Subharo wrote: ↑
Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:35 pm
No Mind, here is a counter-question for you to ponder (which perhaps will give you a Satori into an answer to your OP):
In Eastern culture, why is critical thinking, and frank debate in a gentlemanly tone of voice, so taboo, especially when people (who are elders) are clearly talking crap (and take great liberty doing so, knowing very well they can get away with it all they want, pretty much)?
Bhante, there are two parts to your question. One critical thinking and one about elders.
To answer the latter first, traditionally elders have been held in high esteem. Many Asian cultures celebrate the ageing process and venerate their elders.
Asian Gen X (born in 70s), the demographic to which I belong, have largely began to break away from that tradition. However it is still impossible to be very young and be taken seriously. Without being critical, in recent years West has an increasing obsession or fetish with youth and anyone over the age of 40 is considered to be ancient. And yes, I admit our elders often talk crap and it is difficult to bear and keep on being polite for decade after decade. But being impolite or confrontational is bad, really bad. Between 20 and 40 I have confronted family elders few times (geriatric uncles and such) but always after few months or few years "made up" with them.
About four years ago, when I was well into my middle age (40 plus), I became friends with a well known but retired and octogenarian economist who was very knowledgeable but spoke real crap at times. In 2015, after one such episode in a cafe I told him to go to hell and stormed out. I wish I had not been so rude. No matter that he was wrong, demonstrably wrong .. he was same age my late father would have been .. and my words must have hurt him .. and that is bad Kamma, pure and simple. He was old. The well known scholars and PhD students who fawned over him one day were no longer present. He spoke few stupid and senile words to someone half his age. Should I not have forgiven him and held back my temper?
Coming to critical thinking .. it is by and large allowed to a much greater degree than before.
Critical thinking is defined as - disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence. Do you mean to say the Chinese or Japanese or Koreans or Taiwanese or Singaporeans .. all of whom have built their nation from scratch in last few decades are not capable of critical thinking?
Do you mean to say the world's largest democracy built of 30 distinct countries has not fallen apart .. had no civil war or large scale nation wide civil unrest in seventy years since independence .. and there is no critical thinking involved in it?
We do not have the accompanying fanfare and fuss .. debating across large mahogany tables while wearing a tweed jacket and bow tie .. neither do we have the command over English that makes us seem intellectual in forums and seminars .. but we are intelligent all the same. Before Oxford and Harvard there was Nalanda and Takshashila and similar centres of learning in China and Japan.
I might add this with little bit of hubris .. there are many in this forum who are learned (or consider themselves learned and speak in a grave tone) .. but I have yet to meet too many who know more than I do (total amount of knowledge in their brain is more than in mine) .. or whom I really admire (except Venerable Dhammanando) .. my English is not polished enough .. I write using dots .. instead of using prepositions and conjunctions .. so my words seems to come from a relatively uneducated person (same for other Asians too) .. but we are happy as we are .. no need to be impressive .. we just need to be effective.