we are almost finished, I would like to offer some suggestions on how science could be
The first point which I would like to go
over is the point already mentioned some time ago, regarding insufficiency'. Science
is not sufficient to remedy the problems in the modern day world. I would like to use the
example of the environment, because the problem of conservation is one of the major issues
of our time, and science must play a leading role in helping to solve this problem,
especially in terms of research and proposals for solutions.
Scientific knowledge is invaluable. It
can warn us of the dangers that exist, their causes, and the ways in which we have
to deal with them. Technology, which has originated from science, is an essential tool in
this work. But even though we have such valuable tools, they alone are not enough to solve
the problem. Moreover, when we consider the causes for these problems, we find that they
have arisen from science and technology.
Science and technology are not able to
correct their own Handiwork. Even though we have the necessary knowledge at our disposal,
we do not use it. In spite of having the technical capability to solve problems, we
continue to use the kind of technology which aggravates them, To put it simply, scientific
knowledge is incapable of changing human behaviour, inspire of the fact that if the right
technology was used we could solve the problems facing us. Attempts to solve these
problems are always stuck on indecision. In the immediate future science may have to
content itself with working in conjunction with other disciplines, providing data for them
in a collective effortto address these problems.
Now what can be used to solve the
problems of mankind in addition to science and technology? From a Buddhist perspective,
solving human problems, regardless of type, must always be done with a three-pronged
approach, because the causes of human problems arise on many different levels.
In the environmental issue, for example,
there are three levels which must be integrated, namely:
|1. the level of
|2. the level of the
|3. the level of
These three levels must be integrated in
the process of problem solving, thus:
the level of behaviour, there must be social constraint, that is, restraint on the outward
manifestations of bodily and verbal behaviour.
are two ways to constrain behaviour in society:
Firstly, restraint from without,
through regulations and laws, including punishment for lawbreakers and so on, In Buddhism
this is called vinaya.
The second way is
restraint from within the individual, through intention. In most cases such intention
arises from religious faith. If, for example, there is belief or confidence in religion,
there is a readiness and willingness to restrain behaviour. Th
In short, the first way
is vinaya - regulations and standards for constraining destructive actions, and the second
way is sla the
conscious intention to be restrained within the restrictions thus imposed.
Both of these ways are
related in that they are concerned with the control and training of behaviour. On a social
level it is necessary to establish regulations, but these are not yet enough. We must also
use sla, restraint from
within, until moral conduct is fluent and regular.
||Because the mind is one of the factors involved in causing
problems, solving them by control of behaviour alone is not yet enough. We must also deal
with the mind.
In the example I am using here, our aim is to
conserve nature. If we want everyone to help out in the conservation of nature, we must
first instill the desire to do so into people's hearts. So from conservation of
nature'' we arrive at wanting to conserve nature.
From where does the
desire to conserve nature arise? It arises from a love of nature. If there is an
appreciation of nature, the desire to conserve it will naturally follow. But that's
not the end people will only appreciate nature when they can live happily with
It seems that most
people have realized the importance of appreciating nature, but if that is all they see
they are shortsighted. They are not seeing the whole chained conditions. As long as they
fail to see all the factors involved, any attempts to address the problem will fail. We
must search further down to find the beginning of the chain, to see what needs to be done
to encourage people to appreciate nature.
A love of nature
will arise with difficulty if people are not happy living with nature. People must have
minds that are at ease living with nature before they can love nature, from where they can
develop the desire to conserve nature, which in turn will lead to the actual work of
Even though there
may be other factors or discrepancies in our chain of conditions, this much is enough to
convey the general idea. It seems, though, that so far science has had an important role
in obstructing this process from functioning. That is, the desire to seek happiness from
the exploitation of nature has caused people to feel, deeply within, that human
beings can only be happy through technology, and that nature is an obstacle to this
Many children in
the present day feel that their happiness lies with technology, they do not feel at all
comfortable being with nature. They may even go so far as to see nature as and an enemy,
an obstacle to their happiness. Nature must be conquered in order to enjoy the happiness
of technology. Take a look at the minds of people in the present age. You will see that
most people in society feel this way. This results from the influence of science in the
recent Industrial Age.
