Friday, May 14, 2010

Your turn #1

I had a nice time with you guys. Probing questions, nice points. I'd like to stress the fact that our conversations should not become yessing tutorials. It's good to contend, to spar, to put these ideas to the test to see if they come out of the fire unscathed. Only then, we have the best reasons to support them. 

Below, Kafka's "Prometheus" and a bit of my reference to spirituality* as "the inexplicable." I didn't want any talk about mystery in the traditional sense. We're trying to pay close attention here to metaphors. I go by the verse of Carvaka:
Springing forth from these elements itself
solid knowledge is destroyed
when they are destroyed—
after death no intelligence remains.**
We have a better grasp of the Upanishads and some of its main ideas: Brahman, atman, moksha, karma, samsara, avidya. Let's try to see the big picture. All this is pointing to a path of liberation from samsara: MOKSHA. I liked the flavor of ONENESS as doing for others, as seeing ourselves in others. What I termed social activism.

What's our duty to others?
If he who departs from the body goes to another world,
how is it that he come not back again, restless for love of his kindred?***
Which brings the discussion of karma back to the table. As Jose suggested, Karma seems like double edge sword (it needs to be further discussed).

We talked in passing of meditation as separating time/space that is worthwhile. Let's try to seek peaceful, constructive, hopeful thoughts (remember, hope should not be blind).

Let's not fall ever for what I call thetic happiness!! Mildly, detachedly, happy; a deceiving sign. As I suggested in class, suffering has a -too- bad a reputation.     

I'm sure there is more, but this is the best I can do right now. Go ahead, say what you want, but say it meaningfully, sincerely (close to 100 words!).

______
*One can find solace in "the spiritual," a highly personal symbolic constellation, where all these metaphors we've been discussing bear fruit. ** Sarva-Darsana-Samgraha by Madhava Acharya, translated by E. B. Cowell and A. E. Gough. (Paul Kegan: London, 1914). *** Patanjali Sutras.

31 comments:

gnarley nai said...

I can’t help but to think of the cliché “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, which ultimately is the POSITIVE side of suffering. Life would be unbearably boring without suffering. No lessons learned, no “social activism” (if no one suffers, there would be no need for it), and no drive or determination. Without suffering, there would be no fear of failure and thus a world of complacency. Without suffering, there would be no Moksha; no escape from Samsara, because nothing would be gained from a life lacking suffering. This theory does however contradict the position of Karma in the role of Moksha. Suffering, generally, is interpreted as being a result of Bad Karma. Bad Karma keeps Samsara going; reincarnation would occur over and over and no Moksha and unity with Brahman would be achieved. I could expand on this forever, but I digress.

Nailah Summers

Angela said...

Did you guys wiki hinduism? Check it out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinduism#Definitions
No wonder the lecture winds like a pigs tail, going this way and that. Apparently, this stuff cant be talked about, it has to be experienced. I wonder, is that what we've been doing in class? Sneaky ;)
I especially like in the Wiki text this statement: "A definition of Hinduism is further complicated by the frequent use of the term "faith" as a synonym for "religion". Some academics and many practitioners refer to Hinduism using a native definition, as Sanātana Dharma, a Sanskrit phrase meaning "the eternal law", or the "eternal way"."
From what I read, Hinduism goes so far back and is so widespread, I really cant understand how I've escaped it all this time.
One of my favourite parts of the class was the discussion regarding master/slave... in terms of karma and suffering, the yoga, or lesson, must stretch the atman to go beyond where it is now in its current body, and the experience of it could be called suffering. I like to think of it more in terms of a challenge, I think. Maybe suffering is only a sensationalised word for what it feels like before we solve some problem, some yoga thats important to us? So suffering, or being challenged, means we are at work. It makes sense then, that the slave, being given more "work", or "suffering", would then advance karmically and expand oneself to realize "one" and then, naturally, become president! Or MLK, or, or.. I love it. Anyway, I didnt read it all, but I thought there was alotta interesting stuff in that link and our class. Am I at 150 words yet?? Heheh, see u guys ~

A.T. said...

Maybe suffering is only a sensationalised word for what it feels like before we solve some problem, some yoga thats important to us? So suffering, or being challenged, means we are at work.

Interesting point, Angela, but please, sign with your complete name, so I know who you are.

Julie McConnell said...

I went home on Thursday and started thinking about these issues a little bit more. I’m pretty fascinated by the amount of complexity and depth that circulates these points, but I can’t help but feel like it’s a circle that doesn’t stop. Many of these points seem to contradict each other, but no one wants to point out where these issues are supposed to start and stop. I’ll start with the points I like first.
+

- I like the general conceptions of (1) brahman (abstractions), (2) atman (brahman inside us), (3) avidya (ignorance of atman), (4) moksha (enlightenment), (5) samsara (causation), (6) karma (visible samsara), and (7) maya (illusion). They’re interesting and seem to be pretty well-formulated for the most part.

- I like the Gods that represent brahman and avoid the good/powerful/all-knowing problem in theism.

