Careful usage of logic in the service of spirituality

seeker's picture

Average: 4.5 (8 votes)

Whether we want it or not, we use logical reasoning to draw conclusions about our spiritual path and to extend our beliefs.

Our talking here to others as well as our internal conversations are based on concrete rules of logic that we all agree upon, implicitly or explicitly.

Therefore, in order to avoid committing logic fallacies, we must make sure our logic is valid enough. It cannot be taken for granted just because we were conditioned to use these rules. We can check these rules by investigating how our logic is constructed as students of philosophy are doing during first year.

Plus, this investigation gives us an insight on how the mind works.

Of course, when dealing with logic and spirituality, one should be very careful: one central and important premise of spirituality is that logic itself (and the mind of which logic is the tool) cannot lead us to truth as it always deals with objects and duality and truth is beyond. This is the basic difference between spirituality and science.

The following is an extract from a fascinating and recommended for reading article titled Introduction to Logic by Scott Lehmann that describes in a clear and simple way the basics of our logic. The extract deals with logic in the service of extending our beliefs and getting at the truth:

Extending belief
When reasoning is used to extend belief, I begin with assumptions that I believe to be true and ask what else I should believe: what conclusion can I draw from these
assumptions? If such an argument is valid, then I should believe its conclusion is true; if its premises are correct, then its conclusion will also be correct. If such an argument is strong, then I should believe its conclusion is probably true; if its premises are correct, then its conclusion will probably be correct as well.


Getting at the truth
Reasoning to get at the truth is just like reasoning to extend belief, except that we begin with premises that are not just believed to be true but are in fact true.
Believing that p is true can differ from p’s being true because – unfortunately! – we all believe things that are false, though we do not know what they are. If an argument from true premises is valid, then its conclusion must also be true. Valid arguments with true premises are said to be
In practice, using reasoning to get at the truth does not differ from using reasoning to extend belief. This is because when we use reasoning to extend belief, we assume that our beliefs are correct. If we come to regard some claim that we have accepted (such as: Santa Claus really
exists) as false, we cease to believe it.

banana's picture


Logic is the code of this program.

If you want to get along in this program, master the logic.

As long as you are in the program, you will have to use this logic. Therefore, you will also need it to find your way out of the program.

As soon as you are out of the program, only then, you can throw logic away like an obsolete currency of a state that does not exist anymore.

banana | Wed, 08/20/2008 - 14:14
Omkaradatta's picture

It's fine...

Logic and reasoning are fine, but it's something of a closed, self-referent system. It's not that reality is illogical or irrational, but rather that it's non-logical and nonrational.

The mind poses a simulated reality based on social consensus conditioning, rooted in the past and an imaginary, postulated future. Neither past nor future actually exists, only this Now we all share in common.

Omkaradatta | Thu, 08/21/2008 - 02:55
Luz76's picture

The now baloney

You buy food in the afternoon to make dinner in the future evening so that you won't starve as you did in the past last evening when you forgot to buy food in advance.

I never really connected to this "future and past do no exist". It's rather misunderstanding of the physical time dimension and trying to imagine it to be as the other spacial dimensions in nature. In such a nature, of course future and past do not exist but that is not the nature of the time dimension.

Luz76 | Fri, 08/22/2008 - 06:51
Omkaradatta's picture

Time dimension?

"I never really connected to this "future and past do no exist". It's rather misunderstanding of the physical time dimension"

What physical time dimension? No such thing exists. Look around you and point to it, please ;-). It's a mental category, a model, a simulation.

Yes, you may buy food to make dinner in the 'future evening'. And you may not. It's another postulated fantasy scenario, as you sit here reading this. Now.

Omkaradatta | Sat, 08/23/2008 - 00:44
Luz76's picture

"Look around you and point

"Look around you and point to it"

you again make the same error and refer to the time dimension as being a spacial dimension like the hight, length and width.

It is a forth dimension in physics, something does not need to be point-able in 3-dimension to be considered a 4th dimension.

Luz76 | Sat, 08/23/2008 - 06:11
leo's picture

understandable confusion

There is a confusion here. You are right that not being able to point at something does not prove it doesn't exist.

