Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Canon Question (@ Called to Communion)

This piece is long without wasting words. It was most definitely worth reading even though I could have spent that time on my reading assignment for Tuesday's class.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Conversion Fragment 6: Free Will

I cannot be a materialist because there is nothing I know with more certainty than my free will. Really, nothing could be more obvious than I have freedom and I make choices about how to exercise it. In fact, I just freely chose to delete this sentence and rewrite it in a very different way than how I initially (and freely) put it down. It seems equally obvious to me that you have free will as well.

The axiom that human beings are free is completely incompatible with the idea that human beings are no more than material, merely automatons, just objects (albeit highly complex objects) enslaved to the law of physics and enmeshed in its web of causes and effects.

And, if my freedom is completely illusory---what does it matter? I find myself making illusory choices about how to exercise my illusory freedom, and this "insight" saves nothing save the attachment of the unnecessary and uninformative adjective "illusory".

Ideology vs Philosophy

Some systems of thought take birth from human desire, others take birth from truth.

There are several advantages I can see in systems of thought that take birth from truth.

The first advantage is that truth (if it is really worthy of the name "truth") gives one the foundation to decide and act in the world. It's much better to decide one's course based upon true data rather than what one desires to be true.

The second advantage I see is that truth (if it's really "truth") is true for everyone. Truth unites persons in community while desires (at their best) produce temporary, cellular, utilitarian relationships of mutual self-interest.

The third advantage I can see is that truth---unlike human desire---doesn't change.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Portrayal of the Positive and Negative Principles Principles in Buddhism

I think this author goes too far with his message, but we always find truth intermingled with falsehood, so I thought I’d pass this along with caveat.

I can agree with him up to the point that there’s an artificial selectivity in the way most authors present Buddhism to the West. They focus almost exclusively on the essence of what Buddhism is trying to be (much of it sublime!), while turning a blind eye to its actual living expression (much of which has disappointed me).

I’ve read Thomas Cleary, who’s unafraid to discern between what he calls “cultic” Buddhism which has nothing but the exterior appearances of Buddhism, and a classical Buddhism that has actually succeeded in communicating something authentic. This makes a lot of sense to me because there are too many centuries and too much geographical territory to allow us to reduce Buddhism to a unity without introducing significant error.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Conversion Fragment 5: Purpose

There was a point in my life when I became wearied with inventing goals and achieving them. There was something terribly false and unsatisfying about a purpose conceived in the mind. A purpose conceived in the mind seemed to be an imaginary purpose and I was hungry a purpose that was real, substantial, and objective---a purpose having reality outside the electro-chemical activity of my brain.