My Zen and Empiricism
November 24, 2013 2 Comments
Zen, originally Ch’an , is a practice within the frame work of Buddhism and ancient Chinese-Asian philosophies. Zen practice includes meditation, experiential learning and academically deconstructing language (if it is assumed that language is a vehicle of truth). Thus with Zen, the importance of doctrine and texts falls below the former in priority.
The Buddhist presence in Zen is found Zen’s
- to let go bad ideas and attachments;
- to be with the true nature of things; events; happenings… or “Buddha-Nature” ;
- to end or reduce angst and suffering.
Inferred from ancient Asian influences, of early Taoist philosophy: the best way for one to experience the nature of things, is to focus on the present moment at hand.– the here and now.
Kill the Buddha
If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha.
If you meet your father, kill your father.
Only live your life as it is,
Not bound to anything
-attribute to Gautama Buddha.
The allegory’s rhetorical purpose is to encourage one not to rely on the teachings of others. If one conceptualizes “the Buddha” or Dharma in the teachings of one text, one teacher or one master, then one should destroy that picture. One practices to become , or to find his or her own “Buddha”. More accurately, One strives to be with his or her own true nature, or “Buddha-nature” with meditation and experience. Experience includes interpersonal activity (that may include listening or working with others), Zen as is largely a personal study and practice, first.
Depreciating dogma and grand teachings, Zen, or at least my Zen, takes on an agnostic nature.
Outside the social order of Buddhism as religion, many Zen Buddhist or Zennist practice a personal Zen that is often combined with other studies.
My Zen practice is secular in nature. my Zen is combined with Natural Science and Humanistic Psychology
Zen, Rogers and the Rest..
Humanistic psychologist and philanthropist Carl Rogers often cited early Taoism (*), the Ancient Chinese philosophy that influenced Ch’an. Fritz Perls co-founder of Gestalt Therapy studied Zen in Japan (although not entirely impressed with zen (*)) as much as he conversed in European coffee houses. . Writer/lecturer Allan Watts, shared his ideas from Zen Buddhism, Ancient Taoism and psychology, as they applied to contemporary living. Twentieth Century writers in the studies of both Eastern and Western philosophies and psychology drew from Zen Buddhism, Taoism, the works of Danish thinker Kierkegaard amongst others.
The experiential nature of Zen is an easy synthesis with the methods of Humanistic Psychology, where both clients and enthusiasts are encouraged to understand how they experience their environment. Zen and H.P agree on the concept of organism and field connectivity… I would say both are the study of being. To use big words of academic philosophy Zen practice and Humanistic Psychologies use methods of Ontological Empiricism or “phenomenology“. All this really means is that when one is practising or applying these awkwardly termed approaches , one seeks to understand his own nature, in real time as it happens. Zen is personal in method.
Zen and Scientific Investigations
I believe that as studies, Natural Science, in particular Physics, and Zen have similar aims. Both theorize that the way the universe happens has a structure… a constant and common underlying nature to everything and nothing. Natural Law, Tao, or Buddha Nature pick your words, Nature is illusive. Both Science and Zen aim to investigate the nature of the happening universe by Empirical means. Science uses rigorous testing while all the time remaining as objective as possible, zen is a more personal introspection. Humanistic psychology with its “phenomenological approach” also uses personal investigations, all the while “bracketing” or reducing bias and judgement that obscure ones own interpretation of Reality .’
A Not So Perfect Synthesis
The true nature of things, even with bracketed personal experience, meditation and scientific evidence can be incredibly hard to pin at times. Even with all the evidence of this constancy it still requires a bit of Kierkegaardian Leap of Faith. What this means, for me is, I don’t treat all circumstances and all people the same. If this sounds contradictory, hear me out:
Its impossible to use a single strategy or approach for every circumstance, every interpersonal gestalt…. I suspect: too many variables and people are too different. So I am, at times, a pluralist, in the William James vein when I am problem-solving. For Example, Conversing between peers in mental health management We often say “What works for one person may not work for the next:. Its the best I can do. I’ll save my pragmatic and localized problem-solving approach for another post,
What happens, Now
So I usually describe myself accurately as an “agnostic”, for those who find labels important and for those who ask, but that never seems satisfying. Being Agnostic? that really applies to the limitation of knowledge, a knowledge that fundamentally rested upon what humans can experience. (We can’t even be sure if anything known can be described outside the bracket of human experience -IMO)
Tongue Firmly in cheek… I will now introduce l myself as an “Empiricist” when prompted.
and we’ll see what happens. :)