Past and future naturally do exist as concepts. Being concepts, science and daily language can conveniently use them to address different phenomena within the science/daily experience.

But having a concept and even a phenomenon behind it does not assure that there is a real entity there beyond the phenomenon that truly exists. And by "truly exists" we mean independently and solidly exist, regardless of its parts, regardless of other entities, regardless of other phenomena and concepts, and above all, regardless of your perception.

Now, inspect "past" and "future" and check whether they exist solidly and independently without you perceiving them, or maybe they are only convenient concepts attached to perceived phenomena.

leo | Sat, 08/23/2008 - 16:58
Phroggy's picture

Trying to unravel stuff

As Leo says, "There is confusion here." Hehe.
You suggested that time is a physical dimension and so Omkar asked you to point to it, wherupon you state it is not a spatial dimension. All of this seems irrelevant to the point.

Time is operative within the illusion of time, and so nobody's going to argue that you don't need to buy food to prepare dinner any more than they'll argue you need to tether yourself to the Earth to keep from floating away. When illusions are talked about, it's in a different context than our functioning WITHIN the illusion.

Yes, I see that mind (a concept) has a memory function (also conceptual)with which it forms a sense of continuity necessary for experience to happen. The entirety of perception is illusion, and so no scientific experiements can be done on the illusion that will proove that it is not an illusion, at least until human consciousness transcends that illusion and starts creating such proof.

However, all the talk of illusory time in that way is really just academic to me and I see little value in it. The way in which we talk about being present in the moment is not related to time so much as it's related to the 'me'.

The egoic identity is contained entirely in memory because it is a set of self referential thoughts about an imagined person with a past history and future goals. When we talk about being in the present, the idea is to avoid connecting our present perception to this imaginary 'me'. 'What do I think about what I'm perceiving, Do I like it, fear it, is it good enough, can I use it to get somewhere, How can I change it, What's next?'

In so doing, the mind reforms it's perception around the judgments and attachments of the imagined person, and this is suffering. If, for whatever reason, the 'me' thoughts are not accessed, one is said to be in the present moment, and what is experienced is what is here, rather than the egoic version of what is here. When the 'me' concept is not brought into the experience, everything 'lights up' with a kind of vibrant aliveness and it becomes clear that nothing was actually being seen for what it is. There is an open space in which everything reflects its own beauty and uniqueness, and there is a tender intimacy when nothing is being grasped or pushed away. What is without somehow draws close and moves within.

The point is that it is not about scientific principles or the idea that by the time something is perceived it is no longer the present or that even accessing memory is done in the present. These are all misunderstandings of what is being pointed to when we talk about being present in the moment. It is about the 'me' thoughts not formimg.

Phroggy | Sat, 08/23/2008 - 17:42
Omkaradatta's picture

Nice reply...

That's a good point, Phroggy.

To put it in different words, prior to 'awakening' the here and now is a time we use to sit around and tell each other stories about the past, think/obsess about the future, maybe add current events to our ongoing story (provided they fit the overall theme - if not, they are ignored or overlooked).

"After" awakening, we become grounded in the Here and Now - it becomes our "base of operations", so to speak, with occasional accesses of past/future (recognized as also happening now). No one can bring this about through any volitional activity, nor can anyone prevent it. The best we can do is be prepared. More or less, the structure of the story collapses - the dream is seen clearly as dream, from the perspective of reality.

More than just the sense of 'me' is involved, but there's really no accurate way to describe or talk about this. Even this message is saying too much, turning the whole thing into a story or description when it's actually just life, the living present.

Omkaradatta | Tue, 08/26/2008 - 00:12
Luz76's picture

A logic fallacy

"Time is operative within the illusion of time"

Right from the start, one of your assumptions is that time is an illusion and then you go on to prove that time is an illusion...

Luz76 | Tue, 08/26/2008 - 08:00
Phroggy's picture

Raising one Spock eyebrow..

That I was trying to logically proove something was an illusion. I was just stating a perspective. I noticed a while ago God doesn't care much for my logic.

