Author Topic: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?  (Read 2338 times)

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2017, 04:26:33 am »
Hi guys. An interesting discussion. I'd seen a similar article before, from a language and perception point of view. If there is no word for blue, then the colour is lumped together with whatever word the language said it was. My physics lecturer in college enjoyed setting up his room with different projectors, each with a different stage-lighting gel. He shone these onto a screen depicting a stage, and would show us how to make one colour turn into another, merely by changing the surrounding colours. In this sense there was no 'truth' to the colours seen on the screen in language terms, merely subjective responses, although the 'truth' of the matter was that we could all see that the gel in question hadn't been changed.

I think much of what we see is cultural, since only about 5% of the actual information we consciously perceive as sight is from the eyes, the other 95% being made up of information from areas of the brain such as memory. Cultural differences can then have a big affect on how the brain interprets what we see. Presumably, this is useful for us as Buddhists as we can change how we 'see' things as we move along the path.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2017, 05:59:57 am »
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stillpointdancer:  "only about 5% of the actual information we consciously perceive as sight is from the eyes, the other 95% being made up of information from areas of the brain such as memory. Cultural differences can then have a big affect on how the brain interprets what we see. Presumably, this is useful for us as Buddhists as we can change how we 'see' things as we move along the path."

It makes sense that culture will have an effect upon what we perceive as truth, because our culture has a large influence over our experience as we are learning from the time of our births.  This includes language, traditions, the appropriateness of responses to any given situation, which presents itself in our lives, and etc.. 

I remember reading about an experiment where a person was fitted with a pair of goggles, which literally turned everything the experiment participant saw "upside down".  As could be expected the participant became dizzy, nauseous, had enormous difficulty walking, as the brain had to literally relearn how to walk.

Ironically, the brain was able to quickly adapt:

Quote
Monday 12 November 2012 11.30 EST First published on Monday 12 November 2012 11.30 EST

In the middle of the 20th century, an Austrian professor turned a man's eyesight exactly upside-down. After a short time, the man took this completely in his stride.

Professor Theodor Erismann, of the University of Innsbruck, devised the experiment, performing it upon his assistant and student, Ivo Kohler. Kohler later wrote about it. The two of them made a documentary film.

The professor made Kohler wear a pair of hand-engineered goggles. Inside those goggles, specially arranged mirrors flipped the light that would reach Kohler's eyes, top becoming bottom, and bottom top.

At first, Kohler stumbled wildly when trying to grasp an object held out to him, navigate around a chair, or walk down stairs.

In a simple fencing game with sticks, Kohler would rise his stick high when attacked low, and low in response to a high stab.

Holding a teacup out to be filled, he would turn the cup upside down the instant he saw the water apparently pouring upward. The sight of smoke rising from a match, or a helium balloon bobbing on a string, could trigger an instant change in his sense of which direction was up, and which down.

But over the next week, Kohler found himself adapting, in fits and starts, then more consistently, to such sights.

After 10 days, he had grown so accustomed to the invariably upside-down world that, paradoxically and happily, everything seemed to him normal, rightside-up. Kohler could do everyday activities in public perfectly well: walk along a crowded sidewalk, even ride a bicycle. Passersby on the street did ogle the man, though, because his eyewear looked, from the outside, unfashionable.

Erismann and Kohler did further experiments. So did other scientists. Their impression is that many, perhaps most, maybe just about all, people are able to make these kinds of adjustment. Images reach the eye in some peculiar fashion, and if that peculiar fashion is consistent, a person's visual system eventually, somehow, adjusts to interpret it — to perceive it, to see it — as being no different from normal. Kohler writes that, "after several weeks of wearing goggles that transposed right and left, one person "became so at home in his reversed world that he was able to drive a motorcycle through Innsbruck while wearing the goggles".

This may strike you as extremely unusual. But the basic ability – to adapt to visions seen topsy-turvy or backwards – is something you have almost certainly witnessed.

