26 July 2012

The Source of our Troubles?

[Shodhin ascends soapbox]

Maybe it's the result of a little too much time spent doing philosophy.  Maybe it's my own lack of interest in certain kinds of philosophy (epistemology, metaphysics).  Whatever it is, I've been finding a burr under my saddle recently in the point I frequently hear being made that the source of our ills lies in our (attachment to) concepts.  I just don't think that's right, or, better: I don't think that goes far enough to the heart of the matter.

Concepts mark the line that separates us from stupidity.  When I hear exhortations to free ourselves from concepts, I immediately envision a group of people milling about with no frippin idea of who they are, where they are, what they are doing, what needs to be done or how best to accomplish it.

I do not believe the Buddha's Dharma ever enjoined us to stupidity.

I do believe the Buddha's Dharma enjoined us to freedom and release.

No one's asking, but if the question were posed to me I would say that the greater source of our troubles is habit, and "habit" here would include habitual thought processes, habitual use of certain concepts, but also – and I think this is important – habitual actions, modes of speech, behaviors, responses, etc.  "Habit" covers body, speech and mind, whereas "concept" only belongs under mind and possibly speech.   Habit creeps in when direct engagement with the moment is lost. 

Drugs will wipe our concepts away.  Only diligence, effort and all the rest of the most Noble Path can begin to root out habit.

Have a nice day!

[Shodhin gets down from soapbox]

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