Eastern Religions

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Eastern Religions
2010-03-24 18:04:08
Hinduism Vedas Upanishads Puranas Mahabharata Bhagavad Gita

Introduction to Eastern Religions
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  1. What is the thesis of this class?
    • Consciousness is primary.
    • Matter is an epiphenomenon, rule-governed consciousness which changes according to those rules.
  2. What is sacrifice?
    • Sacrifice is a way of revealing how the universe works. It is part of a transactional system of exchanges between nature and the universe.
    • Sacrifice reveals the logic, architecture, function, and meaning of the universe.
    • Sacrifice is the structure and knowledge of reality. It is cause and effect logic.
    • It is a form of commerce and economy which binds in a totality, in a unity.
    • Sacrifice is a way of controlling reality, a kind of science that organizes reality into a hierarchy of gods, forces, and humans. Sacrifice puts together the creator, the created (nature), and the self into a meaningful articulation.
    • Sacrifice has the following aspects: structural, cognitive, power/hierarchy, rules.
  3. What is ritual?
    An act that separates the sacred from the profane.
  4. What is the universe?
    The universe is a closed system of cause and effect from which there is no escape.
  5. What is Hindu religion?
    Hindu religion is the study of being.
  6. What are the Vedas?
  7. What are the 4 texts of the Vedas?
    • Rig veda
    • Sama veda
    • Yajur veda
    • Atharva veda
  8. What are the characteristics of the Vedas?
    • Authorless – revealed to your mind as that truth which is self-evident
    • Self-evident
    • Imperishable – they purport to a truth which is imperishable
  9. What are the Upanishads?
    • Terse philosophical aphoristic (brief and memorable) texts.
    • Philosophical discourse, considered the final part of the Vedas.
  10. How many texts are in the Upanishads?
    • 108
    • 10 main (major) Upanishads, because traditional commentators have commented on them.
  11. What are the characteristics of the Upanishads?
    • Authorless
    • They comment on the Vedas
    • They are divided into main sentences (Maha Vakyas) and supporting sentences.
    • They deal with the nature of reality (known and knower) and how the conscious mind is a part of that.
  12. What are the Maha Vakyas?
    • They are the 4 main sentences of the Upanishads.
    • I am Brahman.
    • You are that.
    • All this is verily Brahman.
    • Brahman is infinite knowledge.
  13. What is the Mahabharata, how many books are in it, and what are its characteristics?
    • It is the longest poem/book every written.
    • I8 books, around 100,000 verses.
    • Book 6 is the Bhagavad Gita, a summary of the Upanishads, and didactic and philosophical.
    • It has an author – Vyasa.
  14. What are the Puranas?
    • Deistic texts, mythological stories.
    • Ex: the bible is a deistic text.
  15. How many books are in the Puranas?
    18 books
  16. What are the characteristics of the Puranas?
    • They have an author.
    • Sectarian books with a specific symbol (highest god) for Brahman.
    • They detail cult practices and recommendations for appropriate behaviors.
    • Deeds of sectarian gods
    • Descriptions of sacred sites for pilgrimage.
  17. What are the characteristics of the Rig Veda Creation Hymn?
    • Uses organic metaphors
    • Talks about beginnings
    • Helps you raise questions that keep you thinking, because Brahman is accessible only through reason.
  18. How is immortality obtained?
    • Through knowledge, because knowledge is imperishable.
    • Out of constant change is constant fear. In change there is death or loss.
    • He who embarks on the path of philosophy becomes brave and loses fear of death.
    • This mind identifies itself with the imperishable.
    • As you lose fear of death, you will approach immortality.
  19. Why are soldiers and philosophers alienated from life?
    Because they have seen the futility of death.
  20. Why is death important? Four reasons, which are also problems, and one solution.
    • Ontological problem: The question of being is important – does a dead person exist? In this lies the problem of immortality: the problem of being.
    • Ethical problem: If there is no life after death, there is no reason for ethics. If there is no judgment or consequences, there is no reason for ethics.
    • Scientific problem: If the chain of cause and effect is broken, life loses meaning.
    • Salvation solution: Is there any utterly true salvation? Yes, an escape from the cycle of life and death.
    • True wisdom begins by taking death seriously, for it is a philosophical problem requiring our clearest thinking.
    • Knowledge and death are self-relational, not transactional. Death leads to another birth, but not so far knowledge.
  21. What are the 2 types of logic of reality that manifest in the human soul?
    • Transcending logic: realm of gnosis, cognition, where the self (atman) manifests itself as a witness
    • Transactional logic: realm of karma, work, transactional cause and effect, where the universe is revealed by sacrifice, where the ego (jiva) participates in this exchange, unable to overcome the cycle of cause and effect, which manifests through sacrifice.
    • They are twin aspects of reality, properties of the soul.
  22. What is liberation?
    • Freedom from the cause and effect cycle to obtain Brahman.
    • Freedom from the world of sense data.
  23. What are the 4 goals of life according to Hinduism?
    • Dharma: Justice
    • Artha: Material prosperity
    • Kama: Enjoyment
    • Moksha: Philosophy, liberation, immortality
    • The first two are the means and second two are the ends.
    • Some ego is required to motivate you to go through the first three in order to achieve the fourth.
    • Ego is defined by what it desires, and desire is unending.
  24. What is superstition?
    That which is not science.
  25. What keeps the wheel of cause and effect turning?
    Desire, because desire reaches into non-being, requires fulfillment on a psychological and cosmological level.
  26. What are the 4 stages of life?
    • Student (16 years): Learn a trade, marry.
    • Householder (32 years): Do the job you were taught, take care of your wife and children, buy a home.
    • Philosopher: Semi-retirement, hair gets 1st gray, child turns 16, prepare for the great departure.
    • Renunciate: The most free you will ever be.
  27. At what level of logic does Arjuna fight?
    He fights at the transactional level of logic, but at the transcendent level, he must realize “I am Brahman,” beyond birth and death. The transcending level is salvation.
  28. What is detachment?
    • Detachment is the separation of transcendent properties from transaction al properties.
    • It cannot be asceticism (side-stepping, not participating in the transactional level) or gluttony, rather, a balanced life well lived.
  29. What is happiness on earth?
    • When the 5 senses become focused, the clarity is interpreted as happiness, and freedom from desire is experienced as joy.
    • Happiness is the infinitization of pleasure.
  30. What are the 3 modes of Brahman?
    • Absolute Existence
    • Absolute Consciousness
    • Absolute Bliss
    • All this is our true nature.
  31. What is the purpose of war?
    War brings into focus the destruction at the heart of existence.
  32. What is the battlefield?
    The battlefield is a sacrificial field, a sacred plane where reality is reorganized.
  33. What is religion?
    • An attitude that orients us to that which is ultimate.
    • That which asks ultimate questions about who you are ultimately.
    • The bonding of you to the All – there is only one.
    • The path of religion is the personal evolution from finite to absolute, mortal to infinite, darkness to illumination.
  34. The Erotic
    • You look into the other’s eyes and see yourself.
    • You exist as the other of the other.
  35. What are the 3 steps of the Katha Upanishad?
    • Work: Through work, achieve the earth realm.
    • Sacrifice: Through sacrifice, ascend to heaven.
    • Knowledge: Through knowledge, go beyond heaven to Brahman.
  36. Is action possible without desire?
    No. Without desire, action is not possible.
  37. Is there ego in desire?
    Yes. That which is attained through desire is temporary, and ego is temporal.
  38. Is there ego in knowledge?
    No. That which is attained through knowledge is eternal, so there is no ego in it.