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July 03, 2011


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Digha Nikaya
Brahmajala Sutta

18 Convictions Regarding the Past (1-18)

4 Evasive Strategies Resorted to by "Eel-Wrigglers" [or Endless Equivocators] (13-16)

These are people who will not commit to any definitive statement about anything because:
13. they feel they do not know what is good/bad, or right/wrong, and they are terrified of speaking any falsehood
14. they feel they do not know what is good or bad, and they want to avoid saying anything that might cause them to generate desire, attachment, aversion, etc., which they would find distressing
15. they feel they do not know what is good or bad, and they want to avoid saying anything that a skilled debator / intellect might destroy with reasoned analysis and questioning, which they would find distressing
16. they are dull and stupid! They respond to any question: "If I thought so, I would say so. But I don't say so. And I don't say otherwise. And I don't say it is not, and I don't not say it is not."

Bob, Skepticism (ajñānavāda) should be regarded as a refusal to know. To accomplish this, the skeptic always maintains there is a lack of sufficient evidence so that absolute knowledge remains impossible. This is what the Buddha objected to. Let me also say that the Buddha would not have been opposed to Huxley's agnosticism. I think The Zennist has covered Huxley's agnosticism. The Buddha called skeptics eel-wigglers (D. i. 24). A good book, Bob, is Jayatilleke's book Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge. He looks into Indian "skepticism" during the time of the Buddha.

Kojizen, some research led me to the following excerpt from the Kalama Sutra "It is proper for you, Kalamas, to doubt, to be uncertain; uncertainty has arisen in you about what is doubtful. Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk is our teacher.'"

Calm down Java Junkie, have you considered decaf?

Kojizen, I'm here to learn and am not yet well versed in original Buddhist scripture. Can you give me a reference backing up the assertion that "the Buddha had absolute contempt for the 'skeptic.'" The 'evidence-guided' investigative (i.e., scientific) behavior to which I refer was the failure of ascetic practice leading to adoption of the Middle Way that I find described in all accounts.

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