Re: Pascal's Wager

Zenarchy (
Wed, 9 Dec 1998 11:34:08 -0800

Anders wrote,
>The problem with the contemplatice approaches is that they are, well,
>contemplative. This is why they need science, to rein in speculations
>and mystical insights so they relate to the real world (whatever that
>place is) and not just remains flights of fancy.

If "the contemplative approach" does not directly engage "the real world (whatever that place is)"
then "the contemplative approach" does not meet zen's standard of reality readiness.
I recommend a convergence involving the empiricism of science with the appreciation of dhyana (a sanskrit word which sadly has no equivalent among the Romance languages).

I don't know if I can explain the importance of dhyana in this way: As scientists study the form and function of, say flowers, they need not forget the flowers' fragrance?
Empiricism pervades the flowers' fragrance as much as it explores the form and function of flowers.

If science ignores this, how can we say that it operates dispassionately or objectively? (Ignoring things can lead to ignorance, after all.) Circular and trite though it seems, science needs to objectively study subjectivity (the central theme of dhyana) because as we've already shown, scientists experience subjective qualities (regardless of how we try to ignore it).
The fact that scientists engage subjectivity while studying the form and function of nature emerges whenever scientists (which can mean you and me) remember themselves while in the act of doing science.

So, while the contemplative scientist (in this example) studies the parts of flowers -- the petals, pistils, stigmas, styles, ovaries, stamens, anthers, filaments, ovules, sepals, receptacles and all -- she can also remember the contemplative scientist who studies the parts of flowers. When the interval between studying and remembering shrinks to zero, the scientist experiences a glimpse of dhyana. The importance of that experience relates to comprehending the significance of life (the mother of all Big Pictures).

The fragrance of dhyana does not copy well in semiotic methodologies. Likewise, no amount of email can adequately inform anyone concerning the fragrance of a particular flower (or the taste of a kumquat, for that matter). *Nevertheless* obvious experiments suggest themselves. Such as "Obtain the flower in question and smell it." or "Get a kumquat and taste it."

Ergo, a scientific evaluation of dhyana (the "contemplative" component of "contemplative science") ought to include, to start with, direct experience of dhyana.

How to find it? How to detect it? How to experience it? Who knows how many humans have dedicated themselves to this endeavor. But the world mostly prefers to laugh (when it can pull itself away from global suicide) instead of finding out.

-J. R.

>Quantum mechanics proved Einstein wrong about the dice; but Pascal
>should remeber that God likes to play with hidden dice, making it hard
>to detect cheating.

Yeah, gotta watch those cheatin' deities. <g>

Famous bumper sticker:
"I found it. And now my finger stinks."