2:02PM Oct 28, 2019
Okay, there we go.
Okay, let's go ahead and jump in. I know that last Thursday, we sort of had a playful time. And that was good. And that was valuable. But I want to be able to kind of process through Buddhism this week and sort of close the door on that. If we can get through Buddhism through today and on Thursday, then that will put us in prime position to discuss Christianity and Islam. And if we can get done with those a little earlier than I'd like to it, it gives us the latter part of the class to explore some other religious questions, particularly as it relates to, you know, our contemporary world. So we started the class opening up the questions about what kind of what is religion? Why religion, what do we do with it? How do we think about it in a contemporary world? And so I want to go back to those questions at the end of the class because a lot has changed. Your conception of religion will have evolved over the period of the course and things continue to change socially. So it introduces new questions to us so that I want to I want to get back to that. There's a chance on Thursday. That will be able to have a reading, depending on how far we can get into everything on Thursday. Basically, the first section of Buddhism will be about its basic ideas, its tenants, its people. And then the second section that I'll do on Thursday will be about the growth of Buddhism into multiple different sort of genres, and different kinds of worlds. So I'll put those in two different pieces. And that way, we won't be here too terribly long. I'm recording this one. This will be uploaded soon. And all the logistical details about quizzes and all that kind of stuff will come up this weekend. So I'll talk more about that on Thursday. I didn't address it this weekend. I had a refreshing healthy weekend. So that was very good for me. So you right now my the most healthy thing I can do is take a bath with my two year old son. It is so refreshing. It's just play and it's just purity and it's just water and it's healing. So that that's what I do every night. So if you're wondering. Anyway, that being the case, are there any other quick logistical questions before we press in? Yep.
Tuesday last Tuesday, yes. Picking up right at the end of Hinduism.
And I'll show you why in just a second. Any other quick questions? Did you won't see the movie.
See ya the
movie about constipation?
Yeah, not yet
never now never came out. It never came out. That's why you did? Yeah.
Come on, come on. Come on.
Party. We're gonna we're going to leave Hinduism behind, but we're starting right at the tail end of it.
that now the reason I'm jumping in from Hinduism is because the Buddha himself was a Hindu man. So the thing is, you see one grow out of the other. So I want to go back to the Hindu frame of mind and see if we can grow from there. Now, did we when we start talking about Hinduism last week, did we talk about forests Did we get to that part? I can't remember where you are in relationship, the other class that these things pop up. Okay. All right. So that's really the the Hindu vision we sort of discussed that we sort of not explained it in total, but we've sort of grasp the vision of what the Hindu way of thinking is. So that sets the framework for Buddhism. It doesn't take a lot to explain Buddhism is an outgrowth of that this particular fellow here, Siddhartha, Gautama, or sometimes BLGAUY, Tama himself was considered like a a wonder this word semana. Remember, in the Hindu way of things, the goal is to have to escape samsara, and the samsara is the wandering through life, the reincarnation, the looping back, and all that kind of stuff, read death, rebirth. And what happens in the growth of Hinduism is that certain people try to go out into the wilderness and they try to live the hermit life and try to figure out if they can, sort of hone in contemplative Lee and focus in on Brahman in a way that they can escape the escape samsara Do you remember there were three Margot's or three Yoga is like three different ways to pursue Brahman or reunification, Brahman, and one of those was as Donna which was like a more contemplative scholarly way of doing things. And so that was a that was a common route is to sort of go through the contemplative What do
you know what I mean? When I say contemplative,
yet like meditative, so to contemplate contemplative Templin, the root word Templin is where we get the word temple means like a separate area. So content bloom when we like to carve out a little space, right? So to contemplate something is kind of move over here and sit and consider it and reflect on it in a sacred kind of way. Right. And so one of the approaches the Hindu approaches this Janata approach was to be contemplative or be more scholarly, and so there are group of itinerant figures that would go and roam about and live the humble Live and see if they could sort of escape the effects of karma move on past samsara and into what would eventually be called be called Nirvana but Moshe for the Hindus this making sense so far. Okay one of those particular characters, Siddhartha Gautama is one of those and so mana is the term for like wilderness wonder,
okay? And he was one of these
the problem here with this particular figure, is that we don't have a ton of historical information about Gautama because Gautama becomes the Buddha. There's a lot of apocryphal or mythical legend about the Buddha's life, just like it is with any sort of significant religious figure.