- Atman/Jiva relationship = “Nothing is dead, nothing fully dies.”

- Avidya being tied with excessive egocentric desire. ($$$)

-

- Avidya = “We are all ignorant!” – The big question: Are we really? That basically means there is an implication of ignorance if we are born on this planet. I do not think that’s generally true. An inherent suffering cannot be blindly pointed as being one’s supposed ignorance.

- More on Avidya = As I pointed out earlier, there is a thin line between defining one’s need for sustainability and greed. It is very easy to jump this line and justify it to one’s self and others.

- Karma = Unfortunately, since this concept is tied in with their religion, India still lives out this problem. If one is born into an unfortunate social stratum, no matter what you do, you cannot be considered outside of it. Of course, the modern world has slightly lightened this load (get a good job, make lots of money, etc), but it will always be considered what you’re born into. The only way to move past this is to die and get reincarnated again (which of course, you probably won’t remember). It is simply too bad for you if you can’t move past this. As my dad once said, it’s a bad idea to be born in India.
From these points, I can gather a few inherent problems with this ideology:

1. Debilitating fatalism
2. An easy loophole to justify materialism
3. A nearly impossible way of jumping through social stratum
4. A weak method of fully applying conceptions of justice

Ingrid said...

Often times I feel hat we try to escape suffering by faking happiness. By faking happiness I mean that we detach ourselves from the problem in question to the extent of even ignoring the problem completely. And since we don’t see our problem, we automatically assume that said problem no longer exists. The idea of “not-suffering” isn’t happiness; it’s an illusion. So how do we define suffering? It is something that brings us grief whether or not we acknowledge it or do anything to stop it. Then, how do we exit the cycle of suffering and enter into happiness? Is it by dealing with our problem head-on? Is it by bringing a solution to said problem? Personally, I feel that once we recognize and accept our suffering, we can begin to enter into happiness. This is merely because happiness does not exist without suffering. If we recognize that the suffering exists and that it is present and real, then we are simultaneously creating happiness or the possibility of it.

Isabelle Martinez said...

The question of “what is our duty to others” strikes me. It is through the understanding of our atman where we can discover our personal duty to others.
Quoting the Cavarka: “If he who departs from the body goes to another world, how is it that he come not back again, restless for love of his kindred”
I can only think of the reincarnation [Samsara] of us. Why don’t we come back, in our reincarnated life, to revisit those that mean so much to us? Does such an action entail suffering? It is moksha that simply releases us from this dutiful suffering. The effect of Karma is possible reason of “how is it that he come not back again.” Furthermore, the cycle of Karma of reactions and actions endures throughout the life of a reincarnated soul. In essence, nothing is gained and nothing is learned; humans are thus satisfied with the absence of suffering.

juan.gutierrez021 said...

The world is undergoing neccessary changes that are
going to enable us to see what our nature true capability really is. We were originally created immortal at the beginning in the garden of eden untill man first sin and the Supreme took witness to it he stripped us of divinity as we were cast out the garden, i chose to first start with a christian perspective because it was jesus of narareth the Christ who said "i say you are gods." We are all capable of doing wonders once we use the most important tool he entrusted us with; our minds, learn how to discipline the self renunciate to desire, pleasure, and worldly materialistic ideas; and start working on the piece of us all that is still connected with the Supreme for the soul is composed of many parts one of which is brahman . As it is mentioned in the upanishads God made the senses to pierce outward thus receive perception of the outside world, however the sage knows to look within the self and behold he discovers the immortal self. Governments have led the people into a reality similar to that of a farm , making profit and making the material (Money) our only priority thus through time we have come to forget the importance of spirit, rightheousness, sacredness, purity and God as the people have surrendered to impurities and enhanced their sinful nature . Our ancient ancestors held many truths we should start to look back on what was left for us not only learning the knowledge but putting it into play . I wanna put high emphasis on encouraging people to open up their minds to the mysteries of life and embrace what is rightfully ours we all hold the same obligations of procreation and ellevation of our individual spirits in the ranks of the stars, once you discover your own true nature which thus is God the highest of accomplishments with the greatest of blessings shall be bestowed upon you for thus recognizing and truely accepting God at heart and (the son of man) (the Christ) as his true and beloved son for he depicts the highest accomplishment we are all capable of achieving . The diversity is neccessary but concepts are similar it is time to awaken and come to realize the truths. earlier i had a converstion with a friend who spoke of being more of a visual learner than a auditory one i responded " so u dont see that one third of the sea is beginning to meet death?"

valeska said...

I like the way the class is flowing. One can get really confused about these concepts and how to grasp them, but Triff is doing a great job at explaining them clearly. Thanks Triff… However, I'm a little confused about the concept of meditation. From the books I’ve read, meditation, as I understand it, is a way to get in touch with your true self and get detached from ego. In meditation practice, you sit down, relax using mindful breathing, and observe your thoughts the same way you observe passing clouds; without getting attached to them or letting them take you away from the present moment.
The point here is to train the mind to relax from compulsive thinking, and to detach from the sense of self we derive from our thoughts, and to realize that there is another kind of intelligence that arises when the mind is calmed, also called insight. This intelligence is not something you learn, but something you channel, and this intelligence is not separated from your true self.
According to the books, when you detach yourself from your thoughts you attain a state of awareness where you are fully present, you feel connectedness to everything, and you are able to gain insight about important truths, as well as realizing your true self. I know this differs a little with what Triff said about meditation being the act of thinking about something worthwhile. Maybe we can explore this in class more in depth?
Valeska brieva

A.T. said...

