05 March 2011

Paradigms

I started reading The Art of Happiness, a book written by an M.D., trained in psychiatry, and the Dalai Lama. I've read books written solely by the Dalai Lama and enjoyed them and learned a lot from them. His words get in and I get them. I think it's because of the way he communicates the Buddhist paradigm. It's the words he uses, or rather his translator uses. They haven't been colored by western thinking. That paradigm doesn't seep in.

Paradigms are like pairs of glasses coloring your experiences. They filter. I began questioning our western paradigm's reliance on rationality and science to explain human phenomenon 25 years ago. I rejected it on a lot of levels, mostly because I didn't know any better and because I didn't understand it.

Now I do, at least as one paradigm for how to think and be. Like everybody, I completely rely on the science of forecasting the weather and building bridges. I don't need to question it.  I find the science of computers wildly interesting too. And I use the power of "scientific method" at work all the time because everyone "believes" it. It's also been extremely important for challenging bogus claims propped up as science over the centuries--anything to do with human phenomena, and I'm extremely skeptical of scientific claims. Just about every claim about women, race, sexuality, etc., that's been used to marginalized us/them has been shown to be ideology.

Even in the hard sciences, there's a lot more subjectivity in so-called objectivity, as any good scientist will tell you. Now that I can actually begin to understand scientific papers I can see how science works. I can put on those glasses and play that game. It works. It's empowering, like when I can challenge my GP on the risks of taking/not taking a particular medication because I've actually read the studies done it, that underpin general knowledge about it. People like MDs, who are extremely invested in their paradigm, don't like to be challenged on it.

Anyway...so reading this book is going to be interesting because I think it's going to put western and eastern orientations about the human condition up against each other, face to face, close-up. At least I'm hoping it does.