Buddhism & Technology: Historical Background and Contemporary Challenges – Abstracts

Click here to return to the Buddhism and Technology conference page.

 

  1. T.H. Barrett (SOAS, London): Buddhism, Technology, and a Question for Joseph Needham

    Though the magisterial series Science and Civilisation in China initiated by Joseph Needham (1900-1995) must remain the first port of call for anyone interested in the science and technology of China before modern times, there is no question but that when he set out on this project over seven decades ago his attitude towards Buddhist influences on the course of technological development in China was unduly negative – he admitted as much himself. He was, after all, a man of his times, and his initial conception of Buddhism certainly smacks of another age. Since I have touched only briefly on this problem in the past, I would like to elucidate the ways in which his early writings tend to miss the mark, and to point up some examples of fresh evidence that helps to complete the picture.

  2. Marcus Bingenheimer (Temple University): The Daoan-Huiyuan-Kumārajīva Triangle in the Historical Network of Chinese Buddhism

    The largest available dataset on historical social networks in Chinese Buddhism currently comprises some 17,000 actors, who interacted over a 2000 year period. It is mainly derived from biographical literature and lineage records. This presentation will focus on the beginning of the main component of the network. Although we know of Buddhist translators and their patrons as early as the 2nd century CE, from a social network view, the true fountainhead of Chinese Buddhism can be shown to be a constellation formed by three seminal figures: the monk Daoan, his student Huiyuan, and the Indian translator Kumārajīva, in the time between c.360 and 420 CE. Each of the three is at the center of an active community of collaborators and patrons. According to the available records, historical network analysis illustrates how the stable growth of Buddhism after the 4th century is a direct result of the activities of Daoan, Huiyuan and Kumārajīva and their students. Without the varied and influential activities of these three, Buddhism might have remained a religion of foreigners (like later Manichaeism and Nestorianism), or stayed a fad among aristocrats (like the xuanxue movement). This presentation aims to show how their networks compare to that of other influential figures at the times, and how historical social network analysis can identify bridge actors between their communities, who have been largely overlooked in traditional historical accounts of the period. We will also see how community detection algorithms can serve to distinguish significant groups in a useful manner. The Chinese Buddhism HSNA dataset is freely available under a CC BY-SA license at: http://mbingenheimer.net/tools/socnet/index.html.

    Keywords: Chinese Buddhist history, historical social network analysis, biographies of eminent monks

  3. Justin Brody (Goucher College): Enaction, Convolution and Conceptualism: An AI-Inspired Theory of Buddhist Perception and Conception

    This paper will sketch a theory of perception and conception that is grounded in ideas from contemporary artificial intelligence and enactive cognition. We will then bring this theory into conversation with Buddhist philosophy in general and the work of Dharmakirti in particular. We will conclude that while fundamental differences between the two approaches exist, there is a consonance that can ground a physicalist approach to Buddhism. Such an approach has the advantage of appealing to a contemporary audience which may be deeply skeptical of non-physicalist interpretations of the tradition.

  4. Chen Jinhua (University of British Columbia): Technology and Disaster: Buddhist Perspectives

    The relationship between religion and catastrophe is a topic worth investigating. Every major religion comes into being preceding or following a catastrophe. Survival from a catastrophe or the prospect thereof is a critical juncture that instigates the foundation of a major religion. The other juncture is the religious reformation. Admittedly, there are social reasons as well as reasons internal to the religious institutions, which can propel the reformation. There is, however, another factor that is crucial: catastrophe. In history, any religion would have fallen to the fate of disintegration, had it not undergone a reformation, or a renaissance. And the most important factor, at least among external factors, is catastrophe. It is interesting and significant that catastrophe can exert such an influence on a religion. This phenomenon obliges us to consider the nature of religion. Why do we need religion?  If we could comprehend the nature of religion — that it helps us overcome imperfection, the finite, as well as the menace, confusion and helplessness brought about by death──then we would understand why religion and catastrophe are an intimately connected pair.Our world is currently undergoing a tremendous, unprecedented catastrophe──the kind caused by technology revolution. This article explains why and how the technology comes to pose humanity is unprecedented and how a Buddhist perspective may contribute to the discussion of human response to technology-related catastrophes.