This intelligence is not something you learn, but something you channel, and this intelligence is not separated from your true self.

Nicely put, Valeska. Surely, your definition of meditation is the traditional definition. I'm trying to give it a spin tat still retains that basic message.

From the prospect of thinking machines, we're thinking all the time, but how much of that refraction of all thoughts coming and going is actually ours? How much energy is dissipated by just thinking stuff, as if nodes of all the thinking (noise, static) going around and how much is us focusing our thinking by collecting it and making it work for ourselves?

Make thinking work for us, not against us, such as in reactive, toxic thinking, obsessions, fears, unresolved fetishisms, etc?

How to change that?

Meditation means creating a worthy subject for our thoughts, a pointer/objective that is fruitful, productive, a thought that is independent, self-generating.

Seeking a greater balance of energy correlation between thinking and doing, which brings more consistency to our actions and deeds.

Ok, my time is up. We'll keep talking about this,

Melissa Castillo said...

Karma can be viewed as a supernatural force, as a being larger than all of us pulling and pushing the wheel along a predetermined track. This track may actually be there, but there is no larger being controlling it. The track symbolizes only certain possibilities. We come across only certain situations. But what we do with these situations is what determines our future. We are our actions. If we remain ignorant, unaware, lost, out of control, on the borderline, our negligence will only continue, continually defining whom we are. Until, come that moment that the consistent negligence is the cause for crashing into the car. That’s not Karma, that’s us. Or, the moment could come that our own wrongdoing could make somebody angry enough to spite us. We will hopefully realize our wrongdoing through this with the cliché, “getting a taste of our own medicine.” But that other person we angered is now the lost one and they will continue, therefore we continue through them but that’s a different topic. Somebody already questioning themselves and the ones around could be crashed into, and be pushed into a greater span of awareness. Basically, the longer and more reckless we drive, the more chances we have to crash. So, just think.

Jose Medina said...

Oddly enough, there seems to be more collectivism in Eastern societies, yet, Eastern Philosophy places a lot of focus on the self (atman) and how it's one more link in the infinite chain of atman that is the universe.

With this in mind, and with all things considered, I can't think of any duties that we necessarily have toward others. It seems that the whole notion of "duty" is largely a Westernized concept. Taking a step further, it's almost as if we don't have duties to ourselves either. It seems that there are only goals: ending the perpetual suffering of dying and being reborn, being enlightened, neglecting materialism in order to become closer to the essence of oneself, not thinking, etc. These can't really be labeled "duties" because obligations are based on actions tied to choices. If the Eastern world is largely deterministic, the definition of duty is reduced to "what you should be doing by now on your timeline." However, it seems karma launches one out of determinism (namely, the notion of what you do determines what you will be). This double-bind can get us into trouble when evaluating what are duties are.

All things aside, our duty ought to be to be good to others. Simple enough.

Gabe Biason the Pirate said...

I think an interesting angle that has been alluded to in class but not fully investigated is the importance of the epistemology of Hinduism, as so far as we've learned.

More importantly, can we make some conclusions as to the origins, and therefore the validity of these thoughts, through its epistemology. How could the epistemology of Hinduism question the veracity of it's self you ask? Well in the case of Hinduism I think it could be verily the only way to analyze the veracity of it's thoughts and beliefs.
In order to find meaningful gravity to the ethical repercussions (especially the negative ones) of Hinduism, one must work backwards in a sense. If you were to approach these problems in a more conventional way, it seems to me that, it would be incredibly easy for someone to defend Hinduism. One could imagine that every conversation about Hinduism would end in the all mighty irreducible, I.E. that because we can not understand it it is useless to consider it, (Karma, Samsara, Moksha, ect ect all leading to Brahman once examined thoroughly)that is the "idea" of Brahman.
Now that all those qualifiers are out of the way lets discuss, in a very simplistic way, the history of Hinduism and its importance (and impact on Hinduism?).

We were told that these early thoughts of Hinduism come from the Vedas and other writing / oral traditions. The important aspect is to ask the question "Cui Bono?". Who Benefits from these thoughts? Well the Aryans who were invaders and whom also enslaved the "Jainas"(sp?)were the authors of these thoughts and traditions and it seems to me they certainly benefited from the thoughts of Hinduism.

Because this is getting lengthy and I am afraid that it will be incoherent and difficult to follow I will end with the main premise of my argument.

