Monday, February 12, 2007

A bit of hermeneutics

Below, I've posted some of the main ideas behind Buddhism but I'm more interested now in the kind of hermeneutics that we're doing in class. Reading closely, thinking and applying. We did a little bit of that on Thursday with the first five chapters of the Dhammapada. What do you make of it?

10 comments:

adam febles said...

From reciting different translations of the Dhammapada, it sounds as if the same message is being sent. Whether it’s translated in a poetic or straightforward format, the scripture has a way of making things both profound and quite simple. It seems to promote a sense of finding one’s center, knowing one’s self in every way possible and having a mindset that’s beyond what many are willing to forego. From the third chapter, The Mind, verse 37 states, “Faring far, wandering alone, bodiless, lying in a cave, is the mind. Those who subdue it are freed from the bond of Mara.” Mara is the personification of temptation and for most individuals, breaking from temptation, from something that’s truly alluring and desirable is too much of a hurdle to subdue. But to overcome such a feat is to know you have power within yourself and are one step closer to nirvana… On a side note: if Buddhism promotes detaching oneself from desire and attaining nirvana is one’s ultimate desire, is that contradictory?

d said...

In my house, I have at least 10 different translations of the Bible in 3 different languages. Although every translation seems to convey the same message, I always found it amazing how the words in one text can seem to carry more meaning than another. As we read the Dhammapada, I noticed the same thing. I really enjoyed reading these timeless truths and challenges presented by the Buddha. I've heard many people say how Buddhism is a philosophy and not a religion, and I've never agreed with that simply because Buddhism seems to display all the elements that I associate with a religion (and my trip to China confirmed this). But I think that I now understand how someone can make that assertion. In the Dhammapada, Buddha doesn't seem to be laying out the doctrine of a new religion. Rather, the tone of his words of wisdom can be likened to the biblical texts of Ecclesiastes and Proverbs, as well as to Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet. They are words that can be used by people of any culture or credo. I like…

Alejandro said...

The ideas behind Buddhism are of such fundamental truth that they seem to transcend all social and cultural constructs. Buddhism is not limited by language, culture, or religion.
Its teachings are clearly stated in many different languages and they can be incorporated into almost any religion. The teachings of Buddhism are not at odds with any of the major religions of the world. One could be a follower of Buddhist teachings and still be a good Christian, Muslim, Jew, or agnostic. The idea that the path to happiness lies in the middle path, the eight-fold path, has always ringed true to me. We have seen the idea that we must eliminate desire to be happy before in the concept of ataraxia. I do not believe that we are to ignore or repress our emotions, but I think we must come to terms with ourselves and truly understand the motivations of our thoughts and actions. I think that peace can be found in that kind of exercise and I think that the eight-fold path is a good guide to reaching that peace.

rey said...

I totally agree with what was said in class that day, that buddhism is a philosophy instead of a religion. As we read the first four chapters of the Dhammapada I realized that in not one of the verses did they mention anything about a god. I was really fascinated because it is the firt teaching that I have noticed that helps the individual improve through themselves instead of improving with the help of a god so to speak. It allows the individual to improve as a person, but also allows the person to participate in other religions if they are interested. The Dhammapada I see it as kind of an elder giving a child advice in simply matters of life. The Dhammapada speaks to me in a sense of experiance rather than faith. It is a teachin that anyone, regardless of class, education, religion, sex, race, etc can apply to ones life. It is kind of a "Guideline" on how to improve ones life but also how to better live with one another. Buddhism focuses not on a superior being but instead on the individual and how to improve ourselves throughout our lives which hencefore makes us better beings in the end.

Susana said...

I utterly enjoyed our reading last class, partly because we were able to prove how “different” translations speak “one” same language, and partly because we felt it in a deep, heart-level place. I noticed that most of the verses focused on the power of the mind and the power of action. And it does seem apparent that they are directly connected.
Life has proved to me that a single negative thought is more destructive than a wrong action itself. Every time I feel impatient, depressed or harried, I tend to progressively bring forth more and more preoccupations and consequently I put more unnecessary strains on my life. As the Dhammapada suggests, our negative thoughts are commands given to the universe. Dire thoughts are corrosive and can contaminate oneself without one even noticing. On the other hand, every time I see my life as a beam of light, I find more reasons not to give up, and interestingly, more solutions to my problems suddenly emerge. When I am balanced, I feel empowered to give more and ask for less. Good thoughts, thoughts of love, can transform entire societies and can create profound synergy…

Philosophy Club said...

As we kept reading the Dhammapada it seemed to me as if we were being given instructions on how to live our lives in a more meaningful way. I really enjoyed reading it since I found it to be very useful information. I really liked the meaningful messages and the way they were expressed, the metaphors used and how they relate to our everyday lives. The Dhammapada made me see the world, or my situation from a hopeful perspective, making me think that is not so hard to live my life the right way and that if I change and adjusts some aspects of my life I can gradually become a better person.

Joey S. said...

From reading the stanzas of the Dhammapada in class, I felt as if I was reading somewhat of a profound handbook on how to live a meaningful life. That is, how we should see our own existence in this world in the most virtuous way. It truly is an unbiased way of viewing the way we should be, without the thick cloud of dogma, which is one of the significant characteristics about Buddhism itself. The fact that the many teachings and ways of Buddhism are not based upon having faith in any kind of unproven supernatural being gives it a fairly modest and respectable outlook in that they are the supremely wise observations of a mere human. That fact alone avoids the need for any kind of unsighted worship or idolatry, and focuses on the truly essential value of its teachings, as in the Dhammapada.

rovena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rovena said...

My biggest surprise from reading portions of the Dhammapada was probably with the simplicity of text, by that I mean its clearness and conciseness; however, I was also surprised by its poetic nature and objectivity. In a completely non-dogmatic manner the Dhammapada is able to give profound moral lessons and guidelines for a disciplined and well-balanced life, and it is able to effectively convey its message without ever needing to present the threat of God’s fury; the readers are convinced live according its message just for the sake of their own good and their intent to live a more peaceful life, and not for the promise of a blissful afterlife neither for fear of some sort of punishment. The Dhammapada tries to promote personal growth and development rather than comfort and compensation.

Antonella said...

Buddhism has always intrigued me with its simplicity yet profoundness in the ways of life and how to go about reaching this freeing of ego,Nirvana. In today's world, especially in the Western hemisphere it seems we are caught in Samsara and with the constant menacing material world, it seems it has become harder to let go. It seems we are misdirected in our reason and path and the Dhammapada states "whatever an enemy may do to an enemy, or haters, one to another, far worse is the harm from one's own wrongly directed mind." The mind is the most powerful yet hardest thing to tame and this is why it is so valued and used in Buddhism, which makes sense to call a philosophy in that case. As the author says, the overall message is to avoid being attached to the world, a task that is harder in this fast paced life. But when we do, even for a couple of minutes throughout the day, the feeling is almost one that you were needing, that is why when we are experiencing trouble of some sort we must learn to step back and detach ourselves to further solve or cope with it, and it becomes almost a necessary thing to do.