Tuesday, February 07, 2017

No Choice At All

Have you ever tried or, for that matter, conceived of not acting? How would it be possible to refrain from acting? I cannot conceive of halting my actions. Even committing suicide would be an act, the last one. Sleeping is even a sort of act. Dreaming is an act. Waking is an act. What can we do to stop acting? Honestly, I don't see any way of refraining from action. We have no choice but to act. (Shakespeare had it wrong.) So, once we admit that inaction is not humanly possible, we are left with several issues that call for our attention. One is knowing what to do. Knowing what to do requires that we have some sort of cognitive grasp of our situation--however fluid. In short, in the words of the famous 20th century Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset, "We must know what there is in order to know what to do." I suggest we consider these two theses prior to moving on. The first is admitting, with all honesty, that we cannot be inactive, even for a moment. The second is that to act we need knowledge. So action and knowledge are like a coin--heads and tails. They are distinguishable but never separable. Dwell on this issue for some time until you get a grasp of their inseparability. It is important that you understand, to some extent, the relation between knowledge and action before moving on.

Burning as living, Living as burning

On the Dangers of Translation

One of the most important texts of Mahayana Buddhism is the  Bodhipathapradipam ("Path to Awakening") by Dipamkara Shrijnana Ati...