Ancient Science

Acquiring Knowledge

Now let’s talk about practical matters. The Abhidhamma system may indeed be used for an almost infinite amount of things. Principally should the study of this system give a person the key to comprehend any teaching or statement or problem whatsoever, be it religious, mathematical, philosophical, biological or what ever else. Because, although there is a certain relativity to all truths spoken or written down, there is but one universal truth which may be approached in many different ways. The clearer that is comprehended, the greater will be the impact on an individuals consciousness and consequently the faster and more efficient that individual will be able find solutions to particular problems..

There are various methods as to how to acquire knowledge by the use of this system. One is experimentation. That is, a person sets before his mind that he wants a certain answer. With this in mind he runs various experiments to lead him from certain things he knows about, towards the things he wants to know about. For example, he might want to understand what is Jhāna. Depending on what he already knows, he might either start by investigating his body to understand what sort of body condition might give him some clue as to what is Jhāna, or, if he is more developed, he might try to start off straight away from a condition of wholesome emotions or even a concentrated mind. When he thus starts out with a condition he can comprehend, the primary method of acquiring greater understanding is by asking questions,…’How does it relate to Jhāna?’, ‘How to proceed?’, ‘What escapes my attention?’, etc. and when an answer arises which is not yet the perfect answer to the main question, to make adjustments in accordance with that answer. For example he might discover, that he lacks energy and that that condition is likely to be contrary to a condition of Jhāna. Enquiring further based on an understanding that energy comes from nutriment, he tries to find out whether there is any ‘latent’ nutriment present in his body that he could access through application of mind, or not. If he somehow succeeds in solving that problem, usually the next problem will arise, with which he again will have to see to it how to proceed. Yet, if done skillful long enough, there will come times wherein he can enjoy the fruits of his labour for longer periods of time…experiencing things that only in retrospect make sense to think about. And thinking about them in retrospect, he might find that he already has found a perfect answer for his question.

Or, alternatively, a person does some observations outside himself, and doing thus, he, as a simplified example, sees, there an old man, there a young infant and there a middle aged man and reflecting on in this example the ‘Sequence Condition’, he starts realising, that there is only one proper sequence as to how to order these three human beings. Nobody will start of as a full grown adult, to become younger again and yet at the end of that somehow still ending up as an old person. Realising that this really is part of the fabric of existence, that things happen in some particular order, that person might start to look within himself, to find, if he can’t discover some natural sequences within. Thus he might discover the natural sequence of his bodily or mental processes and perhaps further on, a certain natural sequence for moving out of various problems of life.

A further method for acquiring knowledge which yet naturally follows in sequence the former ones, will be a method akin to brainstorming…That is, understanding that the latent mind is the storehouse of uncountable impressions, which like little seeds in fertile ground, under the right conditions might sprout one after another. And which due to being of a subtler kind than physical seeds, may manifest their potential very fast. One may, whenever the conditions are favourable, allow one’s consciousness to be flushed with any type of information or even fragments of information somewhat related to a certain subject. Making sure to dispel any utterly unrelated bit of information, while at the same time to intent to perceive new links between the things that arise from that stream of acquired kamma. Thus one’s knowledge about certain things increases through seeing correspondences with other knowledge previously acquired, while at the same time new sequences or new links in natural sequences may be discovered. This method also will be the basis method for the enquiring into one’s past lives.

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