Thursday, June 8, 2017

Experience and Religion

Assume you start out with meditation.

Presumably, you first read a book on buddhism, or attend a retreat or a yoga class. Then you sit down and do your thing.

Surprise, surprise! You find out that all thing are empty and void of self, that life is dukkha, and nothing is permanent.

The big question is: Looking inside, focusing on your breath -- what would you have found out, had you not read that book first?


This is a real pickle. You can never be sure whether the insights you purportedly gained from your own experience are really yours, or just something you learned from others.

In buddhism, the experiences you have in meditation are always interpreted as evidence that the dharma is true. That is religious bullshit, in all its devastating glory.

Do you REALLY think that everything is impermanent etc.? Does that REALLY follow from your own experience? In almost all cases, I'm fairly confident that the answer to that is a resounding "no". At the very least, it would probably not lead to ideas of karma, reincarnation, and  boddhisattvas in bright robes...

You can derive, from the very same experience, that there is an eternal, albeit anonymous, self that watches everything. You can also derive that you are a brain in a vat.

I think that it is highly important, eventually, to liberate yourself from the teachings, and start to actually look at your own experience.

I wonder what this means for religions other than buddhism, too.

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