some of the other ones we've seen, Hindu, Native American, tribal, African,
You've noticed that in all of those, there's not singular figures that things are wrapped around,
The religious ideals don't wrap around a person, they wrap around an experience or they wrap around a land. You can't look back and think, well, the zoo or the Cherokee, you can't pick out a singular figure with Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, there is a singular figure. Does this make sense to you what I'm saying, okay, so it's a little bit different. So when you have a religious expression that centers around a central figure, that central figure is constantly redacted and revised and talked about. So it's very difficult to understand the historical figure in relationship to the narrated figure to understand what I mean by that. So there's, it's hard to tell the difference between the people who are telling stories about this person that are kind of embellished or developed, or the ones that are original to history, it's impossible to do that. Ironically, that's not just the case. Religion, right? That's the case for any kind of historical figure. Right? We do this with Abraham Lincoln. We do this with George Washington. We do this with Jefferson. We do this with presidents is as recent as Ronald Reagan, right? Oh, he did that, you know, we tell these grand stories. So, the problem here is this fellow becomes the Buddha and we don't really have a clear grip on what this fellow's life is like, other than to know, he was one of the savannas and he was sort of roaming and doing this hermit style life. Most people say probably this guy was a part of a tribal Republic, but the mythical legend goes something like this. He's going out in the wilderness. This is the police shootings are the stories that tell about him. By the way. That second word up there is the stories that tell about Gautama
for certain sects of Buddhism. Yes, yes.
So you have you have this question, or you have the story about this man who is roaming the wilderness and becomes the awakened one in the story goes on. like this that his mother and father were royal figures. And there are basically two branches of the story. One half says his dad was a royal figure and his son was supposed to be brought up to be a royal figure in this northern Indian region. And his dad wanted to protect him from all suffering and all badness and all wrongdoing and things like that and have a pure life so that he would be a good king. So Gautama grows up and by the time he's in his 30s, he marries a woman, he has a baby. He is living the good life and he has what's called the four sightings. He sees an elder an elderly man, a sick man, a corpse, and an ascetic, okay, now ascetic is a weird word ASCETIC. Does anybody know what that term means? Yeah, it's deprivation. So asceticism is like a self discipline. If any of you have participated in a religious fast You have participated in some ways athletics are acidic, right? In order to be good at the football game, you don't eat this, you know. So the idea is you deprive yourself of something. So he sees these four things. And the first three give him great despair, the corpse, the elderly man and the sick man, because he's becomes aware that all his suffering and everything is sort of dwindling. But this fourth figure, this ascetic who's roaming the town where he's at where Gautama is that seems to have a content life. So the story goes that Gautama leaves his leaves his wife and leaves his son and goes off to be a Samana and is awake and he spends 49 days and contemplation and has an awareness of all of his past lives. As a Hindu person, this makes sense to you, right? Okay. He has an awakening and starts a brand new teaching. That's one branch of the story, the other branch of the story or about his miraculous birth, in one branch of the stories, he has a miraculous birth, basically his mother gets impregnated by this Elephant like deity, which to us might sound bizarre. But if you think in our world the animals are things like eagles or you think about Romulus and Remus of Rome. I don't know if you know this or not, but their mother was impregnated by Mars, the the god of war. You have all these ancient stories like this, if you come from the Christian world do you have the same sort of idea, impregnated and miraculously, so good Thomas mother is impregnated by some kind of elephant like deity figure. And then he is born from her side as she's clutching a tree and Gautama swears that he is going to be here for the people to rescue them from suffering. And he is here to teach and to educate and to bring peace to people. So you have all these different things wrapped up together. So we don't really know what their original Gautama was who, how what, but we have this picture of this particular figure who transforms the Hindu instruction into a nuanced a new way of thinking, does this make sense? Okay, so, so far He's a wonder and these are the stories about him. The stories are that there's a mythical conception that he somehow royal birth, most scholars say probably not a royal birth because they probably don't have kingly or monarchical structures in this part of India at this time. More like probably had more like tribal Republic's, but one of the things he says is that this time when he's born, in the mythical conception, when he's born, he says, This is his last cycle. Basically, he's not going to read, he's not going to be reborn after this. This is him to come to finish the cycle of samsara,
