Thursday, February 27, 2014

511: Indian philosophy and the Greeks

When you look behind me on the maps, one tells you the the length of the road between Taxila and Athens and the other shows where Alexander the Great has been.

Indian contacts with the Western world date back to prehistoric times. Trade relations, preceded by the migration of peoples, inevitably developed into cultural relations.  

This view is not only amply supported by both philological and archaeological evidence, but by a vast body of corroborative literary evidence as well: 

Vedic literature and Jewish chronicles, and the accounts of Greek historians all suggest contact between India and the West. 

Taxila was a great center of commerce and learning. Buddha is reputed to have studied in Taxila. Pythagorean and Platonic philosophy show influences of Indian thought and spirituality.

"It is more likely that Pythagoras ( died about 495 BC) was influenced by India than by Egypt. Almost all the theories, religions, philosophical and mathematical taught by the Pythagoreans, were known in India in the sixth century B.C., 

and the Pythagoreans, like the Buddhists, refrained from the destruction of life and eating meat and regarded certain vegetables such as beans as taboo. 

It seems that the so-called Pythagorean theorem of the quadrature of the hypotenuse was already known to the Indians in the older Vedic times, and thus before Pythagoras. “, according to H. G. Rawlinson ( 1902 +,  English scholar and historian). 

The notion that spirits or souls of dead persons may inhabit or "possess" animals or plants is widespread among both ancient and modern peoples in many parts of the world. 

But the belief that the life-force or soul of the individual passes from life to life, inhabiting a different physical body in each existence, is a much rarer doctrine. 

Known as metempsychosis or transmigration of souls, it is found in developed form in the ancient world only in India and Greece. 

Metempsychosis appears in rudimentary form in the Upanishads, and subsequently became incorporated into the ethical teaching of all the major Indian thought-systems down to the present day.

But in both India and Greece, metempsychosis in its characteristic and fullest development was a decisively ethical doctrine. The present status of every living being, 

whether human or animal, man or woman, high- or low-caste, was believed to be the direct result of the quality of its behavior in previous earthly existences.

Another issue, which amused me to discover, was, that what I was told as a child already dates back to the 8th century B.C. and first came to history's attention in the person of Mahavira (ca. 540-468 B.C.).

A doctrine of Jainism teaches that each living creature possesses a material soul (jiva) which is originally pure and colorless, but through the activities of life becomes contaminated by karmic matter. 

Every act committed by man or beast is believed to produce karmic coloring on the soul-light colors for virtuous deeds, medium tones for minor offenses, with the darkest shades being reserved for serious transgressions. 

Since dark-colored stains are supposed to weigh down the soul, while lighter ones allow it to rise, the light-colored souls will be reborn correspondingly as gods or humans, the darker ones as animals or plants, or as inhabitants of Hell.

Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings and emphasizes spiritual independence and equality between all forms of life. It still has millions of believers in India.

I was told, that I as a catholic boy, had a soul and that this soul was white. However, every time I sinned, there would appear a black spot on my white soul.

If my soul would be completely black, I would go straight to hell. Jainists believe, that non-violence and self-control are the means by which they can obtain a pure and colorless soul.

I was told, that I could clean my soul again by a confession and penance.

