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Author:  Chris OConnor [ Sun Feb 24, 2008 4:03 am ]
Post subject:  Ch. 3 - Upanishadic Hinduism...

Ch. 3 - Upanishadic Hinduism: Quest for Ultimate Knowledge

Please use this thread for discussing Chapter 3.

Author:  WildCityWoman [ Sat Mar 08, 2008 7:02 pm ]
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Upanishadic Hinduism:

Quest for Ultimate Knowledge


The term "Hinduism" itself is largely a Western construct designed simply to refer to the dominant religion of the majority of the people who inhabit the South Asian subcontinent.

I always thought of 'Hindu' as being the 'people', not their religion.

Muslim, Hari Krishna, Buddhist (which I consider to be a 'philosophy' more than a 'religion', a way of life).

And, from what I've seen in the Buddhist studies I do, Hindu people probably have their own words to describe their practices.

Buddhism, for instance, has many words, names and terms - it's mostly made up from the ancient language of the Buddha - Pali.

And there are different kinds of Buddhism . . . the teacher that does the dharma talks I listen to practices 'Theryvadan'.

Not sure if I'm spelling that right - in fact, I know I'm not.

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. . . many think of their religion as being grounded in a way of action, rather than a written text.

Well, yes - there are still a lot of rules, rights and wrongs though, just like in what we call 'our religions'.

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Upanishad - means to 'sit near', but has come to mean 'esoteric teaching" . . .

I guess that's because 'religion' and 'philosphy' were preached by way of the 'guru' holding court with a bunch of people sitting around listening to his words.

I say 'his' comfortably, because it wasn't women who led these groups. Just as much as women did not become ministers of the Christian churches at one time, women did not teach or guide in religion.

In modern times, there are women abbots in Buddhist retreats. More and more, we're seeing female versions of buddhists in the way of carvings and pictures.

I think I'm going to like this section of the book.

Author:  DWill [ Wed Mar 12, 2008 8:05 pm ]
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I haven't been able to zero in on a purpose for commenting on the systems described in the book so far. The connection between the systems and human nature has been unclear to me, so that hasn't given me a handle. It seems that views of human nature don't produce given systems, but rather that the relationship might be one of mutual influence, with beliefs about the way the world is or needs to be doubling back to alter the view of human nature. Our nature is so essentially flexible that human nature doesn't need to be such a limiting factor when systems are being created. And we really can't talk about a human nature in isolation from what we believe about the world, because believing in certain ways about the world is central to our nature (contrary to what we believe to be the case with other animals).

But, all that said, I'll try to use a suggestion of the authors, to discuss the systems in terms of validity to secular philosophers. In relation to the Upanishadic tradition, the best I could do would be to isolate the belief that diversity is an illusion, that forms of all kinds distract us from knowing the one true ground of being. I wouldn't of course follow this idea as far as believing in entities such as brahman and atman. But I can see that this can be a true claim about our lives, evident when we reflect on how much our Western individualism relies on all these forms, and how much "faith" we put into them. I suppose the most flagrant example of enslavement to forms is fashion, but there are many others. We spend an inordinate amount of energy making and defending minute distinctions, don't we? (though in our minds the distictions may loom large.) We form all sorts of categories and take them very seriously. Is this "wrong?" Not necessarily. Why not take pleasure in all this diversity? But can it go too far and become a blind end in itself? Can it cut us off from recognizing relationship and identity? Maybe.

Now your turn!

Author:  WildCityWoman [ Sun Mar 16, 2008 6:03 am ]
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Not my turn - somebody else's, I hope.

Well, some followers of certain faiths seem to blind themselves to everything secular and they don't seem to want to learn anything about the rest of the world.

That's not the most astounding thing that might be said in response to your piece, Will, but it was the only thing I could add in the way of my thoughts.

I agree though - it's not easy to discuss what's being said in the segments of these chapters.

The only thing I'd suggest is that those who want to discuss it, might just share their thoughts on what's being said.

I, at first, thought this book was kind of interesting, but as I'm looking at different parts of it, I'm realizing there's a lot of stuff that's repetitive.

It's not as exciting as I thought it was going to be.

Author:  WildCityWoman [ Sun Mar 16, 2008 6:04 am ]
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I might even go so far as to say that the feedback you guys are giving on the book is more interesting than the book - ha ha!

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