If this is a philosophy (religion? whatever you want to classify it as) that was created by the masters of slaves, wouldn't it follow that the philosophy could be one that benefits the master? The important historical tie-in here is the Caste system. I think the caste system is prima facie wrong. I also see the correlation between a masters will to power and subjugation, with karma's role in the caste system. That is to say that Karma empowers a masters dominance over those born below him. Its actually a quite ingenious idea. If a slave can only not be a slave by living a righteous slave life and dieing, then he will do so (I say a righteous slave life as if that can exist, can righteousness exist without virtue? can virtue exist without dignity? If not then a slave can not live a righteous life because he lives a life devoid of dignity. Following in the form "if p then q, if q then y, if not y then not q). It also seems that intrinsic in what a righteous slave life is, is submission. Therefore here on Earth, the master will always dominant the slave as the slave will continue to be the "best slave" he can be.

A brief overview of the previous thoughts: Aryans enslaved the Jainas. Aryans were key in creating Hindu tradition. Karma forces one to stay in his social class (This is where a weakness may be found in the argument. But obviously I would contend that). The idea that Brahman is irreducible makes Karma unquestionable because we must work under the assumption that we can not understand it.

Hinduism promotes class conflicts, and more importantly may exist *BECAUSE* of class conflict. These two assertions seem irrefutable to me when we analyze India's society and its Caste system.

If slavery is prima facie wrong, then Hinduism is prima facie wrong. (I made what seems like a logical jump between subjugation and slavery in a social aspect, that could be contended I suppose... THAT WAS FUN!)

NOTE
I didn't edit this and I am excited to see all the holes in my thought process here (I know they must exist lol).

Gabe Biason the Pirate said...

I also want to make a distinction between Christian philosophy and Hindu philosophy. Christian philosophers historically think it is part of their purpose to convert people to Christianity by defending their thoughts without *appealing to religion* *because* this appeal to religion is the very reason that a lot of people wont consider religious "truths".

It seems the difference though is that Hinduism, from what we have briefly learned so far(obviously Iv never read philosophical texts written by Hindus), can and always will appeal to religion, or spirituality, or Brahman or that which we can not understand.

This is important because ethically an appeal to religion will almost always lead to reductio ad absurdum.

A.T. said...

Therefore here on Earth, the master will always dominant the slave as the slave will continue to be the "best slave" he can be.

I don't know about that. Not to diminish the suffering of one person which is irreducible, we need to move on in history, its ineluctable narrative. We have to be careful to reduce the moral imperative to history without falling into some form of naturalistic fallacy. Yes, history seems absurd, and perhaps it is absurd, but it is, nonetheless, a fact.

Ted said...

It is interesting to look at Hinduism, at least for me. I don't know how this may relate to others, but I view the symbolism as a footprint. A foot print to follow!

For a number of years now, I have been perplexed by the "division" of people throughout the world. I stopped going to church, but not my faith, due to the chasm I saw, dividing the earth's population. I knew there was more commonality to humanity.

Our beliefs my be different on the outside, but so similar on the inside. Karma, for example, is the Hindu way of saying "do onto others, as you wish others do onto you." Similarly, one CAN see, Vishnu as Michael the Archangel and Shiva as Lucifer. Although not gods themselves, they represent the figures that Christianity depict as the good vs evil.

When we discussed Prometheus' fire (which is knowledge), I saw it as the Christian view of the forbidden apple that Adam and Eve ate of, in the Garden of Eden. It was knowledge, which cast them out from Eden...not the literal apple. The apple was a metaphor. Something for us to visualized...to grasp.

Personally, I see that ALL religions are one in the same. Our beliefs may differ, but their roots are the same.

But then again, who am I? "I know nothing. (Socrates)"

Alia Almeida said...

I’m gonna start off with what Nailah Summers said, "suffering, generally, is interpreted as being a result of Bad Karma. Bad Karma keeps Samsara going; reincarnation would occur over and over and no Moksha and unity with Brahman would be achieved."
What if we created bad karma from a previous life therefore allowing the cycle of samsara to continue. To experience suffering is to be human...also to quote Alexander Pope, "to err is human, to forgive divine." But I'd like to focus on that first part. As humans, we are far from perfect...and we strive to better ourselves every day, to be better than perfect. Yet we still make mistakes, it is an inevitability. Today we spoke of limits; perhaps reaching moksha is breaking that idea of perfection, that limit and going beyond it and keeping it that way. Maybe that's what our duty to others is, helping them come to that understanding that limits are to be broken, thus bringing them closer to moksha.
Or maybe…what if karma is part of the maya though. It’s something that deters us from our true path. What wouldn’t be part of maya is karma but it’s so we can achieve moksha and realize that we can only achieve our dharma through the introduction of our true selves to reality something done by meditation. I really liked that idea we discussed in class about meditation, about how who we are…what we say …what we do, etc. is not our true self, that our true self is layered within and can only be unlocked from meditation.

Alia Almeida said...

One thing i've been really liking about these class discussions is that we are looking into the actual language of the text. I think that's so important. It's such a shame that we don't understand these things in the original languages; we really do lose something in the translation. I think syntax and language create the semantics of our ideas- it's integral. So yea...let's keep the good work in discussing language. (I guess?)

