SRSP 11-16 Topic 1 Unit 2a – How does Buddhism make sense of the world?


Buddhist perspectives on science issues have tended to concentrate on the following key themes:

  • The similarities between the Buddhist and scientific method of obtaining knowledge.
  • The difference between the Buddhist and scientific view of the purpose of knowledge.
  • Buddhist teachings on the responsible use of science and technology.

In this unit students have opportunities to examine the life of the Buddha in light of their understanding of the scientific method and examine the question as to whether the Buddha was, or was not, like an early scientist. They reflect upon recent scientific research into the effects of Buddhist meditation on brain activity and consider developments in science and technology that Buddhists might agree or disagree with.

They investigate the effects of Buddhist beliefs on their attitudes and lifestyles with respect to the moral issues raised by science and technology, and conduct research into the web-sites of “engaged” Buddhist groups, particularly environmental groups.

This unit consists of 4 lessons and is suitable for pupils aged from 14 to 16 years


Key Questions

  • What are the similarities between Buddhist and scientific methods of arriving at knowledge?
  • What are the differences between Buddhist and scientific views of the purpose or usefulness of this knowledge?
  • How does Buddhism engage with the debate about the environment?

Some of the materials can be viewed on screen and some can be downloaded for editing or printing. To view the pdf files you need Adobe Acrobat Reader. See the about section for more details.

Unit Resources

Unit Overview (Word)


An interview with Ratnaprabha, worker for a Buddhism trading company and ex-scientific reseacher.

If you’d like to download this video, right click this link and select “Save link as”

Link to Triah Xuan Thuan video [Need to be online]


Lesson 1

Lesson Plan: Was the Buddha a scientist? (Word)

Student Information Sheet: Was the Buddha a scientist? (Word)


Lesson 2

Lesson Plan: Shoot the poison arrow (Word)

Student Information Sheet: The man with the poisoned arrow (Word)

Student Worksheet 1: Do we need to know that? (Word)

Student Worksheet 2: Good science, bad science (Word)


Lesson 3

Lesson Plan: Is meditation scientific? (Word)

Student Information Sheet: Experimenting with meditation (Word)

Student Worksheet 1: Meditation experience survey (Word)

Student Worksheet 2: Does meditation work? (Word)


Lesson 4

Lesson Plan: Buddhism and the appliance of science (Word)

Student Information Sheet: Buddhism and the appliance of science (Word)

Resource 1: Buddhist Perspectives on environmental destruction (Word)

Resource 2: Some useful quotations (Word)

© 2011 LASAR (Learning about Science and Religion)