Ven. Ajahn Brahmavamso talks about Buddhism’s significance

(From 23/02/2010)

In an interview with The Sunday Times Plus supplement, ex Cambridge Physicist Ven. Ajahn Brahmavamso claims that Science is a dogmatic system and that it differs little from organized religion

Elitist science, as once was the Pope, is now infallible…

He claims, and then goes onto contradict himself and confuse the reader by claiming that Buddhism is more scientific than “Science” (whatever that means).  We see this over and over again in these types of interviews where a Ven Thero would accede and agree with the scientific method and attempt to establish Buddisim as far superior system of knowledge simply beacuse it is “More Scientific” (as oppsed to other religions and systems of knowledge). And here’s the contradiction. The Thero assumes from the start that a dogmatic system is not necessarily an honest/objective system (this is debatable) and then cites examples and experiences to strengthen his claim that Science is somehow “dogmatic” and hence is not being “honest with itself”. His derision of the way in which Science is practiced in modern academia is implicit. He then goes on to add that somehow Buddhism is more “scientific” than “Science” and now appears to be alluding to fact that science is superior!  this is yet another attempt to lend credibility to a system which has long since been abandoned by free thinkers. It is amazing that Westerners continue to have a fascination (some might go as far as to call it a fetish) with eastern philosophies which in my opinion are just the eastern/vedantic counterpart to the Western (essentially Greek) philosophies found amongst the Ionians.

This is yet another example of the Olcott Complex. Disillusioned and weary westerner discovers eastern philosophy and Buddhism and embraces it completely even going as far as to be ordained as a monk and continues to live in said eastern country and preaches to the masses. The masses in turn are full of awe at this “suddha”  (and scientist – a wet dream for Sri Lanka’s so called academia!) who has rejected the western way of life and is now following the noble eightfold path.

The Thero once again uses Science to lend credibility to Buddhism,

Thus Buddhism is not a belief system. It is a science founded on objective observation, i.e. meditation, ever careful not to disturb the reality through imposing artificial measurements, and it is evidently repeatable.

People have been re-creating the experimental conditions, known as establishing the factors of the Noble Eightfold Path, for over twenty-six centuries now, much longer than science. And those renowned Professors of Meditation, the male and female Arahants, have all arrived at the same conclusion as the Buddha. They verified the timeless Law of Dhamma, otherwise known as Buddhism. So Buddhism is the only real science, and I’m happy to say that I’m still a scientist at heart, only a much better scientist than I ever could have been at Cambridge.

Buddhism has nothing to do with objective observation or empirical data and it does claim to know the final truth (amongst other things). Buddhism is essentially about terminating the samsaric cycle of birth and death.

In hindsight its probably a good thing he left Cambridge given his disillusioned and acerbic attitude towards Science. I must also add that the goal of Science is not to lend credibility and flair to dogmatic and religious schools of thought but to question the universe we live in, come up with empirical data to support a hypothesis and then build a new type of understanding of the universe we live in. It truly is a work in progress! anyone who fails to understand this basic requirement and tenant has picked the wrong philosophy and system to practice, and indulge their intellect.

It is truly a triumph for us free thinkers and atheists  when a religious figure has to accede to the Scientific method in order to make his/her Religion/Dogma more relevant and credible.  All the readers and contributors of religurd should give themselves a hand!

I also cant help but wonder if there was a communication barrier between the interviewer and the interviewee, the reason being the contradictions and the overall naivete of this article. See for yourselves .

Note to the editor of The Sunday Times, next time move the article from the Plus supplement to the Funday Times supplement.