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A talk given at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church (November 22, 2016)
Transcribed by Jeffrey Fuller and edited by David Loy ---
It’s been two weeks today since the election, and many of us are still in a state of shock —traumatized, disheartened if not depressed, anxious, angry, fearful and somewhat confused, wondering what’s going to come next — and wondering if there might be some silver lining to what’s happening. My response today has two parts. First I’d like to identify a very real silver lining, or at least the possibility of a silver lining, depending on how we respond to the situation. And then I’d like to say a bit about what I think is the most important contribution of Buddhist teachings to this situation, which can help us understand and respond to it.
Axiological epistemology, or know-how on human axiological issues, must be based on our condition as animals. All living beings, as the creatures with needs that they are, interact with the environment in which they live in a way that is specific, sensory and axiological. We humans are no exception. Axiological epistemology must account for of our unique nature as living creatures defined as such by their ability to speak. Speech is what makes us viable animals and, therefore,…
The proposal of the religious traditions, to a society articulated upon initiative, creativity, innovation, and continuous change in all levels of life, cannot account for “linking”. It will account for trust and acceptance of an offer supported by the acknowledgement of quality of the Masters and the great books; an offer that causes free adhesion, not to formulas, but to a quality and a spirit that generate certainty without subduing to fixed forms of thinking, feeling, acting, and living. On…
This paper is a meditation on the myth of freedom. It embraces freedom as a myth, i.e. as it is present in our consciousness before and beyond any notion or conceptualisation of it, and defying any attempt to its definition. Our meditation is on the creative power of this symbolic word, extending its scope beyond the confines of an exclusively human trait, to encompass all reality.
Congratulations! Thank you for inviting me today. Looking at this sea of bright, intelligent eyes is not only thrilling, it is inspiring, it is reassuring, it is humbling. I wish each and every one of you the very best in life.
Today, as you get ready to leave Harvard, and enter the world of work, you are well-prepared. You have read a lot, you have learnt a lot, and I am sure you are brimming with ideas and theories that you are impatient to put into practice. If that is true, rest assured, your university has done its duty.