PureInsight | January 21, 2002
I’m a junior scientist who graduated in human genetics and is specializing in neurobiology. My thesis was about the molecular mechanisms of learning and memory, and I’m now working as a researcher on an EEC-sponsored program in Paris.
Being a junior scientist, I will just respectfully present my experience with Falun Dafa, try to let you know how it objectively approaches the truth, and why, as a young atheistic person and an everlasting skeptic, I have found deep rationality and truth in this teaching.
Let me introduce my background first. I was educated in an atheistic family, and concluded early on that man creates the idea of god and other superstitious notions because life is boring and he is afraid of dying. Like many, I was driven into science by a strong will to understand things like the mechanisms of life, human behavior, and conscience. Philosophy looked interesting but did not give any concrete insight into objectivity, that “realness” that a scientific experiment can give. With science, it turned out that one could attain the truth, find answers or at least clues as to where we come from, why we exist and where we are going. Why this way and not another, why sickness and suffering, love, hate, cruelty.
I turned to neurobiology, and discovered the fascinating world of our brains – billions of cells acting mainly through their interconnections, creating harmony and efficiency through an apparent chaos of overlapping electrical signals and focal chemical secretions. Matter and thought united in this special place, in the most complex system of our body. But, most importantly, during my years in College I learned the scientific method and the concepts of objective investigation.
Science, my teachers said, should never be dogmatic. Every scientist has the duty to criticize and have doubts about every single scientific model. The history of science is one of models everyone agrees to be the best description of the truth that are suddenly wiped out by new discoveries. Then new concepts emerge, opening a world of new discoveries. So a valuable a priori in coming to terms with any scientific subject is to consider that what is unknown to us is almost everything, and what we know is a tiny little bit through which we try to understand things. To illustrate the fact that our science is by definition impermanent, we just have to remember the time when quantum theory was introduced in the world of physics. It was an earthquake. Physicists believed they understood and had put into equations all the physical laws when suddenly it appeared that, in fact, they knew only a very limited part of it. Another earthquake is currently taking place, from what I have read, in the field of astrophysics. The most recent astronomical measurements could completely change our view of the universe because they are far from fitting our current models of cosmic evolution.
I was deeply impressed by this notion of an ever-changing science, and understood that scientific models should be considered tools rather than unchangeable truths. When I encountered Falun Dafa, I was still a Ph.D. student. Walking in a park one morning, I saw some people meditating. Since it was looked nice, I thought it would be fun to try it.
That was the beginning of what one could call a scientific experiment. While practicing, I felt strange sensations in my palms that my knowledge of nervous system failed to explain. Then appeared a sudden heat in the belly. I was surprised and decided this was an interesting field to explore. Along with the practice sessions came various fine and complicated sensations in the body. I asked for a book explaining the practice method and found these sensations to be accurately described. As I later read the book Zhuan Falun for the first time, it seemed like a fairy tale from ancient China. I found it quite funny at first but also quite good, because it stressed the importance of morality and selflessness. In the end, I came up with the thought that this book could actually be considered to be a research paper claming some striking results, with a “materials and methods” part. In the research community, when a result seems strange or exceptional, the first thing people do is to try to replicate the experiment, to see whether it works or not. Therefore, I did that.
The biggest difference from the science I was used to was that there was no microscope needed, no radioactivity, no brain slices and no PCR technique. My own body was the tool of research, and the book Zhuan Falun was, to put it very, very schematically, the protocol. I must say this is a very intricate and refined protocol, and if any step is not done well, you may not get the expected result. But scientists know that in research we are used to failing 99 times in 100 before we find the optimal conditions.
It may sound strange to take what looks to be no more than a spiritual book as a scientific protocol, and this is not the kind of result one may hope to get published. But science, my teachers said, is just a question of being objective and having carefully controlled experiments. Then it is science, whatever the material used or the field of research is. I was driven to this first-hand approach to Falun Dafa by the different changes I could feel happening in my body. I started to keep a notebook of these things from the beginning, so as to ascertain this was not psychosomatic or illusory. I must insist that, at the same time as I was sufficiently open-minded to say “let’s try”, I was also quite skeptical and very much willing to walk only on firm and trustworthy ground.
I was particularly driven to see Falun Dafa as a science, not preaching or idealism, by a few concrete experiences, of which I will describe but a minor one. At the very beginning, one day as I was practicing with my eyes closed, I could see a black disk very neatly staying virtually in the middle of my brow. At that time I had not read the book Zhuan Falun. I was astonished to later see this phenomenon described in it as an indication of the opening of what is called “celestial eye”. In science, we would call this a “blind” experiment in which you don’t know what you are supposed to observe and you even don’t know if something is to be observed. Yet, if you do observe it, you then know this is not due to subjective factors, and not due to you own will to see this thing. Back then, I was thinking the book was a nice fairy tale, but the content was objective truth. So I had to reconsider my initial thinking.
That is about all I can report in terms of superficial manifestations. The book Zhuan Falun explains that the criterion of Zhen Shan Ren (truthfulness-compassion-forbearance) is a universal law, providing guidance for the sublimation of one’s mind and body, and exerting a restricting effect on what is opposed to it. This looks like preaching morality, but it is in fact expounding on the fundamental physical laws of our universe. Like the phenomena we call “gravity” and “magnetism”. Whether one acknowledges the restrictive effects of these or not, if one jumps off from the top of a building or spreads iron filings over a magnet, one will certainly observe their effects. And yet we cannot see them, nor directly perceive their true natures. This is the same idea.
