A few thoughts that seemed worth interrupting zazen for:
I finished off the last post of my own blog with this subject - something that's been kicking around in my mind a lot lately:
Where will you be in 100 years from now?
Not so long, but when I died in a few years, everything will become nothing including me, and I will take a rest forever. - G. Nishijima
Basically, it seems that science, and most other purported methods of "truth-seeking" consider there to be one truth. This seems obvious in the case of science because of its strong emphasis on objectivity - on describing the world in a way that works whether people are there to observe it or not. To predict the unobserved one must have a model that works, period.
Religions like Christianity are also based on a "single-truth" idea, in which there is some spiritual / divine world that exists and about which a few people, like the priests, etc. know a great deal. These people then tell the rest of humanity what they should believe about this supernatural world, its beings, and their powers, interests, motivations, etc. or tell them to "just read the holy book."
Zen on the other hand is quite different. It seems to be one of the only major methods of "truth-seeking" that is based on there being as many different truths as there are different perspectives, that is, as there are people. Each person has a unique view of the world. Each of these views is more or less intermixed with other's views and with the empirical world that science emphasizes. Zen insists that the subjective cannot be removed from the objective.
The funny thing is how this plays out... First, I should add, although Zen recognizes multiple "truths" it's main approach is to help its students free themselves from belief - to accept only that which remains when belief is removed, as "true." Zen places a huge emphasis on honesty, lack of pretension, and a focus on the source of all things - not the inexhaustible classifications of categories upon categories that people spend so much time dividing the world into. Most arguments are really about these classifications - is this good or bad? is this a civil war or not? is this a planet or not? etc. all this bickering and of course all the world's racism, sexism, etc is tied to a great degree to different classification systems people use to "see" the world. Some men "see" woman as objects and nothing more - it's a classification problem. Zen trains folks to realize that these classifications and there definitions are not, and can never be, "the truth", - they are at best a weird mixture of subjective and objective.
So Zen is NOT totally relativistic, it places great emphasis on an objective truth, but never goes so far as to say that there is any sense in talking about "the observed" without an observer. There is no sense in talking about what the universe will be like after you die. No scientist can design an experiment to determine what things will be like after they have died. Zen refuses to dismiss the subjective, but instead of ignoring it, as much of science does, it is explicit about the subjective role that is inherent, and unacknowledged, in all of human thought. In this way it reminds me of the Bayesian approach to statistics, which also is explicit about the observer being an integral part of the equation (all Bayesian statistics require the user to input into the equations a "prior" belief of probability for the hypotheses being tested - even if your belief is a total washout, you still must add this "uninformative" prior to the math). I like Bayesian statistics, especially for the phylogenetic work that I do. (Not because of the priors, actually, but because this approach allows a quantification of the uncertainty in the data).
Zen therefore seems to have a wonderful mix of these two seemingly opposed approaches - science and religion. Zen emphasizes minimizing belief & maximizing reality as does science. Zen also emphasizes that because there is just this moment that is real, and because we are here - with our subjective feelings (that science tends to dismiss too easily) this moment is as special as the "divine" of Christianity. So, science says "just material" and dismisses the subjective and the religious spiritual. Christianity (as an example for all religions here) dismisses the material world (and all its bugs and disease and other non-Christian things etc) and emphasizes an imagined spiritual world elsewhere - a "perfect" world that Christians will go to after death. Zen says no to both of these approaches - there is just this world, and actually, there is just this single moment of this world - all the other moments are imagined.
And the very matter/energy that science cares so much about IS the spiritual. No need to imagine a perfect world elsewhere - that's just fantasy - it's right here, now. There isn't anything else.
Zen is an alternative to science which provides little for the subjective, feeling-based human and it is also an alternative to the world's religions which contradict science and emphasize belief in fantasy.
Zen says here and now is all there is ( = science, objectivity) AND it's divine ( = religion, subjectivity).