Belief and Reality


#1

What is your response to the teaching below from a Zen Buddhist monk? Does this have any sense of truth in it? I’m curious as to how a Catholic, a non-Catholic, atheist and/or a psychologist would view this information.

"Belief is two steps removed from the reality of what’s being believed. When we talk about belief we talk only about belief, not about anything else – belief creates its own reality. Belief is the mind’s dualistic response to an idea or perception. Reality can only be perceived directly, before the mind filters it. Once the brain interprets reality the new reality is merely the interpretation. This is the first step removed. After the mind has completed its interpretation, then it checks to see how the interpretation fits with the rest of the experiences it has processed throughout the years. Since the mind is inherently dualistic, that is, since it categorizes things as true or false, good or bad, right or wrong, it overlays opinion on top of interpretation. This is the second step removed. Once we’ve gone this far, we tend to lose any grasp we may have had on the reality that began the whole episode. Instead of seeing a pile of used cans and paper cups on a street corner, we see a “pile of trash”; or instead of seeing a man walking down the street we see a “wretched homeless person.”

excerpt from an article at
hsuyun.org/Dharma/zbohy/Literature/essays/czs/zenandgod.html

Thank you in advance.


#2

This is a Catholic forum. Who cares about Zen Buddhist teachings? Maybe you should start a Buddhist website.

Scullinius


#3

[quote=Scullinius]This is a Catholic forum. Who cares about Zen Buddhist teachings? Maybe you should start a Buddhist website.

Scullinius
[/quote]

Perhaps I should’ve left out the fact that this was from a Zen Buddhist and you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to pass judgement so soon. So, I do apologize for the mistaken belief that one can be objective. My bat.

Peace…


#4

[quote=ahimsaman72]Perhaps I should’ve left out the fact that this was from a Zen Buddhist and you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to pass judgement so soon. So, I do apologize for the mistaken belief that one can be objective. My bat.

Peace…
[/quote]

Yes people are very prejudiced here. It’s best not to admit that anything that sounds insightful might possible fcome form an orgian other than a “orthodox” Catholic scholar. They predominantly recall teachings that promote some sense of superiority, but fail to give credence to more recent Catholic teachings (statements by Pope JP II, Ratzinger, and Francis Sullivan to name only a few) that stress the fact that many religions have seeds of grace in them, such as Buddhism.

Thomas Merton wropte much about how zen teachers offer much adivce to any one, christians included who are seirous about pursuing a contemplative and mediative life. Early Christian teachers, like Teresa of Avila John of the Cross, Catherine of Sienna, writings on prayer and meditation sound as if they have been lifted from schools of Budhhist philosphy.


#5

[quote=ahimsaman72]Belief is the mind’s dualistic response to an idea or perception. Reality can only be perceived directly, before the mind filters it. Once the brain interprets reality the new reality is merely the interpretation. This is the first step removed. After the mind has completed its interpretation, then it checks to see how the interpretation fits with the rest of the experiences it has processed throughout the years.
[/quote]

A person looks at a piece of art and decides “that is a really bad piece of art”. This aesthetic judgement is only possible because there is an archetype of beauty that a piece of art can be measured against.

How is the intellectual awareness of the archetype of beauty any less a perception of reality than the sensory perception of an inferior piece of art?


#6

[quote=Matt16_18]A person looks at a piece of art and decides “that is a really bad piece of art”. This aesthetic judgement is only possible because there is an archetype of beauty that a piece of art can be measured against.

How is the intellectual awareness of the archetype of beauty any less a perception of reality than the sensory perception of an inferior piece of art?
[/quote]

Good points. I would say that still the archetype of beauty would be considered subjective. The piece of art is a visual reality neither good or bad. Three people standing in front of it and critiquing it might give three different views of the quality of the work. They would all do so based on the principles of good/bad, right/wrong, inferior/superior.

The piece of art exists. The good/bad part is based on our perceptions of what we see with our eyes. Instead of a “man walking down the street”, we make judgements such as “wretched homeless man walking slowly down the cluttered street”. (This is a similar example from the same monk). So, is our judgement the reality or is the reality itself reality? (Sounds like psychobabble doesn’t it?).

That’s why I wanted to share this with some folks and see what they thought of it and see their intelligent responses to it. So far, I got two out of three! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and keep them coming!