  5. Douglas Samuel Duckworth (Temple University): A Buddhist Contribution to Artificial Intelligence?

    Significant questions confront Buddhist traditions in the wake of emergent technologies: can the human body be configured in a certain way, such that it reveals a new world or environment to inhabit beyond optimized self-preservation or survival? Can we manipulate our bodies with technologies – inhibited (or enhanced) by a chemical, a trauma, a contemplative technique, or an implant – such that we are reoriented to a transformed and liberating understanding of the nature of the world and our being in it? As new technologies enhance certain domains of cognitive performance by modeling and extending the structure and capacities of cognition, Buddhism, with a theory of mind and mental development in the absence of an independent essence, owner, or agent like a self, can potentially be a valuable resource.

    One of the problems and promises of machine design is that machines, as cultural products, reflect the psyche and goals of their creators – our machines are an extension of ourselves and an expression of human values. With the development of artificial intelligence lies the hope to continue an evolutionary path to actualize the potential intelligence beyond that of the current human condition – the post- or transhuman. Yet a potential danger lurks, like in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, when we make machines in our own image (consciously or not), and our habitual tendencies are embedded subconsciously, or unconsciously, in our creations. That is, we can easily perpetuate the structures of violence and oppression that dwell below the access consciousness of our conscious minds. This where a potential Buddhist contribution to machine design and development may be found. Machines replicate aspects of the psyche (intentions and interests) of the designer and the societies and institutions that support technological design, and uncovering the implications of this embeddedness may be one of Buddhism’s most important contributions to technologically engineered intelligence.

  6. Jessica Falcone (Kansas State University): The Ambiguity of Digital Ruins: the Ephemerality and Impermanence of Virtual Spaces

    This paper explores the ephemerality of digital spaces and the (im)possibilities of digital ruins by paying special ethnographic attention to removed or deleted Buddhist spaces in the virtual world of Second Life. While some Buddhist informants in Second Life tended to attribute the virtual disappearances to the Buddhist truth of impermanence, the Buddhist communities of Second Life were built to endure for some time, and therefore, the instances of failed communities continue to haunt in their own ways.

  7. Charles Goodman (Binghamton University): Machine Learning, Plant Learning, and the Destabilization of Buddhist Psychology

    Recent developments in artificial intelligence and the nascent but rapidly growing scientific literature on “plant learning” pose serious and, as this paper argues, related challenges to Buddhist philosophy of mind and to Buddhist practical ethics. These challenges are of two general types. First, the empirical results threaten to extend the reach of mind more broadly than premodern South Asian and Tibetan Buddhists were willing to allow, potentially calling into question the rational defensibility of a range of Buddhist moral commitments. The tradition does have some intellectual resources that may make it possible to deal with this set of problems.
    But the discovery of learning in non-animals also threatens to destabilize the crucial Buddhist distinction between “sentient beings” and the “receptacle world,” raising the possibility of what Yuval Harari calls a “separation between intelligence and consciousness.” To the extent that this separation is a live possibility, it could put further pressure on non-Buddhist views that postulate a soul, while raising new concerns about the defensibility of Buddhist idealism. Such a possibility should also sharpen our attention to AI safety by making the prospect of existential AI risk even more threatening than it would otherwise have been.

  8. Gregory Greive (University of North Carolina): The Virtue of Dependence: An Ethics of Social Media Based on the Mahāyāna concept of Pratītyasamutpāda and the Cybernetic Theories of Stafford Beer

    We currently lack adequate means to address the unethical behavior that has become an all too common part of social media. In order to forge a virtue ethics for social media, this paper is an initial exploration of the cybernetic theories of Stafford Beer analyzed through the lens of the Buddhist concept of Pratītyasamutpāda. Stafford Beer (1926-2002) was a British Cybernetic theorist. In its modern guise, Cybernetics studies circular feedback loops in biological and social systems (Wiener 1948). In this paper, I concentrate on Beer’s conception of a viable system model, a term that defines any adaptable system organized in such a way as to meet the demands of surviving in a changing environment (1972). The Buddhist doctrine of Pratītyasamutpāda, usually translated as dependent origination, states that all phenomena (dharmas) arise only in dependence on other phenomena. As the Indian Scholar, Nagarjuna, in the twenty-fourth chapter of his Treatise on the Middle Way writes: “Whatever arises dependently is explained as empty. Thus dependent attribution is the middle way.” What these two scholars share, is that both Beer and Nagarjuna’s thought suggests an ethics of dependence, which moves beyond permanent principles, which are too rigid and abstract to deal adequately with the complex, highly particularized ethical world of contemporary digital technology. Instead, both systems of thought suggest an ethics based on a concern for the real, existing, unique social being created in the complex web of relationships that make up the social and ethical world of a contemporary digital media subject.