Many people develop the ability to read documents that are upside down. Many teachers, especially, treasure this as a semi-secret skill they've picked up without having worked at it.

This automatic, almost-effortless adaptation to visual weirdness is one of many bizarre things that brains do that scientists simply do not understand. Were we not talking about the brain, it would be appropriate to say that these behaviours, these abilities, are so weird that they are "unthinkable".


• Marc Abrahams is editor of the bimonthly Annals of Improbable Research and organiser of the Ig Nobel prize.

source:  https://nortonsafe.search.ask.com/web?q=Upside+down+goggles+experiment%3A&o=APN11908&chn=1122&guid=6b639bce-202d-11de-b462-002197ca959d&doi=2016-11-07&ver=22.8.0.50&prt=NSBU&geo=US&locale=en_US

My Conclusion:  I think this experiment tells us that our neuro-sensory system has fortunately for us evolved in such a way as to give us enormous flexibility when it comes to adapting to our environment, which, as Buddha pointed out, is constantly changing.  We often forget that environment includes both internal and external conditions, so that we can adjust to many sudden changes such as being thrown into another culture after an invasion for example, and such as being shipwrecked and having to adjust to landmasses, foliage, and fauna, which we have to rely upon for food, tools, and shelter building materials.  The reality show, Survivor, demonstrates this every season.  Navy seals, and even ordinary survival training in military organizations prepares participants for such circumstances.  We are seeing this amazing adaptability of the human brain and nervous system as refugees of wars around the world are forced to adapt to war-time circumstances, and later escape to immigrate to other, safer nations, and political conditions from hostile environments and religious intolerance, which are left behind and as more liberal cultures with social more's are encountered and gladly embraced, finding their beliefs of what "God" will tolerate has to be re-calibrated in their minds. :r4wheel:

What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2017, 06:19:30 am »
Quote
Idle Chater:  " Really?  Sounded familiar?  You've been promoting the Kalama Sutra in the web, for years, like it was the most important teaching, ever, making it sound like it was the basis for all this "validate and verify" talk you're so fond of and this simply sounded familiar?" 

"Geez, Ron, it's the most important part of the teaching.  It's the Buddha's instruction on how we "vaildate and verify", the criteria by which we evaluate a teaching or even a question.

And it sounded familiar?

I've pondered this and some of your recent posts and wondered how, seeing as the KS is so important to you, how you could assert some of the things you do, when they seem to be so cleary different from what the Buddha taught."


That's really disappointing. "That's really disappointing.

Well, you probably should be disappointed.  This was a real failure not totally unexpected on my part, nor on your part, because apparently you have never personally experienced or known anyone who experienced a massive perfusion stroke as I did a few years back in my right brain or you would have recognized this as  telltale of memory degradation indicating possibly many different types of brain failure. 

In my case the failure was due to a past stroke.  Fortunately for me, as a result of expert surgery and a great deal of therapy it has taken me but a few years to relearn how to do such simple things as add and subtract, to walk without the assistance of others, "to type", to spell, to service my yard equipment and on-the-road vehicles, to test, trouble-shoot, and repair my electronic and carpentry equipment in my workshop, to find my way around trails that I have walked since I was a child.

It also took me a long time to find my way back to Buddhist studies, because I had difficulty comprehending the complexity of the language.  But, day by day, one foot in front of the other, I have made progress with the help of kind persons like yourself, who have been willing to be of beneficial assistance as you have always been.

Now, unfortunately, my cardiologist has discovered that I am a candidate for an aortic valve replacement as was my father at about my same age before he died of complications years later. It has been discovered that we both were blessed with what is known to cardiologists as a bi-cuspid aortic valve, which in most other humans is a tri-cuspid valve, resulting in a cardiac process failure known as aortic stenosis.  In simple language my brain and body is apparently being starved for oxygen, which not only impairs my physical performance, while hiking, walking,and climbing stairs, but affects my ability to reason and remember.   It is sort of like being sleepy and tired all the time. So, I now know from first hand experience the effects of having a brain that is oxygen deprived and seeing (also first hand) how it affects the memory, and the overall functioning of the mind.

