johnsu01 (johnsu01) wrote,

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Buddhism and knowing

A friend and I had a phone conversation earlier tonight about Buddhism and epistemology, and whether the related Western texts that we (present, past and future) philosophy students read are relevant to daily reality.

I think Buddhists should care about epistemology, but maybe not exactly the way philosophy classes usually teach it. I've been reading Not Always So by Shunryu Suzuki, and shortly after the conversation, I read (136-7):

From the experiences of many people, instructions were accumulated for the forms we use and the way we breathe, just as scientific knowledge is accumulated. But Buddhist wisdom puts emphasis on the subjective side of the truth...

Sometimes people who call themselves "spiritual" ignore the objective side of the truth. That is also a a mistake, but to be caught by the objective side of the truth and rely on it with an idle attitude will not help. Even though we can go to the moon, it doesn't help so much. As long as we rely on objective, scientific truth, it doesn't help. Only when each one of us feels the truth, appreciates, accepts, and is ready to follow the truth, will it work. When someone puts himself outside of the truth in order to study the truth, he won't know what to do when something happens to him.

In an ancient Chinese story, there was a person who liked dragons very much. He talked about dragons, he painted dragons, and he bought various kinds of dragons. So there was a dragon who thought, "If a real dragon like me visited him, he would be very happy." One day the real dragon sneaked into his room, and the man didn't know what to do! Whaaah! He could not even run away. He could not even stand up. For a long time we have been like the man who admired dragons, but we should not just be the dragon's friend or admirer; we should be the dragon itself. Then we will not be afraid of any dragon.

So we are ready to study our way subjectively as well as objectively...

Tags: buddhism, epistemology, not always so, philosophy
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