Do Buddhism and Neuroscience Meet?


Neuroscience has become an integral part of the conversation surrounding addiction and treatment. In the aged argument of whether or not addiction is choice, neuroscience shows addiction is more than a matter of will. Communicators in the brain called neurotransmitters hold a lot of the responsibility for how addiction works. These neurotransmitters change some of the most important areas of the brain where main operations take place. Addiction begins to build when dependency has formed in the brain; the neurotransmitters have influenced the brain to see drugs or alcohol as a necessity for survival. Many see this as a scientific process. Others, like the founders of twelve step programs, see this as a spiritual deficit.

When science and spirituality meet, there is a unique paradigm shift in the way each can be viewed. Science earns mystery and spirituality earns validity. Growing technologies that break down the processes of the brain are turning toward consciousness. Constituting consciousness on a quantifiable scientific level is a persisting challenge, though there are varying theories. A consensual marriage of science and spirituality may never occur, but in specific topics, common grounds can be established; for example, neuroscience and consciousness.

Imagine a day of conversation spent between a Buddhist monk, say, the Dalai Lama, and a neuroscientist. Christof Koch, a neuroscientist, was enlightened to this experience. Though the two had very different backgrounds, they found they were in agreement on most every topic of discussion. His Holiness asserted the Buddha’s teachings that sentience is everywhere. Koch, the developer of the Integrated Information Theory, a theory for measuring consciousness by way of ‘phi’, believes that consciousness is everywhere. Anything with a phi greater than zero has consciousness. Meeting at the crossroads of universal consciousness and universal sentience, Buddhism and neuroscience find a similarity in the search for an end to suffering.

In recent years, mindfulness and other Buddhist-based spiritual practices, have gained the attention of scientific eyes. Mindfulness based practices are proving themselves to be evidence-based practices because they are working in alleviating the suffering of recovering addicts- spirituality helps people heal. Becoming in touch with consciousness, recognizing universality in suffering, helps people heal.

Refuge Recovery practices within the dialogue of science and Buddhism. We integrate evidence based treatment with mindfulness based treatment to create a holistic program of healing. For more information on our programs, call 323-207-0276 today.

Recommended Posts