Monday, June 30, 2008

Dharma Quote - Buddhist Contemplative Empiricism

Here is a good dharma quote from B. Alan Wallace's Contemplative Science. This passage pretty much sums up the thesis of this fine book -- and the nature of Buddhist practice.
As noted in the previous account of Gautama's initial training with Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, from the very origins of Buddhism there has been a strong emphasis on the primacy of experience, or "direct knowledge," over conceptual inference, metaphysical speculation, or simple belief. This is reflected in the common response by the disciples of the Buddha to others who expressed an interest in his teachings: "Come and see!" (ehi passi). This emphasis entailed rigorous training in ethics and attentional training, which can reasonably be viewed as experiments in altering one's lifestyle and modes of attention. Buddhist contemplatives then trained in using their finely honed attention to observe and analyze a wide range of inner and outer phenomena. If a mode of inquiry is deemed empirical if it is based on experiment and observation rather than theory alone, then Buddhist "insight" (vipasyana) meditation can be regarded as highly empirical. However, a major difference between Buddhist, contemplative empiricism and scientific, technological empiricism is that the latter involves quantitative measurements and sophisticated mathematical analysis, resulting in the formulation of precise mathematical laws of nature. Buddhist empiricism, in contrast, is qualitative rather than quantitative, and it is primarily concerned with understanding and transforming conscious experience, rather than understanding and controlling the objective world that exists independently of it. (pg. 76)
This is why I am a Buddhist.

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