Investigating is the scientific way of life. By way of life I am describing religious paths such as the 8-fold path [URL6] or the 4 Agreements [App A]. Remember I am drawing a distinction between these paths or ways of life, and the transcending to the path that I described in the path and transcendence section of the . But even without transcendence it isn’t easy to do the things required of the way of life on the 8-fold path (magga) nor is it easy to have the discipline that holds to the 4 agreements. And even if someone was determined and made great strides on these two ways of life there is no certainty that there could be transcendence to the path. But with the sound discipline of years of effort at these ways of life, people can develop wiser minds perhaps sufficient for transcendence, appropriate for the alchemy of transforming instinct into insight.
Basically the scientific way of life could be considered a practice as described in the Ch22. Through the focus that is developed through determined scientific enquiry there starts to develop a wise mind.
Let us consider the stereotyped scientist in the lab coat. This scientist is relentless in the search for knowledge. They push and push examining the scientific evidence until they have an insight that brings it all together. Here is a meme of the path developed in the treatise:-
Note the path of insight.
Does that mean that all scientists seeking that Eureka moment of scientific discovery are actually following the path?
In a sense the answer to that is positive but in practice it doesn’t work out that way because scientists are so conditioned to reason. They rationalise that the insight is as a result of reason because as scientists they are conditioned into accepting that all is reason. Insight is an aspect of revelation, the insight has been revealed to the scientist. Once we have an insight it becomes an idea that reason can use, and the revealed aspect is glossed over.
For a scientist conditioned to accept that all is reason, a path that goes beyond conditioning is synonymous with a path that is beyond reason, part of revelation. Reason is an aspect of mind, and we will be investigating mind in a later chapter.
In ch23 I discussed practice. For the scientist we have the practice of determined enquiry. Scientists would argue that they have determined enquiry now so this talk of path and going beyond the conditioning of reason is mystical BS. I can understand that cynicism but it is a conditioned reaction after years of miseducation. But at this point let us just hold onto the attribute - determined enquiry.
Determined enquiry of its own is not sufficient as a way of life that could point to transcendence. But let us consider aspects of this scientist’s determination. They are organised, meticulous, and the mind is disciplined whilst they are carrying out an experiment. These are all attributes of a disciplined mind essential to any sound way of life.
Let us consider another scientist stereotype - a scatter brain in daily life, unworldly. A way of life requires such a disciplined mind 24/7, so we have an indicated action.
Now consider an aspect of the practice in Ch 22 – meditation. Meditation is concerned with the mind and an aspect of mind that meditation hopes to develop is mindfulness – non-judgemental awareness. Is this not in some way a description of the detached scientist conducting an experiment – keeping themselves detached from influencing an experiment, detached from affecting a conclusion?
I know I am making a stretch but what I am really trying to do is to show the similarities between the determined enquiry of the meditator and the determined enquiry of the scientist. As I have posited meditation as a practice that could lead to transcendence then if we can establish what the differences are, then we are beginning to establish what is the path of scientific enquiry.
I am going to use as a benchmark the 8-fold path:-
I have some understanding of the Buddhist way of life and its relationship to transcendence, that is why I choose this magga; it is not my desire to become an evangelical Buddhist. If I take the scientist calling mystical BS, I need to tell him that there needs to be some measuring - and to measure we need a benchmark.
Are there similarities? Are there similarities between a scientist in a lab coat and a monk meditating in a cave in the Himalayas? Are there similarities between a scientist and a meditator following Magga? Maybe. It depends how rigid you want to be, let's be clear if you are rigid there is no transcendence.
So let's be positive and examine similarities. Determination mindfulness and concentration, in Buddhism these three are put together and called panna - wisdom. What are we looking for? A wise mind. Seems a good start to our investigation.
Have you reached this far? Then maybe consideration of this path is for you? If you consider what has been written so far, very few scientists would still be here. It seems that path is for few people anyway, whilst it is in all of us it is not for me to know why only a few people; yet if there is a chance for path to be for you then jump at it. Following the path 100% of the time is the greatest experience life has to offer. Ask these people [C1] (Ascension is not where I am going).
Just consider the title of this book, scientific enquiry might interest but immediately use of the word path would switch off most scientists – that is conditioning. Then I have emphasised transcendence, and that would get most of the rest. And finally I do not worship at the Church of Reason [B1] so that would get the rest of them. And then I say insight is not reason, so how have you managed to reach this far?
Let us look at Right Livelihood. Are you disturbed by what you are being forced to do? Why is science primarily searching for technology when that could be weaponised. Do you think you should be doing that? Is that why you have been given this gift of science? This disturbance could be the path. Are you “fed up, disillusioned and disenchanted”? Buddhadasa describes that as seeing the Dhamma, if you feel like that maybe it is the path disturbing you. It is deeply uncomfortable, but you are lucky if it is the path.
Again look at magga. Right speech, right action, right livelihood are often grouped together as sila, and sila is something I think of as moral integrity. It is not what the morals are that matters, but do you act with moral integrity? This sila is a prerequisite of the path.
That leaves right understanding and intention, or knowledge and how we use it. Knowledge needs to be investigated as part of the scientific enquiry.