.If you show hypocrisy -- even to animals-- they know, oh my owner isn't really sincere.. - His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama, Speaking on Ethics, Delhi University, India, 3/21/2012
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I recently published a link to an article about the Dalai Lama connecting Buddhism with Quantum Theory. Subsequently, I followed embedded links in that article to understand it at a deeper level. I wanted to explore those aspects that showed how it relates to my latest book and how it relates to meditation, in general.
To wit, this quote, gave me an opportunity to connect the two aspects above, "There is broad agreement, even in some Western philosophical schools, that language is limited to the everyday level of understanding and that the truth of "reality" (Nirvana) is beyond the reach of language and of the conceptualization that makes language possible.
"In other words, that anything that is not conceptual in nature cannot be expressed through verbal elaborations or through any other kind of sign. In other words, what is non-conceptual in nature cannot be known indirectly, and knowledge gained through language is always mediated and indirect."
Let's take a closer look.
If we think of realty as something we can only point to with language but cannot experience directly, we have the essence of this point. If those who pray and meditate among us think about how difficult it is to stop the internal narrative in our minds and realize that the narrative is a linguistic process, we grasp the practical meaning of this point.
What remains for me is the issue of reality. What is its nature? If we are bound up in what Heidegger called the "house of being," that is language, and the true of nature reality cannot be experienced directly, why not?
Cognitive scientist Donald D. Hoffman, a professor of cognitive science at the University of California, Irvine, explains that "getting at questions about the nature of reality, and disentangling the observer from the observed, is an endeavor that straddles the boundaries of neuroscience and fundamental physics."
This from the same article as the quote above, by Amanda Gefter, "Dr. Hoffman explains, 'There's a metaphor that's only been available to us in the past 30 or 40 years, and that's the desktop interface. Suppose there's a blue rectangular icon on the lower right corner of your computer's desktop--does that mean the file itself is blue and rectangular and lives in the lower right corner of your computer? Of course, not. But those are the only things that can be asserted about anything on the desktop--it has color, position, and shape. Those are the only categories available to you, and yet none of them are true about the file itself or anything in the computer. They couldn't possibly be true.
That's an interesting thing. You could not form a true description of the innards of the computer if your entire view of reality was confined to the desktop. And yet the desktop is useful. That blue rectangular icon guides my behavior, and it hides a complex reality that I don't need to know. That's the key idea. Evolution has shaped us with perceptions that allow us to survive. They guide adaptive behaviors. But part of that involves hiding from us the stuff we don't need to know. And that's pretty much all of reality, whatever reality might be'.
So, as we cannot envision the actual "innards" or the insides of our computers by seeing the user interface, we cannot envision the actual "innards" of reality. We do not see the actual nature of the electrons that make up the computer file any more than we see the actual reality of our universe.
If you're religious, you might say that meditation and prayer are attempts to experience God. If not, you might say they're attempts to experience the true nature of reality. Either way, we should learn to respect each other's journey toward a common destination that goes by many names.