Peace…


#7

[quote=serendipity]Yes people are very prejudiced here. It’s best not to admit that anything that sounds insightful might possible fcome form an orgian other than a “orthodox” Catholic scholar. They predominantly recall teachings that promote some sense of superiority, but fail to give credence to more recent Catholic teachings (statements by Pope JP II, Ratzinger, and Francis Sullivan to name only a few) that stress the fact that many religions have seeds of grace in them, such as Buddhism.

Thomas Merton wropte much about how zen teachers offer much adivce to any one, christians included who are seirous about pursuing a contemplative and mediative life. Early Christian teachers, like Teresa of Avila John of the Cross, Catherine of Sienna, writings on prayer and meditation sound as if they have been lifted from schools of Budhhist philosphy.
[/quote]

Yeah, you know the same thing could have come out of Father Thomas Merton’s mouth and might be considered okay, but the moment one realizes a non-Catholic said it, there’s the perception that it must automatically must be wrong. I realize that people guard their faith and are suspicious, but openness to truth, wherever it comes from, should be part of one’s spiritual path.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Peace…


#8

[quote=ahimsaman72]"Belief is two steps removed from the reality of what’s being believed. When we talk about belief we talk only about belief, not about anything else – belief creates its own reality. Belief is the mind’s dualistic response to an idea or perception. Reality can only be perceived directly, before the mind filters it. Once the brain interprets reality the new reality is merely the interpretation. This is the first step removed. After the mind has completed its interpretation, then it checks to see how the interpretation fits with the rest of the experiences it has processed throughout the years. Since the mind is inherently dualistic, that is, since it categorizes things as true or false, good or bad, right or wrong, it overlays opinion on top of interpretation. This is the second step removed. Once we’ve gone this far, we tend to lose any grasp we may have had on the reality that began the whole episode. Instead of seeing a pile of used cans and paper cups on a street corner, we see a “pile of trash”; or instead of seeing a man walking down the street we see a “wretched homeless person.”
[/quote]

it’s a very opaque passage, and i’m not really sure what he’s driving at, but i suspect what he’s saying is either false or trivially true.

i mean, if “belief is two steps removed from reality” means that we can’t actually come to know reality, then it’s false; if he just means that believing that there’s a man in front of me isn’t the same thing as the man in front of me, then it’s trivially true. and so on.

in the end, though, and ignoring the philosophical pretensions of the passage, it seems as though he is simply cautioning against thoughtlessness and the forming uncritical habits of judgment - i.e. see people as people and not as “wretched homeless persons”.

and in that respect, i think he’s right on the money.


#9

[quote=john doran]it’s a very opaque passage, and i’m not really sure what he’s driving at, but i suspect what he’s saying is either false or trivially true.

i mean, if “belief is two steps removed from reality” means that we can’t actually come to know reality, then it’s false; if he just means that believing that there’s a man in front of me isn’t the same thing as the man in front of me, then it’s trivially true. and so on.

in the end, though, and ignoring the philosophical pretensions of the passage, it seems as though he is simply cautioning against thoughtlessness and the forming uncritical habits of judgment - i.e. see people as people and not as “wretched homeless persons”.

and in that respect, i think he’s right on the money.
[/quote]

Yeah, I don’t think he means it’s impossible to know the reality, just that we cloud our minds with so many judgements that we really need to spend some time figuring out what the reality really is instead of getting in a mudpit of delusional judgements.

Yes, the background of this piece is a conversation between a Zen monk and a woman that states emphatically that there is no God and that a rational person couldn’t believe in such a notion. He counters (oddly enough) that in her mind God can’t exist because she has made prior judgements and is not open to the idea in the first place.

Thanks for sharing this.

Peace…


#10

[quote=ahimsaman72]Yeah, I don’t think he means it’s impossible to know the reality, just that we cloud our minds with so many judgements that we really need to spend some time figuring out what the reality really is instead of getting in a mudpit of delusional judgements.

Yes, the background of this piece is a conversation between a Zen monk and a woman that states emphatically that there is no God and that a rational person couldn’t believe in such a notion. He counters (oddly enough) that in her mind God can’t exist because she has made prior judgements and is not open to the idea in the first place.
[/quote]

Where does blind faith fit into the picture?

John 20:29Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”


#11

[quote=Mickey]Where does blind faith fit into the picture?

John 20:29Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”
[/quote]

I think everybody at some point simply has to have blind faith. When faced with evidence that can be construed either way, we have to make a choice - believe the evidence and trust it or not to believe it and go to something else.

