Science-Meru

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Science-Meru

Postby rahula80 » Thu Sep 30, 2010 4:08 pm

Hi,

Now, how about Mt Meru?

If you cannot trust the Buddha to get geographical facts right, why trust him on issues related to the supernatural / spiritual?

Shonin wrote:
> For the same reason that someone being a bad judge of character does not refute his expertise on quantum mechanics. Or someone being bad at maths has no bearing on their understanding of English literature.<

Robert Spence Hardy wrote:

"An attempt may be made to set aside the consequences of this exposure of Buddha's ignorance, by saying, that this is a kind of mistake that does not invalidate his doctrines; Buddhism may still be true as a religious system. But this is a fallacy that I am most anxious to set aside. If the Buddha said that which is false, under the supposition that it is true, be betrays ignorance, imperfect knowledge, and misapprehension. He cannot, therefore, be a safe teacher; there may be some things about his religion that are true, as there are about every religion;......................" (The Legends and Theories of the Buddhists Compared with History and Science, p.78 )
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Re: Science-Meru

Postby Shonin » Thu Sep 30, 2010 4:22 pm

What nonsense. Buddha's teachings are not infallible/omniscient therefore he is of no value.

Name me one person who is infallible. Is Robert Spence Hardy infallible? No he's not. Therefore by his own logic we should dismiss him.

This is completely bogus logic. Teachings should be assessed on merit not dismissed because the teacher is revealed to have said a couple of inaccurate things about an unrelated subject matter.
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Re: Science-Meru

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Sep 30, 2010 4:34 pm

rahula80 wrote:Now, how about Mt Meru?


Someone recently made an interesting connection between Mt. Meru and the magnetic axis of the Earth.

Mt. Meru is where the Brahmas and Devas live. It's very tall (about 84000 yojanas high). The mountain is generally believed to be located at the north pole (according to an interpretation of an early Indian text, the Mahabharata; and also claimed by Ven. Migettuwatte Gunananda during a debate in 1873). It is traditionally depicted in the arts as an inverted mountain, and is invisible to the human eye.

Here's a picture of the Earth's magnetic axis to compare... make of it what you will. :tongue:
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Re: Science-Meru

Postby Vepacitta » Thu Sep 30, 2010 4:56 pm

Yup - we're ever so full of magnetism here on Mt. Meru!

:mrgreen:

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Re: Science-Meru

Postby rahula80 » Thu Sep 30, 2010 5:24 pm

Hi,

I thought I ought to share this:

1. The text described the earth in the context of descriptive geometry (representation of 3D objects in 2D)?

2. Mount Meru as North Pole?

http://wisdomquarterly.blogspot.com/200 ... mundi.html
http://wisdomquarterly.blogspot.com/200 ... ineru.html

3. As Mt Kailash? Or as Antartica?
http://sdhammika.blogspot.com/2009/11/mt-kailash.html


Best wishes,
Rahula
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Re: Science-Meru

Postby Euclid » Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:55 pm

rahula80 wrote:If you cannot trust the Buddha to get geographical facts right, why trust him on issues related to the supernatural / spiritual?


Because geographical facts have nothing to do with issues related to the cessation of suffering?


"An attempt may be made to set aside the consequences of this exposure of Buddha's ignorance, by saying, that this is a kind of mistake that does not invalidate his doctrines; Buddhism may still be true as a religious system. But this is a fallacy that I am most anxious to set aside. If the Buddha said that which is false, under the supposition that it is true, be betrays ignorance, imperfect knowledge, and misapprehension. He cannot, therefore, be a safe teacher; there may be some things about his religion that are true, as there are about every religion;......................" (The Legends and Theories of the Buddhists Compared with History and Science, p.78 )


This logic is patently false. Einstein thought quantum mechanics was wrong, Voltaire thought Fresnel diffraction was an incorrect prediction, Lord Kelvin famously said that everything there was to be discovered had been discovered already, Newton was convinced light was formed of corpuscules, Michelson thought that light moved through the Aether; I could go on.