-Alia Almeida

Laura Loret said...

After last Thursday's class, I've been toying with the idea of the "self" and its connection to society. It is necessary for the self, or "jiva", to reach moksha in order for the self to fully participate in its hectic, “static”-filled society. In my opinion, moksha is the extreme state of self-acceptance and peace that an individual can reach. If the goal of the self is to reach self-peace, why should we participate with others in society, especially when the opinions of others may cloud that of our own? I’ve been a volunteer within my community since middle school and can truly say that the lives and actions of others have deeply impacted as well as substantiated my current actions and beliefs. Maybe the only way to reach moksha isn’t through self-reflection or meditation. Couldn’t participating in society, despite its occasionally trivial and materialistic standards, help each person realize who he or she truly is? By sifting through different environments and people, healthy or toxic, I can recognize my true “self”.

Hans Chamorro said...

I am rather unfamiliar with many of the terms and ideas we have discussed in class, as this is my first time being exposed to them. However, I do believe we are taking a healthy approach towards attempting to define them. What has struck me repeatedly is the idea of Brahman, the infinite and unchanging reality, and its personal manifestation, Atman. Both of these concepts point towards the important idea of oneness. In class, we discussed the idea that the true self lies beneath numerous layers and that to remove all of these distractions is extremely difficult, but it is something that must be pursued. When all of the masks and costumes come off, one will see that this oneness permeates all. Such an idea is indeed beautiful; to think that this oneness is the same in all, as different as they may seem to be.
From what I have read, Hinduism stresses the idea that there does not exist one sole, linear path that all must follow to achieve "salvation", or, in this context, Moksha. However, it seems clear that any human is subject to trials of suffering, regardless of the path they may take, and thus, it seems to be at least one experience all must share on the path to achieving Moksha. I do agree with the idea that suffering is not necessarily something to be avoided. In fact, many doctrines teach that suffering can be used as a means for purification. The discussion we had last class on asceticism seems to echo this idea to some degree.

Hans Chamorro

Gabe Biason the Pirate said...

I really love Alia's assertion about language's importance in these studies.

I remember reading several of Chomsky's works years ago and he said something to the effect that English is one of the only languages to say "we *know* a language". Most languages say "we *have* a language". I think this distinction is very important. In English the idea to "know" a language is as if we operate outside of it. As if we can step outside of the framework of language, and *tell* our selves how we want to manipulate this language at this particular moment to create this sentence in which we could have created an infinite amount of sentences. This inner monologue of what you want to say in itself is completely influenced by your languange in itself. (See where I am going?)

A "Chomskyan" view on language is very interesting. That without language thought could not exist in the way that most of us think. That language and thought are intrinsic with one another.

Also the idea of the creativeness of language, or I should better say the requirement of creativeness in language is very important. How is it that we can hear one sentence that was created out of an infinite selection of sentences (this idea of infinite sentences is non-arguable. Example sentences are "I like one pie" "I like one pie and I like two pies" "I like one pie and I like two pies and I like three pies", so on and so forth)and instantly know what the other person means?

He talks about the idea of *universal grammer* and how humans are innately "hard-wired" to learn atleast one language from birth. Even a baby with a very rudementary understanding of the world, and indeed a very simple brain in its physical form, can learn something as vastly complex as language. Even though that baby could not understand very basic mathematics (I think that most of us would agree that learning a language is more difficult than learning basic division). This idea that we are not born Tabula Rasa. Instead that we are born with components of the mind like language and other systems of knowledge are already determined. These components then act as the leverage that our experiences build upon and make us who we are.

So why is this view on language important as it pertains to this class? Well the other day we were talking about some of Ghandi's text and I started to talk about the nature of the language of the text itself. It was in English, which is usually presented in less flowery descriptions than other languages. I made the connection between the brevity of the sentences and the fact that Ghandi was a lawyer. All attorneys learn in their first few years of school to make their sentences as concise as possible to be clear with their thoughts. As this, in my mind gave alot of these one sentence quotes power. All these thoughts, as far as I am concerned, are very important when analyze any work, even work that was written in English by a person whose natural language is English. We need to ask, what about the language of this person makes this work unique? How does it effect this work?

And as Alia said in her post it is a shame that we can't read these works in their original languages (surely the effect of outside translation adds a whole new demension to studying the linguistics of a work). And I would like to take this idea a step further, I think it not only is a shame that we cant read these works in their original languages, but it is a shame that we cant read these works in their original languages *with minds whose original language is the language of the text*.

Its been years since Iv read any linguistics literature, mainly Chomsky, so excuse me if my thoughts are muddled or unintelligible. I know what I am trying to say Im just not sure if I am saying it correctly or in succinct order :(

Francis said...