that this is what the Buddha,
well, what he would be called the Buddha, but we'll go Tama brings, he says, he's going to bring comfort to the people. And he's going to address the question of suffering, which is at the root of all karmic actions, and is that the root of all of samsara is suffering. Again, don't just look at the Buddhism here and say, Oh, well, this has some Weird exotic background. I mean, it's like George Washington never told a lie, right? chopping down a cherry tree, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So we have, these are the sort of padded structures and the pattern narratives that evolve and grow around this. Also, there's dispute inside of Buddhism as to whether this is the account or not, there are different branches of Buddhism, some are going to say, yeah, we kind of hold to that story. Yeah, kind of we don't we treat it like this. We treat it like that. There's there are different variants. Here. The key is to see Buddhism's relationship to Hinduism and then to see how Buddhism next on Thursday, how it spreads into all of South the all of Asia. Because we said we mentioned this, we're talking about Chinese traditions, and Japanese traditions that both of them were really dominated by Buddhism. So we had to kind of put Buddhism aside to talk about the ancient traditions, because Buddhism really dominates that part of the world.
Yeah, well, he
dresses the question of suffering, and he is going to end the recycling.
This is how the story goes.
Can I move forward? Okay.
So again the four sites where the the corpse the elderly man, the sick man and then the ascetic. The word ascetic as esky says, is the key word. But ascetic just means like deprivation or withdrawal or abstaining from something. And it's not just a religious practice. I mean, one of the things that we've been saying from the beginning is that we wanted to look at this sociologically. We can always take all of this and jump all the way back over to society and see the same things happen. You when you think of Buddhism, you typically think of like, Dalai Lama, or you think of Buddhist monks, right. You think of that sort of reddish orange ish habit that they wear, and it's easy to look at that through a religious lens and forget that all social practices if these thinkers that we've been looking at have anything Say that all social practices have societies where they're specialists are people that abstain from things. And we have these two, we have these in our society, people who might abstain from stuff or withdraw from certain aspects of society, but they become a functioning part of it, because they kind of, you know,
keep it pure as it were doing talking about that more,
I just don't want you to get too far off, off balance and thinking this is too exotic. Alright, so, basically Gautama after these 49 days, which I'll mention this second becomes the Buddha and the Buddha just means the awakened one. And so I want to discuss a couple of key elements within Buddhism, particularly his life teachings, some of the variants, and then we'll talk about expansion, or variants and expansion on Thursday want to talk about the first to the life of the Buddha and the teachings and then we'll talk about variants of expansion on Thursday. This is an interesting turn for us, though, precisely because it centers around a particular figure which is kind of New for what we've been discussing. Even though Judaism has a monotheistic orientation, you still don't have like a singular personal figure in the same way that you do these last three
that are critical dealers
as it were.
Confucius maybe, but even with Confucianism, you don't really have
worship or in the same way,
it's more ethical life.
Which could be an interesting question for you all, just to sort of wrestle with what's the relationship between religions and singular representatives of that religion? Whether that's a necessary feature, whether it's an unnecessary feature, so and so on, can move forward. Okay. All right. So here's the deal. So what is the awakening? Basically, here's what he says. The Buddha tries multiple atomic tries multiple things as a Samana as trying to go out into the wilderness as trying to figure out how to achieve Moshe tries a couple of things. He tries, for example, to live with everybody to just be a commoner. He thinks, let's see if that Margot, or that road or that path will work. He tries extreme asceticism, deprivation, starvation, loneliness. And what he, what he says is then he goes into these 49 days of contemplation, he comes out and he basically says, there has to be a middle way or there is a middle way, a way that doesn't pursue these polarities, or these extremes. It can't be all this or all that, that there is a middle road, and it's more palatable. But the reason he believes this middle road is because some of the some of the theological underpinnings here will make sense in just a second, but that's his. That's his proposals this middle way. This is his new ones, instead of being extreme in one direction or another, that there is some kind of harmony here. He basically says the problem that we've been facing with karma is that karma is driven by desire, desire drives karma, karma drives suffering.