  9. Xiao Han (UQAM): “机器之心”—上座部阿毗达摩视角下的人工智能之分析

    人工智能自从蓬勃发展以来,牵涉到了形形色色的伦理问题,在各大世界宗教中,佛教最具有回答问题的价值和可能性。南传上座部佛教阿毗达摩自古以来就是一个详尽的佛教心理学系统,处理跟人的情绪,意识过程和认知规律等问题。也牵涉到道德伦理和修行涅槃途径。本文试图以佛教南传上座部的阿毗达摩视角来将人工智能纳入到佛教哲学的框架进行观察。本文尝试解答的问题有:从阿毗达摩角度来看,人何以为人?在阿毗达摩角度来讲人具备什么特殊性能跟人工智能加以区分?佛教的里面对三界有情的认知过程的分析是否能应用在人工智能中,人工智能于佛教阿毗达摩角度来看,到底具备何种特殊性?其存在是否能被纳入跟佛教伦理规范之中,如何通过阿毗达摩来规范和指导人工智能的发展及其可能有的人类社会道德及伦理方面的不兼容问题,从而在佛教理论方面论证人工智能与人类的异同,并以此来指导人类社会和人工智能的和谐发展并规避风险。

  10. Natasha Heller (University of Virginia): The Aesthetics of Android Buddhas

    This paper will analyze several contemporary representations of the merging of Buddha and machine, both in artistic projects and in use in temples. Through these examples I will explore how enlightenment might be understood as akin to a mechanical or robotic process, and how aesthetics express the relationship between technology and spirit. Two recent artists play with the idea of buddhas-as-robots: Ziwon Wang’s sculptures of bodhisattvas and buddhas use sleek white forms stripped of the ornamentation typical of traditional statues. By juxtaposing these body parts with systems of gears, Wang’s statues offer a modern vision of interconnectedness, where one movement entails other movements. The short film “The Heavenly Creature,” based on Pak Sŏng-hwan’s short story “Readymade Bodhisattva,” presents a robot who is enlightened, and how this challenges the robot’s Buddhist temple and the company which created it. Temples, too, have used robots in the form of buddhas or bodhisattvas. The Android Kannon funded by the Kodaiji Temple in Kyoto was built by famed roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro. Ishiguo, known for robots that are close approximations of human beings, here makes the mechanical aspects of the Kannon robot very clear. In contrast, the Xian’er robot at Longquan Monastery in Beijing is based on a cartoon character of a monk, and represents a very different aesthetic. Comparing these different Buddhist robots, I will argue that certain robot bodies are more suited to capturing the qualities of a Buddha, and even perhaps the ideal of enlightenment. I will place my discussion within the context of Buddhist philosophy and theories of embodiment, and conclude that culturally-situated histories of other bodies can help us understand the affect of robotic bodies.

  11. Peter Hershock (East West Center): The Intelligence Revolution and the New Great Game: A Buddhist Reflection on the Personal and Societal Predicaments of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence

    The most pressing challenges of the present and coming decades—among them, climate change; the degradation of both natural and urban environments; and rising inequalities of wealth, income, risk and opportunity—are not technical problems. They are ethical predicaments that consist in deep (and often tragic) conflicts within and among our globally dominant systems of social, cultural, economic and political values. Today, we are witnessing the early stages of perhaps the greatest of these predicaments: a transformation of the human experience by the impacts of artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data. This presentation will first discuss the current state of the “intelligence revolution,” its likely future, and the systematic colonization of consciousness that informs the deepening interdependence of the new global attention economy and the surveillance state. Buddhist conceptual resources will then be used to reflect on who we must present as to resist the displacement of intelligent human practices by “smart” services and to realize an ethical ecosystem suited to ensuring that the intelligence revolution is conducive to more equitable and humane global futures.

  12. Matthew King (University of California, Riverside): The Mind Beyond the Atom: Lozang Gyatso and the Logical Problems of Brain Science and Materialist Biomedicine