I remember an article in the journal Nature. You may all know this is a top-ranking scientific journal. The title was: “Many paths to enlightenment –modern physics bears the imprint of Western and Asian philosophy.” That article explained that such great physicists as Einstein and Schrödinger were influenced by Buddhist ideas when they thought of their theories, and that quantum physics bears some imprint of Buddhism. The article finished by saying: “Einstein… emphasized the need for an interest in the theory of knowledge. This need is all the greater when a radical reorientation in thinking is required. In such instances, the teachings of other civilizations could provide a useful nudge to the scientific imaginations.” Thinking of this from another angle, isn’t it striking that someone like Buddha Sakyamuni, the one we know as the historical Buddha, taught concepts that are so close to our current view of the universe? He introduced the idea of huge numbers of planets with living beings on them, and the concepts of a gigantic microcosm and a gigantic macrocosm. Isn’t it striking that, in that remote age, a man who did not attend any university courses could attain that kind of wisdom? Does it mean that the ways to wisdom and knowledge are more than one? Of course, this was not said to talk about Buddhism, but just to give an example. I also recently read a “high interest” Nature paper on an emerging theory in physics that is having a great impact in the research community, although I do not fully understand it. Physicists make models of the universe based on the measurements they make of stars and son on. The best model is considered to be the one explaining the greater number of measurements. These scientists explained one aspect of our universe, namely, the apparent global weakness of gravity relatively to the other forces, with a single very simple hypothesis: the existence of other dimensions, other time-spaces of material existence. Time-spaces existing at the same place and the same time as ours, in which the “lacking” gravity would be. Whether this model proves to be valuable or not remains to be determined. At least, everyone in the field acknowledges it to be perfectly coherent. Isn’t this scientific? Yet, with our thinking methods and view of a tri-dimensional space, we cannot fathom it. That is, we may need to adapt our thinking, change our concepts if we want to keep up with science’s progress.
It was not for no reason that I read this paper. When I saw the title, I was struck by the similarity with what is written in Zhuan Falun concerning other time-spaces. More recently, I had the same kind of shock. Teacher Li Hongzhi said that matter pervades everything and does not become extinct. A few years ago, he explained that even a vacuum, what is said to be a state of no matter, is matter. And he added: “scientists will come to recognize this in the future”. Recently, a review paper came out on the properties of vacuum states. This review stated that the vacuum state was still a kind of material existence: infra waves can be measured in it, and exert a strong effect on external matter. It also said, when “matter” is absent, there may be a kind of “supra-matter” still existing at the so-called “empty” place.
Now I understand that Zhen-Shan-Ren is also a law, a physical, moral, spiritual law that is acting on all of us. Why? Here it may sound like belief, or theory, but maybe you can view it as a physical force. Teacher Li Hongzhi gave an example about one effect of Zhen-Shan-Ren: “For example, if a bottle filled with dirty things is sealed tightly and thrown into water, it will sink all the way to the bottom. You pour out some of its dirty contents. The more you empty the bottle, the higher it will float in the water. If it is emptied entirely, it will float on the surface completely. In the course of our cultivation practice, you must clean out various bad things in your body so that you can move up. This characteristic of the universe exactly plays this role.” (Chapter One, Zhuan Falun)
What way is there to test this hypothesis? One could be to try to get assimilated to this characteristic, and make a comparison with some control states – before trying to be assimilated or times when unwillingly behaving in the opposite way. In this domain that is an incredibly vast and unexplored domain, our current science does not yet have any theory to approach it, maybe because we are at the time of the opening of this field. Like the leader scientists in history, we should first observe quietly, try to get a full picture, and then draw conclusions, make it fit with current theories if possible, create new theories if not.
In my view, the understanding of Zhen-Shan-Ren as having objective existence will open new fields of learning as well as a new culture. Yet the most fundamental need for this is that we can really come to view this without preconceptions. This scientific approach is not one that can match our current ones, because this is a different approach that takes a different road. It looks maybe more like the ancient Chinese science. The ancient Chinese considered all matter as having elements of metal, earth, water, fire, and wood. This sounds strange, especially if you think of “wood”. Is our human body made of wood? Of course not. Yet, what they meant by this was different, and more like talking about the internal characteristics of objects. That is, this science is based on studying the internal first, while ours is to study the appearance first.
Today I’m glad to share with you my feeling that Falun Dafa is a real science, a deep and profound science, and I can tell you that it is concrete, objective experimentation that brings me to this conclusion. Yet I have no statistics, tables and figures to illustrate this. I can only say this conclusion can be verified by anyone who closely follows the same “protocol”, with a peaceful mind to steadfastly explore this huge field. Some speakers today will give deeper insights into this, because they have greater achievements in science. As I said, I’m just a junior scientist and was pleased to share some views with you.
1- Zhuan Falun, Universe Publishing House, New York
2-Goonatilake, S. Nature vol 405, p399 (May, 2000) Many paths to enlightenment –modern physics bear the imprint of western and asian philosophy
3- Nature, September 2001
4- Science and Avenir (French) December 2001