As in the case of European alchemy, Burmese alchemy too includes techniques for the transmutation of base metals into gold. Of much greater importance in Burmese alchemy, however, are the goals of achieving magical power, especially of immortality. These powers are acquired by means of the alchemic stone whose absolute purification and refinement is the aim of all alchemic experiments. Continue reading
…Buddhadasa Bhikkhu’s proposal for a dhammic socialism offers a case in point. His diagnosis of the root cause of the social problems that Thailand faces is certainly correct at the most fundamental level. Not only Thailand’s, but all humanity’s troubles are rooted in our “me” and “mine” ways of thinking. From this it follows that the ultimate solution to our problems is selflessness. Each must live for the benefit of society, placing the common good above personal interests. However, in this proposal for a dhammic socialism, Buddhadasa does not foreground the problem of sexism nor does he connect gender issues with other social issues, and herein lies a problem. Continue reading
This essay includes considerations of feminism both as academic method, i.e. the women studies perspective, and as social vision, i.e. the perspective of feminist philosophy. Though the values and insights of these two perspectives are intertwined and closely linked, they are not identical. The women studies perspective is less radical, claiming only that scholars must include women in their data base if they wish to claim that they are discussing humanity (rather than human males). Feminist philosophy in its many varieties proposes reconstructions of current religions and societies to render them more just and equitable to women, and thereby, also to men. Continue reading
The starting point for clarifications is a general observation about human existence-namely, that to be human at all is both to live by faith and to seek understanding. For our immediate purpose, which is to clarify what is properly meant by “religion,” it is the first part of this observation that is important. The faith to which I refer in observing that each of us lives by faith is our basic confidence or assurance simply as human beings that life is worth living. To live in any case, even as an animal, is one and the same with accepting one’s life in its larger setting and adjusting oneself to it. This is why George Santayana goes so far as to speak of “animal faith,” meaning thereby the inalienable confidence of all animal life in its environment as generally permissive of its struggle to live and to reproduce its kind. Continue reading
The Phaedrus is closely connected with the Symposium, and may be regarded either as introducing or following it. The two Dialogues together contain the whole philosophy of Plato on the nature of love, which in the Republic and in the later writings of Plato is only introduced playfully or as a figure of speech. But in the Phaedrus and Symposium love and philosophy join hands, and one is an aspect of the other. Continue reading
Feminist Ethics is an attempt to revise, reformulate, or rethink traditional ethics to the extent it depreciates or devalues women’s moral experience.
Feminist philosopher Alison Jaggar faults traditional ethics for letting women down in five related ways. First, it shows less concern for women’s as opposed to men’s issues and interests. Second, traditional ethics views as trivial the moral issues that arise in the so-called private world, the realm in which women do housework and take care of children, the infirm, and the elderly. Third, it implies that, in general, women are not as morally mature or deep as men. Continue reading
Of all Buddhist doctrines, possibly the most difficult — and misunderstood — is shunyata. Often translated as “emptiness,” shunyata is at the heart of all Mahayana Buddhist teaching. It is often misunderstood to mean that nothing exists. This is not so. Instead, it tells us that there is existence, but that phenomena are empty of svabhava, a Sanskrit word that means self-nature, intrinsic nature, essence, or “own being.”
