5

Many times I have found myself thankful for being aware of Buddhism, and also for being connected to all of the people here. Information, experiences, doubts, references and views, everything that we have had shared helps make me a good man. Whenever I get time, I read questions, answers and comments.

BUT, I have observed that reality lies in the nature of the experience, and the information that is already present (maybe through text or speech) in the mind can be considered worthless after the experience. Can someone tell me how experiences and the text/speech information work together? I know it works but I want to know how it works.

  • 1
    jitin, the old title "Experience is important than the text information" is not correct English. The reason I did not change it was because I could not understand it. – Anthony Feb 28 '15 at 22:17
1

This is a beautiful question, because it's not only about the spiritual aspect of life, but about living a spiritual life -- where your practice and your daily life are not separate.

There is that beautiful adage, "the finger that points to the moon is not the moon," which seems specially relevant to your query.

Our minds can be harnessed like a magnifying glass into understanding phenomena. Since all phenomena share certain characteristics, by deeply understanding a fragment we can understand the whole.

The key is knowing where to look, what to focus on. This is why oral teachings and scriptural knowledge are so important, especially in any serious practice of the Buddha's teachings. We get our bearings, a basic "map with landmarks" that we can use to find our way around.

Language can be viewed a few ways; mainly as an expression of life, and also as a tool which we can use to help one another.

Ultimately, as you say, it is like a reflection. The "mirror of mind" can become apparent with steady practice and rigorous reflection. A good analogy to the words or language, the oral instructions that make this understanding possible might be: a key, or fine tuning, or two magnetized ends finally coalescing.

The words and teachings help unlock truth, which can be understood, and whereafter -- as you have said -- the words themselves seem hollow or insignificant in comparison to the actual experience of understanding.

That said, we must always be thankful for our stepping stones. You can climb up a ladder and see the view from the mountain top, which doesn't render the ladder useless, but if your truth was "ladder ladder ladder" and now it's "whoa! check out the view!" there can be a sense of disparity.

The truth is, all the teachings are skillful means for realizing the ultimate nature of reality -- actualizing an understanding that is beyond description. Buddha called it the deathless, among other descriptions, and although study and understanding of the words is very important, the actual experience is the intention.

Back to your question, ultimately the three Reality, Experience, and Information are inseparable. It may appear that the cliff and the sky are separate, but there is no gap in their continuity.

1

It sounds like you are asking a question about the Zen/Chan idea that the things in Buddhism worth learning are ineffable (can't be put into words), academics and sutra reading are useless, and only practice matters. Language is still used, but now as a way to induce a sort of wobblying feeling and distrust of language, through crypic, paradoxical and incoherent koans. Dialog is still used, but the students response is always wrong, and if it isn't wrong, it isn't clear to observers what was different. Even attempting to describe how it works is a bit dangerous since, attempts to summarize zen is wrong, the same way attempts to summarize Buddhist wisdom is wrong, so you can really only describe how Zen works outside of the system of Zen/Chan. (Quick! Someone prove me right by posting a comment with a cryptic and dismissive comment about how I don't understand Zen!)

I would say even the Chan/Zen project can be reduced to words, at least in the how it is done, if not the conclusions.

Anyhow, my favorite essayist who has written about Experience and if you can put it into words, from a Buddhist standpoint, is Jayarava, who I will not attempt to summarize, but I think he's saying, things in the world are perfectly discussable (and therefore teachable) and experiences, we can do a reasonable job of talking about and understanding even other people's experiences, but those words won't put that experience into someone else's head.

http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/is-experience-really-ineffable.html

We know about the emotional state of another person through various cues that that other uses to broadcast their state: facial expression, posture, tone of voice, direction of gaze, etc. And we take these cues and use them to build an internal model - if I were to make my own face and body take on the configuration of the other persons face and body, how would that feel? And this is surprisingly accurate.

http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/not-two-truths.html

Words do a fair job of communicating about objects and ideas. But when it comes to experiences... no experience can be communicated in words. We can say that we have had an experience; we can say how we explain and/or interpret that experience; we can say how we feel about having had that experience; we can say how the experience changed us: but with mere words we cannot communicate the experience we've had. This is true of every single experience. So experience, all experience, is ineffable

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.