One of the most urgent tasks for contemporary practitioners of any spiritual tradition, including Buddhism, is to learn how to take traditional stories seriously without taking them literally. Religious texts employ symbol, metaphor, and allegory to weave narratives that reveal truths about meaning, value, and purpose in human affairs. Although traditions tend to see their stories as historically accurate, the value of these stories does not depend on whether or not they are literally true. But in the modern period, we have come to take science and instrumental reason as the only reliable means and the model for ascertaining truth. For many, this means that they must choose between rejecting the narratives of religious tradition (atheism) or embracing one narrative literally (fundamentalism). In her essay “The Truth about Truth,” from the Summer issue of Tricycle, professor of comparative religion and Buddhist teacher Rita Gross explores this modern dilemma and points the way toward a meaningful resolution.

Andrew Cooper

Read “The Truth about Truth.”

 

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