Eastern and Western

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by CobblersApprentice, Jun 29, 2019.

  1. Never the twain shall meet? Actually, I think the division between "east" and "west" is artificial. Each can be found in the other. Yet often I do not trust myself, as logic is not my strong point. To cover up this failing, I call myself the intuitive type! :cool:

    One difference I do observe is that often much Western philosophy is of a "self" here, reflecting upon a world "out there". The interest of the Philosopher appears to me to be often only academic, even detached. While as I see it, "Eastern" philosophy (I'll call it that) always has what I would call a soteriological intent.

    I'll just see if there is any interest in this. Any comment, any observation, any point of view is welcome. All lurkers welcome!

    Thank you
     
  2. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Is lurker salvation one of the Bodhisattva vows?

    I see a big difference between Eastern and Western thought in that Eastern philosophies tend to see "the individual self" more as contingent, composite, conditioned, trickster entity embedded in a wider context, whereas Western thought sees it as a kind of atomic, indestructible foundation, divine perhaps, autonomous, and of high importance and interest.

    A Western critique of the East is frequently that of relativism, of devaluing human individuality. An eastern critique of the West is frequently that if rampant narcissistic individualism.

    I'm on the fence here, mistrusting both the "I Am" for buying into the ultimate delusion and the "Everything in its proper place" for buying into the ultimate cynicism.
     
  3. :)
     
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  4. Yes, I have met this on various Forums, and in books. In the past (and even now) I find Thomas Merton a good guide. While acknowledging and saying himself that Buddhism seemed to have no concept of the "individual", in meeting D T Suzuki, Merton speaks of meeting one in whom the "exotic" doctrines of the east became embodied in one who had "become complete" and "found his way". Merton also raised the question of the "person", that questions of exactly what constitutes the person is the next great subject in Inter-Faith dialogue. Obviously, the ego self is another matter. Again obviously, I think being an "individual" is not necessarily to have an explicit concept of what an "individual" is.

    Relativism is difficult to address. At heart, I think that it is a fact that many assert that Non-Duality is that "all is One" when in fact it is that all is "not two". The "two" arise from the One, non-duality is realised within duality. When one master of the east was asked what were the teachings of a whole lifetime, he answered "An appropriate statement". The "statement" is "absolute" for that moment.
     
  5. To add more.......I've mentioned that currently I am trawling through the thought of the 13th century zen master Dogen. As i see it Dogen's thought relates to certain philosophical preferences. First of "Internal Relations" rather than "External Relations", i.e. if A and B are related, in external relations they both exist independently and any relationship between them becomes a third factor, C. By contrast, in internal relations, the necessary third factor is that which overlaps, or interlinks, in fact the shared part of A and B. This obviously has implications for the relationship between "knower" and "known", subject and object. In external relations, such a relationship becomes "knowledge", and then theories arise as to what would make the "knowledge" true. Within internal relations, knowledge becomes that which overlaps, is interdependent.........therefore Dogen's "we are that which we understand." There would be no obstruction between mindfulness and reality. "Such a model stresses engagement and praxis in preference to observation and analysis." (Hee-Jin Kim) The ideal is thus not the detached observer, but the one who is engaged, always somatic and not just intellective.

    The two modes of relations also implies that the passing on of knowledge, rather than something objective being transmitted systematically to another via words, involves more the relationship between human beings - knowledge as "love", "compassion", "empathy" and as Dogen would say, "selflessness." Another corollary, of just how "knowledge" comes about - by reading and study or within the heart of life itself? I think this relates in a way to what No One has posted about the language he seeks.

    For me, as with all things, it is not a case of either/or. The reality is that both ways of knowing can be part of just what it is to be human. Yet this perhaps brings with it the so called "argument by relegation" (and of which is to be relegated!) Opposite positions are treated not by refuting them, but by accepting them as true, but only true as a part of the full picture. One way of knowing is therefore not cast aside - the main idea is perhaps to know/live just which form of knowledge encompasses/infolds the other.

    Anyway, my head is beginning to hurt.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 29, 2019
  6. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    I'm in the "not even one" camp here.

    "Nirvana and samsara are one" has an awfully large number of trivial interpretations, which lead people seriously astray.

    If it works for you, that's great, of course!
     
