Topics Worth Investigating

  1. What are the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path?

  2. What is Buddha's distinction in this chapter between seeking salvation and seeking knowledge? Does Buddha reject knowledge as a way to ultimate truth? Is intuition necessarily irrational? In the Noble Eightfold Path, Buddha states under the topic of "Unprofitable Questions":

    Should anyone say that he does not wish to lead the holy life under the Blessed One, unless the Blessed One first tells him, whether the world is eternal or temporal, finite or infinite; whether the life principle is identical with the body, or something different; whether the Perfect One continues after death, and so on such a man would die, ere the Perfect One could tell him all this.

    It is as if a man were pierced by a poisoned arrow, and his friends, companions, or near relations, should send for a surgeon; but that man should say: "I will not have this arrow pulled out, until I know who the man is that has wounded me: whether he is a noble, a priest, a citizen, or a servant"; or: "what his name is, and to what family he belongs"; or: "whether he is tall, or short, or of medium height." Verily, such a man would die, ere he could adequately learn all this.[1]

  3. As Govinda became one of the followers of the Buddha, Siddhartha points out that the teachings require that Govina now renounce his free will. As Siddhartha recounts toward the end of this chapter…

    …the uniformity of the world, that everything which happens is connected, that the great and the small things are all encompassed by the same forces of time, by the same law of causes, of coming into being and of dying…

    Would it be possible for anyone to have free will in a deterministic[2] world? If not, then how could a person "choose" to follow the Buddha?

    On the other hand, if the world were indeterministic, could anyone choose not to choose (i.e., not exercise free will)? Clarify whether or not, and in what manner, it would be possible for a person to give up his or her free will in an indeterministic world.

  4. If the doctrine of the causal unity of all aspects of the world is accurate, then no events, even human choices, could be other than what they are, because of causal necessity relating events to each other. If human choices could not have been otherwise, then how could we describe some choices as "good" ones and others as "bad" ones?

  5. What does Siddhartha mean when he states that the Buddha gave him "Siddhartha, himself"? From the point of view of the Buddha, it this result what the Buddha had intended for Siddhartha?

  6. Is Siddhartha's injunction that he will never lower his glance before another man justified from this one experience? If so, then is the finding of "inner-self" consequently seen to be a wholly personal undertaking or is it salvation from self?



Paul Carus. Buddha, The Word. 1915.


I.e., determinism is the doctrine that every event, even mental events (or thoughts), have a cause; indeterminism is the doctrine that some events are uncaused.