The Discussion

[13:19] herman Bergson: Thank you ^_^
[13:20] Zanicia: Amazing
[13:20] Nectanebus: nice
[13:20] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:20] Corronach: i will take your confession now. ;)
[13:20] herman Bergson: Yes..if you mean the Jainist doctrine about the colors of the soul, ZANICIA
[13:20] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:20] Zanicia: doesn't that all go to show how very dangerously vulnerable the human mind is?!!!!
[13:21] Nectanebus: I like how you touched on the Jainist view of positive vs negative karma, as that contrasts with the Buddhist view of "all attachment is colourless karma"
[13:21] herman Bergson: Thank you Corronach....after class plz :-)
[13:21] CorronachCorronach giggles
[13:21] herman Bergson: In what way vulnerable, ZANICIA ?
[13:22] Velvet: And that's why I'm a recovering Catholic!
[13:22] Velvet: I'm more attracted to the Buddhist view.
[13:22] Zanicia: we sponge up doctrines, theories, thoughts. Often, as yourself, when most vulnerable, as young people
[13:23] herman Bergson: We love fairytales...
[13:23] Velvet: there's a reason you're trained early
[13:23] .: Beertje :.: remarkable that what we have learned is taught since the 8 cent BC...
[13:23] Nectanebus: I think it's interesting to see the parallel's with the metempsychosis, but I'd venture the idea could have come to Greeks independently of India.
[13:23] herman Bergson: Yes surprised me too Beertje
[13:23] Nectanebus: sorry, typo
[13:24] herman Bergson: Well....
[13:24] herman Bergson: how the exchange of knowledge took place and to what extend is a vague story....
[13:24] Velvet: Beertje, I'm still wrapping my mind around that/
[13:24] .: Beertje :.: so the bible took several things from ancient believes
[13:24] herman Bergson: Oh yes Beertje, like the Greek did too
[13:25] Velvet: The Bible took many things from many authors.
[13:25] herman Bergson: It is not surprising that Greek philosophy emerged in Asia Minor...
[13:25] Areyn Laurasia: if black is the absence of color... then the pur and colorless soul would be black?
[13:25] herman Bergson: It was the Western border of the Persian Empire of Darius I
[13:25] Nectanebus: ALex made waves, after all haha
[13:25] Areyn Laurasia: *pure
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: or transparent
[13:26] herman Bergson: 500 BC...
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: maybee
[13:26] Nectanebus: @Areyn: for Buddhists, perhaps.
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: transparent is also lack of color bu the object itself
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: by
[13:26] herman Bergson: while the eastern border was Punjab....Taxila...
[13:27] herman Bergson: How much ideas came from where we'll never know for certain
[13:27] .: Beertje :.: maybe it's one big melting pot:)
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: can be
[13:27] herman Bergson: But Hindu web pages are pretty chauvinistic about Indian wisdom through the centuries
[13:27] Nectanebus: more so now, methinks
[13:27] Zanicia: I shall look differently next time I see a plate of beans!
[13:27] Nectanebus: (the melting pot)
[13:27] .: Beertje :.: everyone chooses what he or she could use at that time
[13:28] herman Bergson: got situations that a whole regiment of Indian soldiers were stationed i Asia Minor for instance...
[13:29] herman Bergson: and those were not only illiterate people I guess
[13:29] herman Bergson: another source is Buddhist missionary activity...
[13:29] herman Bergson: Wandering holy men..shamans.....
[13:30] Nectanebus: That's another thing: the beans seemed to be an inherently Platonic restriction, no mention of it anywhere to my knowledge apart from Yazidism
[13:30] herman Bergson: I have no idea what is wrong with beans :-)
[13:30] Zanicia: did they think the beans were inhabited by souls?
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: hehee
[13:31] .: Beertje :.: maybe they contain the beginning of life?
[13:31] Areyn Laurasia: perhaps because beans are seeds to a life
[13:31] CorronachCorronach ponders the beans
[13:31] Nectanebus: who was it that thought farts made one lose part of their soul? I'm sure that was Greek thing....
[13:31] Corronach: you must be on to something...
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: beans beans good for your heart, the more you eat the more you fart
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:31] Zanicia: never heard of that one!
[13:31] herman Bergson: lol...that could be an explanation Nectanebus :-))
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: on the other hand not happens when i eat beans fortunaetley
[13:32] Nectanebus: actually, that was directly related to the lecture
[13:32] herman Bergson: But I wondered myself why exactly BEANS are a taboo
