Nancy over at Dairy Of A Chapter Leader has a interesting dialogue going that started me thinking about how we as ordinary people, when looking for positive reinforcement of what we want to believe, have a tendency to remember the hits and forget the misses. Also what we mean by “belief”. Strictly speaking, I do not “believe” in evolution or gravity. I do find the preponderance of evidence for either to be compelling enough for me to “accept” both until something more empirically compelling proves otherwise.
Pareidolia ( /pærɨˈdoʊliə/ parr-i-doh-lee-ə) is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon or the Moon rabbit, and hearing hidden messages on records played in reverse. The word comes from the Greek para- – “beside”, “with”, or “alongside”—meaning, in this context, something faulty or wrong (as in paraphasia, disordered speech) and eidōlon – “image”; the diminutive of eidos – “image”, “form”, “shape”. Pareidolia is a type of apophenia.
Apophenia is the experience of seeing meaningful patterns or connections in random or meaningless data.
The term was coined in 1958 by Klaus Conrad, who defined it as the “unmotivated seeing of connections” accompanied by a “specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness”, but it has come to represent the human tendency to seek patterns in random nature in general, as with gambling, paranormal phenomena, religion, and even attempts at scientific observation.
Some people can look at a piece of cheese toast, see an image of what looks to them like the Virgin Mary and find that to be compelling evidence to confirm their belief in the existence of the Christian God. And some people look at the same thing and see a piece of cheese toast. I’ve seen a potato that looks like Abraham Lincoln but that hasn’t compelled me to believe in anything other than that a potato can sometimes look like something other than a potato normally looks like.
I’ve heard it jokingly said “if you want to make someone an atheist, have them read the Bible.” Of course you can generalize that statement about making an apostate out of any worldview or belief by simply stating “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Around the year 2000 I began to study in earnest this Buddhism that I’ve been practicing now for over 35 years. As I stripped away the veneers of Japanese culture, or things that went directly against what Nichiren had written which transcended context, or claims that were, strictly speaking, organizational nonsense that trampled individuals for the sake of organized Buddhism, I found my Buddhist practice getting simpler and simpler. I have also found that what I find to be compelling less and less.
Practicing Buddhism means being victorious. In advancing one step at a time amid the realities of our daily lives, in showing concrete actual proof, in becoming victors and successes, we are demonstrating with our very beings the validity of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism and serving as a source of hope and inspiration for those who will follow us on the path of faith. Daisaku Ikeda
He has also written that he feels that one of the short comings of science is that it does not consider the subjective. Spoken like a person of “faith” who would gladly turn science into pseudo science to help make any faith based claim more compelling.
The focus of Saturday’s meeting will be actual proof in our lives as described in these words of President Ikeda. Earlier this year the WD and YWD held a very inspiring and joyous meeting at the SF Community Center when they shared their examples of actual proof.
ACTUAL PROOF: sound bite catch-phraseology aside, what to you readers find compelling about Buddhism and why?