|Readings in Eastern Philosophy: An Open Source Text|
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Explain whether you think that the notion of "karmically wholesome" as used in this reading is meant primarily in a moral (i.e., having to do with right and wrong) or in a psychological sense (i.e., having to do with behavioral consequences).
Could it be argued that suffering ought not be extinguished? Doesn't suffering actually serve a helpful service in life? For example, Franz Kafka writes, "Suffering is the positive element in this world, indeed it is the only link between this world and the positive." Or Miguel de Unamuno writes, "There is no true love save in suffering, and in this world we have to choose either love, which is suffering, or happiness.… Man is the more man—that is, the more divine—the greater his capacity for suffering, or rather, for anguish."
Discuss whether or not you think Buddha would agree with Krishnamurti's distinction between "introspection" and "awareness":
Introspection is self-improvement and therefore introspection is self-centeredness. Awareness is not self-improvement. On the contrary, it is the ending of the self, of the "I," with all its peculiar idiosyncrasies, memories, demands, and pursuits. In introspection there is identification and condemnation. In awareness there is no condemnation or identification; therefore, there is no self-improvement. There is a vast difference between the two.
Explain how the achievement of non-attachment in Buddhism is unlike Søren Kierkegaard's ethico-religious stage embodying the " teleological suspension of the ethical" or Friedrich Nietzsche's master morality of "standing beyond good and evil."
After studying this chapter, do you think the following criticism of Buddhism by Immanuel Kant is well founded?
We men know very little a priori, and have our senses to thank for nearly all our knowledge. Through experience we know only appearances…but not the modum noumenon…not things as they are in themselves…God knows all things as they are in themselves a priori and immediately through an intuitive understanding.… If we were to flatter ourselves so much as to claim that we know the modum noumenon, then we would have to be in community with God so as to participate immediately in the divine ideas. To expect this in the present life is the business of mystics and theosophists. Thus arises the mystical self-annihilation of China, Tibet, and India, in which one is under the delusion that he will finally be dissolved in the Godhead.
Explain and amplify the meaning of Pirsig's assertion:
The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain or in the petals of a flower.
Buddha states the Noble Eightfold Path is "the way that leads to the extinction of suffering." Is it clearly the case that suffering ought to be extinguished? For example, Kafka writes:
Suffering is the positive element in this world, indeed it is the only link between this world and the positive.
Is Kafka referring to the same kind of suffering as is the Buddha?
Franz Kafka. Dearest Father: Stories and Other Writings. Trans. Ernst Kaiser and Eithne Wilkins. New York: Schocken Books,1954.
Miguel de Unamuno. The Tragic Sense of Life. Trans. J. E .C. Flitch. New York: Macmillan, 1921.
Jiddu Krishnamurti. "On Awareness," in First and Last Freedom. New York: Harper & Row, 1975.
Immanuel Kant. Lectures on Philosophical Theology. Trans. Allen W. Wood and Gertrude M. Clark. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1978. 86.
Robert M. Pirsig. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. New York: William Morrow, 1974.
Franz Kafka. Dearest Father: Stories and Other Writings. Trans. Ernst Kaiser and Eithne Wilkins. New York: Schocken Books, 1954.