Existentialism and Zen Buddhism (Antiknowing schools?!)


Those who adopt an existential posture typically express the conviction that human beings can never be certain of anything beyond the sheer fact of their own existence. What human beings assert that they know is wholly capricious and unreliable. The subjective quality of the process of knowing is seen by the existentialist as inevitable. When we claim to “know” something, the “knowing” seems to be rather an intuitive grasp that has, or can be given, personal significance. There is nothing stable or objective about it. It is neither rational nor empirical  in the traditional sense. To state that one knows is merely to express a personal affirmation that may shift or change at random with no outside criteria by which it may be evaluated or criticised. It boils down to this: Truth is what I affirm it to be. It is for this reason that there can be no existential theory or system of of knowledge. It is for this reason that non-existentialists are likely to apply, and existentialists not likely to reject, the label “irrationalists.” Continue reading

Intuition, Mysticism, and Revelation

IntuitionIntuition: The idea of mysticism can be defined as the belief that the most reliable source of knowledge or truth is intuition rather than reason, sense experience, or the scientific method. The mystic maintains that immediate and true knowledge is attained through a direct awareness that does not depend on systematic mental activity or sense impressions.
A reasoned explanation of mysticism is difficult and probably unfair, for the mystical awareness, while true and basic for those who have had it, is held to be incommunicable. The literature of mysticism is full of references to “the inner light,” “spiritual rebirth,” “the peace that passed all understanding,” Continue reading

Empiricism in brief

empricismThe Search for knowledge that is both absolute and certain has been fervent and continuous. However, since at least the time of Aristotle, there has been a strong epistemological tradition based solely on human experience, not directed toward the possibility of achieving absolute knowledge. This tradition is exemplified in the doctrine of empiricism. Empiricists argue that it is unreasonable to set a goal of absolute and all-inclusive knowledge — especially when there is close at hand the power to increase practical knowledge by slower but dependable methods. Empiricists are content to build a system of knowledge that has a high probability of being true even though its absolute certainty cannot be guaranteed. Empiricists find that high probability is a stable and realistic foundation for the knowledge accessible to human beings. Continue reading

Freedom and Determinism

free will Questions to consider: Am I a creature of fate, of gigantic forces beyond my control? Am I a mysterious mixture of body and spirit, part determined and part free? Am I an electronic computer programmed by my environment? Is my feeling of being free to shape my future just an illusion? Is it fair to punish a boy for stealing when his parents taught him to steal? Does it make sense to say that a person could have chosen to act other than the way he or she actually did act? If every idea a person expresses is strictly determined, why philosophize? Continue reading

Natural behaviour & Social behaviour

dan65…Yet on closer examination, one can recognize a significant difference between laws regulating natural behaviour and those regulating social behaviour. The difference between the natural and social orders lies in the fact that  while the former is subject to laws of necessity, the latter is affected by laws of freedom. Things behave in accordance with specific patterns out of sheer necessity; the relation between things are therefore based on the principle of causality, whereby every element of nature interacts with every other element in a cause-and-effect manner. Continue reading

Language, Mind , and Reality (Expression, Reference, and Referent)

reality-illusion-450x270…Expressions are used here to denote linguistic symbols or words. Expressions meditate between the objects of the existential world and their image in the human mind, thereby making social communication possible. Language therefore plays a dual role. It first serves as a means of communication, thereby making social interaction possible. Continue reading

John Locke and Revelation

john lokceLocke is among very few Western thinkers who confronted the question of revelation directly. Toward the end of his book Locke examines the significance of revelation as a source of knowledge. While considering Divine revelation to be, in principle, a source of certain knowledge, he defines its authority in such a manner that it is assigned a very marginal and subordinate role among the sources of knowledge. To begin with Locke argues that knowledge acquired by human reasoning is more certain that knowledge received through revelation. For while one may doubt the preservation of original revelation through the act of narration, or question the lack of means for validating or substantiating its content, Continue reading

Contrasting ideas on “Causality” (Ghazzali, David Hume, and Ibn Rushd)

