We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

It All Makes Sense

Reality makes sense to us in at least three ways.  First, reality makes sense to us in an everyday, which is for us common sense.  We sense the world, physical and cultural, and these ordinary, everyday things make sense to us.  Only philosophers wonder if they are real.  For the rest of us, the common world of our physical and cultural senses is real.  Second, we have a moral sense, which helps us navigate our social world.  It is a sense composed of values, attitudes, and ethical principles and behaviors.  It is, to be sure, related to our common sense, but it is also something universal across human cultures.  Finally, we have a spiritual sense, which again is culturally bound in many ways yet universal across human cultures.  With it, we sense a realm of metaphysical realities, such as the human spirit, awe, wonder, mystery, and the mystical.  For people of religious faith, it is with this sense that we sense the Presence of God or the reality of the Dharma.

The boundaries between these realities are porous, but they all make sense to us—in different ways of course.  Cultures define reality, up to a point.  So, too, do our individual personalities define how we sense what is real.  Experiences shape our senses and sometimes radically change what makes sense to us—what is real for us.  We, nonetheless, all have common, moral, and spiritual sensibilities, which all make sense to us.