Buddhism and Science: Pre-destination is the Holy Grail…

IMG_0599…of religion, science, and life, too, the mostly unrequited wish that “it’s all written,” whether in script or bar-code, to the point of retro-fitting the logic that may or may not have actually led up to some fait accompli, though that accomplished fact was never predicted even at the point of inception. This is the need for happy endings, and the one overriding narrative that drives all others, the one theory of everything…

How many times has something unexpected happened and the first thing you think is, “Well, I guess that it was (or wasn’t) meant to be.” I know you’ve thought that. We all have. That’s a gut reaction. But sometimes I think I take it too far, to the point of filling in the details to justify that conclusion, when the fact is simply: much of life is random. There IS no predestination, and there IS no particular logic leading up to any particular event. Sh*t happens. Truer words have never been spoken…

And of course the more hideous part of that Holy Grail is the adolescent desire to see our own names up in lights, but that can generally be explained away as childish fantasy and egotistic escapism. What interests me more is the apparent need for certainty, or is it the need to be right all the time, even if no one else is wrong? Apparently this is a primordial instinct, to have it all figured out, or is it just the need to not waste time in the fleshing out of distinctions?

Regardless of the nature of the need, this seems to be a specialty of religion, offering certainty where all else is doubt and uncertainty. And religion is often criticized for that, but if it’s within the appropriate boundaries, then I see no problem with it. The problem arises when Religion tries to answer the questions that are best left to Science…

Science may indeed have no final answers, merely an ever-receding vanishing point of accomplishment, that never really ends. After all, there really is no limit to knowledge now, is there? Thus its purpose is totally different than that of religion, and if there is anything sillier than religion pretending to do the job of Science, it would have to be Science doing the job of religion…

Buddhism is like Science

But Buddhism fares better than most in this category, notwithstanding the past lives and karmic retribution that many old-fashioned backwoods Buddhists are still attached to, BUT… it doesn’t have to be that way. Those old theories have been way up a creek, without a paddle, ever since Watson and Crick discovered our double-helix DNA of deliverance, and the rest is history…

Sure there are past lives and it’s all written right there in the C’s and G’s and A’s and T’s of our biological bar-code alphabet, your father’s and grandfather’s and a few other great ones, too. But none of the lives inscribed therein are identical, much less eternal, no more so than any dysfunctional family of reprobates and half-breeds descending from a common source over the centuries…

And it’s certainly not ‘Intelligent Design’. Any designer could do better than the old beater-jalopy human race in terms of design. Apparently it’s no stretch to say that we’re all descended from one basic pattern, whether frog, bird, antelope or misanthrope, whether swimming, crawling, hiking or biking, one design with multifarious adaptations all put to good use in devouring nature’s bounty. And while there may be genius in that, it ain’t ‘Intelligent Design’, i.e. superman with a drafting table…

…more like Handy Andy with his toolbox of wrenches and sockets, wearing overalls with big pockets, spilling over with pliers and assorted screwdrivers, Phillips and Allen and all the rest leaving the DNA of their creative genius all over the greasy mess, until the damn thing is up and running, until something new and better can take its place…

Such is the path of evolution, biological cultural and linguistic, plodding along doing the best they can with what they’ve got, photosynthesis decomposition external combustion and the covalent bonding of carbon hydrogen and oxygen, speed and memory put to the test of cultural value and rational discourse…

And at its best Buddhism is not dogma, it’s a method, a Science of Buddhism and a Buddhism of Science, the Buddhist method, curse of consciousness—self-reflection—put to good use in denying the self and its excessive demands for attention. There is no more fitting end for over-demanding egos, and that’s the way it should be, plenty of space for everybody to spread their wings, in a random universe, with hopefully no end…

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