Search This Blog


Commentary on the Burning House Parable

Enshrined in society is the belief that truth telling is highly esteemed, provided the truth being revealed promotes harmony in that society.

However, absolute truth is promoted by taking the natural abhorrence to lying to extremes which promote intolerance and ultimately the practice of shunning the liar.

This however may be due to logical fallacies involved in shunning which creates pariahs and may also condone scapegoating.

Yet within religious communities, be it Eastern or Western, truth is either based on one work of faith or many works of faith, be it belief or works. However, the logical fallacy regarding truth is sometimes used to promote absolute truth despite the natural human tendency to obscure truth and tell a white lie.

When taken to extremes, even a white lie is deemed a lie, and the the believers of absolute truth ignore liars using logical fallacies to justify their ignorance.

Thus white lies and even myths are viewed as lies, rather than as the moderate view that both white lies and myths contain hidden truths which are revealed through careful analysis of the "lie"/myth.

Buddhism is different because I can tell a white lie to persuade you to meditate on an important topic in Buddhism. In order to meditate on this topic, first you concentrate on being conscious of your breathing to stay alert and calm, Then you meditate on the topc (the burning house parable) to develop clarity of mind that results in peace of mind.

The parable of the burning house teaches one about the history of Buddhism, and shows its primary purpose of relieving spiritual suffering is also useful in achieving peace of mind.

For the image of a burning house, and the efforts of a father to help his children escape, is a theme to which most people can relate. As well, the intent of the parable is to relieve a person from mental suffering caused by what the devout among the Christians, Jews and Muslims call decadence (the moral decay of Western society) and hedonism (the practice of carefree enjoyment of the pleasures inherent in such decadence).

Indeed, meditation helps one to manage one's life. More importantly, meditation helps a Buddhist to prepare for the afterlife, because when one is calm, one can understand the three sutras of the Pure Land of Bliss, and guarantees that if I respect the Buddha, practice the Five Precepts, practice the sutras, and meditate on their meaning, I prepare for that afterlife,

For meditation helps a person to develop clarity of mind to act and behave in a harmless manner.

While it can be said of Christians, Jews and Muslims that their religion helps their people behave in a harmless manner, might it be the nominal believers who forget such harmless behavior should happen 24/7 that sectarian violence happens?

No comments: