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The monastic traditions Science Abbey probably resembles most are the Forest tradition of Theravada Buddhism in South East Asia, known for its dedication to meditation; Chan/Zen Buddhism, which is likewise focused on formal meditation; and Christian Benedictine monasticism, which practices Lectio Divina, or “Divine Reading,” with reading, meditating, prayer and contemplation.

Christian and Buddhist abbots must ask themselves, when interpreting and formulating rules, what would Jesus do, or what would Buddha do? These two legendary figures are considered by their followers to be the complete incarnations of truth and correct discipline. The Order of Science has no such historical founder with supernatural perfection about his person; we instead face the fact that without material evidence of such a Sublime Person, our example to imitate is purely hypothetical and subject to change as science evolves.

The Rule of Saint Benedict and the Benedictine tradition teaches us much about monastic discipline. It is built on religious scripture, of course, and not science. Anyone interested in an evidence-based discipline must make adjustments to Benedict’s Rule. The most ancient extant Indian Buddhist Vinaya (monastic) texts are still used in Thailand, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. They are quite involved in every detail of the monk’s life, and often the rules are totally arbitrary, surely not based on any scientific evidence. I personally, therefore, could never submit to the Vinaya code.

The Chanyuan Qinggui (Rules of Purity) is the oldest existing Chan monastic code, the inspiration for many future codes, including Dogen’s code for Soto Zen monasteries in Japan. These are not scientific codes, but they are useful models for a scientific code. I could not devote my heart and life to anything less than a true scientific code, therefore as much as I love and respect the Chan way and the Zen way, I must pursue the way of the Order of Science. Because no such order yet exists, I must create it. A scientific monastic code is long overdue. Check out the Rule of the Scientist Order.

 

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