Sunday, April 28, 2013

Not Zen 56: Universal Reason

A woman offered flight lessons to the elderly clerk of her meeting group. He was eager to learn and arrived early. Together, they ran through the check-down list to make sure their small plane was ready. Then she took them up.

When they reached cruising altitude, she passed the controls to the clerk. His first lesson went well. Near the end, his instructor felt free to bring up things he'd said in church.

"You talked about the the Stoics," she said. "Apparently they believe there's a universal sense of reason. I like that. But at another time you said you believe in the Buddha, too, who told his followers that we create the universe with our thoughts. Those two beliefs are in direct conflict."

"No, there's no conflict." He concentrated hard on keeping a level flight.

"Yes, one of those statements opposes the other."

"No, both are true. Look, will you accept that this plane must obey the laws of gravity?"

"That's what I've been telling you. We don't keep it in the air by thinking Buddha thoughts."

"But that's exactly how we keep it in the air! We do it by thinking. Without the presence of an intelligence to recognize these material things as a plane, there isn't a plane. It doesn't exist without us. We create the 'plane' by recognizing it."

"Without us, there's nothing? Is that what you're saying?"

"Without intelligence in the universe, there could be variances in mass from place to place. But there would be no one to say, 'These masses make an airplane.'"

"Well, I'm telling you it's our understanding of nature that lets us fly."

"Well, I'm agreeing. We have to understand our own nature and think the right thoughts to stay up here."

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