Experiential evidence

“Do not go by oral tradition, by lineage of teaching, by hearsay, by a collection of texts, by inferential reasoning, by reasoned cogitation, by the acceptance of a view after pondering it, by the seeming competence of a speaker, or because you think, ‘The ascetic is our teacher.’ But when you know for yourselves, ‘These things are wholesome; these things are blameless; these things are praised by the wise; these things, if undertaken and practiced, lead to welfare and happiness,” then you should [continue to] engage in them.” --Buddha

Here the Buddha is saying that experiential evidence is the key towards the realization of transrational knowledge. In any beginning endeavor, there is always a certain amount of trust and hesitation as one embarks on unfamiliar territory. However, once one has traversed more of the terrain, more experiential direct knowledge is available, along with more discernment. We must always be open-minded in our endeavors though, as insights and paradigms are always newly available.

“In the West, since Kant—and since the differentiations of modernity—religion (and metaphysics in general) have fallen on hard times. I maintain that it has done so precisely because it attempted to do with the eye of mind that which can be done only with the eye of contemplation. Because the mind could not deliver the metaphysical goods, and yet kept loudly claiming that it could, somebody was bound to blow the whistle and demand real evidence. Kant made the demand, and metaphysics collased—and rightly so, in its typical form.

Neither sensory empiricism, nor pure reason, nor practical reason, nor any combination therof can see into the realm of Spirit. In the smoking ruins left by Kant, the only possible conclusion is that all future metaphysics and authentic spirituality must offer direct experiential evidence. And that means, in addition to sensory experience and its empiricism (scientific and pragmatic) and mental experience and its rationalism (pure and practical) there must be added spiritual experience and its mysticism (spiritual practice and its experiential data).

The possibility of the direct apprehension of sensory experience, mental experience, and spiritual experience radically defuses the Kantian objections and sets the knowledge quest firmly on the road of evidence, with each of its truth claims guided by the three strands of all valid knowledge (injunction, apprehension, confirmation: or exemplars, data, falsifiability) applied at every level (sensory, mental, spiritual—or across the entire spectrum of consciousness, however many levels we wish to invoke). Guided by the three strands, the truth claims of real science and real religion can indeed by redeemed. They carry cash value. And the cash is experiential evidence, sensory to mental to spiritual.

With this approach, religion regains its proper warrant, which is not sensory or mythic or mental but finally contemplative. The great secret message of the experimental mystics the world over is of contemplation, God can be seen. With the eye of contemplation, the great Within radiant unfolds.

And in all cases, the eye with which you see God is the same eye with which God sees you: the eye of contemplation.”
--Ken Wilber

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