One phrase really pushed a button with me it is “Karma seems like double edge sword” because personally for me it is hard to agree with. I think it all depends on whether or not the person believes in “Karma” in the first place and if it really does exist in what way do we obtain it? In Eastern beliefs,” humans have free will to choose good or evil and suffer the consequences, which require the will of God to implement karma's consequences, the karmic effects of all deeds are viewed as actively shaping past, present, and future experiences. The results or 'fruits' of actions are called karma-phala.” This goes without saying that every event has a cause and effect, and every event has a previous cause that set things in motion. This is the food that Karma flourishes on; due to the fact that if the world stood still and nothing changed for a moment, it would bend the laws and Karma to the Hindus would not exist. Therefore it could even be said that the Big Bang was Karmatic, in the sense that it set things in motion for the rest of the universe, thus shaping its past present and future.

If we reduce the size of the spectrum now and just relate Karma to humans in specific we can say that we have different levels of Karma acquisition. According to the Hindus we are born with karma that has dragged on from past lives that will actively shape our future depending on how we deal with it, and then there is the karma we can obtain from day to day based on our decisions and actions. Yet to a Buddhist, this would be intolerable seeing as how they believe that every child in born in a Buddha State (clean karmatic slate) and through the passing of time we surround ourselves with more positive energy or more negative energy. To say it is a double edged sword would be to say that that its positive aspects directly match the negative aspects. Which I believe a Hindu would argue that obtaining “Good Karma” would have a much stronger compounding effect over “Bad karma”. From this perspective we can say that Hindu Gods would reward this good behavior and thus allowing you to purify your body and mind each time you die and come back, and unless you engage in behaviors that would otherwise be considered morally incorrect there should be no reason for why this karma should affect you in any way. Yet Obtaining “Bad Karma” would mean that the gods would in some way punish you, or as I like to think of it “teach you a lesson, seeing as we are always students of the Gods” and if you are not able to learn the lesson it would transfer over to the next reincarnation. Moreover to someone who believes that karma passes on from one lifetime to another he then is not in charge of his own actions, with the excuse that he is karmatically fated to do what he does and only by going against himself can he liberate himself from it.

Now to someone who does not believe in Karma and would argue that he is the way he is because he has a biological disposition and has been nurtured into who he is Karma would not play a role what so ever. This person could argue that his virtues were developed and his character flaws were produced and nurtured based on circumstances he chose or was predisposed to. Thus implying that there is no higher being in charge of his punishment or his rewards, only law of cause and effect produced and manufactured by his actions. So would Karma still be a double edged sword to him? If so, how could someone be karmatically responsible for something he or she does not remember ever doing supposing he just reincarnated

Francis Rodriguez

Rohaidy said...

A professor of mine once said: "To love others is to make them grow". When I left class last Thursday and began to ponder over what I would post onto this blog, I couldn't help but to relate it to the question posted by Professor Triff: "What's our duty to others?" I believe that truly serve others, and to find a deeper sense of growth, we need to treat them as we would want to be treated, we should do our best to act as examples to others, and we need to work towards helping them grow and succeed. This obviously drifts away a bit from the entrenched belief of the “self” playing a larger role in one’s life, where we should value our own necessities rather than others, and can surely be much more trivial and challenging, but who is to say it will not or can not have a lasting-positive effect? To truly achieve Moksha, or in simpler terms, liberation, I really believe that valuing one’s self is not just what is truly key, rather, engaging ourselves in society could help define us more accurately, and in the long-run, have a lasting impact towards our growth. I hope my never-ending search for the “self” will continue to improve will the help of others.

Karen said...

You know what for me..... Focusing on making the connection between these elements was very simple but complicated to grasp. I understand that the ultimate place one in Hinduism is the possibility to attain mokosha. Karma I understand where it connects because the idea of what it is and its essence I was raised on. Though when presented with the terms of Brahman and Atman I take a turn for a yawn with pure confusion....Why is there so much to go through…… though maybe it just maybe my me…….
As far as Duties and suffering....I believe that suffering is necessary in whatever to reach the point of enlightenment. As for our duties....we only have duties if we feel as though we have a purpose. The duties of one may not have to be a duty humanity though might be just to reach a point of enlightment But then it makes me question….are all are duties to humanity because they all affect us whether we know it or not….Just wondering???
------K.Louissaint

Ca.Di said...

One thing about bad about karma that I’ve always thought is that sometimes are good actions in life are not always genuine. What I mean in the sense that people who base their lives on doing good whether it be good upon themselves or good amongst others, rather than people doing good actions out of their own kindness there are people that focus on doing good “deeds” because they know that if they do good they will receive good, “reap what you sew”. So some people’s good actions are acted upon because they expect good outcomes. People today seem to be conditioned to anticipate instant gratification. When it comes to suffering, I believe that there is importance in struggle and suffering as a means to growth and maturity. Can we reach the full potential of our own maturity and knowledge without struggle throughout life? Can we develop values and grow mentally, spiritually and physically without engagement in the agony of doubt, uncertainty, and frustration? I would think not. The recognition and the experience of suffering is a prerequisite to growth and maturity, it is a part of increased awareness of all in life. I believe that it is essential to happiness and full human potential.

Katherine Irene said...

