Tuesday, January 21, 2014

502: On Buddhisme

In my previous lecture I wondered about the phenomenon, that an individual some moment in history stands up, produces some book or teachings and causes whole tribes and nations to transform it into some kind of collective religion.

Then I realized that this not only happened thousands of years ago but also recently in our history. Karl Marx achieved exactly the same. 

Maybe such teachings are always a kind of insurrection against the establishment and their ideas, which are responsible for massive social and individual injustice and inequality.

Human thought necessarily develops out of an historical context, and the thinking of the Buddha is no exception. He contested the intellectual, moral, and religious outlook of people then living in the Ganges river basin.

One important respect in which this was true concerned the fourfold division of persons into brahmins, rulers and warriors, farmers and traders, and servants. 

This rigid, hierarchical system of classification held that virtually everything important about a person – most significantly, a person’s obligations and opportunities – was determined by birth. 

For example, the brahmins were supposed to have been born with a capacity for wisdom and virtue that no members of another class could achieve no matter what they did. 

Buddha ’s teachings rejected this system. They declared that ‘anyone from the four castes’ could ‘become emancipated through special knowledge’ . 

An important aspect of the Buddha’s teaching is its universalism: it is put forth as an outlook that is true of, and has relevance for, all human beings – including us.

It was believed every human being could achieve enlightenment, because Buddha thought human nature and the universe have certain objective features we can know.

And this brings me to the second point I mentioned in the previous lecture. This kind of insurrections is about ethics and claims to be universal. Everybody should support iy.

If you might have lost all optimistic belief in homo sapiens, there appears to be always the urge to start the moral debate and search for the right path, which leads to some kind of human well being. Otherwise we now might live in a world according to Thomas Hobbes.

What is Buddha’s story? Buddhism is first and foremost a path of self-transformation that seeks the elimination of negative states (vices) and their replacement by positive or wholesome ones (virtues). This is the way one becomes a Buddha.

The ultimate foundation for Buddhist ethics is Dharma. Dharma has many meanings, but the underlying notion is of a universal law which governs both the physical and moral order of the universe.

This means, that the starting point is the belief in a specific order of the universe. A belief, we find in a number of cultures, but according to the Buddha it is also a moral order.

This concept of moral order is closely related to the ideas about karma and rebirth. But it also leads to another interesting observation.

The world depicted by modern science is often said to be morally neutral or meaningless. By contrast, the universe portrayed by the Buddha is morally ordered. 

This need not mean the Buddha’s teaching is incompatible with modern science, but it does mean the Buddha would regard the world of modern science as incomplete

insofar as this world was taken to be morally neutral, just because karma and rebirth are essential features of this world.

What is our position in this moral world? The basic teachings of Buddha regarding this are usually summarized in the Four Noble Truth:

1. There is suffering.
2. There is the origination of suffering.
3. There is the cessation of suffering.
4. There is a path to the cessation of suffering.

I’ll elaborate on these in the next lecture.

Thank you. ^_^

Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
Philosophy of the BuddhaChristopher W. Gowans (2003)
 Buddhist Ethics, Damien Keown (2005) 
From Africa to Zen, R.C. Solomon & K.M. Higgins
Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Robert E. Buswell, Jr., ed. (2004)

