Assist. Prof. Phramaha Hansa Dhammahaso, Ph.D.
Assistant to the Rector for Academic Affairs
Director of International Association of Buddhist Universities
The question of ‘the present moment’ is a difficult one to address: how can all sentient beings experience ‘now’ at the same time? This question is of particular interest to anyone who practices meditation. This problem may be formulated in a philosophical framework: is Buddhism ‘positivism’ or ‘presentism’?
Some scholars interpret Buddhism as a form of ‘positivism’, whereas others describe it as ‘presentism’. Positivism is a strong form of empiricism. It rejects metaphysics and theologies because they seek knowledge that is beyond experience, and holds that experiment and observation are the only possible sources of knowledge.’
Presentism, on the other hand, is the belief that only the present exists and that the future and the past are unreal. Stcherbatsky, for instance, says: “Only the present, the ‘here’, the ‘now’, the ‘this’ are real. Everything past is unreal, everything future is unreal, everything imagined, absent, mental, notional, every Universal, whether a concentrative Universal or an abstract one, is unreal. All arrangements and all relations, if considered apart from the terms related, are unreal. Ultimately the only reality is the present moment of physical efficiency.’ Besides, the Buddha, who emphasizes the present moment in his teaching, also says that:
“Let not a person revive the past
Or on the future build his hopes,
For the past has been left behind
And the future has not been reached”.
Does this suggest that the Buddha accepts only the present but absolutely denies the past and the future? In order to consider this important issue, it is necessary to consider if Buddhism is positivism or presentism; or both; or neither of them. In so doing, I will limit my discussion to the Bhaddhekaratta Sutta of the Majjhima-Nikāya.
ขอเชิญอ่านบทความภาษาอังกฤษอื่นๆ เพิ่มเติม (Additional Articles)
1. "Engaged Buddhism in Thailand" at http://gotoknow.org/blog/buddhism-and-modern-sciences/379655
2. "Water War of the Mae Ta Chang Basin" at http://gotoknow.org/blog/peaceful-means/367287
3. "Human Nature and Conflict: Buddhist Perspective" at http://gotoknow.org/blog/peaceful-means/362614
4. Buddhism: a Religion of Positivism or Presentism at http://gotoknow.org/blog/true-love/391849
5. Peace in Buddhism: An Analytical Study at http://gotoknow.org/blog/true-love/392355
วีดิทัศน์ประกอบการบรรยายพระพุทธศาสนากับสันติวิธี (VDO Presentation on Buddhism and Peaceful means)