Thursday, November 3, 2011

Road signs

Next up is the question of symbols, extensively explained through the example of numerals and numbers. Numerals like 1,2,3.. or I, II, III are not the same as one of something, two of something a.s.o. I like to illustrate this with this Buddhist proverb:

Truth has nothing to do with words. Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky. Words, in this case, can be likened to a finger. The finger can point to the moon’s location. However, the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger, right?

The Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng of the Zen sect
This is quite clear to all, but this is also where I hit another problem I have whit many religions. Here I refer to the many holy scripts, that are taken as "the words of God".

Many readers of these scripts are so concentrated on the story that they miss the plot altogether. The plot is great "Be compassionate towards each other", for simple folks of ancient times this was probably to abstract. The stories needed to be more concrete examples and advice for every day life at the time, and that they still are. But this doesn't make the letters (the symbols for a pronounced sound) the words of God.    

This is like taking the finger for  the moon, or the road signs for the town it points to.

Likewise, the act of doing good, being compassionate, is not the good, it's the result of  doing good that is the good.  That makes evil the result of the absent of compassion and as I stated in my previous post,

Only where and when there are beings capable of compassion, can God exist
One further danger to take the letters for the words of God, is the fact that these stories has also been used as objects of power to direct and control the actions of the subject and thous the stories have most likely been adjusted or interpreted to suit the needs of the rulers along the decades since the actual events depicted happened.

As a final note about part II of the book, reading 17th century text is hard for the untrained reader.

Now on to part III, epistemology.

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