Thursday, March 17, 2011

Maps and Terrain: Beliefs and the Wondering Mind.

The group discussed Stephen Batchelor's "Buddhism Without Beliefs".  A wide-ranging discussion about beliefs, and how they serve us as guides, as maps, and how they have the potential to limit experience by freezing permissible perspectives on reality.

It seems to me that Batchelor's preference for what he refers to as "agnosticism" is motivated by his desire to eschew belief and to embrace a not-knowing that allows, no, requires that I keep a wondering mind.  A wondering mind is one that he finds most open to an interaction with reality that eliminates the separation between the perceiver and the perceived, resulting only in perceiving.  To use another metaphor, a map held agnostically, without attachment, has the potential to dissolve in the user's encounter with the terrain, leaving only the sacred encounter and its consequences.

Whatever the value of maps, of beliefs, it seems to me that Batchelor exquisitely touches the need for every map to have a large space marked "terra incognita", the unknown land, to remind us that maps need always to be held loosely if they are not to separate us from the terrain that is our lives.

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