1) Duty = obligation

2) ORIGIN? Obligations stem from...
A- Relationships
-roles (those you are born into: offspring, member of an ecosystem; those you accept: professional, parent, friend, etc)
-society (immediate community/culture, country, world)
-natural environment (local, global)

B- Outside relationships

-universal human rights ( respect them (positive sense), do not violate them (negative sense)

-principles: W. D Ross' prima facie duties (fidelity-fulfill promises, reparation-making up for wrongs, gratitude, justice-treat equals equally, beneficence-do what one can to help others, self-improvement, non-maleficence-do not harm others unless in self-defense)

3) Conclusion: Duties to others?

-In relationships: do one's part to the best of one's ability; when obligations conflict honor the more stringent obligation in a given situation and to the best of one's ability

-Outside relationships: non-maleficence outweighs beneficence in everyday life ; in every other case, one has a duty to beneficence only as one is capable according to one's means and time available (after meeting one's duties in relationships)

SIDE NOTE: when beneficence outweighs non-maleficence, we are dealing with supererogatory acts (which we are not morally required to perform because we as agents have other duties AND have a right to count personal interests as well)

Katherine Irene said...

What is our duty to others?

Although short and straightforward, this question is deceivingly broad. Since this is a philosophy class, answering this question properly would require at least two things: (1) an identification of duties, and (2) a defense of the duties identified.

The first I can do in the scope of this post, but the second I will only do partially since a thorough defense would take much longer than I can write for this assignment.

To begin, I would like to rephrase the question this way: What are we morally required to do for others?

Since everything we do affects others in varying degrees, it is in the context of relationships that our first set of moral obligations emerges. The relationships that a particular person has will vary. No doubt. But the two broad categories under which relationships generally come are those of inherited roles—those that one enters upon birth—and acquired roles—those that one enters in life by choice.

Inherited
roles -being someone’s child
-being member of an ecosystem, a human community, culture, country

Acquired roles
-becoming an employee
-becoming someone’s friend -becoming a parent, etc


To be sure, it is morality which will require us to perform certain actions and refrain from performing others. But it is one’s relationships which will outline the specific acts which we must perform or refrain from performing. (As someone’s child, for example, one will have the obligation to obey one’s parents, to respect them, care for them, and to look out for their well-being within one’s capacity)

Katherine Irene said...

In the end then, each role will outline what one is morally required to do as participant of that relationship.

But relationships are simply the first source of moral obligations to others. According to William H Shaw, a second and no less important source of obligations is moral rights. Since rights entitle us to act, Shaw explains that they pose two kinds of duties on others: positive duties (enabling us to act) and negative duties (not prevent us from acting).

Some of the moral duties which Shaw identifies include the right to life, to free speech, to religious affiliation, and to equal treatment. Since these rights do not appear controversial, they too generate duties towards others: namely, to honor their rights wherever we are.

A third and possibly last source of moral obligations towards others is moral principles. According to philosopher W. D. Ross, seven moral principles exist which generate further duties towards others. These are (1) fidelity-to fulfill promises, (2) reparation- to make up for wrongs,(3) gratitude- to thank, (4) justice-to treat equals equally, (5) beneficence-to do what one can to help others, (6) self-improvement-to improve oneself, and (7) non-maleficence-to not do harm to others unless in self-defense. Because these principles underpin basic human interactions generally, they too appear to be a source of further duties towards others.

In sum then, we are morally required to fulfill the specifications of the roles we have in our relationships, to respect the moral rights of others and to observe the moral principles that underpin basic human interactions.

Gabe Biason the Pirate said...

Katherine poses the question, "what are we morally requied to do for others?".

Firstly, I wonder why we assume that our moral obligations are greater to people we have a natural relationship with than to people whom we have no relationship at all? (I am not arguing that, by in large, we do view our moral obliations to people who we have a natural relationship far outweigh those who we dont have a relationship with. Simply why?). I think this is an important question to ask because it seems to me the usual answer once examined would reduce us as human beings to our biological parts and would eventually appeal to nature.

Secondly, what exactly are our duties to those who we have no relationship at all? I think, in a way, Katherine answered this question. Though I think some of the answers are vague in that they use words that beg the question "to what degree?" to answer the original question of "to what degree?" For example, she says that the right to life "generates duties towards others: namely, to honor their rights wherever we are". But I think the use of the word "honor" here is vague. What does it mean? That we acknowledge that they have such rights? Because I think *duty* or *what we are morally required to do* implies more than an acknowledgement, it implies some kind of action or a negative action (not doing something purposefully).

To continue with this theme of vagueness in answering the question "what are our duties to those whom we have no relation?" she quotes WD Ross, "Several more principles exist that generate further duties to others; beneficience, to do what one can to help others". The words here that are clearly vague are *what one can*. What exactly does that mean? Here in America we sometimes think it means to give the homeless man we see outside of Cammilus house a quarter... sometimes... and only if he looks really homeless... and only if hes really nice... and only if I can still afford my "McFlurry" afterward... so on and so forth. The idea that these qualifiers change all the time depending on our mood tells me that most of us percieve *no moral DUTY unto those we have no relationship*.

