Erenlai - Looking at the World from Other's Eye 透過他人的眼睛看世界
Looking at the World from Other's Eye 透過他人的眼睛看世界

Looking at the World from Other's Eye 透過他人的眼睛看世界

 
 
Here is an offering of the traditions, insights, experiences and stories of others so as to enter into their world, enrich our personal development, stir up our consciousness and open our eyes. A path to embracing everyone everywhere…

就算我們的生活經驗再豐富,總有我們沒看到的、沒想過的或沒體會到的事物。在這裡,讓我們一起來分享不同的觀點、論述與生命故事。但願因心界的開放讓我們學會更大的包容力,讓我們能全心去接納那些跟我們完全不同的他者

 

Sunday, 10 September 2006

心靈的溫泉浴

工作累了,讀書累了,愛情累了,我們不禁會想找個地方歇息,找個人談,找個溫泉勝地泡溫泉。

調養身體憑藉的是食物與休息,有動有靜生理機能才能正常運作;人際關係如果產生困擾,我們可以請教老師、前輩、專家。然而,如果心靈累了,心中的祕密無人傾吐,見到了世界的醜陋,我們找誰讓我們恢復心靈的秩序呢?你在哪裡安頓你疲憊的心靈呢?靈性的憑藉又在哪裡呢?《人籟雜誌》希望提出幾個途徑與依靠,幫助大家尋求心靈的新生。當然,大家最先想到的就是尋求宗教上的解脫或是寄託。但是在決定皈依何者宗教之前,東西方的文化傳統早已提供了相當豐富的資源,大家經常用而不察,卻藉此恢復內在的寧靜與喜悅,就像洗了心靈溫泉一樣:東方的儒道佛實踐、西方的密契傳統(人與神直接溝通來往而沒有透過任何組織與架構)、祈禱、靜坐、各文化的個人經驗等等。 關於心靈秩序的恢復,我們必須先釐清三個問題:談到靈修,我們往往就開始談起修行方法及領門師父。有的師父教人盤坐要領及呼吸吐納法,以打開頓悟之門,有的師父則能透視你的個性與過去,希望幫你找回內心的平靜與幸福。《人籟》在此要討論的不只是修行的工夫,更希望和大家一同尋覓靈性的源頭,例如內心的欲求、行事的風骨、內在最深層的生命律動。修行路也許蜿蜒崎嶇,也許一步千里,但是我們相信「道」通往一。

人們常常把「靈性探索」和「心理學」混為一談,甚至認為兩者是一體兩面。當然,靈修問題與心理困擾無法分而視之。我們頂著上一代給的皮囊,背負點點滴滴的記憶,因著不同性情,有的成了聖人,有的成了智者。如果我們將靈修與心理混淆,我們可能會把個人追尋的最終對象誤以為是自己本身,而以為自己握有絕對的價值。靈性領域的探索會讓我們懂得分辨,而且能夠讓我們走出自己的世界。走出自我,瞭解自我,知道「我」不是世界的中心,知道「我」不是十全十美的人。這樣的「我」才是個能夠向他者開放的人:不但懂得和他人相處,同時也懂得迎接另一個世界。

成功的人有了帳目的增長,但不見得就有靈性的成長。此外,我們常以為心靈探索僅止於個人心靈的成長。事實上,心靈探索有其團體的向度需要完成。面對社會的暴力與不公,我們的自由意志要努力把它轉向正義與和平。我們要相信自己和旁人一樣都可以在心靈的路上齊肩並進。如此一來,我才能夠與他人開創新的關係。團體與個人之間存有一個辯證的關係,思考並培養這個關係可說是心靈成長的驗證。《人籟》編輯部希望能夠和讀者共同找到探索靈性的勇氣與力量,得到心靈的安適與滋潤。

【人籟論辨月刊第3期,2004年3月】
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我要訂人籟

Sunday, 27 August 2006

Approach to Nature in China and the West

During the last century, philosophical thought has been centering too much on Humankind. In the West (phenomenolgy, existentialism, deconstructionism, hermeneutics, critical theory, post-modernism…) as in China (New Confucians…), Man has been the starting point of investigation. True, Humankind cannot disregard itself, and, throughout the world, various kinds of Humanism remain the main currents of thought. However, if Humankind centers only on itself, many of its own questions cannot be solved. In the last half of the 20th century, the relationship to be established with the environment has become a burning issue. Moreover, the developments that have occurred in astronomical physics have arisen new interest on the Universe as a whole, and this helps us to define anew the position of Man within the universe, giving us hope to define the shape of an “open humanism.”

Presently, philosophy confronts three important issues: (a) universalization or globalization brought by technology; (b) defining again the position of Man within Nature according to the concerns brought forth by ecological concerns and astronomical investigation; (c) looking at problems in terms of comparative philosophy, this following the developments of the historical consciousness and cultural diversification.

Today, the spirit of humanism is not to be developed by asserting the position of Humankind as such. It rather comes from the way we look at its relationships with the Other (Otherness) – with embodies Nature, other people and the transcendental world. An open humanism is an opening towards Nature, other people and the Transcendental, and it is also a way to strive towards harmony with Otherness. The real spirit of humanism consists in assessing the position of the Other before one’s position. Ethics is a basic component of humanism.

