Jerry S. on Experience
Jan 30, 1995 01:17 PM
by Dara Eklund
Jerry S.> What is experience, after all? Buddhism, for example,
says that we should doubt all teachings and teachers, even
Buddha, and rely only on our personal experiences as our guide
incorporating only those teachings that fit in with those
experiences. I have come to believe that experience is not all
that it is cracked up to be, but on the other hand it is really
about all we have.
Jerry's last sentence gives me hope that he may not mean what he
wrote before it. Perhaps he will say some more.
Neither Buddhism nor Theosophy teaches reliance on "only our
personal experiences as our guide". Nor do they teach
incorporation of "only those teachings that fit in with those
In one of Buddha's last teachings before his body died, he said
"It may be that some among you will think, `Our Guru's teachings
have stopped, we no longer have a Guru.' But that is not so
Ananda. That which I have proclaimed and made known as the
Teaching and the Moral Rules, that shall be your Guru after I am
If Buddha's Middle Way means anything, it means avoiding
*exclusive* reliance on either our own or others' views.
HPB, in the KEY and the SD, writes of Adepts accepting a personal
vision as true, only if it coincides with the previous visions of
other Adepts. So if anything, the balance swings *away* from
self reliance and towards a collective or shared view of truth.
Throughout Asia, one would *never* take an inner experience,
whether a logical conclusion, a dream or a meditative insight,
and appraise it based only on one's own personal experience. You
would approach your Guru first, (and other Sages too if he was
not sure of the value or meaning), and seek from him
verification, denial, or explanation of it. You would also study
the scriptures of your own tradition to see what light they might
shed on this event.
The dangers of relying too heavily on self-instruction are many.
Not the least of which is strutting about as an Initiate, Buddha
or any Christlike sage; when all you have had, at best, is some
astral vision, or perhaps a samadhi-like state of concentration.
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