Friday, 5 February 2010

The Purpose of Meaning

(Cross Posted at The Reformed Buddhist)


If there was one thing that stands out as a great testament to our human endeavor as a species here on earth, it has been our wild ability to use the world around us, to mold, shape and create form from it, in order to better our living conditions and our material lives. Humans have an uncanny ability to twist the objects in the world, creating some of the most brilliant and mind boggling inventions, making countless discoveries of the properties of matter and form and have advanced our society to feats many thought unattainable just a few hundred years ago. The great minds of our scientists and pioneers that have made these advancements possible are due partially to accidental discoveries, but more importantly, it has been the ability for these people to view the objects of the world as having infinitely more potential that what is its stated purpose, its accepted meaning.

To see an ordinary stick on the ground, most of us would be able to think of 50 ways we could use that stick to our advantage; sharpen it for a weapon, peel the bark to make rope, use it to fish, create shelter, etc. In our minds however, many times, the thoughts that arise within us, we attach to them, end up applying stark rules of purpose, casting ideas and concepts into a definitive meaning and rigid roles. When we do that, I feel sometimes we are robbing both ourselves and these objects of the world of all their marvelous potential, inhibiting all the things they can and will become. To see the world in this stark contrast of such stringent use, we are greatly limiting ourselves and our nature.

Since our Buddhist practice is not meant to turn off our endless stream of thoughts, but rather to understand the nature of our existence more clearly, we certainly shouldn't shun the thoughts that arise within us nor label them into any unbreakable purpose. Indeed, it is when we can live our lives, realizing this mind of ours is an amazing tool, full of endless potential and unremitting possibilities, beyond the confines of absolute meaning, beyond the prison of purpose, that we can perhaps better understand the boundlessness nature of our infinite mind.


Dhammapada

An untroubled mind,
No longer seeking to consider
What is right and what is wrong,
A mind beyond judgments,
Watches and understands.
Know that the body is a fragile jar,
And make a castle of your mind.
In every trial
Let understanding fight for you
To defend what you have won.

3 comments:

  1. Hi! I navigated to this blog from "American Buddhist Perspective."

    You mention the destructive nature of lending our wills to an "unbreakable purpose"- I think that is a great phrase. It is my theory that people devote themselves strongly to one way of thinking out of a deep-seated insecurity and discomfort about themselves and the world around them. I think this is why, in an age where we have enough latitude to see the broader historical, philosophical, and psychological landscapes of the world's religions, we still cannot break free of our superstitious and baseless beliefs. Because of this unbreakable faith, we cannot even understand what it is we have faith in.

    Letting "understanding fight for you" denotes confidence without arrogance or blindness. It denotes a calmness and steadiness of will that we see in the greatest members of society. Certainly this is more productive than following madly after the "unbreakable purpose."

    Good thoughts.

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  2. Interesting poem
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    The Atheist Perspective

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