All of your critiques to date have simply been childish ad hominems. Put the Buddha's advice into practice and evaluate the results for yourself.
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Re: Science-Meru

Postby rahula80 » Fri Oct 01, 2010 9:43 am

Hi Euclid,

Your comments is noted. As mentioned elsewhere, the Buddha is so wise in spiritual stuff, based on practising his advise. No doubt about this.
I am just curious how Buddhist understand such passages? What and how do we made of it.

Best wishes,
Rahula
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Re: Science-Meru

Postby 5heaps » Fri Oct 01, 2010 9:55 am

the scope of the suttas is generally aimed at yogis. theres no point trying to understand it from the pov of science, since the scope of science is much more limited.
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Re: Science-Meru

Postby rahula80 » Fri Oct 01, 2010 11:11 am

Hi,

What happened when the yogi read the suttas, and finds that it apparently or seemingly contradicts what he learned in school?
Shouldn't he investigate further, out of curiosity?
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Re: Science-Meru

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Oct 01, 2010 11:13 am

Greetings Rahula,

Please be honest - what is the reason behind your queries?

Since you joined this forum, all your posts have focused exclusively on this issue, seemingly with the purpose to discredit the Buddha as a trustworthy source of spiritual guidance.

Is this your motivation, or is your motive less mean-spirited?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Science-Meru

Postby rahula80 » Fri Oct 01, 2010 11:23 am

Hi Retro,

I believe I have mentioned elsewhere that I want to know how (other) Buddhists response to these passages (I am a Buddhist, myself)

Apart from that, I have to admit I am bias, I was hoping there are some scientific support.

The most honest reason is that I am writing a thesis - providing a Buddhist answer to critics of Buddhism. I need some help in this area - scientific contradiction. Hopes this answer your question.

Best wishes,
Rahula
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Re: Science-Meru

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Oct 01, 2010 11:29 am

Greetings Rahula,

I appreciate the clarification, thank you.

Specific to your thesis, I'd be very careful in trying to defend the Dhamma or the Buddha against scientific viewpoints. Frankly, I think fighting science with Dhamma-science misses the whole point of the Dhamma (i.e. liberation), and many attempts to defend the Dhamma against claims rooted in science often come across as very desperate, and do the Dhamma no favours.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Science-Meru

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Oct 01, 2010 11:51 am

Hi, Rahula,

If you're not familiar with his writings, you might have a look at what the Zen master Hakuin had to say on this topic. Apparently during his time Buddhism was being attacked by Confucians and "Calendrists" who liked to pick out fantastical passages from the scriptures in order to show that the dharma is not scientific. Hakuin responded to these charges at some length.

His response was basically the same as what Retrofuturist and others have said, namely, that:

Retrofuturist wrote:The Buddha (as recorded in the Suttas, at least) did not speak about these things arbitrarily and for the purpose of speaking of them, in and of themselves. The lessons were always connected to the Dhamma - the earthquake, Meru and big fish were just a means of communicating the underlying message.

So to answer the "why", I would suggest it was to teach the Dhamma (not to teach physics or biology) for the benefit of sentient beings.


If you're interested in a scholarly point of view, Donald Lopez's book "Buddhism and Science: A Guide for the Perplexed" might be relevant to your questions:

http://www.amazon.com/Buddhism-Science- ... 0226493121

As for Robert Spence Hardy, the author you mentioned above, he was a 19th-century minister and his book has an explicitly Christian agenda...""all that Buddha teaches proceeds upon the supposition, dark and joyless, that THERE IS NO GOD", etc etc.

I'd take it with some pretty heavy grains of salt.

http://books.google.com/books?id=hZNHAA ... &q&f=false


:anjali:
Last edited by Lazy_eye on Fri Oct 01, 2010 12:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Science-Meru

Postby Shonin » Fri Oct 01, 2010 12:03 pm

rahula80 wrote:I believe I have mentioned elsewhere that I want to know how (other) Buddhists response to these passages (I am a Buddhist, myself)

Apart from that, I have to admit I am bias, I was hoping there are some scientific support.