Ghazzali Ibn Rushd’s refutation of Ghazzali, is not confined to the mode of argument they employed in the study of divinity, but also to the one that used for understanding nature. In the book Tahafut al-Falasifa (The Incoherence of the Philosophers), Ghazzali, though accepting natural sciences studied by philosophers, rejects four notions the philosophers utilized in their study. One of these notions is the principle of causality. Ghazzali rejects in particular the existence of necessary connection between cause and effect. As he puts it: Continue reading

Zen: Taste the food, not your tongue!

 pie_blueHuman mind consists primarily and originally in action — in living in the concrete world of “suchness.” But we have the power to control action by reflection, that is, by thinking, by comparing the actual world with memories or “reflections.” Memories are organized in terms of more or less abstract images — words, signs, simplified shapes, and other symbols which can be reviewed very rapidly one after another. from such memories, reflections, and symbols the mind constructs its idea of itself. This corresponds to the thermostat — the source of information about its own past action by which the system corrects itself. The mind-body must, of course, trust the information in order to act, for paralysis will soon result from trying to remember whether we have remembered everything accurately. Continue reading

Zen: Eternal Present and Timeless Mind

meditationZen is a liberation from time. For if we open our eyes and see clearly, it becomes obvious that there is no other time than this instant, and that the past and future are abstractions without any concrete reality. Until this has become clear, it seems that our life is all past and future, and that the present is nothing more than the infinitesimal hairline which divides them. From this come the sensation of “having no time,”of a world which hurries by so rapidly that it is gone before we can enjoy it. But through “awakening to the instant” one sees that this is the reverse of the truth: Continue reading

Hierarchy of epistemic concepts (13 steps)

brainLet’s start with definition of some important terms.

Epistemological questions: “What can I know? How can I distinguish those things I am justified in believing from those things I am not justified in believing? And how can I decide whether I am more justified in believing one thing than in believing another?”

Philosophical skeptics: There are philosophers who doubt whether there is anything that we can know. They also doubt, therefore, whether it is possible for us to find out whether there is anything that we can know. Continue reading

Avicenna’s proof of God and its corollary

AvicennaFrom al-Farabi, Avicenna (Ibn Sina) inherited the Neo-Platonic emanationist scheme of existence. Contrary to the classical Muslim theologians, he rejected creation ex nihilo and argued that cosmos has no beginning but is a natural logical product of the divine One. The super-abundant, pure Good that is the One cannot fail to produce an ordered and good cosmos that does not succeed him in time. The cosmos succeeds God merely in logical order and in existence. Consequently, Avicenna is well known as the author of one an important and influential proof for the existence of God. This proof is a good example of a philosopher’s intellect being deployed for a theological purpose, as was common in medieval philosophy. The argument runs as follows: Continue reading

Hegel and the Persian

Hegel and persian empireHEGEL, GEORG WILHELM FRIEDRICH, eminent German idealist philosopher (b. Stuttgart, 1770; d. Berlin, 1831). Hegel belongs to the tradition of the German Romantic thinkers who revolutionized German thought and literature, and he depicts his position as the dialectical climax of the intellectual endeavors of civilized humanity. The influence of Iranian civilization is apparent in two of Hegel’s major works. In “The Philosophy of History” there is an extensive treatment of the Zoroastrian Iranian civilization, Continue reading

David Hume’s critique of causality


david humeThe medieval synthesis Thomas Aquinas (1224–74) forged between Christian theology and Aristotle’s science and metaphysics set the terms for the early modern causation debate. Aristotle (384–322 BCE) drew an absolute categorical distinction between scientific knowledge (scientia) and belief (opinio). Scientific knowledge was knowledge of causes and scientific explanation consisted in demonstration—proving the necessary connection between a cause and its effect from intuitively obvious premises independently of experience. Continue reading

Hafez and Goethe


GOETHE, JOHANN WOLFGANG von (1749-1832), the most renowned poet of German literature, was already from his youth deeply interested in the East and in Islam. He planned to write a drama about Moḥammad, as witnessed by the poem Mahomets-Gesang. But it was not until later, during his period of romanticism, that the poet devoted his attention to the literature and history of Persia. Goethe considered literature (language) and religion as the best aids to discovering other cultures. Continue reading

Descartes: The Mind-Body Problem


One of the deepest and most lasting legacies of Descartes’ philosophy is his thesis that mind and body are really distinct—a thesis now called “mind-body dualism.” He reaches this conclusion by arguing that the nature of the mind (that is, a thinking, non-extended thing) is completely different from that of the body (that is, an extended, non-thinking thing), and therefore it is possible for one to exist without the other. This argument gives rise to the famous problem of mind-body causal interaction still debated today: how can the mind cause some of our bodily limbs to move (for example, raising one’s hand to ask a question), and how can the body’s sense organs cause sensations in the mind when their natures are completely different? Continue reading

Central and Peripheral Vision of Mind

central and peripheral visionThe linear one-at-a-time character of speech and thought is particularly noticeable in all languages using alphabets, representing experience in long strings of letters. It is not easy to say why we must communicate with others (speak) and with ourselves (think) by this one-at-a-time method, life itself does not proceed in this cumbersome, linear fashion, and our own organisms could hardly live for a moment if they had to control themselves by taking thought of every breath, every beat of the heart, and every neutral impulse. Continue reading

“Sitting Meditation in Japanese Zen”, A religious practice or a method of keeping boys out of mischief?

zen meditationThe history of Chinese Zen raises one problem of great fascination. Both Rinzai and Soto Zen  as we find them in Japanese monasteries today put enormous emphasis on za-zen or sitting meditation, a practice which they follow for many hours of the day – attaching great importance to the correctness of posture and the way of breathing which it involves. To practice Zen is, to all intents and purposes, to practice za-zen, Continue reading

Introduction of Zen Schools into Japan

zen artHistorically, Zen may be regarded as the fulfillment of long traditions of Indian and Chinese culture, though it is actually much more Chinese than Indian, and since the twelfth century, it has rooted itself deeply and most creatively in the culture of Japan. The Rinzai School of Zen was introduced into Japan in 1911 by the Japanese T’ien-tai monk Eisai (1141-1215), who established monasteries at Kyoto and Kamakura Continue reading

Meditation in India versus the teachings of Sixth Patriarch in Zen Buddhism

Let’s start with the story  of Hui-neng, the Sixth patriarch of Zen Buddhism.

meditationThe Fifth Patriarch of Zen Buddhism – and here we begin to enter a more reliable chapter of history – was Hung-jen (601-675). Who was apparently the first of the patriarchs to have any large following, however, much overshadowed by his immediate successor Hui-neng (637-713), the sixth Patriarch, whose life and teaching mark the definitive beginning of truly Chinese Zen – of Zen as it flourished during what was later called “the epoch of Zen activity,” the latter two hundred years of the T’ang dynasty, from about 700 to 906. Continue reading

Roly-poly (the Japanese Daruma doll), the first tea plant, and another legend

darumaThe Chinese term Ch’an (Japanese reading: Zen) or Ch’an-na is a phonetic rendering of the Sanskrit Dhyana, which is usually translated in English as meditation. The traditional account of the origin of the Ch’an or Zen school is that the Buddha, in addition to his scriptures, possessed an esoteric teaching that was transmitted independently of written texts. This teaching he transmitted personally to one of his disciples, who in turn transmitted it to his own disciple. In this way, it was handed down until it reached Bodhidharma, who is supposed to have been the twenty-eighth Patriarch in India, and who came to China some time between 520 and 526, where he became the first Patriarch (ancestor) of the Continue reading

Mahayana Buddhism as opposed to Theravada, (an important difference)

mahayana 2The Mahayana distinguishes itself from the Buddhism of Pali Canon by terming the latter the little (hina) Vehicle (yana) of liberation and itself the great (maha) Vehicle – great because it comprises such a wealth of upaya, or methods for the realization of nirvana. A preliminary study of the Pali Canon will certainly give the impression that nirvana is to be realized only through rigorous effort and self-control, and that the aspirant should lay aside all other concerns for the pursuing of this ideal. Continue reading

Buddhism and its origins in brief

budd The danger of scholarship is always that, in extreme specialization, it may be unable to see the forest for the trees. But the problem of gaining some idea of the thought of India at the time of the Buddha, six centuries before Christ, is not to be solved by careful piece-work alone – necessary as this may be. There is, however, enough reliable information to suggest the grand and beautifully ordered form of Upanishadic Hinduism Continue reading

Creation and God in Indian Philosophy

god dast 2Fundamental to the life and thought of Indian from the very earliest times is the great mythological theme of atma-yajna—the act of “self-sacrifice” whereby God gives birth to the world, and whereby men, following the divine pattern, reintegrate themselves with God. The act by which the world is created is the same act by which it is consummated—the giving up of one’s life—as if the whole process of universe were the type of game in which it is necessary to pass on the ball as soon as it is received. Continue reading

It is man who makes truth great!

