Philosophy as a Practice

In the style of Buddhism John is outlining, philosophy is not separate from meditation. He explains how they work together, and why philosophy is emphasized in this approach.

"This is our practice of philosophy: the practice of studying, of contemplating, and then meditating on those moments of breakthrough."

Unit 1: The View and Three Kinds of Wisdom

In this style of Buddhism, the view, the meditation, and the conduct must all work together for our overall practice to be effective. It is possible to seek the view through meditation, but it is also possible to arrive at meditative practice or realization through the view (or philosophy). We achieve this by practicing the three kinds of wisdom:

1. The wisdom that arises through learning or studying

To begin with, we seek to understand these key concepts and frameworks. We learn the content of the teaching. For example, we learn what idea of self the teaching is critiquing.

2. The wisdom that arises through contemplating what you have learned 

When issues and questions emerge, start contemplating them. It doesn't need to be analytical. Questions can just be kept in mind, perhaps during your day. Let yourself think about them. For example, you might ponder whether your "self" is identical to the components of your body and mind, or different from them, or neither identical nor different. Can anything that exists be neither identical nor different?

3. The wisdom that arises through meditation

At a certain point, you might have an aha! moment: a breakthrough, when something makes sense. This is when you want to do the settling the mind meditation. Simply allow yourself to be in that aha! moment.

This is the practice of philosophy: studying, contemplating, and then meditating.