Why is this vagueness important? Well it is important because it seems to breed apathy in the way we act upon others. That sure, we acknowledge their right to life, but what do we about people dieng unjustly, without dignity? In what way do we act on our moral duties to others? I find that once we examine moral obligations, as it pertains to people we will never meet, we can usually easily find inconsistencys.

And I by no way put myself above the given critique. What is it that Triff said to begin the class? "I am ignorant". And so as he said I am ignorant, I will say "I am selfish". I certainly fit myself in this bleak picture of a realm where we accept apathy towards those who we will never meet, except I am unfulfilled, nay, unhappy.

A long time ago I was reading some of Peter Singer's work (stupid guerillas) and I came upon a very interesting thought problem. If you are curious in seeing some of these inconsistencys in our view of moral obligation to others I alluded to earlier I would send you to
"http://people.brandeis.edu/~teuber/singermag.html".
It is actually a problem that Peter Unger proposes in which he uses an imaginative analogy to talk about moral obligation, except in a much more succint form than how he usually proposes it.

I thought, as Katherine surely thought, that this thread had alot of gravity considering moral obligation, therefore I hope we can continue to analyze moral obligation in a way to better analyze, or as Triff said "extract the juice" of these complex ideas such as Karma.

Gabe Biason the Pirate said...

Francis asked "how could someone be karmatically responsible for something he or she does not remember ever doing supposing he just reincarnated" under the assumption that the man believed in the qualifiers earlier in that paragraph.

Well, as far as that question goes, it seems to me the answer is "because karma exists, no matter what you believe you are a part of it as it is a part of you" (Again with this notion of singularity). That is to say, just because someone does not believe karma exists, if it did (which seems to be assumed in the question) it would still act upon you.

Maybe the question was rhetorical to better show the idea of "Man's free will > Karma".

But perhaps, in the question, by how he means why? Atleast that seems the far more curious question. Why would someone be karmatically responsible if they believed they had the free will to do what they wanted, or that their essence was a sum of their free will and whatever they were predisposed to. Or simply, why would someone be karmatically responsible if they knew not of Karma to begin with? My answer seems to be simply "it isnt fair", though I dont think I gave this question of why a fair looking over.

What I found interesting is when Francis says "Thus implying that there is no higher being in charge of his punishment or his rewards, only law of cause and effect produced and manufactured by his actions.". I think this is interesting because it begs the "first cause". How could someone "manafacture his actions" if every single cause had an effect prior to it, and a cause prior to it ad infinitum. Would not his actions simply be caused by the effects of prior causes? In essense stripping him of free will, or this mechanism of manufacturing? Triff talked about being careful to not confuse the paradoxical with the contradictory, but these two ideas seem completely contradictory to me. If you can neither destroy nor create energy, and we have never observed the creation or destruction of energy, and you believe in karma, how could everything as we see it (because human beings perceive time as linear) not be an effect of a prior cause, and thus an effect of the unmoved mover? How can Karma and free will in any way exist together? (Or do the Hindus believe that free will doesnt exist? I seem to remember us talking in class vaguely about how they both exist in a metaphysical way).

I am starting to think myself in circles.

So I will pose a question, can anyone justify the co-existense of both Karma and free will in the light of cause and effect? (especially with considerations to Moksha. How could one truly even *attempt* to approach Moksha if he is simply an effect of the unmoved mover. Or if you dont want to subscribe to a god or power beginning the circle, than how could one truly even *attempt* to approach Moksha if he is simply an effect of prior causes in a linear view of time. And lastly please dont propose a non linear view of time because my head might explode trying to think through all the possibilities that this would open up)

A.T. said...

By the way, Gabe, circles have bad reputation in logic, but not all circles are vicious, some are virtuous.

chrisgarces said...

The concepts of Hinduism share a unmistakable resemblance to the laws of the universe such as the laws of gravity. For instance, Brahman would be the universe as a whole and all the knowledge it contains; as humans we will never attain all the knowledge to be had in the universe just as Brahman is something beyond the words that can't be grasped and like Brahman the universe is infinite or just about. Atman is the Brahman in ourselves just as we are all part of the universe and must abide by its rules. Karma basically states that what goes around comes around; all actions whether good or bad will have a consequence. Which to me sounds a lot like Newtons third law (Every action has a equal and opposite reaction) but the twist is that if one commits malice actions an equal amount of negativity will return or to be worded differently; all of our actions have an effect on the universe as well as everything around us. Avidya is ignorance; much like the way the human race acts ignorantly towards the earth and all its creatures; forgetting the principles of Brahman and Atman; basically that all beings are interconnected because we are all part of one giant ecosystem known as Earth which is built up billions of smaller ecosystems and which is part of a solar system which is part of a star system, etc.., Samsara is like gravity; the force that brings us down from our highs, the all suffering in the universe. Moksha is enlightenment; complete awareness and understanding of the self and the role one plays in the universe; ultimate self realization. I am aware the that is not physics but, it is psychology and it would only make perfect sense that they sound so a like; after all science was founded through philosophy.