A brief guide to Thinking & Reasoning

The Middle Way Enso - 4/20

Image by wadem via Flickr

Formal studies of Thinking and Reasoning have a long history and have contributed to the teachings of many World Religions. The earliest references I’m aware of are from Buddhist’s texts. Early Buddhists such as Nagarjuna and Candrakirti, when writing about the Middle Path tradition, describe a meditation technique which involves cognizing pairs of opposites to go beyond them. Analytical Meditation, as this technique is called, is central to Buddhist mind training. We all tend to interpret our experiences in terms of bipolar concepts (see the works of George Kelly), which can restrict our ability to make skillful decisions. Buddhist Mind Training involves cognizing these pairs of opposites with the goal of removing them – collapsing them into a single pole. For instance you might concentrate on the bipolar distinction between “good” and “evil” or contemplate the expression “the purity that is the opposite of impurity is not true purity” (see the Platform sutra). Such meditations help us question the way we construe the world and help us develop better ways of evaluating the things that we come across during our everyday lives.

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