    While the supposed (and always anachronistic) complementarity of rational scientific inquiry and Buddhist modes of self-cultivation is widely embraced in popular and scholarly literature today, late-colonial and imperial Buddhist monastic projects to rebuff scientific knowing and its attendant modernist projects remain vastly understudied. This paper explores the methodological and theoretical implications for the Asian humanities in comparing Buddhist scholastic rejections of the epistemic and moral validity of exclusive humanism, naturalism/materialism, and empiricism in late and post-colonial and imperial Asia. It does so through an illustrative case study on the incommensurability of bio-medicine, traditional Tibetan medicine (Tib. sman rig, gso ba rig pa), and Buddhist cosmology in the writings of the influential Tibetan monastic scholar Lozang Gyatso (Blo bzang rgya mtsho, 1928-1997). Weaponizing classical Indian works on logic by Dharmakīrti and drawing on two centuries of critique of scientific presumptions by frontier Tibetan and Mongolian monks, Lozang Gyatso focuses his attacks on the « logical inconsistency » of “Western” atomism and materialist notions of the mind. This presentation is most interested in thinking about the competing practices of knowledge at stake for this monk and the scholastic tradition he evokes, including empiricism, direct (Tib. mngon sum brtag pa) and inferential (rjes su dpag pa brtag pa) valid cognition (Skt. pramāṇa; Tib. tshad ma), and even experimentation on insects in his monk’s cell.

  13. Jeffrey Kotyk (McMaster University): The Astronomical Work of Monk Yixing 一行 (673–727) and its Enduring Legacy in the Song to Ming Periods

    The Chinese monk Yixing 一行 (673–727) is especially unique in being both an early architect of the Esoteric Buddhist tradition in East Asia in addition to being a significant figure in the history of astronomy and calendrical science in China. His legacy in the Buddhist world is well known, but the enduring quality of his scientific work in later centuries is less appreciated. The present paper will document the reception and development of Yixing’s work on calendrical science while also discussing the perception of his historical and mythical person amongst Chinese writers from the Song to Ming periods.

  14. Bill Magee (Maitripa Institute): Open-Source Geshe: A Digital Assistant for Tibetan Debate

    This paper will describe a simple web-based open-source application written in Javascript called “Open-Source Geshe” (OSG). OSG is designed to serve as a digital tool (in classrooms with internet) supplementing the teaching of Tibetan logic with graphical representations. Tibetan monks of many large monasteries practise debate as the primary means of learning the content of their scholastic textbooks, such as the Collected Topics (bsdus grva). Fluency in debate, whether in Tibetan or another language, requires determined practice and memorization. As a result, there has been limited success in teaching debate in academic settings, where a student’s complete attention cannot usually be commandeered for a single purpose. Although single-minded effort and rote memorization are required for mastering Tibetan logical debate, OSG can help by offering graphical representations of standard logical forms and their implications into which students can enter their own theses and reasons. Toward this end OSG provides pages (1) displaying the three modes of a correct syllogistic reason, (2) indicating the four possibilities for interaction between phenomena, and (3) flinging absurd consequences at incorrect pervasion statements. OSG also lists crucial terms and definitions through a sidebar. Classroom trials at Maitripa College have shown that students learn logic well with OSG assistance, but further results will be forthcoming from Maitripa College 2019 Summer Tibetan Language Intensive course, taught by the author. It is hoped that the open-source nature of this project will encourage others interested in Tibetan logic to expand and improve this much-needed heuristic tool.

    See: uvaphd.com; github.com/wam7c/debate.

    Key words: Tibet, Logic, Debate, Epistemology, Collected Topics, Open Source.

  15. Bill Mak (Kyoto University): Buddhist Astronomy, A Misnomer? – The Case of the Transmission of the Jiuzhi li 九執曆 in China

    Despite claims and accounts of a handful of Buddhist monks in China possessing superior astral knowledge and skills, there is so far no evidence of a single, coherent tradition of Buddhist astronomy. Historically, while Indian Buddhists are generally acknowledged to have contributed to the field of medicine, they are not known among their non-Buddhist contemporaries as skilful mathematicians or astronomers. While one often finds in the Chinese records the portrayal of foreign monks as skilful astronomers and diviners, a close examination reveals in fact that Buddhists in India, as later in China, possess much less skills than their Brahmanical and Jaina counterparts, and in general play very little role in the scientific development of their time. Their astronomical knowledge is often appropriated from a variety of sources to fulfill practical needs such as the calendrics, time-reckoning in rituals, and astrology. In this paper, I shall examine the case of the Jiuzhi li 九執曆, composed in Chinese by *Gautamasiddhārtha 瞿曇悉達 in 718 C.E., which is the most advanced extant astronomical treatise known to have been used by Chinese Buddhists during the Tang Period. Advanced Indian mathematical and astronomical concepts such as spherical trigonometry, sine table, and algorithmic techniques for the computation of celestial motions are found in this treatise and are very different from those of the Chinese. The text was circulated among the Tang officials and the esoteric Buddhists in Chang’an before transmitted eventually to Japan where a section of it was preserved. The treatise was however poorly received by the Chinese and was lost for centuries until a copy of it was accidentally discovered in the early seventeenth century. Since then Chinese and Japanese scholars have tried to decipher its content. Despite the difficulty of its technical language, its astronomical content is found to be far less sophisticated than the Sanskrit astronomical works of the time. The disinterest of the Chinese in this work, however, means also that they have missed an opportunity to discover a completely different way of analyzing celestial motions, and to engage with a different form of mathematics and astronomy ultimately more advanced than their own.

