Do We Need the Wisdom of the East ?

Discussion in 'Eastern Philosophy' started by Myles, Dec 26, 2007.

  1. Myles Registered Senior Member

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    Over the years I have seen many books devoted to what is loosely regarded as the Wisdom of the East. I have read a few books on the subject without finding anything I would regard as wise that cannot be found in the Western Intellectual Tradition.

    Am I missing something ?
     
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  3. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    I'd think that you can always find something interesting in whatever you read from anywhere in the world as long as you are open to the wisdom. Sometimes just a few books read isn't going to find much but as you keep reading many things will start to be understood about wisdom.

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  5. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    The so-called Western Intellectual Tradition has already incorporated significant aspects of the Wisdom of the East.

    Willingness to Incorporate discovered wisdom is one of the strenghs of the Western Intellectual Tradition.

    But there is no real Western equivalent of, say, the Tao Te Ching.
     
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  7. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, you are missing something. Older translations of Buddhist, Taoist, and Hinduistic thought were usually done by western missionaries. Their bias filtered into their words, and many essential differences were often lost.
     
  8. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    Here's just one thing and there are many many more. I'm sorry you cannot find them as easy as I do.

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    Tantra
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    This article is an overview of Tantra and an in-depth look at Tantra as a religious, philosophical and magical movement in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Bon. For an in-depth look at Tantric Buddhism, please see Vajrayana. For more information about the Hindu sacred texts classified as Tantras, see Tantras.

    The Sri YantraTantra (Sanskrit: तन्त्र "weave" denoting continuity[1]), tantricism or tantrism is any of several esoteric traditions rooted in the religions of India. It exists in Hindu, Bönpo, Buddhist, and Jain forms. Tantra in its various forms has existed in South Asia, China, Japan, Tibet, Korea, Cambodia, Burma, Indonesia and Mongolia.[2] David Gordon White, while cautioning against attempting a rigorous definition of what is a protean practice, offers the following working definition:

    "Tantra is that Asian body of beliefs and practices which, working from the principle that the universe we experience is nothing other than the concrete manifestation of the divine energy of the Godhead that creates and maintains that universe, seeks to ritually appropriate and channel that energy, within the human microcosm, in creative and emancipatory ways".[3]
     
  9. Myles Registered Senior Member

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    I agree ,what I'm interested in is whether one can find anything useful that cannit be found in the Western Intellectual Tradition
     
  10. Myles Registered Senior Member

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    Can you give me some idea of what we have borrowed from the East. Of what value is the Tao Te Ching ?
     
  11. Myles Registered Senior Member

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    What have we missed out on ?
     
  12. greenberg until the end of the world Registered Senior Member

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    - The notion that there can be an end to suffering, whereby this making an end to suffering does not require that one compromise one's integrity.

    - Respect for happiness.
     
  13. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    A completely different outlook on life. Instead of seeing people as separate from nature, something assembled from parts by a creator, the eastern view is more holistic. Mankind is an aspect of nature. The creative force is a passive quality of matter. Complexity and order grows from within, like a seed. Polar opposites are aspects of the same thing, not mutually exclusive alternatives.


    While it is true that none of the formal divisions of Western science and thought corresponds to a way of liberation, R. H. Blyth's marvelous study of Zen in English Literature has shown most clearly that the essential insights of Zen are universal.

    The reason why Taoism and Zen present, at first sight, such a puzzle to the Western mind is that we have taken a restricted view of human knowledge. For us, almost all knowledge is what a Taoist would call conventional knowledge, because we do not feel that we really know anything unless we can represent it to ourselves in words, or in some other system of conventional signs such as the notations of mathematics or music. Such knowledge is called conventional because it is a matter of social agreement as to the codes of communication...

    In English the differences between things and actions are clearly, if not always logically, distinguished, but a great number of Chinese words do duty for both nouns and verbs- so that one who thinks in Chinese has little difficulty in seeing that objects are also events, that our world is a collection of processes rather than entities.