So if we can Get rid of desire, then will be free. That's the key. That's what you want to get rid of is that you want to be able to press through suffering and press through karma and realize that the desires that the route, so think about it this way, if I'm an ascetic, and I'm like starving myself, it's because I deeply desire Moshe as it were, and that's creating my problem. If I desire to be amongst the people and care for them, that's creating my problem. So the desire, it's the middle way is to release oneself from desire, and to be at ease as a result of that. So how do you do that? Well, he develops a couple of ideas. But before we get to those, here to other couple other pieces, basically the obliteration or the annihilation, that's what Nirvana means. It's the annihilation of desire. It's the end of suffering. It's the end of desire to the end of karma. So Nirvana is not necessarily like just I mean, it is blissful. The idea is that it's pretty But it's bliss because it's the elimination of those things that have caused the cycle
Now there are two stages of Nirvana. And the supreme one is called parent Nirvana. This is the one that Buddha enters into when he dies, but we'll get that in a second. But you can generally think of them as the same thing Nirvana is entering into that. Yep.
explain what you mean. Like all generating around pride or something like that,
Yeah, yep. Yeah.
Yeah. Yes, it could be there could be a strong relationship there. There have been lots of lots of overlap between God well, Christian monks and Buddhist monks, Thomas Merton, not art. Have you ever heard of him or not, but he was a very much a sympathetic to Buddhism. Later in his life,
Some guys are these little. So basically the Buddha comes out of hiding or comes out of contemplation or comes out of all this. And he starts teaching these things and people start these Hindu followers, the Samana start recognizing he's saying something unique. And so they start collecting around him. And these little Buddhist communities that are starting to develop are called Sanga.
The song goes, that's what that word means.
Eventually, the Buddha dies. He basically spends 45 years teaching this teaching most of his life. And in his death, he enters into para Nirvana in which he will not come back. And he teaches basically, two key things one, it's called the Four Noble Truths. And then the Eightfold Path, and
we'll talk about those in a second.
But of course, after him, there are a variety of different Buddhist councils and conversations about what's next. Which is a classic question of Religion, which is where if you do have a leader, if you do have a singular figure,
what do you do when that figure is gone?
So in Christianity that becomes church, St. Paul, in Islam that becomes Shiite Sunni Muslim. Right? So, once Muhammad is gone, the question is who's next in charge? Once Jesus is gone, who becomes next in charge? Same here with the Buddha, once a Buddha is gone, what's our structure next, and there are variants of Buddhism that are the result of that. So the Buddha is gone at this point, and has entered into pair Nirvana, the teachings of the Buddha, by the way, when you see this, this is Sanskrit and this is poly poly is just a different language. So you're going to see multiple words that mean the same thing. The Dharma of the Buddha is just the same as it would have been in Hinduism. It's the teachings, the religious duty, the religious practices. So the Dharma of the Buddha is What he teaches and his Dharma is the Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths. We'll talk about those.
But I escaped when I can move screens. Pardon? same
word is Dharma, just religious duty, the religious obligations. It's the teachings. Oh, Sanskrit and poly. Yeah. PALI Yep. That was his contemplative period. In terms of significance, like symbolism. Wow. 49 as opposed to them? Yeah. I don't know. I don't know if it had to do with like, week cycles, you know, seven weeks, seven days. It's possible. That's typical and other religious practices. You see that in Judaism? Particularly, but I don't I don't know if that was it or not. I don't know enough about Buddhist symbolism.
It's good question, though.
Can I go for it? Okay.