Phroggy | Wed, 08/27/2008 - 00:21
sisi's picture

The mind both creates and observes reality based on logic,

It's not only that mind interpret reality based on logic, it also creates reality based on logic. The mind is not only observing reality but also creates it. It is both the director and the spectator of this show.

Now, the important part one should be careful from: mind functioning as an observer - when it sees inconsistency (things that do not compatible with the logic) it immediately introduces changes, interpolations, manipulations, masking in order to change the script to adapt to logic.

If we are vigilant enough to notice some of these precious moments, then we can have a fortunate glimpse into the matrix.

For example:

You walk in the street and you see a man. You walk a bit and then you turn your head and see him in another place opposite the direction he walked.

Notice what happens immediately in your mind: you take the laws of logic as sacred and sure and you start trying to formulate forcefully for yourself explanations that would make sense of what you witnessed: he probably turned back right after I saw him the first time; it is probably his brother; it is probably someone else very similar in looks; he probably ran like hell because he forgot something, etc.

The mind will make all effort to maintain the supremacy of the laws of logic to preserve the consistency and common factor between the creation and the observation, the two functions he is the one to do both.

sisi | Thu, 08/21/2008 - 07:29
Phroggy's picture

Perception is creation

Yes, we could say Intelligence spontaneously forms perception (including thoughts) on the basis of conditioning (prior experience). It then witnesses this creation and forms a new one. To simplify that: perception and creation are the same.

As I think you imply, there are expectations as to what this reality will look like and continuity is desired and expected, and so this is generally what happens. It's not entirely a logic function, Though. There is the potential for radical change from one moment to the next and as it's not particularly desirable, this change will be prevented. As a fear, undesirable change may come about, though it will still likely maintain continuity.

It can become exceedingly complex as various expectations, desires and fears, both conscious and unconscious,none of which are yours but arise out of the integrated functioning of the totality of Consciousness, all interact to form your experience. It can neither be deciphered nor controlled but it is all happening subjectively; the universe arising from within and expressed outwardly in each moment. Quite wonderful, actually.

Phroggy | Thu, 08/21/2008 - 16:43
Omkaradatta's picture

Not really subjectively...

"It can neither be deciphered nor controlled but it is all happening subjectively; the universe arising from within and expressed outwardly in each moment."

In truth, it is neither subjective nor objective. These are yet another example of "mental categories" that have no real existence, outside our imagination.

Subject/object may be useful in some cases, as a map is useful to point out locations when hiking in the mountains, but they have no more existence than the pictures on the map do. One cannot be the pictures, or visit the pictures. They can serve as explanation, as you provided above (from here it's as good an explanation as any), yet the explanation ultimately has no basis in reality either.

Omkaradatta | Sat, 08/23/2008 - 01:32
Phroggy's picture

The road to nowhere

Nothing is ultimately True but mind is determined in it's insistence that it can't be so, and so maybe some maps are useful.

Phroggy | Sat, 08/23/2008 - 03:16
Omkaradatta's picture

There's always the moment... ;-)

This moment, here and now, is ultimately true - it can't be escaped, avoided, moved away from, or moved toward. Seems it oughtta satisfy the mind, or at least *some* part of us ;-). From what I can recall, the mind is always looking for beliefs, a sense of groundedness or solidness. And for whatever it's worth, nothing is more solid than this living present, as nothing else really exists at all.

P.S. I agree that some maps are definitely useful - as long as they're seen as maps, not territory. Attempting to navigate a map is a recipe for suffering.

Omkaradatta | Sat, 08/23/2008 - 04:03
leo's picture

The ultimate error

Indeed, more important is to realize that past and future are illusory concepts, not false, not true, illusory. This is well advanced.

But when you reach this point, it is time for one more advanced realization: to experience that the now, this moment, here and now they are not truer than the tomorrow and yesterday. The now is also a concept, you cannot be in the now because as soon as you are in the now, it is not now anymore, the best description in words is that you can just float, you cannot be.

leo | Sat, 08/23/2008 - 06:19
SriSriYogiBaba's picture


yes, this obsession with the "now" and "being" does seem rather fixated.

