Why do many of us assume that Buddhism and science are polar opposites—that Buddhist teachings are so paradoxical and mysterious they are not even meant to be understood? Is it possible instead that the teachings of Buddhism actually predate certain scientific conclusions the West is just now discovering?
The Famen Buddhist Temple (in what is now Shaanxi Province, in the People’s Republic of China) has been an important center for Buddhism since it was built near the end of the Six Dynasties period (220-581 CE). The temple is particularly famed for housing a Buddhist religious relic, an alleged finger bone of the Buddha. The relic had the reputation of producing miraculous cures, and several times during the Tang dynasty (618-906) it was brought to the royal palace, in nearby Chang’an (present-day Xi’an), when the emperor or empress was ill. During one procession from Famen to Chang’an, t