    Alan Watts, The Way of Zen, Ch. 1, The Philosophy of Tao
     
  14. Myles Registered Senior Member

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    I believe that Western science is almost wholly responsible for the reduction in suffering. Look at the history of medicine ! Look at what Western medicine has done and continues to do for the Third World.

    Do you believe Western medicine forces one to compromise one's integrity ?
    If so, how does this come about ?

    I don't understand the respect for happiness bit. Please explain.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2007
  15. Myles Registered Senior Member

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    I think I understand what you are saying but what can we learn from the Chinese way of looking at things ? Could it not simply be that the Chinese think the way they do because it comes more easily to them than it would to a Westerner ? Does that guarantee we have something to learn from their philosophy ? We would need to show that it is in some sense superior.

    I'm not sure the question of processes versus entities would withstand a rigorous examination by Western philosophy.
     
  16. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    I wouldn't say it was "superior" but only "different" . To "see" things differently only gives us yet another way to better understand ourselves as well as those who live with us on this planet. Better understanding of others points of view as well as religious and philosophical views also helps in understanding as well.
     
  17. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Myles, you would judge Chinese thought from a western perspective. Of course they think differently, and it might be reflected in the language, or it could be the language that produced the difference.
     
  18. Myles Registered Senior Member

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    Hi CT

    I agree with that but only up to a point. I think I have a fair understanding of the cardinal principles of major world religions, but I have found nothing I would want to import into the West. I can see their points of view and I can be tolerant of them but that's where it stops.
    I should declare myself and say I believe all religions are pure superstition. So I have no interest in bathing in the Ganges, spinning prayer wheels, and so on. Meditation, as you know, is widely practised and I know from scientific studies that it can have therapeutic effects. But shutting onself away in an ashram or a monastery for prolonged periods is, to my way of thinking, nothing more than running away from reality. That can be done in the Western tradition by joing a convent or a monastic order and practising contemplation
     
  19. Myles Registered Senior Member

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    I agree, but the fact that the Chinese think differently doesn't guarantee the truth value of what they belive,
     
  20. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    There are no guarantees anywhere.

    Where is reality located? In society? The goals of Eastern and Western mediation are quite different. The Eastern "religions" shouldn't even be classified in that way, since they do not fundamentally depend on any superstitious idea.
     
  21. greenberg until the end of the world Registered Senior Member

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    One, I think the "Western" understanding of suffering is very limited and in many ways, misleading. For example, in the "West", we do not tend to think of boredom, procrastination or fear as forms of suffering - even though these things cause us so much suffering.

    Two, many "Western" attempts to reduce suffering have only made things worse. Think pollution. We solve one problem, and a new comes up due to that solution.


    In the way the patient is expected to trust the doctor and the treatment.
    The patient is expected to have full faith in the treatment, yet also accept that it might not work and be allright with that.
    This is not so obvious with acute situations like fractures or wounds; but it becomes obvious with chronic conditions.


    Compromising one's integrity is also an element in other "Western" approaches to making an end to suffering:
    There's consumerism: expecting us to turn a blind eye to the unsatisfactory nature of material things.
    There's agnostic, nihilistic and relativistic worldviews: making us doubt our desire for happiness and even mock it.
    There's Christianity: expecting us to behave like little, helpless children.


    In the "West", happiness is often considered as a lower goal in life, something that ultimately doesn't really matter. Happiness is often portrayed as associated with stupid, uneducated, "simple" people. Happiness is often connected to "ignorance is bliss". In the "West", happiness and truth are not rarely deemed to be mutually exclusive, and the truth is given greater value than happiness.
    As such, we don't tend to have respect for happiness.
     
  22. greenberg until the end of the world Registered Senior Member

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    Yes. I think we in the "West" tend to be raised to be very dependent beings, to be very much in need of "guarantees".


    Yes. "Easterners" are basically extremely rational. So rational that it is foreign to "Western" thought.
     
  23. Myles Registered Senior Member

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    I agree there are no guarantees, so why import ideas that are alien to the West.

    Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't Eastern meditation predicated on the notion of becoming liberated from the round of existence by attaining enlightenment or achieving a oneness with god, thr One or some such notion. If so. I regard that as superstition.But you may have something else in mind
     

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