The convergence of many fields

April 22, 2006

An article in the May/June issue of Utne titled "Saffron Robes and Lab Coats" talked about how some neuroscientists are beginning to see parallels with Buddhism in their investigations of the brain. One interesting overlap is in the investigation of suffering.

"While their approaches to suffering may sound different, Mobley said, neuroscience and Buddhism both acknowledge the Four Noble Truths regarding suffering: There is the fact of suffering, the cause of suffering, the end of suffering and the path to end suffering.

"'The traditional Western approach to end suffering is to block the inputs that cause it,' said Spiegel. 'But that's not the whole answer.' Spiegel noted that there are more neuronal connections in one person's brain than there are stars in the universe, and that focusing on compassion, for instance, makes it possible for those connections to 'reset' the brain. 'Reverberating circuits can amplify or dismiss pain and depression,' he said."

I think this convergence between science and religion is only going to start happening more and more. Our brains are good at mixing things together, the lines will begin to blur between psychology, neuroscience, cognitive science, religion, superstition, self-help, and popular culture. I want to help that convergence along. One of the areas that I see emerging as a possible container for these similar thoughts in a variety of fields is in life-coaching. It's a brand new field that is still figuring itself out, and admittedly is right now a bit confused about whether or not its a big marketing pyramid scheme, but its goal is simple and relevant to all of these fields… using your knowledge about yourself to improve your life.

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