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pic_20.gif (14464 bytes) Having looked at the aim of enquiry, let us now consider the means for attaining that aim. What is the method used to find this knowledge? In Buddhism, the method for finding the truth is threefold.
First, awareness of experience must be direct and impartial.
Impartial awareness of experience is awareness of things as they are. Buddhism stresses the value of seeing the truth right from the very first awareness: when eye sees sights, ear hears sounds, and so on.

For most human beings, this is already a problem. Awareness is usually in accordance with the way people would like things to be, or as they think they are, not as they really are. They cannot see things the way they are because of mistakes, distortions, biases, and misconceptions.

Seconaly, there must be ordered thinking, or thinking that is systematic.
In addition to a method for cognizing data in an accurate way, there must also be an accurate way of thinking.
Thirdly , our method for verifying the truth, or researching knowledge, is through direct experience.

How to ensure that the cognition of experience will be unbiased? In general, whenever human beings cognize experience, there are certain values which are immediately involved. Right here, at the very first arising of awareness, there is already the problem of whether the experienced is free of these values or not.

b17.gif (6061 bytes) What are these values? The events which enter into our field of awareness will possess different qualities, causing either pleasant or unpleasant feelings. All of our experiences will be like this. If it's pleasant, we call it happiness, while if it is unpleasant, we call it suffering.

When awareness arises, and we experience a pleasant feeling, the workings of the mind will immediately proceed to liking or disliking. We call it 'delight and aversion', or love and hate. Cognition of sensations therefore has characteristics of affinity or antipathy and delight and aversion incorporated  into it. People build these reactions into habits from the day they are born, making them extremely fluent. As soon as an experience is cognized, these values of comfort, discomfort or indifference, immediately follow, and from there to love or hate, delight or aversion.

After the arising of delight, aversion, like, dislike, or love or hate, there is thinking in accordance with and under the  influence of these feelings. If there is attraction, thinking will take on one form; if there is repulsion, thinking will take another form. Because if this, experience is distorted, swayed or biased. Awareness is false, there is proliferation and choice in the collection of data. Only some perspectives are seen, not  others, and so the knowledge that arises as a result is not clear or comprehensive. In short, awareness is not of things as they really are.

pic_20.jpg (19982 bytes) For that reason, in Buddhism we say that we must establish ourselves correctly from the beginning. There must be awareness of things as they are, awareness with sati (recollection, or mindfulness), neither delighting nor being averse. Experiences must be perceived with an aware mind, the mind of a student, let's say, or the mind of an observer, not with a mind that is loving and hating.

How do we cognize with a mind that is learning? In brief, there are two ways to cognize with a learning mind:

images(5)5.gif (665 bytes) Cognizing by seeing the truth:

that is, to be aware of things as they are, not being swayed and distorted by the powers of delight and aversion, love or hate. This is a pure kind of awareness, bare perception of experience without the addition of any value-judgements. This is referred to in the scriptures as ''perceiving just enough for the development of wisdom (nnn.gif (73 bytes)a.gif (845 bytes)na)'', that is, just enough to know and understand the experience as it is, and for the presence of recollection (sati), that is, in order to collect data. Specifically, this is to see things according to their causes and conditions.

images(5)5.gif (665 bytes) Cognizing in a beneficial way:

that is, cognizing in conjunction with a skilful value, one that will be truly useful, rather than in order to cater for, pander to or frustrate the senses. This is to perceive experiences in such away as to be able to make use of them all, both the liked and the disliked.

This second kind of knowing can be enlarged on thus: experience is a natural function of life, and life is involved with the natural environment in order to benefit from it. But in order for life to benefit from experiences, we must perceive them correctly. That is, there must be a conscious attempt to  perceive in such a way as to see only the perspective that will be of benefit in solving problems and leading to development in life. Otherwise, awareness will be merely a tool for satisfying the sense-desires, or, if not, then a cause for frustrating the sense-desires, and any benefit will be lost. This kind of awareness perceives experiences in such a way as to make use of  them. No matter whether experiences are good, evil, comfortable   or not, they can all be used in a beneficial way. It all depends on whether we learn how to perceive them properly or not.

In this case, where our aim is to find out the truth, we must  emphasize the first kind of awareness. In this awareness, if the wrong channels are avoided, the effects of delight and aversion do not occur, and awareness will be of the learning variety.

This kind of awareness is very important in studying or learning. We must begin our learning right at the first moment of awareness. In Buddhism this point is greatly stressed – cognizing in order to learn, not in order to indulge in like or dislike, or to feed sense desires. Science may not speak about this in so many words, or emphasize it, but if the aim is to perceive the truth, this method is essential.

The second factor in attaining knowledge is right thinking. This means thinking that is structured, reasoned and in harmony with causes and conditions. In Buddhist scriptures many ways of thinking are mentioned, collectively known as yoniso-manasika.gif (845 bytes)ra, or skilful reflection, Skilful reflection is an important factor in the development of Right View, understanding or vision in accordance with reality. This is to see things according to their causes and conditions, or to understand the principle of causes and conditions. some of the kinds of skilful refection explained in the texts are: 

images(5)5.gif (665 bytes) Searching for causes and conditions:

This kind of thinking was of prime importance in the Buddha's enlightenment. For example, the Buddha investigated vedana.gif (845 bytes), the experience of pleasure and pain, by asking “On what do these feelings of pleasure and pain depend? What is their condition?'' Reflecting in this way, the Buddha saw that phassa, sense contact, is the condition for feeling. “Now what is the condition for phassa?” The Buddha saw that the six sense bases are the condition for phassa... and so on. This is an example of thinking according to causes and conditions.

images(5)5.gif (665 bytes) Thinking by way of analysis:

