I come from a background where my interpretation of the world naturally fall as into the reductive methods of its determination and have subsequently had an interest in mathematics and physics which are a pinnical of this reductive process and a major approach of the western world. Now I don't now if This natural approach I have is a function of western conditioning in education.

I am able to concieve of its opposition as that of wholism which its source is Persian and eastern and have had personal revelations along these lines. Like when a tree falls in the woods. There is no sound because physically sound is the interpretation of pressure differences in the air that the consiousness is provided with and is personal to that consiousness etc. That may be a reductive view.

My question is iam at a crossroads in life and iam not certain in which direction I should take, with my age I should be mature enough to a sensible descision but I have had supernatural experiences like that that make the path I should take a difficult choice. Iam adult and should need no guidance but iam at a loss lol

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5 Answers 5


My teacher always insisted, there's no conflict between Buddhism and the rational world, no conflict between Buddhism and the scientific method. He said, one can be saint and a successful businessman. The Buddhism's teaching on karma, emotional intelligence, and the nature of phenomena, are all continuation of the rational approach we know from western discourse.

The only difference I know of is in the goal. The implied goal of mainstream culture these days is what's known as success: personal and professional realization. The goal of Buddhism, in Theravada school is the peace of Nirvana and in Mahayana school is the endless service to the world and people. And yet, my teacher said, you can have it all: peace, service, and realization.

The only choice we have, he said, is to try and achieve something greater, and what can be greater than spiritual realization? The other alternative, the life of mediocrity, is not a serious choice.


If you're just starting out then I'm not sure you need to make any strong choices. You could go on a temporary retreat where the teacher guides you to learn how to guide yourself.

Everyone needs guidance. The Dhamma is all about guidance. I wasn't even on the path to being an adult until the guidance of the Dhamma.

The Dhamma is all about science. I never new the reductive method until I practiced reductive insight meditation.

Staying in the outer world with no method to understand the inner world is perfect conditions for suffering. The Dhamma is a scientific way to transcend suffering. One doesn't have to give up much in the beginning. I mean, the whole teaching is just that: Learning how to let go.


Sometimes a highly intelligent, or highly developed mind could find it hard to sustain in the mundane world. The antidote is cultivating compassion. It's impossible for a mind keep striving for higher and higher pure intellectual understanding of the world, man, and life. It will backfire. Maybe there is a safety valve embedded in the totality of this whole mass of existence, that the cosmos could leap into being, explosion, collapse and re-exist again. When you find stifled by your intellect and reason, it's always a sign you should go back down and land on the earth, care about the simple ordinary life and surrounding, including other beings. This is the way of acquiring wisdom.

I believe the Buddha was a very very intelligent man, it would be unbearable for him to live in the world if he didn't cultivate compassion.

  • Thanks for your answer iam quite a grounded individual and intellectually i think we'll above average but knowing that I do not take advantage of the difference I have with others and in contrast are altruistic the fact of which I have pride in, and qualities like that I value and regard as being personally successfull. In your answer you say going back to earth to the simple things, this approach I adopt and surround my self in ordinary people because I value the compassion and caring attitude these people have, but would u say Buddhism can also enable me more personal success?
    – Bobs
    Nov 16, 2017 at 13:54
  • I guess your 2nd "personal success" is about success in the world, which could imply social status, material, interpersonal relationships = friends... etc. Buddha's teaching is about living life in the correct way, if things are done correctly, they would generate good fruits. So yes, it will be inevitably leading to personal success, given right enough amount of time and practice. I always like to make the simile of compassion with compass, like a magnet, it will guide the right direction, also like magnet, it will attract, means, people will be attracted, so are all other things :) Nov 16, 2017 at 18:01
  • Through experience and observation I know I adopt a manner that gives me personal success but I may have mislead u in my question success judged by the majority of the world by status and the material I know this is an inescapable consequence of the world and a weakness within it and is not the 2nd success I may have inferred but from your answer I guess likewise the personal success I measure is similar to yours and I may have allready achieved it. I meant would Buddhism allow me spiritually and personally to become more whole than my judgement has determined not through social status.
    – Bobs
    Nov 16, 2017 at 18:20

I have felt a similar sort of conflict between scientific rationalism and some aspects of Buddhist thought. I find this quote from the 14th Dalai Lama really helpful

Don’t try to use what you learn from buddhism to be a buddhist; use it to be a better whatever-you-already-are.

For me the conflict comes from trying to be a Buddhist and getting hung up on what one does and doesn't need to believe and accept be a part of this religion. If you are conflicted than don't worry and don't be a Buddhist. But do learn from Buddhism and try to put it into practice in your daily life if that's what you feel is right. Jack Kornfield similarly says

Don't be a Buddhist, be a Buddha

which I think points to the same thing (no reference - sorry; he just said it a lot in his podcasts)

  • Thanks I guess that makes it possible to follow Buddhist practice and not out and out declare it I feel I could hardly compare my self and personal to the achievement of Buddha and any subsequent incarnation but I agree replication of another is not personal and therefore I think the dalai lama quote is useful in just extenuating an individuals current determination and breathing new light and adding colour using Buddhist practice along with the palate that's always been there. Any particular source to extend this palate would be appreciated because I don't know where to start.
    – Bobs
    Nov 16, 2017 at 22:49
  • Honestly -if there is one near I would just go to a Buddhist centre/template near to you and speak to them. The good thing about Buddhists and Buddhist sympathisers is that there are all pretty nice welcoming people happy to talk - well that's my experience. I've just changed cities and centres but the new lot are are welcoming as the old - it's FPMT (Tibetan) so very outwardly religious but again very happy for people that don't fully identify (or ever will) as Buddhists to attend. Hope that helps or happy to chat further in the chat rooms here Nov 16, 2017 at 23:16
  • it's as simple as that lol guess I'll Google it then I felt there was a minority of followers in the West and there was a minor culture that presents itself here and it would be difficult to become a part off anyway thanks for the insight lol
    – Bobs
    Nov 17, 2017 at 0:14

There are four branches of Buddhism. Theravadin, Mahayana, and Zen Buddhism are three branches that have come to the attention of the West, Pure Land Buddhism much less so. All four offer very profound teachings of the Buddha, but have very different psychologies, values, practices, and views of Enlightenment. You must pay attention to your intuitions and feelings if you are to select one of these paths to Enlightenment. Far be it for me to try to influence your choice. However, with regard to your cultural experiences of the value of mathematics and physics, I can say that Theravadin psychology comes closest to being scientific in the sense that it is a strictly causal theory that, at least in principle, could be translated into a scientific theory. At the same time, I need to say that, just as modern physics is very difficult to understand, so also is Theravadin psychology difficult to understand and not needed to practice mindfulness meditation. In all four branches, practice is the key to progress. The choice is yours to make. I am not qualified to advise you on the nature of Hindu (Persian) branches of contemplative theory and practice.

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