Systems philosophy as a hermeneutic for Buddhist teachings

Joanna Rogers Macy
Philosophy East and West 26, no 1, January 1976.
(c) by The University Press of Hawaii.
pp.21-32


. p.21 Correlations between systems philosophy, as developed and articulated by Ervin Laszlo,(1) and Buddhist thought suggest the possibility that the one can serve as a tool for interpreting the other. The hermeneutical possibility appears to be reciprocal. For its part, Buddhism could endow systems' insights into cybernetic process with religious meaning-helping us see, in systemic patterns, causes for both man's suffering and his liberation, and offering methods for utilizing these insights in religious techniques. At the same time. systems philosophy could (a) provide a schema for interpreting the principles of causal process perceived in Buddhist thought and at work in Buddhist practice; and (b) both broaden this vision and integrate it with the sciences by revealing the operation of these principles throughout the observable universe. Due to limitations of time and space, this essay will deal only with the hermeneutical function that systems can play for Buddhism under point (a) above and, at that, in a necessarily rudimentary fashion. In this initial and exploratory-step, it will reflect first, in section I, upon those commonalities which suggest the suitability of interpretive interaction between the two views of life. Then in section II, as a trial effort, Laszlo's cybernetic models will be applied to two aspects of the Buddhist experience: the concept and practice of mindfulness in the Theravaadin tradition, and those of projection in the Mahaayaana. It is hoped that this experiment will appear promising enough to warrant further explorations in the mutual application of systems philosophy and Buddhism. I Why do we suggest that Laszlo's systems theory can be applied to Buddhist principles without its distorting the message of the dharma? It is because fundamental assumptions are shared by both--assumptions about the nature and purpose of their philosophic inquiry, as well as about the nature of reality. Let us look at these in turn before proceeding further. The Buddha, in formulating the dharma, did not address himself to questions relating to the ultimate source and status of things. Whether the world is infinite, or eternal, or whether the saint exists after death, etc., were questions he refused to deal with, saying that "they tend not to edification"(2) What he sought and offered was not metaphysics but method, not a "why" or a "what," but a "how": how it happens that we suffer, how we can become free, based on how things work. His insight into "how things work" constituted his enlightenment.(3) This perception of causal law, dependent coorigination (pratiityasamut paada), was set forth as a reason and a call for man to take choice.(4) It was offered, not as a comfort, but as a tool-a lever on destiny. Laszlo's purpose in doing philosophy is obviously analogous: he focuses on "how things work" so that man can perceive his own functioning, as a system and subsystem, and thereby free himself to act responsibly. He acknowledges as legitimate but does not p.22 pursue the human cognitive quest for the ultimate truth. The reluctance of both parties to make ontological claims sets them apart from philosophy as traditionally conceived (even raising the question of the extent to which they are "philosophy"); and it also facilitates their hermeneutic interaction. Systems philosophy neither requires not implies the denial of nirvaa.na; and, with the probable exception of those forms of Mahaayaana which see man's liberation as dependent on a supernatural saving power, I would suggest that there are few if any Buddhist beliefs which could not be harmonized with a systems view of cybernetic process to the satisfaction of both parties. While the efficacy of faith can be explained in cybernetic terms. the response of the faithful to such an interpretation would vary. In the case of such faith forms as the Pure Land sect, adherents might suspect a vitiation of the role of Amitabha's grace. Adherents of Vajrayaana, on the other hand, would, I believe, accept a cybernetic interpretation inasmuch as they themselves acknowledge their deities as psychological projections and consciously utilize them as such.(5) As the philosophic aims are similar (seeking the "how" of things for purposes of man's freedom), so is the epistemological approach of systems and the Buddha. Laszlo, while as open to empirical data as any scientist, qualifies himself as an empiricist-rationalist because he recognizes that rational inference is required to make sense of perception, and that his "primary presuppositions" (that the world exists and that it is intelligibly ordered) are not empirically verifiable.