なぜ今、仏教なのか

読むのに随分と時間を要した本である。断っておくと本書は格別難しいわけでは決してなく、どちらかと言えば読みやすい部類に入る。これは僕の読書の癖なのだが、時期を問わずに読む価値があると判断した本は途中で中断してもいずれ再開して読み続けるだろうと信じているので、途中で寝かすことがある。別の本に興味を惹かれればそちらに寄り道しがちである。多くの場合、興味は一時的でしかないのだ。と言うわけで本書も途中3、4回ほど他の本に寄り道して、読み終わるのに2ヶ月以上かかった。Audible版を入れると約3年になる。因みにそんな類の読み掛けの本は他に何冊も有って、本書も他の本からの寄り道過程で手に取った。

映画『マトリックス』を最初に観た時の興奮は今でも覚えている。ちょうど同時期に公開したとあるSF大作(star***s)の新三部作一作目を古臭い陳腐なものと葬り去ってしまった。観ている最中、物語の前半で展開する不可思議な出来事を、与えられた情報をどう解釈して辻褄を合わせるか本当に悩んだ。バンパイア等のファンタジー要素まで考慮したものの、物語の方が一枚も二枚も上手であった。周知のお話なのでここで繰り返すことは避けるが、『マトリクス』はそれ故に「禅映画」と呼ばれる。赤いピルを飲む行為は、仏教での瞑想になぞらえられる。覚醒した後では(悟りに至った後では)世界がまるで違って見える(らしい)。一応断っておくと、僕は悟りから遠い人間なので、ここで書くことの多くは受け売りに過ぎない。因みに『マトリクス』は二重の意味で「禅的」であると思う。一つ目は既に述べた。二つ目は、それを観ること自体が(SF)映画への評価を変えてしまう点である。例のSF大作も『マトリクス』前であったなら時代遅れにならず、もう少し評価された可能性が有る。

僕たちが感覚する世界は「世界」の真の姿を忠実に写しているのだろうか。ヒトの感覚もその発達の過程で、ヒトの祖先が辿って来た生物学的な制限の中で、孫の数を最大化するように長い時間をかけてチューニングされている。これを進化という。感覚に基づいて心のモジュールが主導権を奪い合い、その中で最有力なモジュールが意識に昇る。あるいは意識となる。そして多分、思考が生まれ、行動(判断を含む)は思考に前後する。(この辺の進化的側面を考察するのが進化心理学という分野で、著者はその分野の専門家である。) 何が言いたいかというと、僕たちは祖先が長い時間をかけて獲得した、子孫の数を増やすのに適した様式でしか物を感覚しておらず、この感覚のチューニングは現代社会に適応しているわけではない。ヒトが生活してきた時間の大部分、即ちここ数百万年間、に対して適している。より深く根を辿れば数億年になる。だから現代社会では多くの場合は害にしかならない、砂糖が塗されたドーナツを見る・嗅ぐと口にしたくなり、温かい気持ちになる。つまり、我々が見る世界は進化という色眼鏡の変光を受けている。因みに、ものごとの、この進化的、加えて文化的色眼鏡を通して受ける感覚を、そのものの「本質」と僕たちは呼ぶ(と思う)。

この事実と仏教がどう関係するのだろうか。著者がここで言う「仏教」とは西洋に一般的に導入されている「仏教の実践的な側面」のことであり、「神話的側面」は含まれない。「仏教の実践的な側面」とは、瞑想を通して「無我」や「空」の概念に至り、自己と世界の有り様を正しくとらえる活動のことを指す。ブッダは感覚が世界の真の姿を歪めていることを理解していた。彼が知らなかったのはその歪みの原因であった。

では、正しく「無我」あるいは「空」に至ると人はどうなるのか。食欲・性欲・痛みや苛立ちなど僕たちが世界から覚える感覚の全ては、仏教的には幻想である。感覚の全ては、物質的世界(敢えて物質的と付けるが、物質的でない世界が在るだろうか)との必然的関係はない。ただ進化の過程に於いて、そう感覚すれば生存競争で有利であるという理由で僕たちが踏襲してきた慣習なのである。火は一般的な生物の体を破壊するものであるが、だからと言って火に熱さや痛さを覚える必然性は何もない。火は熱く、痛いから逃避せよという心のモジュールが個体の生存に有利になる様に意識を乗っ取った結果に過ぎない。そのモジュールに主導を渡さなければ、熱さが意識に昇ることも無い。ただ、火と、それに焼かれる体が在るのみである。かくしてある高名な高僧は政治的な抗議行動として衆人の前で焼身自殺した。この時高僧は眉一つ動かさなかったという。以上は上級者の例であったが、日常生活でも一寸した苛立ちを隔絶することができる。

もっと極端に言えば、どのモジュールも働かせなければ、心は世界から全く隔離され揺るぐことがない。このとき「心」と呼べるものがあるのか分からず、こういう状態が人間に可能かどうかは分からないが。少なくとも不要なモジュールを抑えることは修行によって可能なようであり、間違っているかもしれないが、こうした状態を「無我」または「空」というのかもしれない。これと正反対の状態、つまり沢山のモジュールが主導権を争って次々と優先が移り変わる状態、を「デフォルト・モード・ネットワーク」という。僕たちが普段経験する、色んな意識・思考が去来する状態である。「無我」や「空」から最も遠い状態だ。

僕はどうやらこの「デフォルト・モード・ネットワーク」が優位であるらしい。本を読むときやaudibleを聴くときは様々な考えが浮かんでは消える。本書を読んでいる時も本当に沢山の、大半はどうでもいいことに思いを巡らし、その殆どは最早覚えていない。つまりは「デフォルト・モード・ネットワーク」であったのかもしれない。さて、ある読書の達人、それが誰であったかはもう忘れてしまった、は読書時にはその本に集中し、著者の意見を先ずはそのまま受け入れるべきだと言った。異論は後で考えればよいと。これは今はやりの言葉「マインドフルネス」の一種である。マインドフルネスも瞑想で得られる心の持ちようであるのだが、その肝は今現在(今やっていること)に意識を集中すことである。人は「デフォルト・モード・ネットワーク」状態の時は、意識が過去の出来事や未来の予定・不安事にドリフトする。この非効率性を排除せよと達人は言っていたのである。読んだ時には納得できなかったこの知恵が別の言葉を介して浮上してきた。こういうのは面白い。

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