Buddhism as a “Science of the Mind”

The whole sort of atheist critique of religion doesn’t really address Buddhism insofar as Buddhism is established really as a science of the mind.  It’s based on observation of the mind.  And everything that Buddha taught can be empirically verified through your own experience.  In other words, you can test it.  Actually, I think it’s a very interesting science because you’re the scientist.  You’re not just reading about what other scientists have done and, you know, confirmed and so forth like that, but you, yourself, are the experimenter.  You experiment with your own mind.

What Buddha basically said is that we can understand through our own experience that happiness comes from inner peace.  And we can explore that in our own experiences and see, well, that’s true, happiness does come from inner peace.  And maybe even more importantly, we can also then establish, I have the capacity for inner peace in my own mind.  In fact, we might even say that through training of the mind, through practicing meditation, you can see that it’s actually not difficult.  All we need to do is learn to let go of our unhappy thoughts, and our mind automatically becomes peaceful.

So in other words, you don’t have to, like, make your mind peaceful, you just have to let go of your unhappy thoughts, your angry thoughts or your anxious thoughts.
And what happens through that is that you then begin to experience a sense of peace, a deep inner peace.  And you can verify that through your own experience.  And through that, you get in touch then with your own potential for peace or other virtuous minds, like love or compassion or joy or kindness, generosity.  In other words, you can verify it through your own experimentation that that is the case.

What we then discover is that the mind has this incredible capacity for profound peace or, we might say, for limitless love, for limitless kindness.  That’s where I find some fault with the — you know, as you’re calling it, the “new atheism.”  Simply because I don’t think they are paying enough attention to the science of the mind through which we can establish, so to speak, an alternative science, but it’s equally, empirically verifiable that there is a spiritual dimension to our being that you can discover through your own practice, in fact, that there is this, yeah, you might say a divine element to our nature because we discover that the mind has this capacity for limitless love, limitless compassion, limitless joy.