The Buddha said compassion can bring you the release of the mind. This is a synonym in the early Buddhist scriptures for the ultimate enlightenment of nirvana. The New Testament is full of the same wisdom. Charity and loving kindness bring you into the presence of God, not thinking things. In the Western Christian world we’ve come to place too much emphasis on thinking certain beliefs. What the sages in the Axial Age were discovering was second order thinking, where you watch the mind thinking. Socrates, for example could make you realize that you don’t know what you think you know. He demonstrated that thought can do a whole lot of things but that it always finishes with unknowing. Socrates could take a person through a series of questions until he realizes that he hasn’t a clue what, say, courage is, even though he’s been on the battlefield. Often the people who came to Socrates–as far as we can tell from Plato’s accounts–thought they knew their minds. After ten minutes with Socrates they realized they didn’t know anything. In the Axial Age people were testing the limits of what thought can do. It can take us a long way but we keep bumping up against an unknowing. Socrates said that is where you really begin your quest, when you realize you know nothing. Instead of being full of ourselves, we begin to realize that the world is deeply mysterious and elusive. We realize that we haven’t got the tight grasp on reality that we think. ~Karen Armstrong
we don’t know, and we really don’t like not knowing…..
inquiry for today~ where is the heart of living well?…..and how will you resist shutting down?
Handling our suffering is an art. If we know how to suffer, we suffer much less, and we’re no longer afraid of being overwhelmed by the suffering inside.
~Thich Nhat Hanh