(6) The Buddha was in a similar fashion an empiricist. He declined belief in the existence of that which was avi.saya, beyond experience (thereby opposing the Vedaantins who posited an imperceptible AAtman), and he also rejected the radical empiricism of those materialists of his time who denied the validity of inference.(7) As an empiricist, he had not the wealth of data to draw on that twentieth-century sciences offer Laszlo, but he had, in addition to commonsense experience, a different kind--one which probably exceeds Laszlo's notion of "empirical." The "higher knowledges," attained through meditation, permitted him to perceive the fundamental orderliness which Laszlo posits by rational surmise.(8) Having considered the kind of philosophic inquiry we encounter in systems philosophy and Buddhism, let us consider now what view of the nature of things these inquiries yield. We will focus on four fundamental affirmations on which the two philosophies agree-affirmations relating to change, causation, the relation of mind to matter, and the separate existence of the self. In so doing, we will note that on these basic issues they appear to be closer to each other than to other philosophies East or West. Both systems and Buddhism offer a vision of reality where there is no immutable essence other than that definitive of process itself; no realm or entity stands over against the process of change. All is in motion, all is subject to ceaseless flux and transformation, arising and passing away. The Buddha stood p.23 in clear opposition to all orthodox thought in India, as well as all other hererodox thought, when he maintained that the real resided, not in any substance, physical, psychic, or supernatural, but in change itself.(9) All is anitya, transient. Man's grief arises from positing an enduring self where no self endures, from seeking to protect it from change when his very law is change. Laszlo similarly sees a universe made-up, not of things but of flows. "What flows is a mysterious. non-individualized something we call energy."(10) No essence or aspect of reality remains outside of, aloof from, or undefined by its inherently unsubstantial currents. In his refusal to make an exception to this and posit an enduring entity ("Platonic ideas, or Whiteheadian eternal objects, are rejected as uncalled for"),(11) he comes closer to Buddhism than does process philosophy. This change is not random, it is not a mere Heraclitean flux. There is a "causal orderliness," as the Buddha said, or according to systems, a "pattern to the flow." The Buddha described the vision that arose on the night of his enlightenment as a "relatedness of this to that," and he most frequently explained it in the four-part formula: "This being, that comes to be; from the arising of this, that arises; this not being, that becomes not; from the ceasing of this, that ceases."(l2) This kind of causality was a new idea: it stood against the Vedic concept of svadhaa ("own power," that is, power inherent in cause to produce effect) and against the Vedaantin and Saamkhyan ideas of satkaaryavaada (effect preexisting in the cause), which are themselves closer to Aristotle's efficient causation and subsequent traditional Western views than to the Buddhist vision. The Buddha saw causation as a function of relationship, not inherent power, and of the interaction of a multiplicity of factors where cause and effect cannot be isolated or traced in a linear sequence. No effect arises without cause, yet no effect is predetermined-for its causes are multiple and mutually effecting; hence there can be novelty as well as order. The Buddha and his followers saw this as central to the Dharma: if man's suffering comes from change and the nonacceptance of change (the Second Noble Truth), his freedom comes through knowledge of the causal order inherent in change (the Third Noble Truth). For in this causal order he is not victim, but coactor-deriving his freedom and hope, not from an outside agency, but from the order itself where cause and effect interrelate in mutual determination. Laszlo's concept of interdetermination appears consonant with Buddhist causality. He sees "the universe as an interdetermined network of mutually qualifying causes and effects."(13) Not only is there a multiplicity of causes for each effect, but each causal agent is reciprocally modified by the effect it produces. Hence freedom is assigned "to particular entities in processing their inputs ('prime causes') and producing outputs ('reciprocal causes')."(14) Laszlo's objection to the "one-way causal connection to actuality," represented by Whitehead's eternal objects and notion of God as efficient cause,(15) is one which the early Buddhists would have raised, opposed as they were to ideas of svadhaa. p.24 A third fundamental assumption, which systems and Buddhism share, is that of the nondichotomous relation between mind and matter. The Buddha taught that consciousness could not develop apart from matter, sensation, or perception, and to say that it does "would be speaking of something that does not exist."