Thursday, December 29, 2011

Physics and Psychology of Meditation (Pt. 2)

Seven and Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly

A well formed question just about answers itself. The more diffuse, scattered, or uncertain the question, the more fluffy, fuzzy, and fruitless the answer.

We already "know" the answers. We have to make them real. There is no use in truth. Read theories, read explanations, see charts and wonderful lists, all of them true, but of what use? Until we breathe, until we sit, until we act, and put them into practice, this is our practice, one may as well not know.

A singular answer brought out of the question

The purpose of Right View in the Noble Eightfold Path is to know which way to go, how to interpret, how to conduct ourselves optimally. It's not rules. It's orienting. It's a standard by which to judge. In this way we might meet novel situations and with ease behave well for the profit of everyone.

Science is a wonderful tool. It's only a tool. It doesn't form big questions, and it doesn't answer them. We do.

The biggest moment one has in a logic (philosophy) course is that logical reasoning does not lead to truth. All it does, and all it claims to do, is help us determine whether or not a statement (syllogism) is correct or consistent. Test it. It's easy.

All meditators are cute.
There are no cute people here.
Therefore, no one is meditating.

If A and B are true, and who knows if they are(?), then C will be true. Logic has no way of telling us whether or not premises are true. What it does, which is useful, is tell us IF they are THEN this follows. Math is the same way.

The truth is amazing and not what we "think." It's counter-intuitive in that it goes against our assumptions. Truth is intuitive, but "intuition" has been turned upside down: Originally it meant directly knowable (a priori). It still does in science. But in psychology we use intuitive to mean "what one would guess or assume."

Dr. Quantum explains counter-intuitive findings in physics ("What the Bleep Do We Know").

Like psychology Newtonian physics was intuitive. Like science quantum physics turns our world upside down. Both are true in their own domains. An easy way to picture it is staring at the TV. We see pictures. But look more closely: there are no pictures, just pixels. Both are true. There both, and there is not one without the other.

In just the same way the Buddha talks about conventional truth (what happens in the world of sense experience) and ultimate truth, what really happens and to whom.

Who am I, who is experiencing meditation, who is doing the watching? Is the answer "Christy Turlington"? No, the Five Aggregates are.

That's unbelievable. But it can be checked directly, that is, you can check. "You" is just a convenient way of referring to the Aggregates. Meditating (watching, observing, knowing) changes everything.

If we begin to sense the truth -- non-duality, interdependence, oneness, the unity of all things -- it can feel like all that came before was not real. But it was real in its own domain. Both things are true. But it is the ultimate truth that holds more significance.

So when the Buddha and teachers say things from that point of view, they have to be considered from that point of view to avoid confusion.

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