Be Here Now
The science of Being is called ontics or ontology, depending on whether we’re talking about actual being in the present, or thinking about being in the past or future. Here are the definitions:
On•to’•lo•gy, n. from onto-, from the Greek ὤν, ὄντος being; that which is, and –λογία, -logia: science, study, theory) The theoretical, philosophical study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations.
On’•tic, adj. from the Greek ὤν, ὄντος: being; that which is; whatever is physical, real, or factual existence. Ontic pertains to what is actually present (phenomena), as opposed to the nature or properties of that being (ontology).
Ontology is systematic thinking; classifying our experiences into categories. Actually we do this all the time; however, as we discussed, most of us have an incorrect system of classification, at least concerning Being.
To understand and realize the Buddha’s teaching successfully, we need to adjust our ontological categories. Otherwise our meditation will remain mere thinking; or as in the East, we may turn the Buddha’s teaching into a ritualistic religion. Either way, we misunderstand the Buddha and cannot cure our dukkha.
Ontology is a good beginning, but it is insufficient to realize the Buddha’s complete teaching. We also need Ontics, to observe our attention and consciousness in present time. This is also called phenomenology.
So Ontics and Ontology are the two main branches of the science of Being. What is the difference? Ontology is the theoretical study of Being, while Ontics is the phenomenological study of Being in present time.
This distinction is very important, because we cannot change or transform our Being through theoretical Ontological study alone; we have to use present-time Ontic techniques of phenomenology, or the study of Being in the present, while it is actually happening.
The Ontological approach to Being gives us a different kind of consciousness than the Ontic approach to Being. The Ontological approach gives us Reflective consciousness; the Ontic approach gives us Reflexive consciousness.
Reflective and Reflexive consciousness process our experience differently. Let’s take a look at both, beginning from immediate experience.