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.
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.
How do we cognize with a mind that is learning? In brief, there are two ways to cognize with a learning mind:
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-manasikra, 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:
These different kinds of thinking, about ten are mentioned in the scriptures, are known as yoniso-manasikra, 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, paccatta veditabbo vihi). See, for example, the Klmasutta mentioned earlier, in which the Buddha advises the Klmas 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 didnt run he stayed still until he had overcome the problem. Another example of the Buddhas experimentation was with good and bad thoughts. The Buddha experimented with his thinking until he was able to make unskilful thouthts subside.
Testing the teachers knowledge can be done through considering the plausibility of the teaching. Testing the teachers intentions can be done by considering the teachings 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.
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 kammaniyma (moral laws) and cittaniyma (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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