ConfuciusReasonable, unfanatical, humanistic, Confucianism is one of the most workable patterns of social convention that the world has known.
It is a basic Confucian principle that “It is man who makes truth great, not truth which makes man great.” For this reason “humanness” or “human-heartedness” is always feels to be superior to righteousness, since man himself is greater than any idea which he may invent. There are times when men’s passions are much more trustworthy than their principles. Since opposed principles or ideologies, are irreconcilable, wars fought over principle will be wars of mutual annihilation. But wars fought for simple greed will be far less destructive, because the aggressor will be careful not to destroy what he is fighting to capture. Continue reading

The Tao and usual Western idea of God

 dan95The important difference between the Tao and the usual idea of God is that whereas God produces the world by “making”, the Tao produces it by “not-making” — which is approximately what we mean by “growing”. For things made are separate parts put together, like machines, or things fashioned from without inwards, like sculptures. Whereas things grown divide themselves into parts, from within outwards. Because the natural universe works mainly according to the principles of growth, it would seem quite odd to the Chinese mind to ask how it was made. Continue reading

Multicultural & Cross/Inter-cultural (Definitions and more)

culture 1Introduction:
Sometimes people are shocked by behaviour they feel shows a lack of “common sense”. Clearly, something that makes sense to members of one culture may make no sense at all to members of another. Sometimes seems incredibly naïve to speak of acceptance, tolerance and empathy in a world that seems increasingly marked by a return to radical tribalism and various aggressive fundamentalisms which claim to have the moral and spiritual high road. It does not mean that people have to relinquish their moral code or consider that all morality is relative. It means that there is more than one path to Continue reading

Body language gestures from around Asia

freenuggets_nonverbal_communicationCross-cultural difference are not only refers to verbal communication, but also existed in all sorts of human activities between foreigner tourist and local hosts. Non-verbal behaviour is a significant element for a tourist because it is easier to be noticed and understood than verbal communication. Researchers believed that most of the message is communicated through non-verbal language in terms of posture, gesture and facial expression. What is more, the behaviours of greeting, formality as well as body touching are important means of non-verbal communication which are reflected by tourists. Continue reading

Schools of Philosophy: The Post-Modernists

Post-modernism is a relatively recent movement in philosophy. It was so named because it began as a reaction against the “modern” age of Philosophy since Descartes. Descartes had begun the trend in establishing systems aimed at discovering fixed and absolute truths about the universe. The post-modernists’ view is that philosophy is fooling itself. Post modernist is a broad school, and there are differing opinions about which philosophers belong in it.
Heraclitus lived more than two thousand years ago. but his ideas are truly “post-modern”. This is because Heraclitus believed that the only thing that remains constant in the universe is that everything changes. Therefore, Heraclitus was the first  Western philosopher to suggest that we can never have knowledge that lasts for all time.

Continue reading

Schools of Philosophy: Feminist Philosophers

 Feminists believe that society is based on unequal division between men and women. The “first wave”feminists were concerned with equality between the sexes. “Second wave” feminists are more concerned that what is special to women be recognized and valued as important.

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797):

Wollstonecraft‘s most influential book, “A Vindication of the Rights of Women”, was published in 1792. It called for the abolition of the inequalities between men and women. At this time women could not vote or own property. They belonged to their husbands. Wollstonecraft argued that “mind has no sex”, and so women should be entitled to complete personal and economic freedom. For her trouble she was called a “hyena in petticoats” and “philosophizing serpent”. Her daughter, also named Mary, married the poet Shelly and wrote the novel “Frankenstein”(1818). Continue reading