[13:32] Nectanebus:
[13:32] Nectanebus: CIcero was worrie about it too
[13:32] herman Bergson: also because of beans Nectanebus?
[13:33] Nectanebus: yup
[13:33] Nectanebus: I knew this rang a bell
[13:33] Nectanebus: Night Junkies was what got me on to it
[13:33] .: Beertje :.: beans are precious..they are the beginning of life..when you seed them you can feed the world
[13:33] Nectanebus: they mention it in that
[13:33] Nectanebus: I love me some beans
[13:33] Nectanebus: But I'm a soulless sort.
[13:33] herman Bergson: you see that there must have been some influence from India on Greek philosophy...
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: seems that can be the case
[13:34] herman Bergson: Some like to take the view that everything began from scratch with the Greek
[13:34] Velvet: is that because it's the earliest writings?
[13:35] herman Bergson: But if you look at the map, the ideas, you can conclude differently
[13:35] Zanicia: Prior to all this I had low regard for Indian culture....that shows my ignorance, I've discovered!
[13:35] herman Bergson: It was Velvet...but yet a complex situation....
[13:35] Velvet: the same idea can pop up in different places independently
[13:35] Zanicia: Fascinating to delve deeper
[13:35] herman Bergson: you need people who are able to translate!
[13:36] Nectanebus: Greek's nowhere near the earliest writings, I've got friends that study Sumer haha
[13:36] Velvet: translations, hand-copied manuscripts, errors
[13:36] .: Beertje :.: but is such a translation reliable?
[13:36] Velvet: sure, Nectanebus!
[13:36] herman Bergson: Sanskrit was one of the very first written languages
[13:36] Velvet: not reliable at all
[13:36] Velvet: but if you cross-reference multiple copies
[13:37] Velvet: you can find commonalities
[13:37] herman Bergson: You just have to imagine how the world looked like in those days.....
[13:37] Zanicia: yes you said before, Herman, I was amazed to hear it
[13:37] herman Bergson: How do you study a foreign language???
[13:37] herman Bergson: I have no idea how they did it....
[13:38] herman Bergson: But there was for instance the ...what was the name Panini Grammer about 500BC....
[13:38] Nectanebus: methodology is something odd with language, trial and error for a large part
[13:38] herman Bergson: The rules of a language on paper!
[13:39] Zanicia: something similar to code-breaking
[13:39] Velvet: no way. you made that up. Grammer?
[13:39] herman Bergson: I guess so, yes.....
[13:39] herman Bergson: Yes Velvet...
[13:39] Velvet: Panini>
[13:39] Velvet: lol
[13:39] herman Bergson: I may have spelled the name wrong
[13:39] Nectanebus: yeah, there's similarities to code-breaking
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes
[13:40] .: Beertje :.: sounds to me like...broodje aap:)))
[13:40] Velvet: Rosetta Stone!
[13:40] Zanicia: ah yes of course
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:40] Nectanebus: AH yes, I hate them for not doing Ukrainian courses
[13:40] herman Bergson: no th ename is Panini :-)
[13:41] Areyn Laurasia:āṇini
[13:41] Velvet: no Nectanebus, literally the Rosetta Stone
[13:41] herman Bergson: exactly Areyn...thnx :-)
[13:41] Areyn Laurasia: you're welcome
[13:41] Velvet: it was Greek and Sumerian and a third language
[13:41] Zanicia: The stone was a code-breaker, so-to-speak
[13:41] Velvet: it decoded a lot for us
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: aaaa yes for the hieroglyphs
[13:42] herman Bergson: Egyptian was the third language on the stone
[13:42] Velvet: yes, thank you
[13:42] Nectanebus: oh, yeah, sorry, I get you. I thought you meant the language courses on CD-ROMs haha
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: hahaha
[13:42] Velvet: well, it's a great name for language courses!
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes there is also a thing called that
[13:42] herman Bergson: hahaha...That II use to learn Spanish Nectanebus ^_^
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: also familiar
[13:42] Velvet: great marketing plan
[13:42] Zanicia: yes there is! Haha
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: indeed velvet
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: its like Nero Burning rom software
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: same type of name use
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: sort of
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: nero is too bloated with other stuff nowadays though
[13:43] herman Bergson: Guess we now are far away from India :-)
[13:43] Bejiita Imako:
[13:43] Velvet: we tend to wander!
[13:43] herman Bergson: What I mentioned today was not yet the real philosophy
[13:44] herman Bergson: but more some religious ideas
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:44] herman Bergson: But they can not be ignored