SriSriYogiBaba | Sat, 08/23/2008 - 15:57
Omkaradatta's picture

At the risk of sounding egoic...

Since 'awakening' here in January, I've been posting a number of pointers from every conceivable 'direction'.

Folks don't seem to realize that, although the truth cannot be pointed at directly, 'dots' can be drawn around it in the form of pointers, and someone really dedicated/sincere could conceivably connect the dots and get some sort of picture of things. Nisargadatta did a fair job of dot-drawing in "I Am That", but I've been adding more too. No clue if anyone has actually looked at all of it closely or not - does anyone truly pay attention to anything? Sigh...

Omkaradatta | Sat, 08/23/2008 - 17:30
SriSriYogiBaba's picture

Truly paying attention

Are you paying attention to the "pointers" that come back to you?
Are you sure you really know what "folks don't realize"?
Nice to hear that you've been feeling better since January, though.

SriSriYogiBaba | Sat, 08/23/2008 - 18:18
Omkaradatta's picture

Paying attention

> Are you paying attention to the "pointers" that come back
> to you?

Fwiw, I pay full attention to whatever attention falls on.

> Are you sure you really know what "folks don't realize"?"

I'm fairly certain, but there's no way to be entirely sure, given the medium of communication involved. This text format communicates little, and extended or long-term contact with anyone is rare.

Omkaradatta | Mon, 08/25/2008 - 20:18
Phroggy's picture

Pointless pointing

"does anyone truly pay attention to anything?"

The mind is a strange thingy. David Hawkins has said the mind isn't capable of discerning truth from falsity at all and I tend to agree. Before anyone will pay attention to something, they have to discern that what is being said is probably true and of value, and mostly what is seen as true is what ego wants to be true, which is never Truth.

Also, folks have to have a reason to believe you know something they don't, and the only way they can judge is if they agree with you or you have a following that all aqree you know something worth listening to.

I found it interesting reading Osho's words on laughter this morning. I like Osho, but since I'm not a dedicated follower who doesn't dare question the validity of what he says, I don't hessitate to call him on his nonsense, but it's clear that some have learned never to question (I also spent some time on an Osho forum) and this isn't a good thing either.

Bottom line is everybody's doing the best they can, and the only thing they can do.

Phroggy | Sat, 08/23/2008 - 18:18
Omkaradatta's picture


Fwiw, I agree with David Hawkins too - it's a "garbage in, garbage out" type situation. Moreover, verbal language is very much a "lowest common denominator" sort of thingie (as it has to be in order for everyone to communicate), not to mention few people have any sort of mastery over it to begin with.

From here, this is why transcending words/concepts is so critical to so-called awakening. Nisargadatta: "The mind is always eager to squeeze reality into a verbal shape".

> Bottom line is everybody's doing the best they can, and
> the only thing they can do.

Agreed 100%.

Omkaradatta | Mon, 08/25/2008 - 20:34
sharonk's picture


First, appreciate your effort and intentions! Keep on the good work! I feel that you do it out of care.

Don't take it personally but maybe you have to try harder...

I have read here over the months some genius effective pointers which were written by others and that advanced me considerably...

sharonk | Sun, 08/24/2008 - 14:07
Phroggy's picture

Struggling to achieve effortlessness

Lately, I'm working very hard on not trying at all. Hehe.

Phroggy | Sun, 08/24/2008 - 17:54
Omkaradatta's picture

Everything we say here is concept

Everything we talk about here is concept, including 'the now', and there's no point in singling anything out. Truth is wordless and Silent, and all that can be offered are pointers. If the words 'here and now' don't turn your crank, you're free to ignore them.

Omkaradatta | Sat, 08/23/2008 - 16:28
SriSriYogiBaba's picture


Let's add "Truth" to the list.

SriSriYogiBaba | Sat, 08/23/2008 - 16:35
Omkaradatta's picture

The list

Let's add "let's", "add", "to", "the", and "list" as well ;-).

Omkaradatta | Sat, 08/23/2008 - 17:46
SriSriYogiBaba's picture

Let's not.

That would be very silly and missing the point entirely.

