I made a mistake the other day when I suggested that we should try to engage more in “inductive” reasoning. That should have read “deductive”. To me, the names are misleading. I get them mixed up because “deductive” calls to my mind the image of a detective assembling clues, moving toward the solution of some crime.
But now that I think I have it straight . . . Western science and philosophy is based on the inductive method, where examination is conducted systematically, step by step, until a conclusion is finally reached. Like my detective. Eastern philosophy, however, uses the deductive method, in which the conclusion comes first. In this approach, as utilized in Eastern philosophy, the conclusion is assumed to be valid until proven otherwise, and based on the conclusion it is hypothesized that if one does this, then that will happen.
So, here in the West, to even begin to understand Buddhism, we have acclimate ourselves to another way of thinking. The reason so many of us have a difficult time grasping Buddha-dharma is because we remain stuck in the inductive mode. Perhaps some of us are not even aware that this philosophy relies on a completely different mode of reasoning than we are accustomed to using.
It’s really a strange phenomena. Many people want to practice Buddhism, want to call themselves Buddhists, and yet, they are so resistant to many of its principles. There are quite a few people these days who are picking, tearing them apart, because, in my opinion, they don’t understand it. They don’t get it, so they want to prove to you that it’s not worth understanding, that it’s not really valid. I can’t begin to fathom how anyone could follow a philosophy and yet have so little confidence in it. I think that would change if they could develop more understanding of this deductive approach.
Related to this subject is the principle of the Five Eyes (panca-caksu), or five kinds of vision, which has its origin in Pali sources and was later explained in great detail by Nagarjuna in the Maha-Prajna-paramita Sastra.
The five eyes are:
(1) the physical-eye, or the faculty of sight, that sees the ordinary objects before it;
(2) the spiritual-eye sees birth and death, good and bad, causes and conditions;
(3) the eye of Wisdom sees the true nature of things, emptiness, nirvana;
(4) the eye of Dharma is inspired by the thought of universal compassion;
(5) the Buddha-eye, the eye of awakening.
It’s said that only a Buddha holds all five, but does not use them all at the same time. Only the physical-eye is innate at the beginning, the four other kinds of vision are potentialities that must be cultivated. In his translation of the Diamond Sutra, the great Ch’an monk, Hsuan Hua (founder of City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Ukiah, California), commented:
Are they produced from within or do they come from outside? The five eyes are not produced from within; nor do they come from outside: nor do they exist in the middle. Cultivate, use effort, and when your skill is sufficient you will have them naturally. Before sufficient skill is attained, no amount of seeking will cause them to function. Seeking is false thinking. Seeking without the thought of seeking brings a response.”
The four eyes preceding the buddha-eye are limited. However, the eye of the Buddha is said to be free from delusion and filled with compassion for all beings. Ascending the Five Eyes is a purification process, as Nagarjuna points out:
All the five eyes of the Buddha arise from prajna-paramita [transcendent wisdom]. The bodhisattva while cultivating prajna-paramita purifies his five eyes.”
The “five eyes” were once explained to me as five different ways of perceiving Buddhism:
(1) the Physical-eye is where we start from, simply apprehending physical objects; for instance recognizing that Buddhism is a religion with temples and priests and monks and lay people and statues, etc.
(2) the Spiritual-eye is also the eye of experience: Buddhism is viewed as a philosophy that contains excellent wisdom.
(3) the eye of Wisdom: Dharma becomes a tool.
(4) the eye of Dharma: Dharma become the focal point of life.
(5) the Buddha-eye: Buddhism is not merely a religion, a philosophy, discipline, or a way of life – it embraces all that and then goes beyond. With this eye, one has cultivated the two qualities of wisdom and compassion, but compassion becomes the primary motivation of life.
As previously stated, the first four eyes, or ways of viewing, are limited. The physical and spiritual eyes cannot see beyond mere form. The eye of wisdom sees the emptiness in form and embraces both the ultimate and relative, but compassion is not yet at the center. The eye of dharma, the aspiration to realize awakening for the sake of others, is the portal into the highest kind of vision.
When the bodhisattva becomes the Buddha the eye of wisdom itself comes to be called in turn the eye of the Buddha. As ignorance and other klesas [mental afflictions] including even their traces, will all have been concluded, (the bodhisattva) gains a clear comprehension in regard to every thing . . . When one gains the eye of the Buddha nothing remains unseen, unheard, uncomprehended and unrecognized.”
Take this with a grain of salt. It doesn’t mean that a Buddha is some sort of superhuman being. The most significant thing a Buddha sees, hears, comprehends and recognizes is (ala Avalokitesvara) “the cries of the world”, for as Nagarjuna stated, when a bodhisattva gains the vision of a buddha, compassion becomes the sole motivation of life.
And it should go without saying, that the sort of wisdom and compassion we are talking about is cultivated only through the twin paths of meditation and ethical conduct.