A few weeks ago one of the attendees at the Thursday evening meeting challenged the existence of an afterlife citing the lack of proof. This led to a discussion of the basis of any belief and the reasonableness of spiritual beliefs. This piece expands on that discussion.
A black line is often drawn between belief and non-belief. But the distinction is one of rhetoric rather than reality. In reality it is not possible to be an absolute non-believer. To function in the everyday world, we believe in our senses; we believe in a continuous ordered world. We will take a quick look at:
Beliefs based on empirical (scientific) Evidence,
Beliefs based on non-empirical (non-scientific) Evidence,
Beliefs based on values (that is non-economic values),
This is a very common and practical question. Here are three examples among many.
First student: “You said that meditation would help me to deal with my anger by accepting it, but, every time I try, I find that it is impossible. The more I meditate on it, the worse it becomes!”
Second student:“You said that being too attached to somebody or something will produce suffering since nothing last. How can I detach myself from something that I care for without negative consequences?”
Third student:“You said to meditate on impermanence including my own death. After 2 minutes I quit. Too depressive and not very healthy! I prefer to think about the good stuff”(more…)
A newly ordained Hindu Monk, in orange clothes, was traveling in a bus in Mumbai. He came across an old high school friend. They started chatting, the high school friend was anxious to know what the monk was doing. So he asked him “What exactly do you do?” The young monk gave him a brief summary of his life as a monk from beginning to the present time. The friend suddenly got interested and confided in the monk.
“ Well, after high school, I joined my father’s business. We are doing well, but my life is a total mess. I am not happy at all and I could certainly use some of your teachings. However, I do not have time to listen to a whole lecture, because I have to get down at the next bus stop. So, as an old friend, can you do me a huge favour? Can you tell me, in brief, how I can use these teachings to improve my life?”
The monk started to think as to how he could convey this whole gamut of knowledge, learned by him over several years, in a few words. So, while the friend was getting off the bus, the Swami, shouted to him in a loud voice “Detachment – Attachment!”
This anecdote, though amusing, brings out one of the most important aspect of spiritual literature i.e. Detachment from the mundane and the ordinary and Attachment to the higher, sublime and supreme power whatever that might be. Or detachment from the weak and attachment to the strong.