Fortunately, as a military veteran, my veteran's benefits will take care of all of the surgeries and post surgical treatments if I choose to take advantage of them.  I also have pretty good health insurance with Medicare and my wife's Medigap insurance.  So, I won't have to borrow any money from you to take care of these very expensive medical issues.

Anyway, thanks again for assisting me with my practice.  Your suggestions and observations as usual are right-on!  And as time goes on, as you age, and also acquire diseases, you will no doubt get to experience them for yourself, and come to a more intimate understanding of this truth about our samsaric existence.  :wink1:
« Last Edit: February 20, 2017, 06:56:37 am by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2017, 06:46:17 am »
Hi Idle Chater:

I would like to give you another opportunity to respond to my previous question. 

Quote
If you are willing, would like to explore what your definition is of "real", other than "that which is dependently arisen."  There are many things which are real, such as entropy, energy, and matter, none of which are dependent upon consciousness.
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Chaz

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2017, 08:34:42 am »
Hi Idle Chater:

I would like to give you another opportunity to respond to my previous question. 

Quote
If you are willing, would like to explore what your definition is of "real", other than "that which is dependently arisen."  There are many things which are real, such as entropy, energy, and matter, none of which are dependent upon consciousness.

I'm  not so sure I care for that exchange.  As sympathetic as I am to your health, how can I count on your reliability?   Hell, Ron, I'm  not sure I can even acccept your excuse on the KS faux pas.  I have a good friend who is one of my city's preimmenent guitarists, who survived a stroke about 10 years ago.  He continued to play guitar learning to play with no feeling in in his left hand.  He recently took up fencing.  He has forgotten nothing.    I know that's not everyone's experience, but if you post something how can we count on it.  Is it Ron, or is it the stroke.  To be honest, for someone hold the KS in such high regard and importance, to not recall the single most important verses of that sutra and then blame health, simply does not sit comfortably.

So you have disregarded this most important teaching in your so-called and styled verification and validation and have chosen a path of learning contrary to those teachings.

Plus, having little regard for and no familiarity with Mahayana teachings, teaching I would have to call upon,  just what do we have to discuss that would lead to benefit and happiness?

I ask you reconsider your position based on the teaching  I have reminded you of and and reevaluate it in that light.  Then we can dicuss these matters to the benefit of all.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2017, 08:43:55 am by IdleChater »

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #20 on: February 20, 2017, 12:51:21 pm »
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Idle Chater:  "So you have disregarded this most important teaching in your so-called and styled verification and validation and have chosen a path of learning contrary to those teachings."

No.  There is a difference between "forgetting", or "overlooking" and disregard.

Let me assure you that I still practice validation and verification of all teachings, including The so-called Mahayana positions, which too often vary little from The Theravadan as they should, given that they are both teachings of The Buddha.  I just don't study them as you, who claim them for your own tradition might be expected to.

 As I already admitted and demonstrated, I do not remember every detail of every sutta I have ever read, including KS. Do you?  I dare say you must admit and everyone else on this board eventually will have to admit that the  have experienced the very same problem at this very moment to a lesser degree, or at least will shortly as they age.  That is why suttas and sutras alike memorized and propagated in an oral tradition for hundreds of years cannot be trusted for accuracy, and all practitioners have an obligation to verify and validate the teachings within for themselves.  This advice given by The Buddha himself according to KS.

In any event, I think it just as well for your sake that you avoid responding to or participating in anything I post in the future since you feel  incapable of understanding and/or trusting what I have had to say, or at least are not capable of showing any compassion or respect for a physical and/or mental condition which I shared with you, and which you will soon no doubt experience yourself as you progress in the aging and disease process we all experience in this samsaric realm.