  16. Beverley McGuire (University of North Carolina Wilmington): Buddhist Self-Tracking Apps: Identifying, Tracking, and Regulating Emotions in a Digital Era

    This paper examines Buddhist digital technologies designed to identify, track, and regulate emotions. Emotion practices tied to language, material objects, and situations change over time and across cultures (Schuler 2018; Scheer 2012). In our digital era, people often communicate and connect with others through emails, text messages, and social media, relying on emoticons (emojis) to convey emotions that in face-to-face conversation would be apparent through nonverbal cues such as facial expressions and bodily gestures. Emoticons contribute to greater social presence by transmitting relational information that increases the perception of human interaction and enhances comprehension (Aldunate and González-Ibáñez 2017).

    Although scholars have shown how digital devices can adversely effect emotional development, resulting in an inability to identify the feelings of others or themselves, a loss of empathy, and a diminished capacity for self-reflection (Turkle 2015), some Buddhists have sought to cultivate these capacities by developing apps that seek to increase emotional awareness. Most of the apps that come up if one searches for “Buddhism” are meditation apps: However, exceptions include the app “Mitra” designed and developed by the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT to helps users identify their core values, cultivate emotional awareness, and align their emotions with their values. Users report feeling more self-aware after they track their emotions and values regularly. These types of quantified self-tracking technologies create “a laboratory of the self” that amplify certain aspects of oneself while reducing and restricting others (Kristensen and Ruckenstein 2018). This paper analyzes the ways in which Buddhist ideas influenced the design and development of the technology as well as the user experience. It also discusses continuities and discontinuities between “Mitra” and other self-tracking apps.

  17. Sebastian Nehrdich (Hamburg University): A Quotation Network for parallel passages of Buddhist Chinese Sources Based on Million-scale Nearest Neighbor Search

    For the research of Buddhist textual material, citations and similar passages are of major importance. This paper explores the application of continuous word representations and nearest neighbor search in order to efficiently compute a quotational network for parallel passages of the Chinese Buddhist canon. It also discusses methods of evaluating the quality of the detected parallels and demonstrates a potential use-case of the resulting data for philological research in the form of a web application.

  18. Stuart Ray Sarbacker (Oregon State): Buddhist Meditation and the Ethics of Human Augmentation

    Emergent technologies of “Human Engineering,” also known as “Human Augmentation,” are rapidly changing the nature of human embodiment and have profound social and moral implications.1 Particularly noteworthy are technologies that enhance human physical, sensory, and cognitive capacities, from artificial limbs and visual and hearing aids that expand action and perception to wearables and implants that provide instant access to vast amounts of data. The philosophy and practice of Buddhist meditation (Skt. dhyāna, Pāli jhāna, Ch. ch’an, Jpn. zen) provides a paradigm for understanding how Buddhist ethics might address issues raised by the augmentation of human capacities through technology. Indian Buddhist traditions, and those of greater Asia derived from them, typically divide meditation (dhyāna) or mental cultivation (bhāvanā) into two primary spheres, serenity (śamatha) and insight (vipaśyanā). The mastery of śamatha, a yogic practice that leads to increasingly calm and focused cognitive states, is associated with the attainment of higher modes of cognition (abhijñā) that lead to power over one’s embodiment and the world. In addition, meditators in deep śamatha-dhyāna are said to attain cognitive capacities that are equivalent to those of the brahmā-deities that exist on higher cosmological levels of the form (rūpa) and formless (arūpa) realms (loka). Vipaśyanā, however, is said to be a uniquely Buddhist practice that facilitates liberating knowledge or wisdom (jñāna, prajñā) and thereby frees a practitioner from bondage to the cycle (saṃsāra) of birth and rebirth and the suffering (duḥkha) that it entails. From this śamatha-vipaśyanā distinction, we can glean a set of insights into how Buddhist ethics might be utilized to evaluate technologies of human augmentation. These include 1) a recognition that technology may make humans more god-like, but that even the gods are still denizens of saṃsāra and not liberated beings; 2) that technology, like meditation, might facilitate the achievement of serenity and concentration as instruments for achieving liberating knowledge or wisdom (jñāna, prajñā), if applied skillfully; and 3) that one who has achieved liberating knowledge or wisdom (jñāna, prajñā) might utilize technology in a manner similar to the abhijñā as a vehicle for helping free others from suffering and ultimately achieve liberation. In addition to examining the broad spectrum of forms of technological augmentation, we will focus on technologies that promise to accelerate cognitive or spiritual development—from neurofeedback and “headwiring” to the use of psychoactive substances and virtual reality—that seem particularly germane to discussions of Buddhism, technology, and ethics. Lastly, we will examine how emergent philosophical and religious conceptions of the “Transhuman” and “Posthuman” represent states of transformation that are strikingly parallel in some ways to Buddhist conceptions of spiritual development and attainment, particularly with respect to the figures of the Arhat, Pratyekabuddha, Bodhisattva, and Buddha.