Shunyata, in Buddhist philosophy, the voidness that constitutes ultimate reality; shunyata is seen not as a negation of existence but rather as the undifferentiation out of which all apparent entities, distinctions, and dualities arise. Continue reading
Indian materialism is not so well known, nor is it known in all its details at home or abroad as are other metaphysical doctrines which originated in India. This is mainly due to the fact that the original literature related to materialistic metaphysics has been lost beyond recovery, and that the critical references to this brand of metaphysics made by its adversaries as well as certain stray references to it to be found here and there are the main sources of our knowledge about it. Continue reading
Summarized from the book “SYMPOSIUM” by Plato, translated by: B. Jowett
It is claimed that in Symposium there are more than the author himself knew. The Symposium of Plato is a work of his character, and can with difficulty be rendered in any words but the writer’s own. There are so many half-lights and cross-lights, so much of the color of mythology, and of the manner of sophistry adhering—rhetoric and poetry, the playful and the serious, are so subtly intermingled in it, and vestiges of old philosophy so curiously blend with germs of future knowledge, that agreement among interpreters is not to be expected. Continue reading
Zen masters’ advice to reach Zen state of consciousness (one’s own final abode)
There are occasions in the study of Zen in which the monk stays with the master for years but no enlightenment come over him despite following the advice of his master faithfully. After many weeks of meditation he cannot come to any result and he is the same old monk with no experience whatever. His disappointment knows no bounds.. He cannot think of going back with no new spiritual outlook to his native land. He is then the most miserable man in the world, utterly dejected in spirit and body. The Zen masters out of their experience give advice purporting to help monks to solve their koan and to create what may me called the Zen state of consciousness. [koan is a succinct paradoxical statement or question used as a meditation discipline for novices] Continue reading
First: a new religious language. The religious metaphors of the Judeo-Christian tradition developed in a patriarchal society and show the limitations of that particular experience. The Father God metaphor, for example, while suggesting paternal care, also evokes absolute power, patriarchal authority, harsh punishment, and other related ideas which are now considered controversial. The NAM, by searching for inspiration in the many religious traditions of the world, especially in mysticism, opens up a new field of religious metaphors which may help us to more meaningfully re-imagine God for contemporary humanity. Continue reading
The ground for its introduction to the West was laid in 1893, with the arrival from India of Swami Vivekananda, who gained notoriety when he represented Hinduism at the world Parliament of Religions in Chicago. Soon after, the West’s awareness of Indian philosophy grew, through the work of such groups as the Theosophical Society, founded in the US by Madame Blavatsky. Continue reading
The law of Karma:
Karma is a concept in Hinduism which explains causality through a system where beneficial effects are derived from past beneficial actions and harmful effects from past harmful actions, creating a system of actions and reactions throughout a soul’s reincarnated lives forming a cycle of rebirth. The causality is said to be applicable not only to the material world but also to our thoughts, words, actions and actions that others do under our instructions. Continue reading
Although every Hindu must follow general moral codes, each has individual duties according to his or her own nature. These are called sva-dharma, literally “own duties.” They are regulated by the system of four varnas (social classes). Varna is a Sanskrit word which means color or class. Ancient Hindu literature classified all humankind, and all created beings, in principle into four varnas:
1-The Brahmins (Priests, Teachers, and Intellectuals): The chief function of this varna is the preservation of knowledge and culture, the satisfaction of gods, and the safeguarding of justice and morality. The brahmins provide education and spiritual leadership. They determine the vision and values of any society. Continue reading
- Alif, Lam, Ra. These are the Verses of the Clear Book.
- We have revealed it an Arabic Quran, so that you may understand.
- We narrate to you the most accurate history, by revealing to you this Quran. Although, prior to it, you were of the unaware.
- When Joseph said to his father, “O my father, I saw eleven planets, and the sun, and the moon; I saw them bowing down to me.” Continue reading
What then is time?
