B. Alan Wallace
While Buddhism is often referred to as a ‘non-theistic religion’, it has the potential to play a unique mediating role between theistic religions, with their emphasis on faith and divine revelation, and the natural sciences, with their ideals of empiricism, rationality, and scepticism. The main body of this article focuses on Buddhist approaches to cultivating eudaimonic well-being, probing the nature of consciousness, and understanding reality at large. In each case, religious, scientific, and philosophical elements are blended in ways that may not only lend themselves to dialogue with Western science, but push forward the frontiers of scientific research as well as interdisciplinary and cross-cultural inquiry. The article also argues that Buddhism has developed a science of consciousness, with a few exceptions regarding sciences with no controlled experiments.
This essay introduces some of the key issues associated with virtual religious practices. With the development of the MODEM program and public access to the Internet and then the WWW, online religious activity has flourished. On a most basic level, virtual religion has affected religious community, authority, and identity. However, online religious activity has also changed ritual practices, religious information seeking behaviors, and even people’s religious experiences. Virtual religion is having significant impact and changing the way people “do” religion in our wired world. After introducing the topic and key issues, this essay presents an important case study of Virtual Tibet, highlighting the significant changes that can occur in religious beliefs and practices as they are “digitized” and experienced online.