(16) In the twelvefold Chain of Causation by which the early Buddhists illustrated the arising of causal factors in the round of rebirth, the factor of consciousness or cognition (vij~naana) was presented as coarising with naamaruupa, name-and-form. Consciousness appears along with the emergence of a psychophysical entity, a Verbally identifiable and sensorily apprehendable form; each supports the other in an interdependence that is often likened to that of two sheaves of grain propped upright together.(17) This view, echoed throughout the early texts, contrasts with the spirit-matter dualism which, disguised or acknowledge, was inherent in all the other philosophic movements of the time of the Buddha--with the Vedaantin view of consciousness as pure essence antecedent to matter, and with the Jaina view of consciousness as categorically distinct from and imprisoned by matter, and with the Materialist view of consciousness as epiphenomenal to matter. The Buddha eliminated the dichotomy these philosophies upheld, for the perspective of pratiityasamupaada was clear: spirit and matter arise in conjunction and cannot be known or posited apart from each other. Laszlo also struggles against both dichotomous and reductionistic solutions to the mind-matter riddle. On the one hand, he denies Cartesian dualism as inelegant, unwarranted, and unsupported by empirical data. On the other hand, he rejects attempts to explain mind in terms of matter or matter in terms of mind, seeing either effort as involving a suppression of evidence. His solution, biperspectivism, is to see them as correlative aspects of the universal experience-mind relating to the interiority of being, the "lived" dimension, and matter to the observable dimension. "The phenomenon of mind," he says, "is neither an intrusion into the cosmos from some outside agency, nor the emergence of something out of nothing. Mind is but the internal aspect of the connectivity of systems within the matrix. It is there as a possibility within the undifferentiated continuum, and evolves into more explicit forms as the matrix differentiates into relatively discrete, self-maintaining systems."(18) Self-reflective mentality appears when the system reaches a level of complexity which demands conscious monitoring and evaluative and corrective functions. These functions require conscious choice--a freedom which does not evolve out of matter but is rather a potentiality in the system now actualized in its operation. Given these shared views on flow, interdetermination, and the mind-matter relationship, it is not surprising that the two philosophies agree in rejecting a dichotomy between subject and object, self and other. The Buddha refused to subscribe to belief in an enduring, substantial self because he found no empirical evidence to support it. Experience could be adequately understood as a series of psychophysical events, dharmas. Systems takes a similar position p.25 because it finds that substantial self cannot be empirically isolated from its supporting environment. "We must do away with the subject-object distinction in analyzing experience... (for experience is) a continous chain of events, from which we cannot, without arbitrariness, abstract an entity called 'organism' and another called 'environment'."(19) The points developed above, although brief and incomplete in regard to the perspective which systems and Buddhism share, do indicate it remarkable consonance between the two philosophies despite the two-and-a-half millenia which separate their emergence. This consonance, furthermore, is evident in spite of differences in goals: while both seek to free man by showing him "how things work," such freedom is perceived in qualitatively different terms. For systems philosophy it is the capacity to act more consciously, intelligently, and harmoniously within the natural and social systemic hierarchy. For Buddhism, the goal lies beyond knowledge and action--it entails a transformation of consciousness itself, the enlightenment which happens with the cessation of craving and the experience of the dissolution of separate selfhood. Yet the difference of dimension in their goals does not diminish the similarities we have noted in their views. By virtue of these, systems and Buddhism seem to be equipped to engage in fruitful dialogue. One particular gain from such a dialogue would be the discovery that systems could provide a fresher and perhaps currently more rewarding approach to early Buddhist thought than interpretations stemming from an essentialist outlook. Scholarship undertaken with substantialist preconceptions tends to blur the differences between the Buddha's teachings and the Vedaantins he opposed. Marxist scholars offer a corrective of sorts to the idealist bias but can betray in this effort a substantialism of their own. In either case, the radical newness of the Buddha's vision of process and causality, in terms of the thought of his time, is easily overlooked and undervalued. Systems, sharing this vision to a unique degree, offers possibilities for distinguishing and clarifying important elements in Buddhist thought, both in reference to other philosophies and within the historical development of Buddhism itself. II The cybernetic models which we will apply to two examples of Buddhist teachings are those designs of information and energy circuits which Laszlo presents as basic to all natural systems on and above the sensory-congnitive level.