Be at peace.  And, thank you again for at least trying to be of service in whatever way you are capable. :namaste:
« Last Edit: February 20, 2017, 01:02:10 pm by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Chaz

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #21 on: February 20, 2017, 01:24:41 pm »
As I already admitted and demonstrated, I do not remember every detail of every sutta I have ever read, including KS. Do you?  I dare say you must admit and everyone else on this board eventually will have to admit that the  have experienced the very same problem at this very moment to a lesser degree, or at least will shortly as they age.  That is why suttas and sutras alike memorized and propagated in an oral tradition for hundreds of years cannot be trusted for accuracy, and all practitioners have an obligation to verify and validate the teachings within for themselves.  This advice given by The Buddha himself according to KS.

But, you have conveniently forgotten the most important aspect of the suttra -  the criteria by which we verify and validate.  So your verification and validation and even your methodology is suspect. As a Buddhist how do you propose to find the truth if you can't follow the Buddha's teaching on just how to do it.

And if oral tradition is so suspect, even the KS is unreliable as a source.  Best to just toss the lot in that case, wouldn't you say?

Quote
In any event, I think it just as well for your sake that you avoid responding to or participating in anything I post in the future since you feel  incapable of understanding and/or trusting what I have had to say, or at least are not capable of showing any compassion or respect for a physical and/or mental condition which I shared with you, and which you will soon no doubt experience yourself as you progress in the aging and disease process we all experience in this samsaric realm.

I am considering putting you on my ignore list.  Your methodology is unreliable and non-Buddhist.  However I feel someone needs to offer views opposing yours so newcommers not be swayed by teachings that at are not in keeping with the Buddha's teaching.

And you shouldn't presume upon people's health.  You have no idea what my state of health is, or how it affects my life.  One thing you can be sure of, I don't use my health as an excuse when I screw up.  I own it.  So should you.

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #22 on: February 20, 2017, 02:35:20 pm »
Ron,

Behavior is more telling than any words. Your "restraint, rectitude, gentleness, self-control" in the face of rudeness and stupidity, should be apparent to everyone here. That's the truth.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #23 on: February 20, 2017, 03:40:20 pm »
Ron,

Behavior is more telling than any words. Your "restraint, rectitude, gentleness, self-control" in the face of rudeness and stupidity, should be apparent to everyone here. That's the truth.

Thanks, zafrogzen. Thank you for your kind words.  That is one of the aspirations of an elder in The Theravada:

Quote
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.

-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Obviously the attainment cited in this quote is not yet met on my part.  But, I continue to work on it to the best of my ability.


As a Zen practitioner, you should recognize the following story:

(Paraphrasing:)  Two young monks were seen to fight, argue, and bicker constantly.
One was always trying to outdo the other.  Both were relentlessly trying to advance their status in the eyes of their master.
The first young monk, alone, went to the master and complained that the other was getting his goat, and he was tired of it.
The master laughed and smiled replying that the complaining young monk before him should be grateful to his adversary.
"But why, master?"  The complaining young monk asked,
to which his master replied:  "Well, you must be grateful for the fact that your fellow monk has clearly shown you where your goat is penned!"

The young, previously complaining monk smiled, bowed out of respect to his master's wisdom realizing the dhamma, the truth, that his fellow monk was indeed being of beneficial assistance to him with his constant annoyances.

And just so, I thank The Buddha for teaching me over the years, that those, who challenge us, even those whom we call trolls, rude, invasive and arrogant though they be, truly indeed reveal to us where our goats are penned, and are in that way, and also in many other ways being of beneficial assistance. :hug:
« Last Edit: February 20, 2017, 10:25:53 pm by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #24 on: February 20, 2017, 11:14:19 pm »
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Idle Chater:  "Your methodology is unreliable and non-Buddhist. "I am considering putting you on my ignore list." However I feel someone needs to offer views opposing yours so newcommers not be swayed by teachings that at are not in keeping with the Buddha's teaching."

