Parlons un peu de philosophie // A word of philosophy

Humans can rise above sectarianism and idolatry and accede to reverence. It is good to have an ethics system. Spirituality fills a deep need in humans. It does NOT have to be directed towards a personal God. Buddhists (at least in principle) are atheists!

unitarian universalism chalice

UU chalice stained glass window

What is Unitarian Universalism? What are its beliefs and principles?

The Buddha said it better than I ever could in the

Kalama Sutra – Angutarra Nikaya 3.65

Teaching given by the Buddha to the Kalama people:

Do not go by revelation;
Do not go by tradition;
Do not go by hearsay;
Do not go on the authority of sacred texts;
Do not go on the grounds of pure logic;
Do not go by a view that seems rational;
Do not go by reflecting on mere appearances;
Do not go along with a considered view because you agree with it;
Do not go along on the grounds that the person is competent;
Do not go along because [thinking] ‘the recluse is our teacher’.

Kalamas, when you yourselves know: ‘These things are unwholesome, these things are blameworthy; these things are censured by the wise; and when undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill, abandon them…
Kalamas, when you know for yourselves: These are wholesome; these things are not blameworthy; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness, having undertaken them, abide in them.

Kalama Sutta in Wikipedia (for context)

Buddha, Yashodhara, and Rahul

« Nous ne devrions pas croire aux traditions parce qu’elles ont été transmises depuis l’Antiquité, ni croire sur la simple autorité de nos maîtres ou instructeurs…
Mais nous pouvons mettre en pratique un écrit, une doctrine ou une affirmation lorsque la juste compréhension que nous en avons et notre expérience intime les confirment. Soyez à vous-même votre propre flambeau, votre propre refuge, votre propre maître… »
– Bouddha

« We should not believe in traditions because they were transmitted from Antiquity and neither should be believe simply because of the authority of our masters or teachers. But we can apply a writing, a doctrine or a statement when the proper understanding we have of it and our inner experience confirm them. Be your own torch, your own refuge, your own Master… »
– Buddha




Added ~ August 1, 2012: Oh and BTW Shiva is the destructor of ignorance. This is the meaning of the dwarf  Shiva Nataraj (en français ici) is standing on. Symbols are so cool when they come from Western imperialist belief systems. But from « heathens »? God forbid!

Hey! Statues are just reminders, things to help us focus on something that has « no gender or form » (if I remember correctly this is stated verbatim in the Baghavad Gita). Humans need something to help them focus on the abstract, our brain has problems with this.  Statues fill that purpose. (Zoroastrians use fire.)  Nothing more. Anything else is idolatry and a belief in magic.

Shiva is also the destructor of worlds, as Robert Oppenheimer famously said on seeing one of the first A bombs explode. In astrophysics, stellar objects are constantly being created and destroyed, and matter is constantly changing form. So it is true that, as the Hindus think, creation and destruction are continuous processes. Hence the cosmic dance of Shiva. (This statue stands just outside the CERN facility offices near Geneva, Switzerland.)

Must-read. Lots of antiscience BS, though. (Global warming will kill life on Earth long before that.) Yes, science has been used to do evil (no shit Sherlock!), but it is not a reason to reject it globally. It is quite different to play with atoms in a strenously controlled scientific environment and what SOME laypersons THINK is going on.

I am not anti-science. For me, evolution is a fact. I embrace scientific discoveries. I am okay with research, even in nuclear physics. But I don’t think everything science does is good either. And neither are some of its uses.

Among other things, I am ferociously against the use of nuclear energy for profit because any failure is catastrophic. Fukushima, anyone? (And B.C. people are going to show an « unexplained », steep increase in weird, rare cancers about 5 years from 2012. The Harper Government™ spread the word « everything is allright » which is FALSE; there was nuclear fallout in BC.)  I am a lot more concerned about the shoddy use of the atom for profit and absence of quality controls or political interference (did I say Chalk River or Tchernobyl? ) Usually research is done with a high standard of care. Shit happens, I know. But for different reasons, of course, and the order of manignude of a catastrophic failure is not the same.

We have to bridle science and ride it.  It is nor good nor evil.  We are called to be « good stewards » (this term comes from the Bible, but I think it applies to everyone) or embrace an ethical, respectful attitude towards this small blue stone third from the Sun and our fellow humans we rob of their share of resources.

We have to honor Gaia, our Mother. To thank the elements for feeding us. It IS funny: some people are so stuck in their ideological or sectarian arguments (and some atheists can be quite sectarian) they cannot see the common points between various human belief systems or Weltanschauung. Read a little Joseph Campbell, for God’s sake (LOL)!

~ February 6, 2013: this text needed a good proofreading and fleshing out. Done


Une Réponse to “Parlons un peu de philosophie // A word of philosophy”

  1. fem_progress Says:

    The funny thing is that many Westerners consider ALL Hindus as backward ignorants who worship statues. Some Hindus do. But it is no worse than trying to buy favours with a rosary. The funny thing is that the Hindu conception of the universe is the closest to our present knowledge in the field of physics. VERY far from worshipping statues. « GOD » permeates the universe and we are drops of God.


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