So, what's the basic what are some basic conceptual things that you need? understand in order to conceive things the way the Buddha is teaching them, these two things are critical one, everything is interdependent. Everything which originates doesn't have independence, but interdependence, which means for example, you are a coordination. You yourself, don't have a self, but rather, are the result of the interaction of particles. You are a temporary coordination. You are a temporary coordination of particles for a while until you disperse. So, in the same way that energy can't be lost or obliterated, it just sort of takes on new forms, everything this table you that shelf, this floor, none of it has independent existence, but it's part of a larger fabric of things. And its Singularity is only temporary. It's like a clump okay. So if that's the case for the Buddha, there is a period in which one loses this clump and goes back into the fold.
So the idea is nothing has independent existence, everything is dependent on something else. So think of it like a word, right? A word we typically think.
Here's the philosophy of it, we
typically will say, this is a cup,
right? And we say that in English, and we think a cup has a direct relationship to a thing. cup means that they go together. But it doesn't right in order for you to know what cup is what else do I have to know? Yeah, I need to know the processes. I need to know what its function What else? Yeah, materials. Do I need to know anything about color, shape, size, height, I have to know something. So what you find is that this word cup is connected to the word shake. Can All these other ones, or it's also connected to things which aren't cup, which we use to distinguish it. Like it's not a mug, right? It's not a picture. It's not something else. And our brain does that. But what we find out is that little thing that we think is singular is actually part of a large web of implications, you following me? So Buddha in the same way, that's the case with any existence, not just terms, any existence itself is interdependent. It's part of the larger fabric of things. Therefore, the second one, nothing is permanent. Everything changes, nothing is permanent. That means then that suffering to can be changed over time. Suffering too can be avoided. The fourth term here is a not Monday. Remember, in Hinduism, you had this permanent sort of soul that went from generation to generation and it's written at cycling, and it was called Ottoman. Well or not men means Not Ottoman, which means you don't have a self. For the Buddhist, you don't have a permanent nature, you don't have a permanent soul that passes from one to the next. And this is where Buddhism gets a little bit more confusing is that if you don't pass, if I don't have a singular self that passes from this generation to this generation,
then how does the Buddha see his past lives?
Right, what continues, what continues from here to here to here to here. And there's a we will talk about this in the nuances in the end, but that's a subtle distinction between the Hindu way and the Buddha, the Buddhist ways there's no Ottoman here in the Buddhist way. You're passing but not passing because you have a permanent self, but you're passing more like a flame passes from one candle to the other.
The change is passing in a way
the Buddha even though he's been going to say that you don't have a self you do have what they would have called the scan does, which are these like clumps or heaps? Like you have attributes. And it might be like personality, temperament, shape, size, it doesn't mean those things are permanent. And the Buddha is not doing this really silly philosophical thing that you hear in your philosophy one on one classes be like how do I know the chair exists? You know, it's not that it's it's just saying that the chair itself has no permanent form, which keeps it chair forever, it will eventually corrode and erode and it will eventually change. But for the time being, it does have sort of intersecting properties, it has a shape, it has a purpose. All these sort of things these would be called Scott is like clumps, like things that clump together to make it what it is for now. A kind of for now, aggregate. These are key ideas. The reason they use the key ideas is because this is how what you have to get to this is the kind of awareness you have to get to in order to enter into the obliteration of desire because design stems from the opposite of these things. I am me I want x. But if I'm not me, in some ways I'm you, then I can't want something from you. Does that make sense? Because you and I are share in the same impermanence of things. Do you know what the word quiet ism means? Quiet ism would be like a much more passive view of reality. Like we teach people to be very active, go get what you want chase your dreams, quiet ism, but kind of like, you know,
more indifferent, more restrained.
Buddhism has a little bit more of that quiet ism to it because of these ideas. So, basically, the key tenants of this, there are four noble truths that derived from those, those sort of religious concepts. One suffering is inherent, the cause of suffering is desire. There's a way to put an end to desire and suffering and that is the Eightfold Path.
That's The key
that's the that's the route. And again, I've already explained the sort of religious,
conceptual framework that makes sense of that.
