that. Yesterday there was a yogi here, Iyengar, who is 93. I don't know whether I can remain as active as him when I come to 93, but as long as I can do something, I am at your disposal.