Gaia is the word for "unity-of-life-processes". The experiment here is to unify the various threads of voice and sense of self together into an undivided unity. Spirituality, economics, politics, science and ordinary life interleaved.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Critical thinking about altruism is the start of happiness.

I read the Dalai Lama today. I know a lot intellectually about buddhism now, but his call for open-minded skepticism reminds me that I need to think critically about the teachings and reach my own conclusions. Furthermore, I need to test the teachings of happiness against reason and experience, to see if they work.

The basic idea of mahayana buddhism is that altruism is the source of happiness in human beings. But the careful, sober and sensitive reasoning is far more subtle than I am accustomed to comprehending. I do not feel that I have understood. I feel familiar with the ideas yet I do not feel that I grasp the whole that the complex of buddhist ideas signifies.

All my attempts to reason on my own sound premature to me. I am like the blind man that feels the elephant's trunk and declares that it is a snake. What is most interesting is that I have read this teaching (on the 8 thoughts to transform the mind) before, and reflected on it as far as I could the first time I read it eight weeks ago. So my sense of challenge in this second reading signifies that the teachings have not altered, but that I have.


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