The most honest reason is that I am writing a thesis - providing a Buddhist answer to critics of Buddhism. I need some help in this area - scientific contradiction. Hopes this answer your question.


There is no scientific support for the ancient Buddhist/Jain/Hindu model of a flat earth.

On the other hand, there is scientific support for the benefits of meditation for eliminating suffering.
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Re: Science-Meru

Postby Hoo » Fri Oct 01, 2010 1:31 pm

retrofuturist wrote:....Specific to your thesis, I'd be very careful in trying to defend the Dhamma or the Buddha against scientific viewpoints. Frankly, I think fighting science with Dhamma-science misses the whole point of the Dhamma (i.e. liberation), and many attempts to defend the Dhamma against claims rooted in science often come across as very desperate, and do the Dhamma no favours.
Metta,
Retro. :)


Hi Rahula,

"Science as the measure of all things" has been argued for a long time. My Dad was a research biochemist and I was (over time) a musician, philosopher and counselor. Surprisingly we didn't clash very often. Part of that was realizing that our fields didn't speak to everything - they were limited.

Science could speak to sound production and the physics of harmony, but it couldn't compose - at least not well IMHO. I've heard some of the computer composition experiments and they were pretty lame. :) I could compose and play, but I couldn't do the math or engineering to make an instrument. While there were related elements between the fields, neither was capable of completely handling both.

Re: philosophy and psychology, science could speak to the chemical and physical elements of existence. It could postulate the big bang theory. But it couldn't form a good attempt to explain religion or other metaphysics. Science could explain the mechanics of Serotonin reuptake and other chemical events that related to some mental distress. But it could not help the client deal with experiences in their life. Psychiatry might be seen as a hybrid of fields, though the psychiatrists I've met would be quick to correct you that their field is not a hybrid ;)

If I extend my view to Buddhism, and I'm a fairly new Buddhist, I'd have to say that though there may be overlaps in the fields, neither one will speak to all of the other. At its most basic, the Buddha taught about suffering and the end of suffering. The modern social sciences and medicine can also address them, though their methods and goals will be different.

Finally (hold the applause please, he's almost done ;) ) JMHO, but science deals best with data, poorly with performance. There have been lots of studies on baseball swing/stance/etc. There are still no scientists with hits and home run records. Has data improved performance for some, probably so. How about relieving stress and suffering? Has either science or Buddhism eliminated the problem? Not for everyone, but people have benefitted from both. Buddhism is a "learn and do" situation. Intellectual knowledge is not enough. The practice of Buddhism is the heart of the matter. How shall science successfully address that the doing is where the learning and "attainment" occur?

If the position taken by both sides is that they can inform each other successfully, I think it can work. But as soon as it turns into an argument on which side is right, both sides begin to lose. If a position is taken that "only this is true," I think the only Buddhist reply at that point is to leave. Arguing views is like herding cats - a waste of time if it is just arguing.

But this is just me sharing my experiences and views. Opinions and views are like noses, everybody has one. So feel free to ignore mine because I have nothing to teach, just things I'm willing to share.

With Metta,
Hoo - acknowledged master of faded glory in several fields :)
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Re: Science-Meru

Postby rahula80 » Fri Oct 01, 2010 1:52 pm

Hi,

Retro, no, not against scientific viewpoints, but rather against those who used it to attack Buddhism, eg. Hardy.

Lazy-eye, thanks. I am aware of Lopez's book. I believed I mentioned it in one of my posting.
Can you give me the reference to Hakuin - the title of the book?

Shonin,

> There is no scientific support for the ancient Buddhist/Jain/Hindu model of a flat earth. <

Flat earth society? From the suttas, it is also difficult to explicitly claimed the Buddha mentioned that the earth is flat.

> On the other hand, there is scientific support for the benefits of meditation for eliminating suffering.<

Agree.No doubt.

Hoo, thanks your comments.

Best wishes,
Rahula
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Re: Science-Meru

Postby Shonin » Fri Oct 01, 2010 2:19 pm

rahula80 wrote:no, not against scientific viewpoints, but rather against those who used it to attack Buddhism, eg. Hardy.