If no one asks me, I know; if I want to explain it to someone who does ask me, I do not know. Yet I state confidently that I know this: if nothing were passing away, there would be no past time, and if nothing were coming, there would be no future time, and if nothing existed, there would be no present time. How then can these two kinds of time, the past and the future be, when the past no longer is and the future as yet does not be? But if the present were always present, and would not pass into the past, it would no longer be time but eternity. Therefore, if the present, so as to be time, must be so constituted that it passes into the past, how can we say that it is, since the cause of its being is the fact that it will cease to be? Does it not follow that we can truly say that it is time, only because it tends towards non-being? Continue reading
Some recent ethicists claim that ethics are gender dependent as well. Although feminist moral philosophy is not monolithic, Carol Gilligan argues for the contextualization of moral reasoning in her book In a Different Voice. She cites empirical research which demonstrates that women’s moral development is significantly different from that of men’s. Women operate from a “morality of responsibility,” using the “psychological logic of relationships,” whereas men operate with a “morality of rights,” using the “formal logic of justice.” In contrast to an enlightenment emphasis on competing rights and formal and abstract connections, females typically operate with an awareness of conflicting responsibilities and a mentality that is contextual and narrative; Continue reading
We can consider a variety of Philosophical questions about art and art criticism, ranging from questions about the definition of what art is to questions about the aesthetic status of forgeries. Much talk about art by artists, critics and interested spectators is confused and Illogical. Employing philosophical rigour and insisting on clarity of argument in this area can only improve matters. As in all areas of philosophy there is no guarantee that clear argument will provide convincing answers to the difficult questions, but it does increase the chances of this happening. Continue reading
Virtue theory is largely based on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and as a result is sometimes known as neo-Aristotelianism. Unlike Kantians and utilitarians, who typically concentrate on the rightness or wrongness of particular actions, virtue theorists focus on character and are interested in the individual’s life as a whole. The central question for virtue theorists is “How should I live?” The answer they give to this question is: cultivate the virtues. It is only by cultivating the virtues that they will flourish as a human being. Continue reading
Is morality simply a matter of prejudice or can we give good reason for our moral beliefs? The area of philosophy which deals with such question is usually known either as ethics or as moral philosophy — both terms will be used interchangeably here. Christian Ethics belongs to duty-based ethical theories. Duty-based ethical theories stress that each of us has certain duties — actions that we ought or ought not to perform — and that acting morally amounts to doing our duty, whatever consequences might follow from this. It is this idea, that some actions are absolutely right or wrong regardless of results which follow from them, which distinguishes duty-based (also known as deontological) ethical theories from consequentialist ethical theories. Here we will examine Christian ethics. Continue reading
The arguments for and against the existence of God that we have examined so far (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) have all been aimed at proving that God does or doesn’t exist. They have all purported to give us knowledge of his or her existence or non-existence. The Gambler’s Argument, which is derived from the writings of the philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), and is usually known as “Pascal’s Wager”, is very different from these. Its aim is not to provide proof, but rather to show that a sensible gambler would be well-advised to “bet” that God exists.
It begins from the position of an agnostic, that is, someone who believes that there is not enough evidence to decide whether or not God exists. Continue reading
Does God exist? This is a fundamental question, one which most of us ask ourselves at some time in our lives. The answer which each of us gives affects not only the way we behave, but also how we understand and interpret the world, and what we expect for the future, If God exists, then human existence may have a purpose, and we may even hope for eternal life. If not, then we must create any meaning in our lives for ourselves: no meaning will be given to them from outside, and death is probably final. Continue reading
The First Cause Argument, sometimes known as The Cosmological Argument, states that absolutely everything has been caused by something else prior to it: nothing has just sprung into existence without a cause. Because we know that the universe exists, we can safely assume that a whole series of causes and effects led to it being as it is. If we follow this series back we will find an original cause. This first cause, so the first cause argument tells us, is God. Continue reading
One of the most frequently used arguments for God’s existence is the design argument, sometimes also known as the Teleological Argument (from the Greek word “telos” which means “purpose”). This states that if we look around us at the natural world we cannot help noticing how everything in it is suited to the function it performs: everything bears evidence of having been designed. This is supposed to demonstrate the existence of a Creator. If, for example, we examine the human eye, we see how its minute parts all fit together, each part cleverly suited to what it was apparently made for: seeing. Continue reading
The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is moved is moved by another, for nothing can be moved except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is moved; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Continue reading
Those who adopt an existential posture typically express the conviction that human beings can never be certain of anything beyond the sheer fact of their own existence. What human beings assert that they know is wholly capricious and unreliable. The subjective quality of the process of knowing is seen by the existentialist as inevitable. When we claim to “know” something, the “knowing” seems to be rather an intuitive grasp that has, or can be given, personal significance. There is nothing stable or objective about it. It is neither rational nor empirical in the traditional sense. To state that one knows is merely to express a personal affirmation that may shift or change at random with no outside criteria by which it may be evaluated or criticised. It boils down to this: Truth is what I affirm it to be. It is for this reason that there can be no existential theory or system of of knowledge. It is for this reason that non-existentialists are likely to apply, and existentialists not likely to reject, the label “irrationalists.” Continue reading