The beliefs in
conquering nature and seeking happiness in material goods, which are represented and
advocated by technology, have held sway over the minds of human beings for such a long
time that people have developed the feeling that nature is an enemy, an obstruction to
human progress. As long as this kind of thinking prevails, it will be very difficult for
human beings to love nature, because they will be tenable to find happiness within it.
For this reason, I
say that our ways of thinking must be Changed. If we are to continue living in a natural
world we must find a point of balance, and in order to do that we must develop an
appreciation of nature, at least to see that nature can provide us with happiness. There
is much beauty in nature, and technology can be used to enhance our appreciation of it.
In order to be more
effective, constraint of behaviour needs to be supported by mental conviction. If
there is appreciation of skilful action and a sense of satisfaction in such behaviour, or
there is sufficient drive to make us oluntarily begin to organize our behaviour in a
constructive manner, then self- training need not be a forced or difficult operation.
level of wisdom refers to an understanding of the process of cause and effect, or causes
and conditions, in nature. This is of prime importance. In order to understand the pro's
and cons of the issue of conservation we must have some understanding of nature. In this
respect Pure Science can be of immense benefit, providing the data which will enable us to
see the relevant factors involved in the deterioration of the environment, in what ways
the environment has deteriorated, and what effects are to be expected from this
of the situation opens people's minds and makes them receptive. If there is understanding
that a certain action causes damage to the environment, which will in turn have a
detrimental effect on human beings, we will have the incentive to change our behaviour.
Sometimes, however, in
spite of understanding the ill-effects of something, we cannot change our behaviour,
because the mind does not accept the truth on a deep enough level. That is why it is
important for the mind to have both an an understanding of the situation on an
intellectual level, and also an emotional feeling, an appreciation, an ability to be happy
with nature. Scientific knowledge alone is not enough to induce people to change their
ways, because of attachment to habits, personal gains, social preferences and so on. With
enjoyment of nature as a base, any intellectual understanding, such as an understanding of
the ecological system, will serve to deepen or fortify all qualities on the emotional
In order to really
address the situation we must have a comprehensive solution. The methods of Buddhism are a
comprehensive solution to the problem at all levels. There are three prongs ordinations of
the Buddhist path. In Buddhism we call the first level sla, the constraint or control of moral behaviour within
vinaya, laws and regulations. Restraint of action is achieved through intention, which is
the essence of sla. Both
these levels, regulations and moral intention, are included under the general heading of sla, training in moral conduct.
The second level concerns
the mind, training the feelings, qualities and habits of the mind to be virtuous and
skilful. This is the division known as samdhi, the training of the mind.
The third level is
wisdom, pa, or knowledge and understanding. Wisdom is the
quality which monitors the activities of the first and second levels, examining them and
keeping them on the right track throughout. On its own, wisdom tends to be inactive, and
so must be supported by training in moral conduct and meditation.
Wisdom not only
supervises the practice of moral restraint and meditation, but also examines the negative
side of things, seeing, for example, the harmful effects of any unskilful behaviour
pattern, even in cases where such behaviour is enjoyable or profitable in some way. If
such pleasure is seen to be in any way harmful, wisdom is the voice which tells us that
such behaviour should be given up or corrected, and in which ways it can be done.
These three divisions
work together and are inter-dependent. Initially we train our actions, cultivating skilful
behaviour and giving up the unskilful. At the same time we train the mind, instilling in
it skilful drives and a feeling of joy or satisfaction in the practice, and develop
understanding of reality and the reasons for practice, seeing the benefit and harm of our
actions as they are.
As we train and the
practice becomes more and more consistent, the mind will take delight in the practice,
which causes faith to increase. When faith arises, the mind is keen to contemplate and
understand our actions. When wisdom or understanding arises, seeing the benefit in
practising and the harm of not practising, faith is enhanced once again. When faith is
increased, we are more able to control and adapt our behaviour and make it more in
accordance with the right path.