Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Emergence of Early Buddhism

The Emergence of Early Buddhism Early Buddhism as we know it originated in the 5th century B.C., and its growth was facilitated by several factors, which this essay intends to examine by tracing the background of early Buddhism, in particular the historical, geological and philosophical aspects of the environment in which early Buddhism emerged. The historical and geological background A highly developed civilization existed in the 3rd Millennium B.C in the Indian subcontinent. This civilization, now termed the Indus Valley Civilization or alternately the Harappa Civilization, existed approximately between the year 2800 B.C. and 1800 B.C. This peaceful civilization had a very highly developed spiritual culture, but was unfortunately interrupted in about the year 1800 or 1500 B.C. by an invasion from the North West. The Aryans were nomadic and pastoral. Upon the invasion, the Indus Valley Civilization succumbed very quickly to the military might of the Aryans. The Aryans had a totally secular religion in which the most important figure was the priest, while in the Indus Valley Civilization it was the ascetic. The Indus Valley Civilization stressed renunciation, meditation, rebirth, karma, and the goal of liberation, while the Aryan religion emphasized this life, and sacrifices to achieve the goals of material well-being, wealth, power and fame. In addition, there were two more important elements of Aryan; the caste system which was the division of society into social strata, and belief in the authority of the revealed scriptures, the Vedas. The history of Indian religion from 1500 B.C. onwards was one of gradual interaction between these two opposed religious views up to 600 or 500 B.C., the time of the Buddha approximately 1000 years later. The end of Aryan caused many socio-economic and political changes. While the priests and warriors were the most important figures in the early days of the Aryan Civilization, the merchants’ importance gradually increased. These changes prompted the Aryans to accept the religious ideas of the Indus Valley Civilization. By the first few centuries of the Common Era, the differences between the Aryan tradition and that of the Indus Valley tradition had become less distinguishable. The background: Philosophical thoughts prevalent in India before and during the period of the Buddha’s life Brahmanism The fundamental aspects of Brahmanism were developed around 1000 B.C. from a series of priestly commentaries on the original four Vedas, the Brahmanas. The Vedic period is held to have ended around 500 B.C. During this Vedic period the thinkers provided a foundation for the vast range of metaphysical and theological concepts. The foundation of Brahmanic religion was sacrifice to the great gods or powers of the universe and a conviction that intellectual reflection upon Vedic truth. In the meanwhile the skepticism confronted the problems of both existence (sat) and non-existence (asat), and a link between these existence and non-existence and identified that link with “desire (kāma)”. This recognition of desire would mean the denial of objective determinism and at the same time the acknowledgement of ātman. However, the Upaniṣadic thinkers couldn’t link ātman with doctrines as such a linkage would have excluded the social structure sacred to the Bahmanical thinkers; their ethical principles were derived from the caste system itself. Materialism A reaction to the Brahmanical speculations; while all Materialists agreed that matter is the ultimate fact of the universe there emerged two slightly different thoughts; the basic material elements don’t change is the one and only such material elements follow law of self-nature (svavhāva) is the other. And the second school avoided such reductionism and accepted the reality of both material elements and the physical bodies constituted by them. This latter group emphasized sense experience as a valid source of knowledge which seemed to have paid more attention to the human personality. The Ājīvikas and Jainism Ājīvikas believed in fate rather than karma and disregarded all human effort. Jainism is a doctrine which prescribes a path of non-violence to all living beings. It emphasizes the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. The Buddha Whereas the four major philosophical traditions before the rise of Buddhism were thought to be reluctant to admit uncertainty or skepticism regarding human knowledge Buddha recognized the limitations of human knowledge and draw out a description of truth and reality without reaching out for the ultimate objectivity. The values that emerged from the Buddha’s life were essentially three: renunciation, loving-kindness/compassion, and wisdom. The Buddha then recognized three defilements (Klesha) that caused us to wander in Samsāra, namely the defilements of desire, ill-will and ignorance. Through cultivating these three qualities we were to eliminate the defilements and attain enlightenment. The Buddha did not engage himself in the metaphysical arguments which were prevalent at that time or answer to any of those metaphysical questions, as he thought that these questions were inutile to arriving at Bodhi. While other thinkers of that time resorted to the existence of deities as they couldn’t explain the phenomena, the Buddha abandoned the metaphysical question itself. He rather focused on the reality and recognized the impermanence of all beings, matters and phenomena. Buddha’s penetrating insight of human life and the nature of existence prompted him to realization of the impermanence being the cause of human sufferings. He was then able to perceive the world focusing on the human predicament and the way out of it; the four noble truths (ariya-sacca) and laid out the Noble Eightfold Path to the end of suffering. The Buddha himself called it majjhima patipada (the Middle Path) because it avoided above mentioned two extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification. Conclusion The unique historical background of the Indus Valley region led to the trend of the aforementioned prevailing attitudes before and around the time of Buddha; the early Buddhist discourses often refer to the mutual opposition between two views, namely the view of eternalism (sassatavada) and the view of annihilation (ucchedavada) which were referred to as bhava-ditthi, the belief in being and as vivhava-ditthi, the belief in non-being reciprocally. Sassatavada emphasized the duality between the soul and the body leading to self-mortification while ucchedavada (materialism) advocated man to be a pure product of the earth awaiting annihilation at death leading to sensual gratification. It seemed to be as a critical response to the mutual opposition between these views that Buddhism emerged as a new faith amidst many other faiths. In addition, the polarization of religious and intellectual thoughts into sassatavada and ucchedavada paved the way for the birth of skepticism and in turn to lead to the emergence of Buddhism as well. Bibliography Jayatilleke, K. N. 1963. Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge. Delhi : Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Priate Limited, 1963. Kalupahana, David J. 1992. A History of Buddhist Philosophy. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press, 1992. Karunadasa, Y. 2011. Early Buddhism: a doctrinal exposition. Hong Kong : s.n., 2011. Santina, Dr Peter D. Fundamentals of Buddhism. s.l. : Buddha Dhamma Education Association Inc.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Pretentious Cognoscenti: The Pretentious Cognoscenti; Now Open!

