Dalai Lama Warns of Dangers of Scientific Advancement in the 21st Century

By Raymond Lam
Buddhistdoor Global | 2017-11-11 |
The Dalai LamaThe Dalai Lama

Dharamshala’s Government Degree College, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave a talk on the need for moral principles to guide both science and religion. The speech built on secular morality, which he has been advocating in recent years as a form of global ethics.

“Science brought powerful instruments to kill. So now time [has] come, [that] we have to think [in a] deeper way, a wider way in presence of the world. [If the] situation of the world contin[ues] then this 21st century will be a similar century of violence, century of suffering,” said the 82-year-old Vajrayana leader. (SBS)

“With anger science can develop awful destructive weapons. It is pity to see the marvelous brain being used for killing. Religion, which carries a message of love, is also becoming a factor in the segregation of people and causing bloodshed. It is unthinkable.” (Phayul)

There is a reason to be optimistic, however, as more scientists are turning their research interests to the study of the human mind and emotions. “The real troublemaker is our emotion. Combined with compassion [it] is very good but if it is combined with destructive emotions such as anger, hatred, distrust, and jealousy then it really brings disasters.” (Phayul) But mere prayer or ritualistic activities wouldn’t be enough, His Holiness warned, noting that: “It is our responsibility to reduce violence and through that bring peace. It is contradictory to pray to god while we carry out all sort of work to create more violence.” (Phayul)

The Dalai Lama has spoken on numerous occasions in the past about the double-edged sword that is science, and the need for moral values to guide its application. On numerous occasions and in many articles, books, and lectures, he has tried to build intellectual affinities with science, including in the fields of quantum physics and neuroscience, which respectively seem to affirm, from his point of view, Buddhist ideas of no-self (anatta) and neuroplasticity.  

His words echoed those of other religious leaders about the need to deploy scientific advances correctly. Pope Francis, for instance, noted the following during a speech to the Italian National Committee for Biosafety, Biotechnology and Life Sciences on 10 April:

“Technologies, more even than sciences, put in the hands of man an enormous and growing power. The major risk is that citizens, and sometimes even those who represent them and govern them, do not fully realize the seriousness of the challenges that arise, the complexity of the problems to be solved, and the danger of misusing the power that sciences and the technologies of life put in our hands. . . . let me remind you that the sciences and technologies are made for man and for the world, not the man and the world for science and technology. They are at the service of a dignified and healthy life for all, now and in the future, and make our common home more liveable and supportive, more careful and guarded”. (Catholic Ecology)

In 2015, the Pope also offered a similar message to the Dalai Lama’s thoughts on self-proclaimed religious practitioners engaged in violent industries, declaring that those in the arms dealing trade couldn’t call themselves Christians.

See more

The Dalai Lama says world in for 'century of suffering' if science isn't used to create peace (SBS)
Dalai Lama graces conference on science and religion (Phayul)
Pope Francis: The purpose of science is to serve (Catholic Ecology)

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