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Explore the nature of our material world in a unique sourcebook, conceived by the Dalai Lama, collecting the scientific observations found in classical Buddhist treatises.
Under the visionary supervision of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics brings together classical Buddhist explorations of the nature of our material world and the human mind and puts them into context for the modern reader. It is the Dalai Lama’s view that the explorations by the great masters of northern India in the first millennium CE still have much that is of interest today, whether we are Buddhist or not.
Volume 1, The Physical World, explores the nature of our material world—from the macroscopic to the microscopic. It begins with an overview of the many frameworks, such as the so-called five aggregates, that Buddhist thinkers have used to examine the nature and scope of reality. Topics include sources of knowledge, the scope of reason, the nature and constituents of the material world, theories of the atom, the nature of time, the formation of the universe, and the evolution of life, including a detailed explanation of the early Buddhist theories on fetal development. The volume even contains a brief presentation on early theories about the structure and function of the brain and the role of microorganisms inside the human body. The book weaves together passages from the works of great Buddhist thinkers such as Asanga, Vasubandhu, Nagarjuna, Dignaga, and Dharmakirti. Each of the major topics is introduced by Thupten Jinpa, the Dalai Lama’s principal English-language translator and founder of the Institute of Tibetan Classics.
The Dalai Lama offers the first entry in a four-volume series on the scientific and philosophical explorations of the nature of reality in Indian Buddhist classics. The complete compendium will cover scientific, philosophical, and religious topics; this first volume tackles the physical sciences of the material universe. The Dalai Lama argues that Western and Buddhist styles of scientific thinking are not contradictory: the Buddha emphasized a reason-based empirical testing of the validity of his teachings. Like the scientific method, Buddhism asserts that the evidence of direct perception must ultimately underpin critical inquiry and applies this principle to the practice of meditation: "In Buddhism, empirical observation is not confined to the five senses alone... study and contemplation is also recognized as part of the means of investigating reality." This first volume connects teachings from classical Buddhist schools to topics of inquiry in modern science, including quantum particles, relativity, and fetal development. The Dalai Lama's newest offering is a dense and rich compilation of teachings spanning the massive Tibetan canon that is ultimately more relevant for specialists than a general, uninitiated audience.