During the 20th century, with an exception to be made for Whitehead’s “Process and Reality”, natural philosophy has been a rather neglected field. Attention was turned towards technology and towards human relationships.

Scientism, priority given to technology, and “closed humanism” have been at the root of ecological destruction. It can thus be said that ecological destruction comes from the false view on Nature developed by modern Western philosophy, and it is important to have a closer look at it.

This view is based on an “objective” description of the various realms of Nature through explanatory laws that will allow for valid predictions about natural phenomena.

This way, Nature becomes a composite concept associating various territories and phenomena described by scientific laws. Kant ‘”Kritik der reinen Vernunft” makes a distinction between the concept of “world” and “nature.” “World”, Kant says, is a mathematical concept, the sum of the various phenomena. “Nature” is a concept that belongs to the science of Dynamics. The laws of Dynamics link together the various phenomena, which become a global entity.

In other works, ‘Nature’ is described as a combination of phenomena linked by laws that can be known and used. Western philosophy of Nature is about certainty, mechanisms and is a kind of Reductionism.

It is about certainty, because certainty is the direct product of the definition of Laws.

It is mechanistic, in the sense that it is not concerned with ‘life” itself, as exemplified by the book “L’Homme machine” by La Mettrie (1709-1751).

It is a kind of reductionism in the sense that the causal system always goes back to more and more basic laws and explanations (from the soul to psychology, from psychology to natural sciences, from natural sciences to chemistry and from chemistry to the elements of physics it embodies…)

This course of thought leads to consider nature as a stock of products that can be used for different purposes, and this is from this attitude that environmental destruction proceeds.

Fortunately, there have been several correctives made to the approach previously described. Heisenberg provides us with an example of alternative approach. Stressing the impossibility of calculating conjointly the position and speed of an atom, Heisenberg expresses a “principle of uncertainty.” There have been several interpretations of such principle, one of them being that it expresses a degree of freedom within Nature itself. One can have doubts about such an interpretation, and, in any case, it is necessary to draw a distinction between epistemological indetermination and metaphysical indetermination.

Western philosophy still states the position of “objective observer” that the scientist is supposed to hold vis-a-vis the natural world. Heidegger deconstructs such a position, showing that the knowledge we have is really ours, and that, when observing, we are actually entering into the natural process. “Reality itself” is not the same as “constructed reality”, elaborated through language and theory.

Heisenberg compares scientific knowledge and technology to a spider’s web through which humankind can grasp what it needs for its existence, and in which it can dwell. The more the web expands, the more humankind deals with oneself only, not with Nature. What becomes of the primacy of Nature if such is the situation?

In ‘Die Einheit der Natur”, The German scientist and philosopher C.F. von Weizsäcker states a basic concept: “Nature precedes Man, Man precedes natural sciences.” The damages that Man inflicts upon Nature come from a reversal of this basic truth.

What humankind is now striving for is a vision of Nature in which Nature takes indeed precedence. A.N Whitehead exemplifies this new trend, as do a few Chinese philosophers. In “Process and reality, An Essay in Cosmology”, Whitehead gives an account of the “category of the Ultimate” in terms of “creativity”, creativity that is expressed in the continuous process of production of the universe. Nature here refers to the existence of the body of the Universe. Nature is a “process of creative advance.”

Witehead develops the concept of “prehension”, understood as an existential movement. In this view, Man is a part of Nature, a part that will initiate the movement of knowledge, a movement that participates in the general process of creative advance.

Likewise, Chinese philosophy stresses the movement of endless change and the primacy of Nature. Chinese philosophy has a living understanding of the relationship between Man and Nature that can help us to overcome the relative “indifference” or “coldness’ that Whitehead shows towards Man.

The basis of the Taoist’s vision of Nature can be found in these words of the Laozi: “Man models himself on Earth, Earth models itself on Heaven, Heaven on the Way, and the Way on the natural process (ziran).” A modern interpretation of these words stresses that Man has to understand and respect the natural laws as reflected in the ecological milieu that he belongs to. “Heaven” opens us to the infinite vastness of the cosmic dimension, to which our Earth belongs. The reference to the Way points towards the process of endless generation that is at the roots of the Cosmos. This movement of endless generation is itself referred not to a superior reality but rather to the inner movement that perpetually regenerates the movement of the Way itself. Furthermore, Chinese philosophy points towards a wholeness, an unity exemplified by these words from Zhuangzi: “Heaven and Earth appear with me, the Myriad Beings are One with me.” Confucians will also stress that Man can develop a common feeling with the Universe. Later one, Wang Yangming says that the Superior Man is a particle of the whole universe.

Chinese Philosophy also stresses that all phenomena (astronomy, geography, humankind…) influence each other. The “Inner Classic of the Yellow Emperor” {one of the classics of Chinese medicine} stresses the interconnection between atmospheric conditions, feelings, state of the body… Another philosopher, Fang Yizhi, stresses that the universe is a totality of systems , that systems are particles, and that within particles there are systems.

