Ivy Bridge College of Tiffin University
July 22, 2012
Explanatory Synthesis Essay – Draft 1
The ability to put others before oneself is a concept that a large majority of the world’s population cannot yet comprehend. Selflessness comes with a great deal of discipline and awareness of others. Buddhists, as well as a few other similar religions, have made it one of their highest priorities to relinquish their selfish desires. The ability to be aware of oneself, as well as others, is a skill that takes an excessive amount of time. It is not something that can be learned overnight; in fact, it takes a lifetime of dedication and education to release any egotistical emotions and habits. Any people of all faiths can partake on the journey towards enlightenment. The path to enlightenment does not discriminate against creed, color, or beliefs. But what does it mean to be “selfless”? How does one begin to embark on the journey toward “self-enlightenment”? Karen Armstrong, author of “Homo religiosus,” and Robert Thurman, author of “Wisdom,” both reflect on the realization of such unselfishness and the importance of consideration for others—as the Buddhist religion studies—in their articles.
“Nirvana was a still center that gave meaning to life, an oasis of calm, and a source of strength that you discovered in the depths of your own being. In purely mundane terms, it was ‘nothing,’ because it corresponded to no reality we could recognize in our ego-dominated existence” (Armstrong, 2009, pp. 36-37). Karen Armstrong, author of “Homo religiosus” from The Case for God, elaborates on the Buddhist “entirely natural state,” known as Nirvana. This “nothingness” was the surrender of “personal responsibility” (Armstrong, 2009, p. 37). Armstrong explains this “nothingness,” and how self-emptying can lead to it, in her passage: Nirvana was the natural result of a life lived according to the Buddha’s doctrine of anatta...