The Discussion

[13:18] Loo Zeta-Ah: Thanks
[13:18] Bejiita Imako:
[13:18] herman Bergson: If you have any questions or remarks....the floor is yours :-)
[13:18] Debbie dB:  ¸¸.·º° էհɑղҟ վօմ :) °º¸.·.¸¸
[13:18] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:18] AJH1: Thankyou
[13:18] Dings Digital: Thank you herman
[13:18] Bejiita Imako:
[13:19] Zanicia: Yes, thank you Herman
[13:19] Lizzy Pleides: Thank you herman, that was brilliant again
[13:19] herman Bergson: I want to controversal today, I guess?
[13:19] Gemma Allen: not yet
[13:19] herman Bergson: there are two points here...
[13:19] herman Bergson: one is the historical context of the origins of Buddha...the motivation
[13:20] Loo Zeta-Ah: Can I question the notion that a single person dives an ideology or belief system.... like Marx would not be anywhere without Hagal, and there has to be a furtile environment for it to catch on like Thatcherism.
[13:20] Debbie dB: Herman, the rich class pave the way for their kids to stay rich in many societies - you are in or out. The moral systems are often red herrings - opiates of the poor.
[13:20] herman Bergson: and second to me the concept of Darmha...
[13:20] herman Bergson: Ok Loo.....yes that is an important point....
[13:21] herman Bergson: We tend to describe history in terms of important individuals....
[13:21] Daruma Boa: thats true
[13:21] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:21] herman Bergson: but actually that is a questionable methodology
[13:21] Bejiita Imako: very
[13:21] Dar: Morality and pure mind can be 2 different things.. for instant, everything we do effects the mind the the conscience and in order to have pure mind we do good things that effects the mind in a positive way.  Sometimes having pure mind has nothing to do with morality..  Pure mind leads to enlightenment and all buddhist's goal is to achieve that, but morality only the result of trying to achieve pure mind. ... This is my understanding of buddhism.
[13:22] herman Bergson: convenient, but leaving out the whole context
[13:22] herman Bergson: ooops...
[13:22] herman Bergson: one remark....about how we do things here in class....
[13:22] herman Bergson: plz
[13:22] Dag: yeah put some order herman plz
[13:22] herman Bergson: those who are new...read the rules of engagement behind me at the right for you :-)
[13:23] Gemma Allen: it does not always work but we try
[13:23] herman Bergson: they not the Ten Commandments ...just a request :-))
[13:23] Debbie dB: Buddhism was not and is not about preserving class, or building wealth - its different to the other "moral " frameworks.
[13:23] Debbie dB: ok
[13:24] herman Bergson: Yes true Debbie
[13:24] herman Bergson: Like in Buddhism greed is one of the main vices
[13:24] herman Bergson: while compassion is one of the virtues
[13:25] Gemma Allen: i don’t know many rich buddhists
[13:25] Gemma Allen: wonders if there are any
[13:25] herman Bergson: Greed is the source of accumulation material wealth...
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: they maybe don’t care about wealth or materialism
[13:25] Debbie dB: awesome. In christianity, god is warlike, and protects against enemies.
[13:25] Ciska Riverstone: (Jim Carrey ;) )
[13:26] herman Bergson: While sharing is a basic buddhist principle...
[13:26] Loo Zeta-Ah: Lots including Steve Jobs
[13:26] Lizzy Pleides: I don't see so many parallels between Marx and religions, marx is about equity and religion is more about transcendency
[13:26] Gemma Allen: maybe he gives his riches away
[13:26] herman Bergson: Yes Lizzy
[13:26] Loo Zeta-AhLoo Zeta-Ah nods at Lizzy
[13:26] Debbie dB sits in lotus position ;)
[13:27] herman Bergson: but the analogy is that the historical processes look the same
[13:27] Ciska Riverstone: the common thing might be the emotional bounds which work on both - marxism and religions ;)
[13:27] herman Bergson: if you leave out the content in detail
[13:27] Debbie dB: superficially - yes- all changed the status quo.
[13:27] herman Bergson: and all originated from social dissatisfaction
[13:28] Debbie dB: yes. We need a new moral leader and compass....
[13:28] Gemma Allen: but that has always been true hasn’t it
[13:28] herman Bergson: But the interpretation of what is good and bad, right and wrong...well...yes..they fundamentally differ
[13:28] Debbie dB: $$$$ are not a good religion
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: indeed
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: no
[13:29] Loo Zeta-Ah: There has to be a hegemony
[13:29] herman Bergson: Well the remark that we need a new moral leader is interesting....
[13:29] Loo Zeta-Ah: a notion that the prevailing ideology is acceptable
[13:29] Loo Zeta-Ah: or even forced .....
[13:29] herman Bergson: yes Loo that is the binding factor...
[13:30] Debbie dB: the current ideology is about excess consumption, and faster burn.
[13:30] herman Bergson: Buddhism has been such a binding factor....
[13:30] Dag: I would like to see a distinction between ideologies and religions
[13:31] Debbie dB: Hard to separate loo
[13:31] herman Bergson: Interesting point Dag
[13:31] Lizzy Pleides: yes Dag
[13:31] Gemma Allen: it is hard dag
[13:31] Debbie dB: I sorry..
[13:31] Debbie dB: I'm Sorry! gag
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:31] herman Bergson: But indeed a whole new debate....
[13:31] Loo Zeta-Ah: :)) another time Dag, give me chance and I will do it as soon as I retire RL
[13:31] herman Bergson: That's the point ^_^
