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Lions Roar : September 2005
94 SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2005 meditation, they show the same pattern of brain activity as when they pay atten- tion anywhere else? Rather than scientists and Buddhists stretching their minds together, I see Buddhism frequently colo- nized as a feel-good, flat-abs caricature of itself no different from any other materi- alist reductionist doctrine. “I respect the Dalai Lama’s desire to establish a universal ethic of compassion by means of science,” she continues, “but given the present world dynamic, is ally- ing Buddhism with the extremes of secu- lar rationalism the way to do that? People ignore good science all the time. Buddhism might offer something unique to religious polarization: a middle way of spirituality beyond ego. It can stimulate religions to excavate the contemplative and meditative paths in their own her- itages, such as the Jewish meditation movement and Christian centering prayer. What people really need is to find deeper contemplative experience before their competing thought systems lead them into a massive conflagration.” Matthieu Ricard would respectfully disagree with Rosch about the value of the dialogue and the direction of the research. “I don’t see that what we are doing affects Buddhism negatively. We are not making Buddhism-lite. I am very disturbed when that happens. Buddhism remains Buddhism. We are simply offer- ing food. To offer someone food that we know how to produce and that they need now, we don’t have to turn them into hor- ticultural specialists.” As far as reduction- ism goes, Ricard contends that “No one doing sound science could gain any sup- port for the reductionist viewpoint from what we’re doing. You can never answer the question of who decided to meditate on compassion in the first place. That is beyond the scope of scientific research.” Questions about fortifying materialis- tic thinking and the possibility of co-opt- ing Buddhism will undoubtedly remain. Some will question whether this dialogue helps in the development of a genuine contemplative tradition, as Arthur Zajonc seems to believe, or may lead us away from it, as Eleanor Rosch suggests. But the