How do we better determine when it is time to use logic and reason and when it is a time to just see things as they are?

Note: We don't have to disclose the specific kind of meditation that we practice but it might make our answers less ambiguous -metta

3 Answers 3


It depends on what you want to abandon or negate. In general, there are two ways of negating (or abandoning) an object of negation.

  1. We oppose an affliction by way of generating a mind that is its opposite. For instance, a mind of love opposes a mind of anger... the virtuous intention to give (generosity) opposes miserliness... the wisdom of emptiness opposes ignorance (that is the mistaken conception of inherent existence)
  2. We negate a non-existent object of negation by way of logic. For instance, we refute inherent existence by way of applying logic, such as the reasoning of the diamond sliver, that of dependent-arising, etc.

Things are "organic" however. You can very well analyze death and impermanence so as to generate a consciousness in the entity of non-attachment, or of non-desire, or of renunciation, etc. According to Pabongka Rinpoche, once the mind of non-attachment has arisen (for instance), because it has found its way there through reasoning (and through paying attentions to things we usually overlook), there is no more need to apply logic anymore. We apply logic to find our way there again, and that way becomes easier to find every time we take it. Reasoning is just a means.

The reason we become angry without planning, "In five minutes, I will get angry" is that we are accustomed to it. We got there so many times in the past that our mind "naturally" takes the same course and find its way there again and again. When we are angry, even when we try to think "It's ridiculous and I am just telling myself stories, I am projecting, etc." we tend to think "Yes, but still... I have my reasons to be angry!" And we find ourselves reasons to be unhappy, we just feed it. The way we look at things and what we look at when we are angry are determined by anger. So, there is a need to apply logic to oppose this story telling by telling ourselves a story that is concordant with reality.

We have to do that until, one day, there will be no more need because loving kindness, compassion, generosity, etc. will manifest as naturally and effortlessly as our breathing goes. We will no longer get in our own way by thinking in a manner that lead us towards non-virtue.

  • I agree. Different traditions aren't so different-Metta
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 21:45
  • If you are a logic person, learn to feel, if a feeling person, learn to use reason. Become a whole person.
    – user2341
    Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 13:34

To "see things as they are" in Buddhism, is to see things with the perspective of the Four Noble Truths.

Until you "see things as they are" through full understanding of the Four Noble truths, you have to use logic and reason to reach full understanding of things of the Four Noble Truths.

  • 1
    You realize that one doesn't have to use much logic and reason at all if one has a good teacher and faith in the teacher. In fact "logic and reason" is the very thing that we must transcend in order to see things as they are. If one has a teacher then one's logic and reason often gets in the way of right view or seeing things as they are.
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 18:50
  • 1
    There are countless places Buddha, the original teacher of Dhamma, has stated that "one's own help is oneself, what can another do? ". Buddha on so many thousands of places in his original teachings has told the way to help oneself and rid oneself from suffering is to look at things logically with proper reasoning in the exact way mentioned by dhamma. Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 0:52
  • "one's own help is oneself, what can another do". Your taking the Buddha out of context. Obviously, he is talking about something deeper than logic can tell you because the Buddha is "an other". He means a teacher is just a guide but we are the ones that have to teach ourselves as individuals .
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 9:49
  • A lot of times we have to step back and ponder the situation with logic and reason but the practice is just to focus our awareness on whatever is in in our experiential awareness on a moment by moment biases and there is no logic and reason to do with it at the time we are being mindful. Are you really saying your against teachers? Sounds like J Krishnamutri talk.
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 9:49
  • Dhamma is our teacher now. A teacher who doesn't think so isn't my teacher. A teacher who acknowledges it and preaches dhamma as it is, is my teacher too. Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 14:25

Almost all past publications have translated anicca, dukkha, anatta as impermanence, suffering, and no-self. So for your question… How do we determine when to use logic and reason in Buddhism?.. This is one instance that we’ve got to use our logic and reason as The Buddha has warned strongly against blind faith and encouraged the way of truthful inquiry.

In the Samyutta Nikaya (Anicca Vagga), when one refers to AjjhattaniccaSutta, Bahiranicca Sutta, Yadanicca sutta etc. the Buddha stated that the three characteristics of “this world” (all six senses) are related to each other - i.e., “if something is anicca, dukkha arises, therefore anatta”. Taking the long held interpretation of anicca to be impermanent and anatta to be “no-soul”, the above would read “if something is not permanent, suffering arises, and as a result one becomes “no-self””.

Permanence/Impermanence are properties of “things” (living beings and physical things) or “events”. On the other hand, nicca/anicca are perception’s in one’s mind about those “things” and “events” in this world of 31 realms. We cannot maintain anything to our satisfaction including “our” own body and that is anicca. Thus we become distraught and that is dukkha. Since we are helpless in preventing this, we are helpless, and nothing is with any real substance in the end; that is anatta.

“Impermanence” is something that is inevitable - a property that cannot be changed in this world. But “anicca” is a perception in someone’s mind and that perception can be changed. That is how one gets rid of suffering.

The Buddha has said,”Sabbe Dhamma anatta“. Could it then be “all dhamma are “no-self”? Dhamma includes everything including the inert. Does it mean to say, “a tree has “no-self”” or “a mountain has “no-self””? The correct interpretation is that nothing in this world is of any real substance in the end. They all come into being and are destroyed in the end, and that is anatta.

  • This is were I went wrong for so long. See, you don't try to understand The Three Characteristics through Logic, reason or anything intellectual or anything conceptual. You JUST experience anicca, dukkha and anatta as it happens as a moment by moment experience. There is nothing to figure out but your technique. The word "just" is key. You just see the naked experience. We don't add our mental constructions to the experiences because then we can't truly see them as they are. You don't try to figure out the 3 marks, the insights just come to us when we JUST watch.
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 10:09
  • I don't mean to be a pest but of course we need some logic and reason in the beginning. That "beginning" is over when we finally realize how to see things as they are. This is Vipassina. The beginning is like training wheels. Maybe I am misunderstanding what you are trying to say because it is easy to get the wrong idea-Metta :)
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 18:39
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    Our cerebral cortex (learning brain; neo-cortex) is the most advanced part of the brain; it can make “rational decisions” by contemplation but it is time delayed. Therefore, it is called the “thinking brain”. The cortex is responsible for language capability, logic, reasoning, learning and critical thinking, the good stuff. The cortex is involved in generating vaci and kaya sankhara that arise with a time delay. By controlling our vaci and kaya sankhara, we have the ability to change our nature. This is the “modern scientific rationale” behind the basis of Buddha Dhamma. Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 19:36
  • @Uuu your 'just' insight is your way, that it works for you. Everyone is different, and for many, your path would be fruitless. This is why it is recommended: "Seeking the guidance of an eminent Guru" (the biography of Milarepa), because such a person can discern for each student the way that they individually require. There is no shortage of people proclaiming what worked for themselves, but each person walks in only their own footprints. Nothing works for everyone.
    – user2341
    Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 13:48
  • @no comprende You think I don't know this? I'm just sharing my opinion just like you are. I mean take your own advice if that's what you think. When I say 'just' I am talking about EMPTINESS and that is just "MY way" right? and how dare I try to correct anyone(like your doing).
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 18:50

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