  7. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Amen! A true statement from the heart.
     
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  8. For some reason, an old Buddhist joke popped into my (aching) head after reading the above, of the guy in full lotus position saying:- "I'd read so much about it beforehand that now I'm actually enlightened I'm just a little bit disappointed."
     
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  9. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    [​IMG]

    If we're going to continue like this, we'd better move into the jokes section...
     
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  10. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    From the place where I found that cartoon:

    Dialogue across different spiritual traditions is fraught with
    obstacles, even within a shared Buddhist heritage. Over the thou-sands of years since the death of the Buddha, different schools have evolved in their own unique ways. Typical of the pitfalls was a meeting in the late 1970s between a Korean Zen master and a respected Tibetan rinpoche. The meeting had, of course, been set up by their Western students in hopes of fostering an exchange between two lineages long estranged. The Zen master began with a Dharma challenge. Holding out an orange, he asked forcefully,
    “What is this!” The Tibetan master sat in silence and continued to thumb through the beads of his mala. The Zen master asked again: “What is this!” The rinpoche turned to his translator and inquired softly, “Don’t they have oranges in his country?”

    Quoted from Amaro Bikkhu's book, Small Boat, Great Mountain.​
     
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  11. I knew I'd find my level eventually
     
  12. You may have seen it, but the video of the Dalai Lama being told the old joke about "What did the Buddhist say to the pizza salesman?" Answer: - "Make me one with everything". An Aussie presenter tried to tell him the joke and it proved difficult in the translation. Its on YouTube.
     
  13. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    I heard it was a NY hot.dog vender.
     
  14. Normally it is, but our Australian friends often turn things upside down.

    The funny thing in the video is the Dalai Lama turning momentarily to his translator as the joke is told (which falls flat)

    I also see on Youtube that the Dalai Lama appeared later on Australian TV eating a pizza, so appeared to eventually understand in his own humorous way.
     
  15. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    I saw him speak on the capitol lawn in DC. Real laid back day, picnic blankets hanging with Kundun. The most amazing thing was his "reminder" this fellow sat next to him as he spoke and when the Dalai Lama couldn't recall a word, he provided it. Years ago I thought that such a remarkable job, now I wish I had someone doing that for me.
     
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  16. I know what you mean
     
  17. As you imply, one of the main obstacles is the sheer variety within each of the major Faiths. Exactly what is to be compared to what? I think this is why Thomas Merton was interested in the monastic traditions within a few of the Faiths - at least there it could be assumed (?) that some sort of "inner experience" could be compared. Comparing "beliefs" (aka doctrines, whatever) is a virtual non-starter. And comparing proclamations of the "golden rule" is again pointless, especially if the "same" rule found in different Faiths is claimed as some sort of proof that they are all "the same at heart". As I see it, morality is always a by-product. Exactly what seeks to produce it, whether it does in fact do so, remains one of the tasks of comparison.

    Stephen Batchelor, the Buddhist writer, speaks of the "tasks" of the Dharma, as set out in the fundamental texts. The Four Truths have to be acted upon. Suffering has to be understood, its cause must be let go of, its end must be realised, the path to this must be cultivated. Alas, he asserts, when such "tasks" become "beliefs", Buddhism becomes a "religion". A Buddhist is one who believes that life is suffering, that the cause of suffering is craving etc etc etc. This, distinguishing them from those of other religions who believe another set of propositions/doctrines.

    Anyway, as I said, anyone interested, all comments welcome.
     
  18. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    Bingo!

    Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all.the rest shall be given unto you

    The secular humanists 'golden rule' lot just can't seem to get this one
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2019
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  19. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    I think if there is one point where traditions actually agree without ifs or buts, it is that morality is right there at the source, rather than being a by-product, of all that's holy.

    Maybe I misunderstood you, and you meant the social norms on sexuality and hierarchy?
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2019
  20. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Morality is right there in the fourth truth, the noble eightfold path, no? Right Action (abstaining from murder, theft, sexual misconduct), Right Livelihood, Right Speech (abstaining from lies, among other points). All of which need to be cultivated.

    What a strange understanding Steven Batchelor seems to have of his own tradition. How does he argue this view, that there is no morality in the four noble truths? I'm genuinely interested, send me a link if this is online somewhere.
     

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