 I hope for the sake of your mental equanimity that you consider your intentions and actions carefully, as well as  their potential consequences, a process of reflection utilized by the wise as taught by Buddha to his son, Rahula, especially since you have assigned yourself  to the position of guardian of the dhamma. 

I wonder, then, if you have taken the oath to uphold The Bodhisattva Code.  If you can truly do that, then your efforts would indeed be laudable.

Speaking of Bodhisattvas, my ultimate personal respect for Bodhisattvas goes to Bodhisatva Vajrapani. I have an oil painting in my office of one of his manifestations given to me as a Christmas gift, rendered for me by my third son-in-law, who at one time aspired to be a professional artist.  He is quite talented, college educated in the arts, and who also provided me with illustrations for  a collection of Native American short stories I was rewriting for children after I retired back in 1998.  He has since opted to become educated as, and practice as a paralegal due to a need to pay his mortgage, make car payments, buy food and other such basic requirements we find necessary in this samsaric realm in which we all find ourselves.

If you send me a current photograph I will ask him to render a painting of you, which I will hang next to Vajrapani, who is  another advanced guardian of the dhamma like yourself.

Quote
Idle Chater:  "And you shouldn't presume upon people's health.  You have no idea what my state of health is, or how it affects my life."


I was not speaking to any specifics, only to state a fact:  "We will, after birth, all age, eventually become diseased, deteriorate and die in this samsaric realm in which we currently live."  No one escapes this realm alive. For this reason Buddha recommended charnel meditations to his followers.  Rebirth is not an escape. It is a consequence of our failure to unbind and release from these 31 planes of existence. Rebirth is the direct result of our individual failures to grasp and successfully apply Buddha's teachings as outlined for us in The Noble Eight Fold Path of The Four Noble Truths.

 
Quote
Idle Chater:  "One thing you can be sure of, I don't use my health as an excuse when I screw up.  I own it."


You are to be commended and praised for taking responsibility for your errors.  I too own my errors, as do we all.  Kamma assures that to be the case in samsara as well.  It is not like we have any choice other than to change our trajectory by performing more beneficial, meritorious acts, than harmful acts, and hope that the law of averages works in our favor.  Buddha explained that it is our intentions which matter, not actions themselves per se.  True, often it does not seem that way, especially when we kill people in automobile accidents, or accidentally drop a baby on their head and break its neck. (May this never happen to anyone!)

To the point, I was not using my health as an excuse.  I was attempting to share openly, honestly, and intimately a personal medical experience as a possible explanation for my human failure to remember your citation extracted out of context from The KS, words which you chose to cite out of context, and I admittedly could not recognize the source of them at the time.  So I asked politely, and you used that opportunity to pounce!, for whatever reason you internally justified your hostile action.

Afterwards, once you cited the source of your quote at my request , my brain was quickly and surprisingly (to me) able to recall where those words were written, and the context in which they were written, because, as you rightly pointed out, over many years of my posting on boards such as this one I had cited them personally as one of Buddhas most important teachings.  The message of KS is foundational to Buddhism as you well know.  On this we both agree.  And, I would never throw out the KS as you suggested in your typical antagonistic style.  That is why I posted the following emoticon:   :smack:

Quote
Idle Chater "So should you." (Ron: "Meaning take ownership of your errors")

It is good  personal hygiene practice to wipe yourself after "shoulding on people."  And don't forget to wash your hands with soap and water before handling any food or defending the dhamma.  :wink1:
« Last Edit: February 20, 2017, 11:52:55 pm by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline The Artis Magistra

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #25 on: July 15, 2017, 06:22:51 pm »
Excellent question.

What if the answer to that question was for all the same, "whatever I say because I have said it".

The Truth, or what many call The Truth, has long been the biggest obstacle to what it has meant to refer to from the get go. One could say, the Truth is protected by its references.

 


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