Hardy's weakness is in the validity of his logic not in his correct identification of statements in the Pali Canon which are refuted by modern science.

rahula80 wrote:Flat earth society? From the suttas, it is also difficult to explicitly claimed the Buddha mentioned that the earth is flat.


I don't know. And I'm not really concerned either way to dig into this very much. However, as you'll see on my recent comments on the earthquake topic, the Buddha's strange words about earth being upon water/liquid upon air which are hard to understand in terms of our current knowledge of the world, are easy to make sense of in terms of the flat earth model of that time.
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Re: Science-Meru

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Oct 01, 2010 2:54 pm

rahula80 wrote:Lazy-eye, thanks. I am aware of Lopez's book. I believed I mentioned it in one of my posting.
Can you give me the reference to Hakuin - the title of the book?


Sorry I missed your earlier reference!

You can find the relevant Hakuin passages in Thomas Cleary's "Classics of Buddhism and Zen, Volume 3", in the section titled "Kensho: The Heart of Zen". I believe this section may also be available as a stand-alone book. In any case, Hakuin is dealing directly with this kind of question, e.g. "is Buddhism wrong because it says here that eclipses are caused by the titan Rahula blocking the sun with his hand?"

He looks at several examples and teases open their dharma meaning. And he has this general comment to make:

Hakuin wrote: Buddha originally had three kinds of discourse: discourse on principle, metaphorical discourse, and explanation of causality. The doctrine in question here is a metaphorical discourse, in which illusory things of the world are used to illustrate true reality. You folks with the eyes of goats and sheep and the intelligence of foxes and badgers merely see the illusory things of the world and cannot understand the truth as it really is. Thus you arbitrarily slight the words of the enlightened."


Also relevant might be this advice from Chu Hung, a Pure Land master:

In reading the scriptures there are two kinds of mistakes. One is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles. The second is to recognize the principles but not apply these to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.


This is Mahayana, I know, but it seems appropriate for the discussion here. If Mt. Meru presents difficulties, what can we say about the Western Pure Land? (west of what?)

Perhaps some questions to consider might be:

-- since skeptical doubt is a hindrance and we are trying to build conviction in the Buddha's teachings, do these apparent inaccuracies pose an obstacle? Or are they instead an invitation to look beyond the "illusory things of the world"?
-- to what extent did Buddhists in the past regard these things as "literally" true? was their faith dependent on it being so?

I remember it being said somewhere that aspects of the Buddha's cosmology were in conflict with the known astronomical data of the era (stuff the Buddha would have been aware of), and thus it must be taken as representing existence as seen with the divine eye.
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Re: Science-Meru

Postby 5heaps » Fri Oct 01, 2010 9:33 pm

rahula80 wrote:What happened when the yogi read the suttas, and finds that it apparently or seemingly contradicts what he learned in school?

if a yogi is operating at a greater scope it means they can see mt meru directly, and understands the obscurations in the minds of others which is blocking them. if their scope is not greater than current scientific inquiry then they cant really know whether what is in the suttas is figurative or literal.
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Re: Science-Meru

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Sat Oct 02, 2010 4:00 am

I'll toss a few thoughts into this. We can't judge apples by the rules of oranges. if we're going to judge the physics of Buddha's time. we have to use Vedic reasoning, not Newtonian physics. In engineering, we call this homogeneity of units (you don't multiply feet by inches, for example). For example, if Mount Meru is where the devas live, it's made quite clear in Vedic literature devas do not live on the material/physical plane as we do. So we're not talking about geology at all. Mount Meru doesn't exist as say, Mount Everest does. It's invisible to the human eye for a reason; but not to the supramundane eye.

As for the Earth resting upon liquid upon air, once again, look at this from vedic Elements or Dhatus. Look at a cross-section of the Earth. The solid land masses do indeed rest upon liquid, which rest upon air. Quite impressive description, actually. :P All you have to do is see these descriptions from the correct perspective and they make perfect sense.

Hope this helps.

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