How Do Eastern Philosophers Develop Deep Understanding?

Western vs Eastern Approaches

Western philosophers usually assume that intellectual training and analysis alone provide the royal road to understanding. However, transpersonal philosophers — especially those of Asian traditions such as Vedanta, Sankhya, Buddhism, and Taoism — emphasize that while intellectual training is necessary, by itself it’s not sufficient for deep understanding. They claim that the mind also must be given a multidimensional contemplative or yogic training that refines ethics, emotions, motivation, and attention.

Goal of Contemplative Training

This training is designed to develop “the eye of contemplation” by inducing specific states of consciousness in which one has the keenness, subtlety, and quickness of cognitive response that are required for penetrating insights into the nature of mind and reality. These insights collectively constitute the transcendental wisdom variously known as prajna (Buddhism), jnana (Hinduism), ma’rifah (Islam), or gnosis (Christianity). This wisdom is the goal of contemplative training and is said to liberate those who acquire it from delusion and the suffering it produces.

Inner Knowing
Helen Palmer, Editor

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