(20) These models chart invariances, principles, or isomorphisms in the functioning of all cognitive systems as they interact with the environment, processing data and extracting energy, information, and meaning. Laszlo devotes a great deal of attention to showing how their operation reveals the telic nature of the system as it evolves toward greater complexity, interdependence, and emergence of value. For reasons of brevity, and because our focus here is limited to the applicability of the circuit model, these considerations p.26 must remain tacit. Let us briefly review the system, (representing here the cognitive, psychosocial functioning of a human being), and the terms to which we will refer in our analyses. Input from the environment (E) arrives in the form of percepts (P). These P's are decoded or understood by the system's code (C), which extracts message from noise through gestalten which order sensory apprehensions and through constructs which permit conceptual apprehension. The system acts upon the environment (E), to effect subsequent P's, through its output or response (R); this feedback function is essential to the life process on any and every level. Where P's match C's, the feedback is negative. That means that the output (R) is produced on the basis of the C's, thereby projecting the codes upon the environment (E). In so doing, it conditions the input, subsequent P's, to maximize their chances of satisfying the C's. By this process E is brought into increasing conformity with C to answer the needs and maintain the pattern of the system. Laszlo terms this operation adaptive self-stabilization, or Systems Cybernetics I: Where P's do not match C's, positive feedback results. Exploratory selforganization then takes place, a search for new C's by which to deal with the new P's. As constructs are found or developed which can organize the percepts, the feedback switches to negative and the new C's are incorporated and stabilized. The system has a new "map" of the environment. Laszlo terms this operation adaptive self-organization, or Systems Cybernetics II: p.27 Let us consider the practice of mindfulness meditation in the Theravaadin Buddhist tradition as an example of adaptive self-organization or Cybernetics II. Known variously as satipa.t.thaana or vipasyanaa or insight meditation, it is held by Theravaadins to be chief of all Buddhist meditations--the one Gautama practiced the last two weeks under the bodhi tree before his enlightenment and the only one he gave to his followers. In this century in Burma it has been adapted for wider lay usage.(21) It differs from Hindu and other Buddhist meditations in that it is not contemplative of a truth, essence or object and in that its purpose is not to concentrate or tranquilize the mind. It aims to provide insight into the nature of things by training the mind to watch the mind. It does not, like yoga, trance, or samaadhi, seek to withdraw from sensory input, but to sharpen the awareness of its occurrence. Nor does it seek to curtail or censor spontaneous mental occurrences. The meditator is to accord Bare Attention to all that arises in the mind-body: Bare Attention and nothing more, no discursive thought, no pondering of truths or interior conversations, just the noting of what arises, without editorial comment. The result of this practice, which is arduous, is a first hand and liberating experience of the transient and nonsubstantial nature of reality: all is, indeed, a rapid flux of psychophysical events, dharmas, wherein is no "I" to be protected or enhanced. The meditator is instructed to begin with attention to the breath. Whatever occurrences then intervene, physical sensations or mental events, are to be merely noted--but not followed up by action or discursive thought. When action or discursive thought interrupt the bare noting of events, the meditator notes the lapse and returns to the level of Bare Attention--but not by force; the trick is to observe, not manipulate. Viewing the meditation now as cybernetic process, we note that what seems to be occurring in Bare Attention is an effort to prehend the P's before they are coded by established C's. The meditator seeks to register the raw data of physical sensations and the arising of mental events without interpreting them according to previously formed gestalten or constructs. BY remaining aloof from discursive thought, which operates in terms of