Schools of Philosophy: The Existentialists

 The Existentialists believe that there is no order in the universe and no objective rights or wrongs. Individuals are free to create their own lives according to the choices they make and must take responsibility for their actions.
kierkegaardSøren Kierkegaard (1813-1855):
Kierkegaard is seen by many as the father of existentialism because of his attack on Hegel’s view that individuals are less important than their historical context. The Danish philosopher rejected Hegel’s system of an unfolding process, which left people with little or no free will. According to Kierkegaard, philosophy begins and ends with individual human existence. He believed that people are free to choose their existence and that it is morally wrong to shirk this responsibility. He urged people to be true to themselves when making Continue reading

Schools of Philosophy: The Phenomenologists

 Phenomenology is the study of how things appear. The Phenomenologists tried to get  behind the surface of how things appear to reveal the nature of consciousness itself.
husserlEdmund Husserl:
Husserl was the founder of phenomenology. He wanted to do away with theories about reality and restore certainty to philosophy. His method was to describe exactly how reality presented itself to consciousness. He wanted to make philosophy into a precise science. He believed that until this happened the traditional sciences had no firm foundation and could never be certain of what they were doing. Husserl’s philosophy begins at what he called the “natural standpoint”, the everyday world as experienced Continue reading

Schools of Philosophy: The Pragmatists

Pragmatism is a practical view of philosophy. Pragmatists view the truthfulness of an idea in terms of its usefulness in real life. This school was the first major movement in Philosophy to come from North America.
peirceCharles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914):
 Peirce invented the term “pragmatism”. He meant to be a method to clarify the relationship between thought and action. According to Peirce, ideas that have no concrete value in everyday experience are meaningless.

Continue reading

Schools of Philosophy: The Empiricists

Empiricism is the complete opposite of rationalism. Empiricists believe that true knowledge of the world is obtained through the senses, not by reason. These philosophers argue that we have ideas only because we have perceptions. All knowledge is based on experience.
john-lockeJohn Locke:
Locke disagreed with Descartes’ rationalism and had no inclination to rely on religion to support his thinking, as Descartes had done.
His most important book of philosophy was called “An Essay on Human Understanding”. In this book Locke tries to demonstrate how people acquire knowledge. He described philosophers as the “underlabourers” of the scientists, because a philosopher’s job is to clear the ground of the rubbish that gets in the way of gaining knowledge. Continue reading

Schools of Philosophy: The Rationalists

Rationalists consider that truths about reality can only be revealed through reason, not by believing what the senses tell us about the world.
Parmenides can be considered the first Rationalist because he thought that the material world could only be properly understood by thought and reason, not what is perceived through senses.
Parmenides’ idea have survived in fragments of a long poem he wrote. The poem has two main themes: “The Way of Truth” (what reason tells us about the world and “The Way of Seeming” (what our senses tell us). Parmenides argued that thinking and being (existing) are one and the same, meaning that it is impossible to think of a thing Continue reading

Schools of Philosophy: The Scholastics

The Scholastics were Christian thinkers who tried to understand and explain Christian doctrines in the light of ancient Greek philosophy. The Christian tinkers who lived in the first few centuries after the birth of Christ were known as “Church Fathers”. Scholasticism dominated Western philosophy for hundreds of years.
augustine-by-martiniSt Augustine (354-430):
St Augustine was born in North Africa and studied in Italy. He was much influenced by Plato’s ideas. Augustine sought to combine his Christian faith with reason. He thought that understanding is a reward of faith. He believed that the human soul holds latent within it certain ultimate and eternal truths.
Augustine was very interested in the nature of time. He said that time began for us when God created the world. This posed the question of God’s existence before time. Continue reading

Schools of Philosophy: The Materialists

The materialists hold the complete opposite view to the idealists on the nature of reality. Materialists believe that everything that exists is either matter or depends on matter for its existence. The real world is out in the street, not in the head.
Aristotle was Plato’s first great critic. Aristotle thought that Plato had got things back to front by saying the “form”, or idea, of a thing is what is most real. He said that material things are what is real and that their form is part of their reality. Aristotle said that reality is made up of a lot of different things, which is called “substances”. Any substance is a fusion of “thisness” (what is made of) and “whatness” (its form, or what it is). For example, the “thisness” of a wooden chair is the wood from which it is made. The wood is shaped, or formed, into what it is — a chair. Continue reading