Transforming a Wisdom Tradition

So how does one learn from different wisdom traditions? No two wisdom traditions agree. They not only contradict one another, but they also contradict what you might believe to be true.

Since we can’t just adopt another wisdom tradition wholesale, they must go through a process of transformation. This must be built on a foundation of a correct understanding of the tradition.

First, we must give the tradition the most charitable interpretation possible. Epicureanism, for example, is often interpreted antagonistically by Stoics.

Second, if a tradition’s teachings can be reconciled with Bodhidaoism, then this should be done. This may mean putting a spin on the interpretation when the sources allow it.

Third, in cases where reconciliation is not possible, reinterpret the teaching to fit Bodhidaoism. This should be clearly indicated when doing so.

Fourth, sometimes neither reconciliation nor reinterpretation is possible. Outright rejection is the last resort, but sometimes we have no other choice.

Fifth, ignore those areas of a tradition that is better answered through the natural or social sciences. Epicurean and Stoic physics, for example, are no longer relevant.

This is the process I use with Bodhidaoism.

Published by

Jay N. Forrest

Zen Humanist Teacher.