established C's, he refrains p.28 from perpetuating the validity of these old C's. Rather than processing the noise to extract message, he, in effect. switches off the message in order to receive more of the noise. This amounts to a deliberate attempt to produce mismatching and positive feedback. P's are "unhooked" from previous C's, which are first set aside, and later decomissioned if inadequate to deal with the new perceptions. For example, as awareness is widened to the rush of impersonal psychophysical events, wherein no permanent "I" is evident, old C's, based on the assumption of an enduring self, are dismantled. Subsequently new C's (in this case, the Buddhist doctrine of no-self) are mapped into the codes of the system. The cybernetic circuit, used in this way, is particularly suitable to the validation of this Buddhist doctrine, since, as Laszlo points out, "in such analysis (of experience) we do not see a categorical 'I' against a categorically distinct 'you' or 'it'."(22) Such use of Cybernetics II, to deliberately dismantle C's by producing mismatch and positive feedback, is evident in a variety of religious and aesthetic efforts. Don Juan teaching Carlos Castaneda how to "see," by, for example, trying to define visual perceptions in terms of shadow or space instead of the solid form, is an analogous instance of unhingeing old habits of interpreting the world. Rimbaud's "d‚rŠglement des sens" is a similar case. The French poet sought to open himself to new vision, in spite of the painfulness of the initially resulting disorientation-though what he actually 'derailed' was not his senses but his C's. Some motivations and consequences of drug experience are, likewise, of this type. A systems analysis of Vipasyanaa permits us to see how distinctively and categorically it differs from contemplative meditation, which functions to control, center, and pacify the mind. Of this nature are all Buddhist practices of the 'samatha or samaadhi-type, the trances, and the Brahmavihaaras, etc., as well, I would venture, as all Hindu yoga. There through concentration on a given gestalt (be it breath, mantra, image, or concept), attention is withdrawn from sensory experience and from the mental static of memory and fantasy. Onepointed focus on a C is used first to suppress and then transcend reception of P's. Reception is narrowed, so to speak, to those P's produced on the basis of the chosen C; the unvarying nature of these P's (like a steady sound one ceases to hear) may related to the experience of merging which then can occur. In any event, a process of matching and negative feedback obtains there, a function of Cybernetics I which we will examine below in a particular context. The uniqueness of Vipasyanaa, as in the Burmese Satipa.t.thana method, lies in the fact that it is an analysis, not a manipulation or transcending, of experience-a literal "breaking down" of the data of experience, leading to the dismantling of old gestalten and permitting reorganization of constructs. Laszlo's models can be useful in clarifying this and helping us see how, when, and why this "insight" technique is employed--why, for example, contem- p.29 porary Buddhist teachers warn against premature enjoyment of trance, before sufficient Vipasyanaa work, (23) and why the Buddha, in contrast to Vedantins, saw the enlightenment experience as clearly distinct from samaadhi. For teachings to which to apply Cybernetics I, which Laszlo calls adaptive self-stabilization, let us. turning to the Mahaayaana tradition, look at practices wherein the adept seeks to deepen his realizations of, and transform his vision by, truths which he has already accepted. We will take two examples. From the Praj~naapaaramitaa we will look at the act of parinaamana, in which the bodhisattva turns samsaric experience into enlightenment by offering or transferring to the world his meditations on the goodness of the buddhas and all living beings. From Vajrayaana we will consider the practice of visualization, the mental construction, and dissolution of an image of the deity. Both are instances of psychological projection. Cybernetically, projection is understood as a function of adaptive self-stabilization or Cybernetics I, where through negative feedback the output R conditions E to provide the P's which will match the C's (see second diagram). It is a function essential to the survival of the system, for it stabilizes the coding patterns and maintains their correlation with the environment. "In this (negative) feedback activity we 'project our codes': shape and structure our environment with a view to bringing about perceptually cognizable things and events. (These are the kinds of things which are relevant to our needs, behaviour patterns and projects.)"