Early Buddhist Thought Outline

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4/2/2012

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Early Buddhist Thought Phil 215 Tom Kasulis April 2, 2012
Thought Experiment #2: Who/What am I? “To find oneself.” What does that mean? Imagine a friend, Mary, says that she had a rough time this year in college and has decided to take off next year travelling across country so she can “find herself.” What is she looking for? How do you find yourself? What is the “self” you find and who finds it? How do you know when you’ve found it? If you believe you have eventually found yourself, how do you know you are right in that belief? What does it mean to “have” a self? Is it the same “self” as in the following common expressions? In choosing a career, you have to beginning by knowing yourself. “To thine own self be true.” “Self-defense” is both an instinct and a legal right.

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Indian social climate 5th c. B.C.E.  Brahmins serve as top of caste system Perform rituals for sake of upholding cosmic dharma Brahmins become to of fixed caste system Status was birthright, not achieved  Response Groups of ascetics leave householder lifestyle Become “forest dwellers” engaged in spiritual disciplines aiming for liberation (moksha)

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moksha
Literally, “liberation” A general term in Indian philosophy signifying the ultimate goal of release from the cycle of birth-death-rebirth. In Buddhism, often used as an equivalent for “nirvāna.”

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Indian intellectual context 5th c. B.C.E.  Praxis involving turning inward, reaching state of sensory quiet or even cessation  Intellectual arguments about ground of experience—true self (ātman)  Rise of idea that world known through senses is only illusory appearance ( māyā)

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māyā
Literally “illusion” The name for way reality appears as contrasted with the way it really is. In Upanishads contrasted with brahman (Not very commonly used by early Buddhist texts.)

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Indian intellectual context 5th c. B.C.E.  Praxis involving turning inward, reaching state of sensory quiet or even cessation  Intellectual arguments about ground of experience—true self (ātman)

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māyā
Literally “illusion” The name for way reality appears as contrasted with the way it really is. In Upanishads contrasted with brahman (Not very commonly used by early Buddhist texts.)

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Indian intellectual context 5th c. B.C.E.  Praxis involving turning inward, reaching state of sensory quiet or even cessation  Intellectual arguments about ground of experience—true self (ātman)  Rise of idea that world known through senses is only illusory appearance ( māyā)  True reality is oneness of Brahman Brahman = Ātman The Buddha Siddhartha Gautama (5th c. BCE) Born in northeast India (in today’s Nepal) Metapractical goal: to find a “middle way” Theory: Neither materialism nor idealism No need for metaphysical theorizing

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Materialism • Theory that reality is nothing other than matter. Everything that seems to be immaterial (such as ideas) are really, upon analysis, shown to be material. Idealism • Theory that reality is nothing more than experience. “Things” are, upon analysis, shown to be really our “ideas” of things. • • Here “idealism” means idea+ism, not the moral theory of ideals +ism, also called “idealism” The Buddha Siddhartha Gautama (5th c. BCE) Born in northeast India (in today’s Nepal) Became an ascetic, a forest dweller Metapractical goal: to find a “middle way” Theory: Neither materialism nor idealism No need for metaphysical theorizing Praxis: Neither hedonism nor severe austerities Control emotions: ignorance, hatred, lust Don’t color engagement w/ reality as it is

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The Buddha (cont.) Problem = being out of touch with reality Emphasis on problem as delusion instead of illusion Reality does not hide or disguise itself in illusions (in maya) But we project onto reality what is not there

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The Buddha (cont.) Problem = being out of touch with reality

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Emphasis on problem as delusion instead of...
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