Life as a human organism can be analysed into two main constituents, body and mind. Body and mind can both be further analysed. Mind, for example, can be analysed into vedana.gif (845 bytes) (feeling), sannn.gif (73 bytes)nnn.gif (73 bytes)a.gif (845 bytes) (perception), san.gif (66 bytes)kha.gif (845 bytes)ra (volitional activities), and vinnn.gif (73 bytes)nnn.gif (73 bytes)a.gif (845 bytes)na (consciousness), and each of these categories can be further divided down into even smaller constituents. Feeling, for example, can be divided into three kinds, five kinds, six kinds and more. This is called ‘thinking by analysing constituents',which is a way of breaking up the overall picture or system so that the causes and conditions involved can be more easily seen.

images(5)5.gif (665 bytes) Thinking in terms of benefit and harm:

This is to look at things in the light of their quality, seeing the ways in which they benefit or harm us, not looking exclusively at their benefit or their harm. Most people tend to see only the benefits of things that they like, and only the faults of the things they don't like. But Buddhism looks at things from all perspectives, teaching us to see both the benefit and the harm in them.

These different kinds of thinking, about ten are mentioned in the scriptures, are known as yoniso-manasika.gif (845 bytes)ra, They are a very important part of the Buddhist way to truth.

In its broadest sense, thinking also includes the way we perceive things, and so it includes the level of initial awareness, and, like those forms of awareness, can also be divided into two main groups – that is, thinking in order to see the truth, and thinking in a way that is beneficial. However I will not expand on the subject at this point as it would take up too much time.

Continuing on, the third method for attaining the truth in Buddhism is that of verifying through personal experience. One of the important principles of Buddhism is that the truth Can be known and verified through observation as a dierect experience (sanditthiko, paccattam.gif (73 bytes) veditabbo vinnn.gif (73 bytes)nnn.gif (73 bytes)u.gif (65 bytes)hi). See, for example, the Ka.gif (845 bytes)la.gif (845 bytes)masutta mentioned earlier, in which the Buddha advises the Ka.gif (845 bytes)la.gif (845 bytes)mas not to simply believe in things, summarizing that “when you have seen for yourself which conditions are skilful and which unskilful, then strive to develop the skilful and to give up the unskilful.” This Teaching clearly illustrates the practice that is based on personal experience.

Looking at the story of the Buddha, we can see that he was Using this method throughout his practice. When he first left his place in search of enlightenment, he practised according to the practices and methods which were practised a that time... asceticism, yoha, trances and the rest. Even when he went to live in the forest, the practices he undertook were all ways of  experimenting. For example, the Buddha told of how he went to live alone in wild jungles, so that he could experiment with fear. In the deep hours of the night, a branch would crack and fear would arise. The Buddha would always look for the causes of the fear. No matter what posture he happened to be in, if fear arose, he would maintain that posture until he had overcome it. Most people would have run for their lives! The Buddha didn’t run he stayed still until he had overcome the problem. Another example of the Buddha’s experimentation was with good and bad thoughts. The Buddha experimented with his thinking until he was able to make unskilful thouthts subside.

b04.gif (24366 bytes) The Buddha used the method of personal experience Throughout his practice. And when he was teaching his disciples, he taught them to assess the teacher closely before Believing him, because faith must always be a vehicle for the development of wisdom. The Buddha taught to closely assess teachers, even the Buddha himself, both from the perspective of whether he was teaching the truth, and also in the sense of the purity of the teacher’s intentions.

Testing the teacher’s knowledge can be done through considering the plausibility of the teaching. Testing the teacher’s intentions can be done by considering the teaching’s intentions in teachings. Does this teacher give his teaching out of desire for a personal reward? Does he want any gift or personal gain, other than the benefit of the listener, for his Teaching? If, after assessing the teacher, one still has confidence  in him, then one can receive the teachings. This assessment and evaluation proceeds through all the levels of  the teacher-disciple relationship.

We could also look into the teaching of the Fore Foundations of Mindfulness, which emphasizes insight meditation.   When we are practicing insight meditation, we must always consider and reflect on the experiences that come into our awareness, as they arise. Whether a pleasant feeling or unpleasant feeling arises, whether the mind is depressed or elated, the Buddha taught to look into it and note its arising, its faring and its passing away. Even in the highest stages of practice, when assessing to see whether one is enlightened or nor, we are told to look directly into our own hearts, seeing whether there is still greed, hatred and delusion or not, rather than looking for special or miraculous signs.

b07.gif (9777 bytes) Because the emphasis and field of research in Buddhism and science differ in terms of observation, experiment and verification, results in the two fields will differ. Science strives to observe events solely in the physical universe, using the five senses, with the objective of manipulating the external physical  world. In the language of Buddhism we might say that science is expert in the fiends of utuniya.gif (845 bytes)ma (physical laws) and bi.gif (57 bytes)janiya.gif (845 bytes)ma (biological laws).

Buddhism, on the other hand, emphasizes the study of the human organism, accepting experiences through all of the senses, including the sixth sense, mind. The objective of Buddhist practice is to attain the highest good and an understanding of the truth of nature. Even before the objective is reached, there is redressing of problems and advances in human development. For that reason, Buddhism has many teachings and methods dealing with observation, experimentation and verification of mental phenomena and in relation to human behaviour. In Buddhist terminology we would say that Buddhism has its strength in the fiends of kammaniya.gif (845 bytes)ma (moral laws) and cittaniya.gif (845 bytes)ma (psychic laws).

If it were possible to incorporate the respective fields of  expertise of both science and Buddhism, bringing the fruits of their labours together, we might arrive at a balanced way for leading human development to a higher level.

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