(24) The scientist projects his construct (C) upon the environment to test or confirm his hypothesis; the artist projects his aesthetic vision (C) upon the material in creating a work of art. We project, in other words, in order to fully experience, understand and utilise our C's. We experience and understand them by getting P's which appear then as examples or, to use Laszlo's term, "transformations," of C. As he puts it, "We enjoy our C's when we interpret P's in their terms."(25) The use of projection in religious activity is not different. Religious constructs are projected in order to be more fully experienced and enjoyed through interpreting consequent P's in their terms. Often this operation is subsequent to a dismantling and exploratory process (Cybernetics II), whereby new C's are acquired or developed; the "realization" of these C's is then stabilized and deepened through their projection (Cybernetics I). Projection, which occurs as soon as and as long as there is negative feedback and which is for most cognitive systems unconscious, operates in religious practice to bring the system into greater conformity with the religious ideal, by transforming C's into P's. Now to turn to our examples in Mahaayaana teachings. The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines,(26) appearing in the first century B. C., tells how the bodhisattva turns concept to experience by performance of parinaamana. In this act (the term means to transform, change, turn over, dedicate), the bodhisattva meditates upon the saving power of all the p.30 buddhas, envisions their beneficent presence extending through time and space. He also contemplates in his imagination the "roots of goodness" in all brings that ever lived, all the deeds of kindness ever done--by gods, men, ghosts, even animals. This power and goodness he then takes as wealth: in his mind he makes a pile of this wealth, rolls it in a ball, weighs it. Then with both jubilation and the knowledge of its emptiness and nonsubstantiality (this latter factor is requisite), he offers it to the weal and enlightenment of all the world. This turning over is also into his own enlightenment--that clarified vision which includes the capacity to see the world as the dharmakaaya, the body of buddhahood. Viewed as a systems process, parinaamana fits Cybernetics I. The concepts of the power of all the buddhas and the merit acquired by all creatures constitute the code C, which in meditation (R) is then offered, given forth, projected outward upon sa.msaara (E) in an act of celebration and sharing. E is shaped by this projection of sa.msaara transfigured, as incoming P's are registered in terms of the dharmakaaya. Laszlo, describing Cybernetics I, speaks of P's as transformation of C--and in this instance the term has resonance, being also a literal meaning of the Sanskrit parinaamana. Our second example of the applicability of Cybernetics I draws from the more elaborate and controlled projections of Tibetan Buddhism. In Vajrayaana practice visualizations play a central role. The Yidam, one's tutelary deity, is not only meditated upon in its painted or sculpted form, but a strenuous and lengthy training is undertaken to enable one to picture it in the mind's eye with clarity and precision.(27) Each detail of color, gesture, accoutrement is carved vivid on the mind and assembled in the imagination to form the whole figure. The adept, having constructed the mental image--Vajrasattva, for instance-now contemplates the deity, addresses prayers to him, and receives his blessing. He pictures and feels the cleansing flow as Vajrasattva purifies him. Then he identifies, thinks "I am Vajrasattva." And at the same time he remembers that Vajrasattva is void, a creation of imagination, just as he, the adept himself, is void and a creation of imagination. Gradually he lets the visualization dissolve--into the Void, the empty fountain of all being. Interpreted cybernetically, the concepts, C's, which the adept experiences hereby, appear to be threefold: (a) the particular power which the deity represents (for example, wisdom, purity, compassion, etc.), (b) his identity with this power, its presence and availability within him, and (c) its nonsubstantiality, in essence void. These C's are entertained consciously as he concentrates upon the visualization, building it up and dissolving it. P's produced during the visualization mirror, of course, his C's. P's occurring subsequently are also affected to the extent that the adept has become through the exercise more aware of the emptiness and transformability of E, and of the power in himself which the deity manifested. A point which bears repetition is that these Mahaayaana teachings insist on the p.31 awareness that such projections are void and without substance. In contrast to commonplace views where the appellation of "mere projection" is understood as deprecatory, here its power to illumine and transform is seen to be enhanced by its being perceived as empty, without basis. "There can be no turning over (parinaamana) for someone who perceives a basis."