  19. Joshua Stoll (University of Hawai‘i West O‘ahu): Buddha in the Chinese Room: Empty Persons, Other Mindstreams, and the Strong AI Debate

    This paper will analyze the concept of strong AI and the debate surrounding John Searle’s Chinese Room argument from a Buddhist point of view. First, we will explore the debate on the Chinese Room argument’s implications for the possibility of strong AI. Then we will delve into Buddhist arguments for the selflessness of persons (pudgalanairātmya) as well as the status of other mindstreams (santānāntara) and Buddha’s omniscience (sarvajnātva) as it relates to the possibility of his cognition of other psychophysical continua (santānāntara). Finally, the implications of these Buddhist considerations will be introduced into the debate regarding Searle’s thought experiment in order to develop an understanding of strong AI from a Buddhist perspective.

  20. SUN Guozhu (China University of Political Science and Law): 智慧生命的多元可能——基於《起世經》文本的哲學考察

    人工智能时代的降临,为人类的未来发展提出了前所未有的挑战,甚至对于生命的本质也提出了严肃的拷问。在诸多可供回应时代问题的文化资源中,佛教所蕴含的宝贵智慧不容错过。对此,本文将讨论的文本锁定在《起世经》。这是因为,佛教的世界观乃至生命观都是非常独特的,这在《起世经》文本中有集中的体现。研究可知,《起世经》文本能够启发人们思考智慧生命的材料相当丰富。比如,《起世经》最后一品《最胜品》(亦称《天地成品》),甚至饶有趣味地讲了一个有关人类起源的故事。如果从哲学的角度加以考察,《起世经》文本所讲述的故事具有深刻的思想内涵,有助于人们反思生命的可能,智慧的边界,甚至还有生命的价值或意义本身。

  21. Panyadipa Tan (Shan State Buddhist University, Taunggyi, Myanmar): Rediscovering the Buddha’s wisdom in Scientific Age: Buddhist Meditation and Research on Psychosomatic Health and Longevity

    A major factor that makes Buddhism appeal to modern people contributing to its growth in the West is its empirical teachings which invite investigations of truths by reason and direct experience. This unassuming pragmatic spirit distinguishes Buddhism from other religions, making it particularly relevant in this era where evidence-based scientific inquiry becomes hegemonic to discovery of knowledge. In recent decades much collaborative effort in scientific research has been initiated between Buddhist practitioners and scientists. Accumulating evidence from such collaboration not only attests to the potential health benefits of Buddhist meditations, but has also greatly helped edifying Buddhism as a religion that confers demonstrable mental and physical wellbeing. Today, the Buddhist-inspired mindfulness meditation has increasingly been adopted into integrative and mainstream healthcare systems. Its possible roles in managing stress, affective mood disorders and various forms of pain and addiction have been considerably recognized. In addition to this, a plethora of psychosomatic effects potentially against chronic and degenerative diseases have also been reported for certain forms of Buddhist meditation. Based upon hundreds of peer-reviewed clinical studies on Buddhist meditation interventions in public science repositories, this paper aims to give an up-to-date, systematic appraisal on how Buddhist meditation affects psychosomatic and longevity indices. The possible biological mechanisms involved in such effects will be briefly discussed. Relevant excerpts and legends from ancient Buddhist texts on how mental cultivations might help ameliorate physical affliction and illnesses will also be referenced. Finally, the caveats and apparent shortcomings of current scientific findings in informing the ethical and spiritual goals of Buddhism will be addressed. I hope this paper will keep Buddhist scholars of non-medical background abreast with state-of-the-art medical research findings in Buddhist meditation. Through continual collaboration across disciplines, Buddhism and science are ready to continue work with each other toward a balanced and sustainable technological progress that weighs in fundamental ethical and humanistic values.

