Buddhists have developed a very sophisticated analysis of the mind and mental processes, valuing introspective or ‘contemplative’ methods for understanding the mind, as well as using meditation to enhance positive states of mind. It is interesting to compare Buddhist psychology with its Western scientific equivalent. In Buddhism, mind and body are seen as influencing each other. The mind is described as a stream of mental events, with no separate controlling centre – ‘no-self’. Recent research by neuroscientists has imaged what happens in the brain while people are meditating.
The Buddha and his followers taught that one’s personal awareness is not unbreakably fastened to the brain, so that a stream of consciousness can continue after the death of the body, being involved in the rebirth of another individual. Science rarely looks at beliefs of this sort, except perhaps to reject them. There have been, however, some interesting studies of near-death experiences, and of claimed memories of previous lives. This unit consists of 1 lesson and is suitable for students aged from 16 to 19 years. Resources for this lesson come both from this unit and also some resources from Unit 6a: The Environment.
- What do Buddhists believe about the human mind?
- How is Buddhist psychology different from mainstream scientific psychology?
- What is the contribution of the Dalai Lama to the science and religion debate?
- What do Buddhists believe about death and re-birth?
- How might Buddhists respond to environmental issues?
Some of the materials can be viewed on screen and some can be downloaded for editing or printing. To view the pdf files you need Adobe Acrobat Reader. See the about section for more details.
An interview with Ratnaprabha
Resources from unit 6a