(28) It is the bodhisattva's skill-in-means to know that in the transformation no concrete transformation takes place, "nothing passed on, nothing destroyed."(29) The efficacy of the act is seen precisely in terms of its consciously being a "mere projection." Like Buddhism, systems philosophy perceives and posits the operative effecacy of universals which are in themselves empty. "We are dealing." says Laszlo, "with two kinds of 'universals': the concrete flow patterns in the natural universe and the abstract-general categories whereby they are coded in the mind. Yet it is fallacious to conclude from this that what is given is only the former, and relegate the abstract universals to the shadow realm of a transcendant ego' or 'constitutive consciousness.' Abstract universals are as much an element in the process as the concrete flow-pattern universals are."(30) In other words, when universals are accepted as without substance, that is, not set apart from the flow-pattern but seen as a decoding element in the flow, they are "real" and applicable. Such an approach seems well suited for the study of Buddhist teachings-which themselves imply no more substantial claim to metaphysical ultimacy than the effective decoding of the samsaric flow-pattern of experience. Therefore, to interpret these teachings in terms of cybernetic systems need entail no devaluation of their truth. On the contrary, a re-cognition of their enduring accuracy and applicability can result. Because it shares with the Buddhist teachings basic assumptions about its task and the nature of life, because it recognizes the reality of universals and values, which are by nature void, without relegating them, as Laszlo put it, to a "shadow realm," systems appears as an appropriate vehicle to bring these teachings into wider dialogue with modern science--and the needs of modern man. In such an intercourse, the dharma can speak to systems philosophy as systems moves toward a recognition and expression of values which set free. NOTES (1) Introduction to Systems Philosophy, Toward a New Paradigm of Contemporary Thought (New York: Harper Torchbook, 1972), hereafter cited as ISP; System, Structure and Experience. Toward a Scientific Theory of Mind (New York: Gordon & Breach Scientific Publishers, 1969) hereafter cited as SSE; and The Systems View of the World (New York: Braziller, 1972) hereafter cited as SVW. (2) Majjhima Nikaaya, Sutta 63 in Middle Length Sayings, Paali Text Society, trans. I. B. Horner (London: Luzac & Co., 1957). (3) See Sa.myutta Nikaya, II, introduction by T. W. Rhys Davids, in Kindred Sayings, Vol. 2, Paali Text Society (London: Luzac, 1952). p.32 (4) Cf. the Third and Fourth Noble Truths; also A^nguttara Nikaaya I, 173 where the Buddha attacks contemporary views which deny meaningful change and provide "neither the desire to do, not the effort to do nor the necessity to do this deed or abstain from that deed." Gradual Sayings Vol. 1 Paali Text Society, tr. F. L. Woodward. (5) See part II below. (6) ISP, p. 8. (7) David J. Kalupahana, "A Buddhist Tract on Empiricism." Philosophy East and West 19, No. 1 Jan. 1969:65. (8) "Early Buddhism compares with modern Empiricism, with the exception that unlike modern Empiricism, Buddhism recognized the validity of the data of extrasensory perception and of the experiential content of mysticism." Kalupahana, "A Buddhist Tract." (9) In section I, I am referring to Buddhist thought as it is expressed in the early texts, the Nikaayas and Vinaya. While these are honored by all Buddhists, some later schools moved closer to views that could be understood as essentialist. In this respect the Yogaacaarins, for example, might be excluded from the above comment, depending on the interpretation accorded the aalaya-vij~naana. (10) SVW, p. 80. (11) ISP, p. 294. Note: It might appear that Laszlo's cybernetic "invariances" acquire for him an ontological status analogous to eternal objects, but the fact remains that he see them as factors or laws of change (confer the Dharma), not as external agents influencing or acting upon change. (12) Sa.myutta Nikaaya II. 27. (13) ISP, p. 246 (14) ISP, p. 247 (15) ISP, p. 245 (16) Sa.myutta Nikaaya III. 57 (17) Sa.myutta Nikaaya II. 67; confer also Sutta Nipata I. (18) ISP, p. 293 (19) SSE, p. 21. (20) SSE, chap. 1, and ISP, chap. 4. (21) For a detailed description of this meditation method, see Nyanaponika Thera, The Heart of Buddhist Meditation (London: Rider & Co., 1962). (22) SSE, p. 21 (23) Cf M. B. Byles, Journey into Burmese Silence (London: Allen & Unwin, 1962), chap. 5. (24) SSE, p. 44. (25) SSE, p. 63. (26) Chap. 6, trans. E. Conze (Bolinas Calif.: Four Seasons Foundation, 1973). (27) Confer John Blofeld, The Tantric Mysticism of Tibet (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1970): Stephan Beyer, The Cult of Tara (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1973). (28) Perfection of' Wisdom, VI 152. (29) Perfection of Wisdom, VI. 163. (30) ISP, p. 294.