I can’t rationalize or give evidence outside of the Bible and Tradition that Christ raised from the dead. At some point, I have to have simple “faith” that such is true. I could show other examples. I don’t understand the Trinity, yet I believe it. I have faith in it and trust it as true.

Is that what you mean?

Peace…


#12

[quote=ahimsaman72]I think everybody at some point simply has to have blind faith. When faced with evidence that can be construed either way, we have to make a choice - believe the evidence and trust it or not to believe it and go to something else.

I can’t rationalize or give evidence outside of the Bible and Tradition that Christ raised from the dead. At some point, I have to have simple “faith” that such is true. I could show other examples. I don’t understand the Trinity, yet I believe it. I have faith in it and trust it as true.

Is that what you mean?

Peace…
[/quote]

That’s it ahimsaman!

:blessyou:


#13

One persons opinion is indeed the reality behind self-interpretation and is the direct cause of the thousands of splintered christian denominations.

Belief in something often does not have anything to do with reality. If it was not for our soul and faith we would be much like any other animal… waiting to eat or be eaten!

h:tiphat:


#14

If the archetype of beauty is merely subjective, then we must accept that a velvet Elvis painting has as much inherent beauty as any painting hanging in the Musee du Louvre.

The good/bad part is based on our perceptions of what we see with our eyes.

No, the judgement that a painting is either good art or bad art is due to the fact that humans have at least a limited knowledge of the archetype of beauty. It is only because we have an awareness of a reality that is other than what our senses can reveal that we can make aesthetic judgements. Parrots have excellent eyesight, but they cannot make aesthetic judgments between the velvet Elvis paintings found in flea markets and the paintings of Monet hanging in the Louvre. For the parrot, either is acceptable for lining the floor of his cage. :stuck_out_tongue:

When the orchestra finishes playing, does the music cease being beautiful?


#15

Hello, participants!

If memory serves, the field of enquiry that deals with
"who says it’s beautiful?" is aesthetics
The field of “How do we know what we know? Or,
how do we know if “it” is true?” is epistemology.
I’m sure there are a lot of websites that deal with
the history of aesthetic and epistemological thought.
It’s been way too many years since I studied
such things, and the ol’ mental stamina is no
longer there to dive into this discussion, but I
hope this info is useful.
Best wishes to all participants!
reen12
PS: Tom Wolf’s book The Painted Word is a
jewel, I think.


#16

:thumbsup: Wolfe’s critique of modern architecture, From Bauhaus to Our House is also a gem.


#17

Belief does not create its own reality. Truth creates reality. Belief is personal response to reality as revealed by the Creator of reality, perceived according to the capacity of the believer. Truth is God. Buddhism denies God if this statement reflects Buddhist philosophy. Buddhism is not of God, therefore Buddhism is not true, while its teachings may contain some kernels of Truth, those which are readily perceived and valued by natural human reason.


#18

[quote=puzzleannie]Belief does not create its own reality. Truth creates reality. Belief is personal response to reality as revealed by the Creator of reality, perceived according to the capacity of the believer. Truth is God. Buddhism denies God if this statement reflects Buddhist philosophy. Buddhism is not of God, therefore Buddhism is not true, while its teachings may contain some kernels of Truth, those which are readily perceived and valued by natural human reason.
[/quote]

This wasn’t meant to be a Buddhism vs. Christianity thread.

As I see it there are two realities - the one we create for ourselves and the one that truly exists. Here is a simple example based on current pop culture. The American Idol show is something I watch faithfully. Now, to most of these contestants their perception is that they are good singers - singing on par with Whitney Houston. Now, their perception is thus their reality. They won’t think otherwise.

When they stand in front of the judges and show the rest of the world that they are indeed horrible singers (the true reality) and are told so, they most often deny this reality. They truly believe themselves to be good singers ready for a record deal. You, I and the judges (especially Simon) can hear that such is not true. So, there are indeed two realities or “worlds” that exist.

There is the one we perceive and the other one which is veiled but is possible to be encountered. Hope that makes sense.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Peace…


#19

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.
1Cor. 13:12

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing.
1James 1:22-25


#20

[quote=Matt16_18]For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.

1Cor. 13:12

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing.
1James 1:22-25

[/quote]

Yes, yes, yes. I have brought up the I Cor. passage before in relating this kind of idea, but it was discarded. In the James passage, right after what you had in bold, it describes the perfect law - which is the law of liberty. Now, in your mind what is that law of liberty? I’m drawing a blank at the moment.

Peace…


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