Philosophy 312: Oriental Philosophy
Hinduism: The Ends of Life
Abstract: We can seek what we want; all paths can be legitimately pursued.
I. The Purpose of Life: the four legitimate ends of life.
It is important to realize that all persons need go through all stages, and they will be left alone if they pursue and enjoy any one of the following paths.
A. The Path of Desire--the twin goals are pleasure and success; nothing is gained by repressing these desires--in fact we might be worse if at some point we do not seek desire.
b. You will soon find that lasting pleasures are preferable.
c. There might be some sacrifices. E.g., the basic precepts of morality (cf. Siddhartha, "Samsara.")
d. The hedonism in Hinduism is sometimes viewed as shocking in terms of Western ethics.
2. Worldly Success: the path entails the triple aspects of wealth, power, and fame (all equally worthy goals).
b. They make many other things possible: raising a family, civic duties, dignity, and self-respect.
b. Success can never be satisfied--for we compare ourselves to others.
(2) Poverty is measured by the increase of one's greed. The wise person has nothing he cannot carry in his hands. If you have something of worth, you must look out for it.
d. We have molded the world to our will; dogmatism results. Life is short; "you can't take it with you."
e. Even the child will move on; unless we move on we are locked into the daily round (samsara). Even so, worldly success is a necessary stage in our development.
1. Duty: the third great aim in the Hindu outlook (dharma).
b. Faithful performance brings praise and self-respect and joy for a time.
c. We have the sense of worth of being a valuable, reliable, productive person. Our existence seems to be justified by our doing the right thing.
b. We lose ourselves in the daily round. (Cf., Hesse's Siddhartha, 106D.) Consider factory children working 12 to 14 hour shifts six days a week. What is the feeling of having done a good job?
c. Is this all there is? I.e., what is the replacement value of a human being? What other possibilities are there?
(2) Awareness--existence is not enough; curiosity and knowledge is more important.
(3) Joy--the feeling of well-being
c. The Hindu word for this state of being is moksa (pronounced something like "mok shah," sometimes spelled moksha)) or liberation. Moksa is the complete release from the countless limitations and restrictions which impinge upon our existence.
B. The infinite center of every life is the hidden self. The Atman who is no less than Brahman, the Godhead. You are all three: body, personality, Atman-Brahman.
C. But suppose you say you don't feel particularly infinite today--where is this? It is buried and it is the task of the following lectures to show how it can be uncovered.