  22. Yu-chun Wang (Dharma Drum Institute for Liberal Arts): Word segmentation for Classical Chinese Buddhist literature

    With the growing of digital humanities, information technologies take more important roles in humanity research fields, such as religion. To analyze text for further processing, many text analysis tools take a word as an unit. However, in Chinese, there is no word boundary markers. Word segmentation is required for processing Chinese texts. Although several word segmentation tools are available for modern Chinese, there is still no practical word segmentation tool for Classical Chinese, especially for Classical Chinese Buddhist literature. In this paper, we adopt unsupervised and supervised learning techniques to build Classical Chinese word segmentation approaches for Buddhist literature processing. Normalized variation of branching entropy (nVBE) is adopted for unsupervised word segmentation. Two supervised learning mechanisms, conditional random fields (CRF) and long-short term memory (LSTM), are used to generate models for classical Chinese word segmentation. The performance of our word segmentation approach achieves up to 0.9186 in F1-score. The experiment results show that our proposed method is effective to correctly segment most Classical Chinese sentences in Buddhist literature. Our word segmentation method can be a fundamental tool for further text analysis and processing researches, such as word embedding, syntactic parsing, and semantic labeling.

  23. Mei Wang (University of Science and Technology of China): 基于人工智能技术的佛教壁画类文化遗产修复研究 Study on Artificial-Intelligence-Based Buddhist Murals Restoration

    壁画作为佛教文化艺术遗产的缩影,是佛教数字化研究的重要样本。早在人工智能技术风靡之前,以敦煌莫高窟壁画为代表的佛教壁画类文化遗产就在数字化研究上经历了长期探索。进入人工智能时代之后,借助前沿科技,壁画数字化工作将打开新的契机。本文将以佛教壁画为例,探讨将以深度学习(Deep Learning,DL)为基础的人工智能技术用于佛教文化遗产保护的可能,包括:壁画的破损补全修复、断代、历史断层风格生成等。

    深度学习是人工智能研究领域下的一种机器学习方法,原理是对数据进行表征学习来模拟人脑神经结构,其广泛运用于图像处理研究,近两年亦逐步应用于文化遗产保护工作。其中生成式对抗网络(Generative Adversarial Networks,GAN)作为近年来流行的一种深度学习模型,主要用于图像的生成,在宗教艺术作品的数字化修复方面发挥了显著作用,对壁画乃至唐卡的补全、风格生成等都具有重要的参考价值。

    本文将针对目前敦煌壁画修复工作的主要关注点,基于人工智能的深度学习技术发展现状,结合相关算法的特点和应用范围,研究其辅助敦煌壁画修复工作的可行性和前景,推动佛教文化有效传播。

    This paper aims to promote the integration of latest technology and Buddhist art and culture, focusing on the feasibility and accessibility of Artificial Intelligence (AI) assisted Buddhist mural restoration in East Asia. Long before the diffusion of AI technology, Buddhist murals from Mogao Caves has undergone long-term exploration for its digitization. After entering the so-called AI era, study of the digitization of murals could be brought to a brand-new stage. Therefore, this paper takes Buddhist murals as a case to explore the possibility of using AI technology based on Deep Learning (DL) to preserve Buddhist arts. DL is known as a Machine Learning (ML) method under AI-related research, which is widely used in image recognition and generation. Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN), as a popular DL model, is widely used in image generation and could be used in restoring and generating broken murals and Thangka. Tasks of murals preservation using AI technology include broken image restoration, ancient paintings dating, lost historic painting style generation.

  24. Christian Wittern (Kyoto University): Zen, Motorcycles and burning Buddhas

    The standard narrative of the relationship of religion and science presents science as wrangling domination from the realm of religion, which is clouded in dogma, by using the rational mindset of enlightenment, a sophisticated method which is designed to discover the truth about our world and ourself.

    In this paper, I would like to turn this story on its head and show how science today is marred in dogma, unable to move beyond a very narrow conception of reality, supporting a worldview that is bound to crash full speed into the boundaries of our planet and taking most life forms with it.

    Buddhism, on the other hand, will emerge as providing one possible path to move beyond the limitations of these dogmas and engage with our planet and all its lifeforms in the only meaningful way possible: As a relationship based on loving-kindness, rooted in the first hand experience of the inter-connectiveness of all beings and the intimate, heartfelt love based on this. Buddhism, is of course not the only worldview that takes this stance, but since it is the topic for this conference, I will focus on Buddhism, more specific on Chan-Buddhism as reflected in the Chan literature of early Song China.

