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Airdate: Jul 31, 2012
Scientist: Robert Thurman

Buddhism and Science - Inner Science

Buddhism and Science - Inner Science
A Buddhist scholar calls for a balance between the inner and outer worlds of man.

Buddhism and Science - Inner Science

Ambience: Shakuhachi flute, Masters of Shakuhachi

Does western science have all the answers, or can it learn from other traditions? I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

"Western science can learn a tremendous amount from Buddhism, which I must say, in my opinion, it deeply needs to learn. Buddhism is a good carrier of what in India was called the 'inner science'."

Robert Thurman is a professor of Indo-Tibetan studies at Columbia University. He says that western philosophy collapsed when science claimed that everything is material.

"Allowing science to think that everything that it does in relation to material things is reflecting true reality, that only the material counts, has crippled science from looking at the human being as a being with a psychological interior. And the one thing that we're taught to feel happy about is, well, what we can perceive with our sensory apparatus, that's real, and nothing else is. And that is actually a rather naive philosophical mistake from the Buddhist perspective. And we know very well, you can have a little bit unpleasant experience, and if your mind is in a certain state, you will be unruffled by that. In fact, you can still be quite cheerful. You can have the best external environment and you can be miserable, neurotic, have to take tranquilizers. So the inner quality of your mental balance is really the determining factor in whether you have a happy life, or a miserable life. Therefore to say, that your inner quality is nothing, is of course, naive. The whole of Indian civilization was based on this inner science, which is the science of how to manage your mind, and your emotions, and your insight, and that determines the quality of that human being's life."

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.