Buddhism and Science
A Guide for the Perplexed
In Buddhism and Science, Donald S. Lopez Jr. is less interested in evaluating the accuracy of such claims than in exploring how and why these two seemingly disparate modes of understanding the inner and outer universe have been so persistently linked. Lopez opens with an account of the rise and fall of Mount Meru, the great peak that stands at the center of the flat earth of Buddhist cosmography—and which was interpreted anew once it proved incompatible with modern geography. From there, he analyzes the way in which Buddhist concepts of spiritual nobility were enlisted to support the notorious science of race in the nineteenth century. Bringing the story to the present, Lopez explores the Dalai Lama’s interest in scientific discoveries, as well as the implications of research on meditation for neuroscience.
“For philosophers and cognitive scientists interested in psychological and ethical improvement Lopez’s new book is must reading. Mind scientists report that Buddhists are especially happy and serene. What does this mean? Are concepts such as ‘suffering,’ ‘happiness,’ and ‘equanimity’ understood the same in Buddhism and in science? Lopez is exactly the right historian to take us on this expert tour of the Buddhism and science dialogues as they have developed over the past two centuries in the West. At a time when glib enthusiasts for Buddhism and science claim vindication through the other, Lopez is the wise historically sensitive voice who asks us to reflect on which science, which Buddhism we are talking about.”