[13:31] Dag: lol Zeta
[13:32] Debbie dB: The new ideology is being formed by the internet enabled community ;)
[13:32] herman Bergson: and I am already retired Loo, but now occupied with Non Western Philosophy :-))
[13:32] Gemma Allen: which goes faster and faster
[13:32] Loo Zeta-Ah: hehehee
[13:32] Debbie dB:  ✧✩**✩✧ G I G G L E S ✧✩**
[13:32] Debbie dB: It involves sharing, and printing free money-
[13:32] Bejiita Imako:
[13:32] Dag: what I wanted to say is...
[13:32] Debbie dB: ((i wish))
[13:32] Dag: that religion intervenes on human consciousness
[13:33] herman Bergson: Well maybe our present ideology is Economy....Economic growth our idol...
[13:33] Loo Zeta-Ah: For an individual to 'share' they have to accept it will be better for them
[13:33] herman Bergson: I agree Dag....
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: untill all crashes down hard on us
[13:33] Loo Zeta-Ah: The Early Christian church members shared everything
[13:33] Zanicia: True
[13:33] herman Bergson: I actually said that in my previous lecture
[13:33] Debbie dB: Well, breathing is sharing at some level - we all need to - even the polluters
[13:33] Dag: am sure you did..:)
[13:34] herman Bergson: and what I said today....
[13:34] herman Bergson: it still seems to be the case that homo sapiens NEEDS the moral debate....
[13:34] Gemma Allen: and always have and will
[13:34] herman Bergson: and that is a positive thing, I would say
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: guess so
[13:35] Zanicia: It will be interesting to pick up on the suffering aspect that you left it at
[13:35] Dag: yes thats a good point herman
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:35] herman Bergson: Like they are re introducing Ethics at MBA  colleges :-)
[13:35] Debbie dB: We do. thats why i come to class, - to seek moral compass
[13:36] herman Bergson: Well Debbie....
[13:36] herman Bergson: regarding Buddhism our compass is set at "suffering"
[13:36] Debbie dB: ok - ill buy that
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone: until we start to fix it ourselves ;)
[13:36] Loo Zeta-Ah: yes
[13:36] Debbie dB: and that ;)))
[13:36] herman Bergson: That basis of life is suffering  and we need to follow a path to free ourselves from it
[13:36] Loo Zeta-Ah: drive out the negative thoughts with Karma
[13:37] Debbie dB: and create only good karma
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: i guess so
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: that is the goal
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: sort of
[13:37] Loo Zeta-Ah: My bro in law is a Buddhist and I did not realize how many branches there were
[13:37] herman Bergson: Next lecture I'll spend our time on understanding what we should regard as this "suffering"
[13:38] herman Bergson: Yes Loo....dozens of sects....
[13:38] Loo Zeta-Ah: he is into nature and eleviating earth's suffering
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:38] Zanicia: I'd like to know how you pay the bills with Karma....OR FOR SOME PEOPLE, WHERE TO FIND THE NEXT BOWL OF RICE
[13:38] Debbie dB: And when do we get to the steps to self enlightenment?
[13:38] herman Bergson: In Japan there are at least 6 different Buddhist schools
[13:38] Debbie dB: and rice?
[13:38] Gemma Allen: hope i an make it saturday and tuesday
[13:38] Zanicia: ooops sorry about the caps
[13:39] Gemma Allen: hopes you send a notice to remind us about saturday
[13:39] herman Bergson: That  bowl of rice is only found by the buddhist monks ZANICIA :-)
[13:39] Debbie dB: Loo, there should be no bills.
[13:39] herman Bergson: They get it offered from the common people
[13:39] Debbie dB: tell me about saturday please?
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: something coming up then?
[13:39] Loo Zeta-Ah: Well we could all live like Star Treckers with no money
[13:40] Gemma Allen: we wish
[13:40] Zanicia: Tell that to the staving in the rest of the world
[13:40] herman Bergson: I'd love that Loo
[13:40] Loo Zeta-Ah: or to the Lindens ;)
[13:40] Gemma Allen: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: hehe yes that would be great
[13:40] Debbie dB: ¨°º©©º°¨=^ L A F F S ^=¨°º©©º°¨
[13:40] herman Bergson: Well...we are leaving the buddhist path here now :-))
[13:40] Gemma Allen: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:40] Loo Zeta-Ah: ooops sorry
[13:41] Debbie dB: yes
[13:44] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ... ^_^
[13:44] Zanicia: Thank you Herman!
[13:45] Dar: Thank you Herman, and everyone, Much metta to you all.
[13:45] Lizzy Pleides: Thanks to YOU herman!
[13:45] Debbie dB: Thanks to you Herman - I missed this place, and all of you.
[13:45] Draylan: Thank you Herman
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: bye debbie
[13:45] Oceane: thank you herman great class
[13:45] Dag: byebye all
[13:45] Daruma Boa: have a nice weekend all
[13:45] herman Bergson: See you all next Tuesday :-))
[13:45] Daruma Boa: bye bye
[13:45] Loo Zeta-Ah: Thanks and bye all
[13:45] Ciska Riverstone: bye all
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: this was great as always
[13:45] Lizzy Pleides: good night everybody
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: cu soon
[13:46] herman Bergson: thank  you Bejiita
[13:46] Lizzy PleidesLizzy Pleides waves bye
[13:46] Bejiita Imako:
[13:46] Debbie dB: byeee all
[13:46] Zanicia: Bye bye

[13:46] Debbie dB: and bye prof xxx

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