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: everything come together i guess
[13:44] herman Bergson: yes Bejiita...
[13:45] Velvet: it makes me crazy that religion is so irrational and imaginary
[13:45] Velvet: and yet tied up with everything
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:45] Velvet: there's no solid ground
[13:45] herman Bergson: especially because some of the Indian philosophy is a kind of "protest" against all this religious mumbo jumbo
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: thats true
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:46] Nectanebus: There's no solid ground in most science either though, unless you're talking math
[13:46] herman Bergson: But yet it is interesting to read pages on certain Hindu sites
[13:46] Velvet: math is the same as all sciences
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: math is the language of nature
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: if you can calculate something it is true
[13:46] Areyn Laurasia: it's all related
[13:46] Velvet: math is more than calculations. 
[13:46] Velvet: It's patterns
[13:46] Velvet: observations
[13:47] Velvet: projections
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: also what allows a computer to descripe everything we see in natre since it can be made into mathematics
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: nature
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: picture sound ect
[13:47] herman Bergson: Math is not a complete system at all....
[13:47] herman Bergson: there are still unsolvable paradoxes...
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: can be turned to numbers all of it
[13:47] Velvet: math is not about numbers
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: hmm thats true as well
[13:47] Velvet: numbers are tools
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: math is mystical
[13:48] Zanicia: mystical in my case!
[13:48] herman Bergson: I would prefer a pragmatic approach of math here....
[13:48] herman Bergson: In most works....
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: mostly is logical and solvable
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:48] herman Bergson: after that you are free to speculate on metaphysical backgrounds
[13:49] Velvet: math is logical an solvable to a point. After that, it's like any other science.
[13:49] Nectanebus: pi, the golden ratio, and fibonacci (sp?) are about as far into math as I go, I'm a language person haha
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:49] Areyn Laurasia: it's actually not fibonacci's
[13:50] Nectanebus: really?
[13:50] Areyn Laurasia: yeah, came from Indian Pingala
[13:51] herman Bergson: Well...for today...look into the history of the relation between INdia and Greece...
[13:51] Velvet: Fibonacci is known for defining something that has existed forever.
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: aaa the fibonacci series
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: the next number is sum of the 2 previous ones
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: in a number series
[13:51] Nectanebus: yup
[13:51] Nectanebus: I'm a fan of spirals
[13:51] Nectanebus: and fractals
[13:51] herman Bergson: Ok...think about that too :-)
[13:51] Areyn Laurasia:
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: 0 1 1 2 3 5 8 ect
[13:52] Zanicia: what are you following this with, Herman?
[13:52] herman Bergson: I reckon it is a good moment to conclude our discussion here ^_^
[13:52] Nectanebus: ok, thanks Herman.
[13:52] Areyn Laurasia: :)
[13:52] herman Bergson: Next lecture I'll dig into epistemological and logical issues of Indian philosophy
[13:53] Zanicia: Ok good
[13:53] Areyn Laurasia: seems science has a way of moving around geographically due to politics and culture...
[13:53] herman Bergson: And an important part is also the Materiaists in INdian philosophy
[13:53] Nectanebus: I'll be here for the Tuesday catch up on that one, then :)
[13:53] Velvet: Science is observation - it exists everywhere!
[13:53] herman Bergson: So….thank you all for you stimulating participation
[13:54] .: Beertje :.: thank you Herman
[13:54] Nectanebus: bye all
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: was nice
[13:54] Zanicia: Bravo Herman...fascinating as always
[13:54] herman Bergson: As I just observed.....Class dismissed ^_^
[13:54] Nectanebus: Ia Yog-Sothoth!
[13:54] Velvet: Thank you again, Professor!
[13:54] herman Bergson: But I agree Velvet :-))
[13:54] Velvet: Thanks, herman!
[13:54] Zanicia: Bye Nect
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: ok cu all soon
[13:54] Corronach: thanks herman
[13:54] herman Bergson: Thank you ZANICIA

[13:55] Bejiita Imako:

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