We think we understand, more-or-less, what the world we’re living in is. But do we?
In the past, our species has made some big mistakes. Let’s take an obvious example. People used to think the sun went around the Earth and that the Earth was flat. We know now that we were wrong about that. We know because when we do the calculations, it makes a whole lot more sense to say the Earth is a sphere that orbits the sun. Then we built some spaceships and confirmed this was true.
We’ve come to believe and respect science because it works very well. It provides us with a set of assumptions that are exponentially better than the assumptions we relied on before.
Science is good. Science is better than religion. That is undeniable.
But we can rely on what’s happened in the past as an indicator of what things will be like in the future, at least in very general terms. It is inevitable that there will come a time when our current ideas about things will be looked upon as quaint and naïve. Some of what we all believe now will one day seem horrifyingly absurd. We will understand that people suffered terribly because we got things wrong.
I’m not talking just about the obvious stuff, like all this transgender bathroom bullshit. I’m talking about stuff that even the most forward thinking people among us believe without questioning. It is unpredictable what specifically these things will be. But it is absolutely certain this will happen.
One of the things we attempt to do in meditation is to transcend all of our assumptions. In one sense this is impossible. The thinking mind works by building upon assumptions. You can’t get away from that.
But another thing Buddhist theory posits is that one can have an experience that is beyond the thinking mind. Not only that, it says that we are always having experiences that are beyond the thinking mind. It’s just that when we describe them to each other, we can only do so by relying upon the stuff of thought.
So while we cannot avoid assumptions of some sort when relaying information to each other, our real experience moment-by-moment always occurs outside the realm of thought.
There are times during meditation that you start to see through your assumptions. Not just through your assumptions that chocolate ice cream tastes better than strawberry ice cream. I mean that you see through your most basic assumptions about how everything works — what your body is, what your mind is, what thought is, what literally all of this is. You see that your core assumptions are all wrong. You see that even reliable scientific explanations of the universe are as mistaken as everything else. They have some utility in maneuvering through life, but fundamentally they are not quite right.
This can be devastating if it happens too quickly or under the wrong circumstances. It’s not something to be taken lightly. If it happens too fast you can be rendered unable to function with others at all. So don’t mess around with it.
Yet there is good reason to make the effort to transcend thought. Our survival into the future as a species will depend on our ability to do this.
If we can’t, we’re fucked.
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Check out my podcast with Pirooz Kalayeh, ONCE AGAIN ZEN!
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July 1, 2016 Cleveland, Ohio Zero Defex at Now That’s Class!
July 4, 2016 Cleveland, Ohio Zero Defex TBA
July 8, 2016 Seattle, Washington EastWest Bookshop 7:30pm Talk & Book Signing
July 9, 2016 Seattle, Washington EastWest Bookshop 10am-3pm Workshop
September 10-11, 2016 Belfast, Northern Ireland 2-Day Retreat
September 14, 2016 Belfast, Northern Ireland Zazen and Discussion
September 16-17, 2016 Dublin, Ireland 3-Day Retreat
September 22-25, 2016 Hebden Bridge, England, 4-Day Retreat
September 27, 2016 – Wimbledon, London, England – Talk and Q&A
September 29-October 2, 2016 Helsinki, Finland, 4-Day Retreat
October 3, 2016 Turku, Finland, Talk at the University
October 4-5, Stockholm, Sweden, Talk and 1-Day-Retreat
October 7, 2016 Berlin, Germany Zenlab
October 14, 2016 Munich, Germany, Lecture
October 15-16, 2016 Munich, Germany, 2-Day Retreat
October 23-28, 2016 Benediktushof Meditation Centrum (near Würzburg, Germany) 5-Day Retreat
MORE EUROPEAN DATES TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON!
Every Monday at 8pm there’s zazen at Silverlake Yoga Studio 2 located at 2810 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039. Beginners only!
Every Saturday at 10:00 am (NEW TIME!) there’s zazen at the Veteran’s Memorial Complex located at 4117 Overland Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. Beginners only!
These on-going events happen every week even if I am away from Los Angeles. Plenty more info is available on the Dogen Sangha Los Angeles website, dsla.info
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