Chinese philosophy puts the stress on processes, especially the one of endless generation and change. The Book of Mutations says that the balance between yin and yang is the Dao itself. The process of alternation (also stressed by Fang Yizhi) between what has a form and what is formless is what accounts for the infinity of the Universe.

The universe is filled by the creativity of the process of endless transformations. The Book of Mutation also stresses that all beings are “circulating”, “flowing.” Similarly, the “Book of Music” stresses that music flows in the same way as natural phenomena do. Human creativity comes from the creativity of the cosmos itself.

Man should feel and develop to the utmost the source of the creativity of his spirit. Communicating with the strength of nature in one’s heart, one communicates with the Limitless. We might live nowadays in a technological world, not a natural one, but, when communicating with Nature, we also take inspiration for a more natural and kinder way to live within the human world.

Within the perspective of Chinese philosophy, the kind of scientific and technological knowledge that one should strive to attain is a knowledge that goes to the principle of things, to their very core. Mencius says: “the One who knows his heart know his nature. The one who knows his nature knows Heaven.” In other words, Chinese philosophy promotes a knowledge which is at the same time a “participative construction”, in opposition to the Western model of “dominative construction.”

The basic difference between Man and Nature might not lie in self-consciousness (which one can find in various degrees in natural phenomena) but rather in self-reflection, self-examination. The potential for self-examination in Man opens up an infinite world of potentialities, opens up the world of the Transcendent. Through symbols, the soul can make the object of its longing take shape from within. Symbols are intermediaries between abstraction and reality.

Their importance lies in the actual surging of a potentiality. In the post-modern culture, it is this symbolic efficiency that is stressed, this capacity to make a potentiality become reality. Through symbols, the soul can already enter the Limitless.

Actually, even our capacity to formulate the simplest of rational judgments opens us up to the Transcendent, because it makes us escape determinations. This is especially obvious when it comes to ethical judgments.

Although Man differs from Nature in this sense, it is also linked to it through his body. Furthermore, the actions of Man will often become a “second nature.“ Will, symbols and knowledge tends towards the Transcendent but are practically limited. The forms taken by these limitations are what we called the “second nature” of Man.

The interaction between “limitless’ and “limitations” can be well observed in writings and the arts. The “materiality” of Humanism, that links Man to Nature, manifests itself in a certain “opacity of things.” The distance between the “transparency” of self-examination and the “opacity” of its material expression opens the space of interpretation.

In a special way, technology has become a “second nature par excellence.” Its present development is so vast that it allows for the surge of new utopian dreams.

Such dreams might become curses if not for the support of a humanistic spirit. I myself wrote a book called “Conjuring the curse on the world” that explores the rift between technology and cultural production. There is the risk that, as technology progresses more and more, Man becomes less and less happy.

With the advent of the technologies of information, a new culture is on the making. Lyotard, in ‘La condition post-moderne” has stressed the difference between “information” and ‘formation,.” Ultimately, the flow of information can kill Meaning. Computer per se lacks strength when it comes to Meaning. A five-year old child can understand a story, the computer cannot. Furthermore, Paul Weiss has said, that, in the future, the only difference between Man and Computer might lie in the capacity to love. If one day a computer develops a capacity to love, one will be entitled to say that it has become Human.

Creative symbols, capacity to understand Meaning, Love… there is also the capacity for self-examination. Man must especially integrate the information he gets within the whole framework of his knowledge and life experience. He must also find a way to enter his inner world, which is harder in our society than was the case in an agricultural society for instance, as Taoist, Buddhist and Hindu texts exemplify.

Ontological schools have certainly made the greatest contribution to the formation of an open humanism. They have shown that living beings through movement and relationships point towards and give shape to Meaning. Ontology has evolved from an “ontology of substance” to an “ontology of event.” Moving one step further, an open humanism might relate to an “ontology of relation.”

An ontology of relation is what is provided by Chinese philosophy. Asserting the primacy of relationship is also asserting the Other. The Other (be it other people, Nature, Divinity) cannot be “reduced” to anything else. Interaction, free creation, common development, this is what stresses an ontology of relation. A relationship per se is something that cannot be “reduced” and constitues a space for infinite creation and generation. Within relationship, there is freedom. Within freedom, there is relationship. An open humanism analyzes the relationship between Man, Nature and Technology in a way that is very similar to the one described by Zhuangzi in the story of the Butcher Ting. Nature, Technology, Society are all very complex realities. Slicing a beef, Butcher Ting avoids the ligatures and the bones, he does things according to the heavenly principles, according to the nature of things. “There are the interstices of the joint, and the edge of the knife has no thickness. When that which is so thin enters where the interstice is, how easily it moves along!” This is going from technology to the revelation of the meaning of human existence. And this invites us to preserve relations within freedom, and to protect freedom within the sphere of relations.

(English Summary of the paper delivered at the conference on “environmental protection and development”, Qingchengshan, July 2-6, 2000, ricci Institute, Sichuan Academy of Social Sciences)
© copyright 2000 by Taipei Ricci Institute


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