Lion's Roar

Where Buddhism and Science Meet: Teachings, Commentary, and News

Now more than ever, Buddhists are using scientific tools and scientists are using Buddhist wisdom to uncover truths about the universe. Here, we present a collection of articles on the fruits of those collaborations. Featuring the Dalai Lama, Daniel Goleman, Karen Kissel Wegela, Vincent Horn, Judy Roitman, Jack Kornfield, Judy Lief, Sam Littlefair, and more.

Buddhist teachings on meditation have been central to the neuroscience research on the effects of mindfulness on the brain.

Buddhist practice and scientific inquiry are both based on finding unconditioned truth through empirical observation. The Buddha himself said, “Don’t just believe in something because it has been repeated by many people… even if it is found in holy scripture.”

The dharma teacher Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche considers Buddhism not a “religion,” but a “science of mind.” The Dalai Lama said that if science ever disproves Buddhism, Buddhism must change. And Thich Nhat Hanh has said that science has helped him better understand Buddhism. So Buddhism and science make natural bedfellows.

Read on for some of the best articles on Buddhism, neuroscience, technology, psychology, physics, and math from Lion’s Roar magazine, Buddhadharma, and LionsRoar.com.

Buddhism & Neuroscience

Studying Mind from the Inside

While scientific methods are useful, says His Holiness the Dalai Lama, mind should also be studied through rigorous observation of our own subjective experience.

Leading neuroscientists and Buddhists agree: “Consciousness is everywhere”

New theories in neuroscience suggest consciousness is an intrinsic property of everything, just like gravity. That development, reports Sam Littlefair, opens a world of opportunity for collaboration between Buddhists and neuroscientists.

Thoughts about Consciousness while Cutting in the Brain

Neurosurgeon Werner Doyle changes people’s experience of life for the better by removing parts of their brains. Yet he knows that mind is not matter, cells are not consciousness. Novelist Joseph McElroy watches Doyle at work in the operating room, and together they ponder the mystery of brain and mind.

Two Sciences of Mind

Barry Boyce reports on the dialogue between cutting-edge science and Buddhism’s 2500-year study of the mind.

The Lama in the Lab: Neuroscience and Meditation

Daniel Goleman reports on the Dalai Lama and the dialog between science and Buddhism, especially on how neuroscientists are measuring the effects of meditation.

Neurotribes: The New Diversity

Steve Silberman’s groundbreaking book, Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, is changing the way we think about cognitive differences.

Neuroscience and Buddhism converging on the inconstant self

Science and religion have been mostly viewed as separate since the Enlightenment, but an increasing number of scientific researchers are referencing and drawing on Buddhism in their studies, especially in the field of neuroscience.

Illustration by Nolan Pelletier.

Buddhism & Psychology

You’re Basically Good: The Benefits of Contemplative Psychotherapy

Karen Kissel Wegela on therapy that starts with your basic sanity, not your neuroses.

Psychologists say Buddhist concepts activate compassion, tolerance

A new study reports that when people are exposed to Buddhist concepts, they show more prosocial behavior and tolerance of outsiders.

Is Western Psychology Redefining Buddhism?

Three Buddhist teachers — Jack Kornfield, Judy Lief, and Bodhin Kjolhede — examine the influence of Western psychology on Buddhism. Introduction by Ajahn Amaro.

Virtual reality technologies like Oculus Rift hold promise for new forms of Buddhist investigation, says Vincent Horn. Photo by Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung.

Buddhism & Technology

Xian’er the robot wants to answer your questions about Buddhism

Xian’er was developed by Chinese artificial intelligence experts to “sense his surroundings and answer deep questions about Buddhism.”

How Oculus Rift Will Change Buddhism

It won’t be long before you can slip on a headset and enter a new dharma realm. But, says Vincent Horn, we should watch our step.

Afghanistan’s giant Buddhas rise again with 3D light projection

The giant Bamiyan Buddhas of Afghanistan have been rebuilt — this time with light. Sam Littlefair reports.

Buddhist singing bowls: lighting the way for better solar panels?

Cambridge researchers are using Buddhist singing bowls as a model for creating solar panels that resonate with light.

Molecular dance meditation reveals: you’re just atoms and energy

Physics and Buddhism both posit that it’s hard, if not impossible, to pinpoint “you.” Harrison Blum, the Buddhist spiritual advisor at Northeastern University, has created a new guided meditation that allows practitioners to experience that truth.

The famous Penrose Triangle is an impossible object devised by Sir Roger Penrose and his father Lionel Penrose in the 1950s. Roger described it as “impossibility in its purest form.” Photo by Philippe Put.

Buddhism & Philosophy, Physics, and Math

Zen Math Will Never Add Up

Nagarjuna’s four propositions tell us that something may be what it is or it may not; it may be neither or it may be both. This is Zen math, and it’s not always easy, says Judy Roitman.

The Beginner’s Mind of Scientist Sir Roger Penrose

Rev. Tony Stultz on the brilliant mind who models a rich exchange between Buddhism and scientific thought — for the benefit of all beings.

What does Neil deGrasse Tyson have to say about “Buddhistic” astrophysics?

He may have what he’s described as only a “Reader’s Digest knowledge of Buddhism,” but famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is a fascinating thinker in just about any capacity.