Sunday, November 20, 2011

How do we ascertain any view is right or wrong?

Question from someone in a forum: -

How do we know whether a particular view is right or wrong? Hence it is first and foremost to know "How do we know whether a data is NOT garbage data?" => "How do we know whether a particular view is right or wrong?" Kindly enlighten me.

My attempted answer that was not replied to the questioner but only posted here: -

1) Adopt an “auditor’s” mindset so that you don’t listen to only views of one particular side/view or tradition. Be open and independent (i.e. do not be judgmental) in your attitude. Listen to any view that comes. In Buddhist texts, this is explained by the analogy of the 3 kinds of vessels. This is referring to the vessel that is already full or contain toxic water inside. Whatever additional nectar poured into it will spill out or will be equally poisonous. The vessel should also not be upside down, i.e. you are not ready to be open and consider that view could be possibly true. A leaking vessel is when we hear a particualr view but dismiss it almost immediately, without any proper analysis.

2) Then subject the “view” to the tests much like the scientific lab tests that a scientist performs to verify and confirm his theory. By “testing”, it involves comparing, contrasting and analysis of the consequences, and other research on that view. In spiritual context, this means,

a) testing it against existing views from the classical spiritual texts and great masters.
b) testing it against common sense,
c) testing it against other religions views
d) testing it against scientific theories
e) research on the epistemology, ontology and other aspects of that view
f) put the view to practice and see what is the end results. This is called “walking the path to know its destination”. But one must be careful in case the destination proves to be the wrong one and it may be too late sometimes to pull out or back track.

 Notice that testing does not involve “asking the guru” because “testing” does not involve merely believing something. If you want to test something, you must put aside your devotion and all other personal views. “Auditor’s mindset” mentioned above is important.

3) We need blessings from the Buddhas and lots of positive karma. Without these, you will not be able to understand the “right view” even if it is presented to you on a golden plate. There is also the likelihood of misinterpreting the view or coming to the wrong conclusion even after all the tests done. The less delusion you have, the more likelihood you will come to the right conclusion. This third factor is the “unknown or variable” factor and is common in almost all equations. Hence, the importance of engaging in meritorious deeds, purification and repentance practices (i.e. cutting down on our negative actions, purifying our mind) and doing our preliminaries well before any realization can happen.

I hope this helps. The above are only my sincere attempt to answer and if you think it is not correct, please then ignore it as if you did not read it. May everyone be well and happy.

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