  25. Yan Lu (East China Normal University): 略论竹林寺僧证治“鬼胎—–以《竹林女科证治》为例

    疾病、医疗与宗教是一组永恒的命题,翻开世界各宗教的历史 , 都会发现宗教都与疾病、医疗相关,当宗教在疾病与医疗上产生灵验,才能使信徒虔信宗教,宗教也才能得以发展。在佛典中,佛陀曾经禁止佛教徒以医术为生,因医术赚钱易生起贪著之心,不利修行。但又对重病比丘及有情众生起悲悯之心,故宣说《佛说医经》。在中国历史上佛教与医学一直有着十分密切的关系, “医方明”是早期佛教徒必须学习和掌握的基本技能,借医弘法更是佛教的一个优良传统,佛经中释迦牟尼以医为喻的例子更是数不胜数,早在三国时期《佛说医经》就已经被翻译成了中文,之后佛教产生了很多著名的僧医,精通医学之大德高僧代代辈出。如魏晋南北朝时期的师道人、述法存、道洪、僧深、陶弘景等。他们尝试将中国传统医药与佛经理论及医药知识相结合,促进了佛教医学的发展。南宋静暹禅师是僧医中著名代表,其以秘方治愈理宗皇后重病而名声大起,被封“十世医王”,从而成为当时著名的妇科圣手之一。本论文拟将对静暹禅师的僧医思想及其僧药开展发掘、整理和研究的工作,发扬佛教普度众生、利乐有情的精神,为促进人类医疗卫生事业之发展尽一份绵薄之力。

  26. ZHOU Liqun (Beijing Foreign Studies University): Transmissions of Indian Water Clocks in China

    This paper focuses on two kinds of Indian water clocks in the history of India and China. The outflow water clock, Nāḍikā/ Nālikāin Sanskrit, showed up in literature between 5th century BCE and 5th century CE in India. Modengjia jing(《摩登伽经》) , the Chinese translation of Śārdūlakarṇāvadāna recorded this type of water clock, whose tradition could trace back to Vedāṅgajyotiṣa and Arthaśāstra in its motherland. While, the inflow water clock, Ghaṭikā in Sanskrit, was widely used in India from 5th century CE to 19th century CE, begging with the writing of Āryabhaṭasiddhānta. The earliest details of this water clock could be found in A Record of the Buddhist Religion as practiced in India and the Malaya Archipelago(《南海寄归内法传》)by Yijing (义净) . Lotus Water clocks used by Huiyuan(慧远) and Huiyao(慧要) seem that Chinese monks started to apply the design of Ghaṭikā in their daily life of Donglin Temple(东林寺), Jin Dynasty. Later, A DIY water clock recorded in Jujia biyong shilei quanji(《居家必用事类全集》), a cyclopedia book from Yuan Dynasty, shows Chinese literates try to make this type of water clock to tell time themselves. Meanwhile,     collected Taoist scriptures (道藏) include this above text and claim it an invention of Taoist. All in all, Both the outflow and inflow water clocks of India transmitted to China, while, the smart design of Ghaṭikā, inflow type of Indian water clock, did have a popularity among Buddhist monks and other literates in ancient China.

    Key Words: water clock; Outflow; Ancient India; Śārdūlakarṇāvadāna; Jujia biyong shilei quanji(《居家必用事类全集》)

  27. Min Zhu (Harbin University of Science and Technology): 人工智能的“心识”限度——基于《成唯识论》的思考

    根据现有的相关科学与哲学研究成果,人类意识的运行机制大致是这样的:物质运动变化创生万物,生物的生理活动支持着神经活动,神经活动涌现意识(有意识的心理活动),意识感受生理表现并指导意向性心智活动的实现,从而反观认知万物之理。总体来说,《成唯识论》中的唯识心法与人工智能之间没有直接的联系,但唯识学中的“心”与“心所”较全面系统的分析了意识的心理能力问题,由此可以帮助我们思考人工智能发展中所遇到的一些问题,特别是人工智能发展中的“心识”问题,使我们跳出人工智能研究的思维怪圈。本文中我们主要从三个方面来谈唯识心法和人工智能“心识”问题之间的间接联系:一是,从唯识心法的角度看人工智能方法的局限性;二是,开展涉及“心识”的人工智能研究的底线在哪儿,如自我意识机器人的研发问题;三是,从唯识学角度来看,人工智能的终极目标是什么问题。