Do you know which university is opening a new “Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values”?
Maharishi University of Management is the obvious pick, but that’s not it. And it’s also not Lhasa University (Go Fighting Sherpas!), although that’s a great guess too. Nor is it Buddha College, Western Karma, or the Gelug School.
In fact, it’s MIT:
With the launch of the Dalai Lama center, MIT is breaking new ground in the world of academic science: no other major science research institution in the U.S. has a center named for a contemporary religious leader.
Might this conflict with its mission of teaching about, well, science and technology? Not according to the scientific authorities at the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies:
“Buddhism has no history of conflict with science,” says B. Alan Wallace, president of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies in Santa Barbara, Calif. “In that regard, it may seem non-threatening to certain scientists who’ve grown very wary of Christians, who they think always have an agenda to try to plug intelligent design or their own particular theological creed.”
If Buddhism has no history of conflict with science, it’s only because science considers Buddhism too ludicrous to pay attention to.
Here are a few things Buddhists believe in:
- Saṃsāra, a continual cycle of death and re-birth that can only be escaped through “enlightenment“.
- Karma, the notion that good and bad actions produce “seeds” in the mind which come to fruition either in this life or in a subsequent rebirth.
- Guardian Gods who watch over the four cardinal directions
- A wrathful God of the Dead
I may not have been clever enough to go to MIT, but I am pretty sure that most of those things conflict with “science,” which (for instance) has never managed to find “seeds” in the mind, and whose Michelson-Morley experiment provided strong evidence against the existence of “karma.”
What’s more, the center’s namesake is believed by Buddhists to be the “reincarnation” of his predecessors. When he dies, his Buddhist buddies will go to a “holy” lake and watch for signs indicating to them which toddler’s going to be the next Lama, at which point they’ll kidnap him and haul him off to a monastery, where they can fill his head with all sorts of nonsense about rebirth and samsara and karma and dharma and shawarma.
Oh, and also he thinks gay sex is wrong:
Although he is known for his tolerant, humane views, he is a surprisingly harsh critic of homosexuality. If you are a Buddhist, he says, it is wrong. “Full stop.
No way round it.
“A gay couple came to see me, seeking my support and blessing. I had to explain our teachings. Another lady introduced another woman as her wife – astonishing. It is the same with a husband and wife using certain sexual practices. Using the other two holes is wrong.”
“A Western friend asked me what harm could there be between consenting adults having oral sex, if they enjoyed it,” the Dalai Lama continues, warming to his theme. “But the purpose of sex is reproduction, according to Buddhism. The other holes don’t create life.
Why, that doesn’t sound like a “theological creed” at all!