Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Value of Debate in Tibetan Buddhism

As part of your studies if you wish to become a Tibetan Buddhist Monk, you must become skilful in the art of debate.

In Tibetan Buddhism, when you enter a debate you must reach a conclusion and then use logic and your analytical skills to win the argument.

The idea of these debates amongst the monks is to master epistemology. They must question their knowledge and how they have reached their conclusions. This means they do not blindly follow scripture or teachings, but must understand.

How I wish more religions imposed such self-analysis onto their teachers and followers.

The Dalai Lama has been so since the age of 3. He makes no claims of being a special child. He felt jealousy of his siblings who lived a slightly more normal life, he still talks of sadness in his early years of being separated from his Mother while he concentrated on his studies, and when he speaks of the people who he knew he was leaving behind when he left Tibet, and a special mention goes to his dog, you can see the pain. He never considers himself above anyone else.

With the background in epistemology from a young age you can see how it has been part of what has made him such a forward thinking and also an evolving spiritual figurehead. He asks, why?

Knowing this of the Dalai Lama, when I heard that he is wanting to study neuroscience it did make me smile. It is very him. Buddhist Monks have the ability to block out pain and control other areas of their brain through meditation. He now wants to know the science behind how this happens. Why does science and religion have to be mutually exclusive? So rather than taking a pious stance and not questioning why they have this ability, he sees that there must be a reason and wants to understand why.

I once more tip my hat to His Holiness, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama.
May your peaceful ways lead you back home.

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