But that's the explicit
Well, at least in English
it's pretty much everything I've already said.
Onward and upward. No. Okay.
Do any of you come from a Buddhist tradition? No. Okay.
That's right. You work. You do senior care or something like that and you do care. You do like a nursing some What is it? You need? rehab. That's it. Okay. That's it. I remember now. Okay, rehab.
Can I move forward?
Okay, so what is the Eightfold Path? This is taken directly from your, from the textbook and I think it's I can't remember what page it's on. But here's what you need to see. Basically, all these things are different expressions of pursuing the know self and the impermanence of things happen. Having the right view, the right view would be I'm impermanent. Everything changes. I don't have a self right intentions would be, I can't try to acquire the world around me. I can't try to control things. Right Speech would be I can't speak to people in crude and violent ways, right action would be the same sorts of things. livelihood, like what I pursue in order to sustain myself or my no self, to use it for properly, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration, and all these things are pursued as the Buddhist life itself. This is what you do is the Eightfold Path will put an end to desire if you can do these things. And again, it's not meritorious, don't think of it like oh, I did it wrong, and I got in trouble. It's something that's done in process over time, and through many generations and so forth, as one pursues liberation or In this case, obliteration of, of suffering and desire
Well, pages that should be 153. So if you want to look at those in particular, there's a little chart at the bottom of the page. And 152 has the four, the Four Noble Truths at the bottom of it. But really, it kind of feels like I'm short changing Buddhism, but really, all of the groundwork is set in the way we think from Hinduism. Right? Once you get the framework of Hinduism, of thinking of Brahman, and all that way of looking at the world, you can see Buddhism is kind of an outworking or an adjustment or development, that that has a similar framework. So that doesn't require that I explained too terribly much
other than you just kind of see the picture.
kind of move forward. Okay.
That's a good question. I don't even know the dates. Not off the top of my head. I my guess is If I remember correctly,
there should be a timeline in there
you might be able to find it before I can think of it
you find it and we'll get there you go What do you say okay
okay I was gonna say sixth century BC so what would have been close
oh yes yes we'll we'll talk about America Eliana yet tomorrow Thursday in that's what a lot of people in comparative religious studies are trying to do is trying to look for sociological commonalities and some people say that's a fruitless path other people say you know yeah you're right there there are grand similarities for sure. Okay, so I mentioned this already once the rebirth for the Buddha is these are nuances Do you know what the word nuance means? It's like a subtle difference right? So the nuances in Buddhism over and against over and against Hinduism. That rebirth is not like the passage of Artman from generation to generation, but more like the lighting of a candle to another candle. There is a passage, but in that passes, there's variation. It's like the flame is not the same flame from here to there. But there is continuity. And so that's a complex idea. But that's the way the Buddhists would approach it. So that the there's no accidentally thinking that there's an essential self. Do you know what I mean? When I say essential lyst. Like, you think of things like having an essence, right? You think of you is having an essence, whatever your uniqueness is, but there is no essence here. There is no essence in these experiences. The other thing that's important to note is trans theism. Your book uses this term back in chapter one. And essentially trans theism just means that the Buddhist way is open to the possibility of deities, but there's not really a concern about it. So not really interested in it. So it would be like saying, Yeah, yeah, there may be a god but they don't really do much for This escaping samsara thing. So there's not a big theological conflict between Buddhists and other religious traditions, you're not going to see a war or dispute about whose God is the right God type thing. So the Buddha just really doesn't talk about it a whole lot. And and in the Buddhist teachings, there's not a lot of talk about God's and there's a lot a lot of talk about rebirth, because you don't see a ton about it. Because the Buddhist or the Buddha himself is not concerned about rebirth as much as Nirvana, desire suffering, etc.
that making sense so far.
Okay, I think that might be the last one on there. Oh, wait, I guess Nirvana I put that on there for obliteration. You've already seen that word once.
So I don't think there's anything after that.
That making sense.
So the key here I must have my recording, so we don't have to get to this doesn't get too long.