The Scientific Buddha 1, A Purified Religion

The Scientific Buddha 1, A Purified Religion

I occasionally include lectures in this collection when they seem to me to be of documentary interest, and in this regard I previously featured a lecture series by Prof. Donald Lopez which discussed the earliest meetings between Christianity and Buddhism. Those were very informative and based on original historical research.

In the present series of four lectures given at Yale University Prof. Lopez discusses what he calls the scientific Buddha, a Buddha which really only emerged in the mid-19th century, and at the height of the colonial period, when Buddhism first really encountered modern science.

The lectures open with a 10-minute introduction to the Professor, which you could in fact skip if it was not of interest. Then Prof Lopez takes stage and discusses at some length the origins of the endowed lecture series, and the foundation of Dwight H. Terry Lectureship itself. Although this might seem extraneous, it is not in fact, as it sets the basis for what is to come.

Prof. Lopez then goes on to give an outline of the scientific Buddha (or Buddhism) theory, its persistence and its many transformations over the past 150 years, and begins to outline why he feels this is inadequate from a Buddhist perspective.

Today’s lecture ends with a broad outline of the three talks to come, followed by an extensive question and answer session, which he handles well, even though some of the questions are off-point.


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