Buddhist Logic for Helping with Work

Buddha said not to accept what he taught just based on faith, but to test it with logic and experimentation, like testing gold.

There are two forms of logic used in Buddhism. One is to prove or establish a thesis regarding whether or not a certain property applies to something by relying on lines of reasoning. For instance, the thesis: the project I am working on is non-static (it will change), because it is affected by causes and conditions, like my body. The other method is to disprove a thesis regarding whether or not a certain property applies to something by indicating the absurd conclusions that would follow if it did. For instance, the thesis: the project I am working on is static (fixed, it will never change). The purpose of both types of logic is to overcome failure and ensure success, by using a realistic strategy based on reason.

First: the project I am working on is non-static (it will change), because it is affected by causes and conditions, like my body. There are three characteristics of a valid reason for proving the thesis that need to be fulfilled. The reason here is “because it is affected by causes and conditions, like my body.”

  • The reason must apply to the topic of the thesis – Is my problem at work affected by causes and conditions? Yes, if the financial situation changes, if some workers on the project get sick, if I get sick, it will affect the project.
  • The reason must apply to the analogous set of all phenomena sharing the property to be proven – Yes, all phenomena that change are affected by causes and conditions, like my body. My body is an analogous example. So you think of other examples as well, for instance my relationship with my partner, with my parents, with my children – they all change and they all are affected by causes and conditions, like aging. Then you need to exclude that there are any exceptions.
  • The reason must not apply to the counter-set of all phenomena lacking the property to be proven – Yes, all phenomena that remain static and never change are not affected by causes and conditions, like facts such as here on Earth there are only 24 hours in a day. These facts are the counter examples and they are not affected by anything – no matter how many workers we hire, there are still only 24 hours in a day in which work can be done.

Based on the validity of this line of reasoning, then we can conclude that the project I am working on is non-static because it is affected by causes and conditions, and so it will change. This gives us a strategy. As conditions change, for instance user testing shows that something doesn’t work, it affects the project and we can make modifications accordingly.

With the second type of Buddhist logic, we indicate the absurd conclusions that would follow if the project I am working on were static – it is fixed and can never change. If that were the case, then it could never have arisen in the first place because if it were unaffected by causes and conditions, there was no need that it was designed to fulfill. Also, no matter what happens, like workers leave and need to be replaced, it will have no affect. Analyzing like this helps us to give up our absurd idea that our project is fixed and cannot be agile and fluid and adapt to conditions as they change, which they inevitably will.