The Pretentious Cognoscenti: The Pretentious Cognoscenti; Now Open!: This is not a club for intense socializing. This is a club designed for those of us who enjoy reading, writing, and not speaking in front of...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all." -- Helen Keller
"Adventure isn't hanging on a rope off the side of a mountain. Adventure is an attitude that we must apply to the day to day obstacles of life facing new challenges, seizing new opportunities, testing our resources against the unknown and in the process, discovering our own unique potential." -- John Amatt

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

우리 뭐 크게 다를 것 없어. 우린 다 사람이잖아? 그냥 우린 사람인거야. 사소로운 것 다 떨궈내고나면 남는 것은 '우린 다 같이 사람이라는 것'. 다 같이 귀한 사람이라는 것.
그냥, 너와 나, 우리면 안될까? 나는.... 고, 너는...고, 이런 것 말고, 그냥 너와 나. 우리라면 우리 같이 잘 지낼텐데.
"Develop a bias for action, a sense of urgency, to get things done." -- Brian Tracy
"There should be less talk. What do you do then? Take a broom and clean someone's house. That says enough." -- Mother Theresa
Before the cosmic net is spread, how can its thousands of pearls be seen? When it is suddenly raised by its universal rope, the myriad eyes spontaneously open.

- Tsao-tang

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Traditionally, clouds are symbolic of things indeterminate. Composed of air and water, their essential nature can be attributed to neither element but arises in an obscuring of the two, a betwixt-and-between phenomenon, not unlike human beings, those nebulous creatures who themselves seem caught between realms, floating along between the shimmering horizons of birth and death, here and there, earth and heaven. Buddhist psychology refers to the aggregate of what we call personality as “the five clouds of entanglement.”

-John P. O’Grady, "Clouding"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

두렵기도 하다. 핑게거리도 자꾸 만들어진다. '아이들에게 내가 아직 필요한데.' '머리가 굳어져서 외워지기나 할까' - 오늘 아침 다시 생각한다. 나는 이 나이에 공부를 다시 시작할 수 있는 축복받은 사람 아니던가?
내게 묻는다. 왜 공부를 다시 시작하려냐고. 이 나이에 무엇하려고. - 아무리 돌아봐도 지금 내가 할 수 있는 최상의 일이 공부하는 것 같다. 그렇다면 지금 시작하지 않으면 언제가 더 좋겠는가?
"Great hopes make great men." -Thomas Fuller
"There never was night that had no morn.” -Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Are you able to see see the total picture of time? Right in the middle of the stream of time we can touch the core of time. We may then get to see our life from the broad view of the universal telescope called egolessness.
머무는 것이 없다. 다 지나간다. 지나가고 있다. 변하지 않는 것이 있다면 '삶의 계속됨'이라 할까? '변함'의 '무변' - 스치는생각이다.
“ England has 42 religions and only two sauces. ”
— Voltaire

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

삶은 적극적으로 직면하고 대처해야 한다. 소극적인 자세는 자신의 삶에 한계를 짓는다. - 아침에 떠오르는 생각이다.
"Fear fades when facts are faced." -- Frank Tyger
"The simplest school boy is now familiar with truths for which Archimedes would have sacrificed his life." -- Ernest Renan
We can't solve problems by
using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

— Albert Einstein

Monday, July 18, 2011

선(善)을 추구하라.
그대가 위험에 처하기 전에.
고통이 그대를 지배하기 전에.
그리고 그대의 마음이 예리함을 잃기 전에.

- 파드마삼바바의《티벳 사자(死者)의 서(書)》중에서 -

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


We must be mindful at every single moment; whatever we do we must be alert to within and around us. This morning, while I was playing tennis I realized how difficult to focus on balls and to maintain attentiveness to every single movements I make. Life was there. There are continuous small cycles to draw every moment of our lives, and those small cycles accumulated to be middle size cycles, and again a cycle of our life. A small cycle isn't mediocre. Draw it right. Draw every single one right. Whether it is playing, sleeping, studying, working, or anything... Draw every single movement right. Don't lose it into an empty space. Someday we will find ourselves drawn a cycle of life. A cycle of this life. Just a thought.