Modern Trends in World Religions

By A. Eustace Haydon | Go to book overview

IV
BUDDHISM AND MODERN SCIENTIFIC THINKING

By JAMES BISSETT PRATT

THE question set for our discussion I take to be this: What is the relation between the Buddhism of our day and contemporary scientific thinking? This is a straightforward question, and if one is to give a straightforward answer, that answer must be: there is very little relation indeed. An indirect relation doubtless there is, and a negative relation in the sense that Buddhism is in no wise hostile to or inconsistent with modern science. But as to direct relations between Buddhism and the methods or achievements of contemporary science, of these there are very few. Two or three of the more advanced sects of Japanese Buddhism make use of a few of the principles of recent educational psychology; but with contemporary scientific thinking, in the usual sense of that word, Buddhism has very little to do.

Nor need this confession be taken as in any way a reflection upon Buddhism. What relation have mysticism in religion and monistic absolutism in philosophy, what relation have moral living, discipline, self-control, helpfulness, kindness, unselfish devotion, love for one's neighbor and one's enemy--what relation have these with modern scientific thinking other than the negative and very general one which Buddhism also bears? Scientific thought is a great and valuable thing; but it is not the only great and valuable thing in man's possession.

In a very real sense, then, I feel that I have answered the question set me by the committee which arranged these

-34-

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