Life is suffering. Suffering is caused by our desires (thirst). To over suffering is to cut your desires. This (these eight ways) is the how you can cut your desires. The eight ways are to have right understanding, thought, action, speech, livelihood, effort, mindfulness and concentration.
The above is what the Buddha taught soon after his enlightenment, his realisation of the nature of existence. Notice how there is no mention of a deity or deities, or worship of a deity or deities, but that everything depends on your practice and way of life, minus the gods. Buddhism explicitly rejected the gods of his time and place, those of the Vedic tradition, the belief systems and practices that were to become Hinduism later on.
What the Buddha taught was not entirely unique. Jainism also rejected the belief in a deity or deities. However, Jainism believed in a soul, something Buddha rejected. Here, Buddhism is unique, in rejecting both the existence of gods and the soul. One must be very careful in understanding that what the Buddha taught and Buddhism are different things. Buddhism takes on its own life and comes in many different “flavours”. Thus the study of the many traditions but looking at the underlying principles will reveal how the different strands of Buddhism have diverged from what he actually taught. Do the math and you will see whatever remains must be close to what the Buddha taught.
In the beginning was a “big bang”. No one is sure how it happened but it happened about 14 billion years ago (in Earth time, that is). All the material in the universe came from this event. The material in the form of dust slowly gathered to form galaxies, suns, planets and satellites through attraction. The planet we call Earth was formed about 4 billion years ago, a little after the formation of the Sun, the star which gives us the energy for our survival, around which we revolve. Life on Earth began around 1 billion years ago in the form of simple cells. Our species – Homo – is perhaps one to two million years old. Civilisation in the form of societies and writing came about perhaps 20,000 years ago. Recognisable society is perhaps 7,000 years old. We know these things because we are smart.
The value of a thing is its contrast to all other things.
Valuable artworks are perhaps a good example of this. What makes the art of Da Vinci valuable is not only its craftsmanship but also its rarity. If I remember correctly less than two dozen works are in existence. For these two reasons his works fetch a premium.
But also how much work is required to produce something will affect the value as well. Something which can be manufactured quickly will mean many are available. So the ubiquity of it brings the value down. And demand too will be dictated by the perceived value of something will also change its value.
Value is a complex and changing thing.
Modernist movements believed their own movement could replace all others, that there was no question of their perfection, and no question of their progress.
Postmodernism, on the other hand, believed they owed their existence to Modernism, that perfection was impossible, and they were no better than or worse than the Modernism that came before them.
While Modernism believed it was internally consistent and readily self-definable, Postmodernism saw itself as play and a system of difference.
the smell of dying
and death overflows
into the hallways
fills the rooms
they wait seemingly
in silence resigned
to the inevitable
to it all and
must make way
for new life
in its march
to the song
to the harmony
has kept its shine
over the years
and there perhaps
from ‘08 and ‘14
but as clichés go
like the promise
we had made
all those years ago
There is always an anthropocentric view with being human. Yet if we take Darwin’s conclusion seriously then we are just another animal on this planet.
This being so we are not “unnatural” but truly just part of the entire animal kingdom and should be treated as such.
The way we consume resources is as natural as that of other animals. We are genetically programmed to take as much as we do. If natural selection is to work on us as it does on other animals then some kind of balance will come about.
Apparently some lobsters and eels form a symbiosis for survival. From the point of view of natural selection it would make sense that lobsters or eels who do not form this symbiosis may have a power chance of survival thus such animals being “weeded out” naturally. Perhaps just in the same way humans are weeded out by the system.
Perhaps you are wondering how I can be a Buddhist and not believe in a god. According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English religion is defined as “a belief in one or more gods”. Few would argue with this definition.
I said few.
There are thousands of religions out there. If Justine religion does not include a god or gods within it, then, the definition fails. And Buddhism is one such religion. (Another is Jainism.)
Buddhism is atypical of religions in that it rejects the worship of gods. Buddha is not a god and had never said he was. It should be noted it was those who came afterwards that added the gods, perhaps incorporating aspects of the local culture.
But far from rejecting existence of a god or gods it is, in my opinion, far healthier to accept the concept of a god or gods as part of what it means to be human.
To understand the conditions of The Buddha’s time is an important aspect of understanding his thinking. Key to this is the tradition of sramana, the wondering of ascetics which do not follow the “orthodox” Vedic or Brahmanic tradition. It is interesting that persecution of unorthodox traditions seem to be minimal in the culture at that time. Even when persecution occurred it seemed to be at the hands of non-Vedic non-local traditions like Islam, for example the destruction of Nalanda in the beginning of the 12th century.
What links Sramanic traditions is the rejection of the authority of the Vedas, and also the rejection of god or gods. There is a mix of acceptance and rejection of the soul among these unorthodox traditions.