SriSriYogiBaba | Sat, 08/23/2008 - 20:28
leo's picture

You are not going deep enough

Regarding the concept stuff, you are not going deep enough. I expect from fellow enlightened beings much more! Don't be such a shallow enlightened guy :-)

Beware of the mantras (e.g. "here and now") because at some point due to repetition they naturally loose their energetic power while you forget to recheck them and thus use them fluently as before.

Of course every word in language is a concept. This is not the point. A symbol in language is a concept pointing at some entity/meaning (semantics). The point is about concepts which do not have true entity pointed by them while we are sure there is a such. Another relevant problem is when sometimes for "great" words such as "god" and "here and now", we tend to eliminate their "concept-ness" consciously and subconsciously since we feel they are so great, no way such a great big word is just a concept. Then we equate the word with the semantics and here start .

Bottom line - not only that we eliminated the concept-ness of the concept "here and now" (because the mind wants something to be left after "future" and "past" were stolen from him), this concept has no real object pointed by it, the same as with "past" and "future". It also does not exist.

leo | Sun, 08/24/2008 - 05:54
Omkaradatta's picture


"Regarding the concept stuff, you are not going deep enough."

The 'depth' has got to happen on the part of the reader - there's just no way around it. Without an attentive, interested, aware and devoted listener, speaking about this stuff is utterly useless. But *with* such a listener, even saying "ooga booga" is pointing toward the truth ;-).

From here, the main issue is that notions like "here and now" are too simple, basic and obvious for the mind to become interested in. Yet, notions that are more complex tend to engage the mind and bring the listener further away from Silence. How to describe in a dream-land language that which is unrelated to that language?

Omkaradatta | Mon, 08/25/2008 - 21:22
Phroggy's picture


I was just in the park with Marie, and I was saying there's a comfort and a kind of intimacy where even the trees are drawn close. She heard that and basically said in her own way 'That's nonsense'. Then I talked about how nothing shows up that wasn't already here, it's that something falls away. A boundary that separates is gone.

Somehow, when she heard that, she 'looked' and saw clearly what I was saying about the intimacy. This sort of thing has happened many times in our chats, and it always amazes me. She often rejects what she sees through the mind, and rightly so, then the subtlest shift happens and it's seen with clarity in an instant. I can't say it has anything at all to do with the words used. I don't know what happens.

Phroggy | Tue, 08/26/2008 - 00:21
Omkaradatta's picture


"I was just in the park with Marie, and I was saying there's a comfort and a kind of intimacy where even the trees are drawn close."

Nicely put... IME there's no end to the potential depth of this intimacy, at least until the mind surrenders altogether and "thing-ness" is seen through as no-thingness. One could say it's like drawing near to God, or oneness. In the end, everything is the Self - we were never apart from anything, but it's as if we forgot this at some point.

"She often rejects what she sees through the mind, and rightly so, then the subtlest shift happens and it's seen with clarity in an instant. I can't say it has anything at all to do with the words used. I don't know what happens."

Much of it is probably the closeness of your relationship, the trust involved. Words can act as a sort of catalyst to surrender, and I think this is why verbal 'pointing' works. Nisargadatta: "The mind goes astray, the mind returns home."

Omkaradatta | Tue, 08/26/2008 - 03:32
Phroggy's picture


Yes, I suspect that's what happens. It's wonderful to be a part of it.

Phroggy | Wed, 08/27/2008 - 00:24
Pb's picture

Some guidance regarding logic

Aristotle invented logic. He called it an Organon, an instrument of inquiry, reading the Organon, aka the Short Logical Treatises, is the best place to start.

Spirituality is a different dimension or realm than the logically probable. That said, logic helps identify simple falsehoods, like emotionalism, wishful thinking,false idealism, and simple types of BS. It doesn't however stop spiritual errors, which are beyond the intellects ability to discern, much less resolve.

Logic in the spiritual field is a helpful communication device. It is the instrument, the Organon, not the message. Whenever folk make an idol out of it, as with idolising any technique oer God, it becomes useless and vulnerable to bias.

That's my experience with logic. A very useful tool and helpful reminder, seeker!

Pb | Fri, 09/21/2012 - 04:54