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Buddhism

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									Buddhism and Information
       Technology
          E124
       Axiological Ethical Issues
 Axiological ethical issues
    Social impacts of IT
    Related to ―On the Internet‖
       Loss of the ability to recognize relevance
       Acquiring skill
       Loss of a sense of the reality of people and things
       Anonymity and nihilism
    Colonialization of consciousness through IT.
Information Technology and
        Buddhism
 BACKGROUND: PETER HERSHOCK
  Reinventing the Wheel: A Buddhist Response
  to the Information Age
   “Medium is the message” Marshall McLuhan’s
    Statement (1964).
   Media has significant moral valence regardless of
    content.
Information Technology and
        Buddhism
 Hershock concludes the fundamental task of
  ethics related to information exchange (media)
  is not to critique the ―content‖ (although that
  may seem the logical critique), but to evaluate
  and provide alternatives to the history of
  progress through which the media have come
  about and which the media have, in turn, both
  sustained and deepened.
Information Technology and
        Buddhism
  We may be debating questions concerning
  freedom of speech and the limits of privacy
  rights, however, it may be that we can’t
  answer these questions within any
  framework of linear, one-directional
  sequences of causes and effects. And, we
  may be asking the wrong questions.
 Information Technology and
         Buddhism
 COLONIZATION OF CONSCIOUSNESS
    30 hours of TV per week/22,00 commercials per
     year.
    Internet use—90% Americans expected to be online
     12-15 hrs per week online.
    Americans average 60% of their waking life online
     taking attention away from families and
     communities?
    ―vegging‖ out versus ―getting conscious.‖
 Information Technology and
         Buddhism
 COLONIZATION OF CONSCIOUSNESS
   Exportation of these practices is what Hershock means by
    Colonization.
   Material colonialism involved extraction of natural resources
    and breakdown of local economy and indigenous value system.
    (English extracted raw materials, brought it back to England
    and then sold cloth back to Indians).
   Colonization of consciousness (exporting our ideas and
    practices and extracting the attention of the people in our
    direction)—leads to breakdown of their local communities and
    cultures.
 Information Technology and
         Buddhism
 COLONIZATION OF CONSCIOUSNESS
   Consider the possibility that all of the above
    is an attempt to end some kind of ―existential
    disconnect‖ and that we are looking outside
    of ourselves and in the wrong place to
    resolve.
  Information Technology and
          Buddhism
 Buddhist response:
   Four Noble Truths
      All is trouble or suffering (dukkha);
      Cause of Dukkha is ―desire for private fulfillment---
       craving and aversion
      There is a means by which such a resolution is
       possible overcoming craving and aversion gives rise
       to freedom from suffering
      8 fold path leads to this freedom
  Information Technology and
          Buddhism
 The means by which such a resolution is possible is
  found in the practice of the Eight Fold Path—we can
  dissolve the patterns of conditioning that bring about
  suffering by developing right view, right intention,
  right speech, right action, right livelihood, right
  effort, right mindfulness, and right
  concentration
 In sum, the root of Buddhism lies in developing skillful
  insight into the interdependent origination of all things,
  and through this, redirecting the movement of our situation
  from cycles of chronic trouble and suffering toward release
  from those cycles.
            Buddhism
Ethical Norms characteristic of Buddhism
 are similar to other religions:
  • Upholds having harmonious relations between
    people.
  • Compassionate care for other beings
  • Self restraint.
  • Economic justice.
  • Non-violence.
                  Buddhism
Buddhism is different than other religions
 with respect to ethics in the following ways:
  –   No supreme authority.
  –   Radical relativity.
  –   Interdependence of phenomena.
  –   Dependant co-arising and knowing.
  –   Everything arises and ceases in continuous flux.
                    Buddhism
Buddhism is different than other religions with
  respect to ethics in the following ways:
   – Endless flux and co-dependence where everything is
     interrelated and inter-influencing. To understand this
     phenomena is itself wisdom and will give rise to ethical
     behavior.
   – Wisdom and Silla (ethical behavior) are like two hands
     washing each other---ways of behavior inform wisdom
     and visa versa.
                                  Buddhism
                                      • Two views of reality
                                        around the time of
                                        Buddha--pre-Socratic
                                        – Parmenides-world
                                          made up of discrete
                                          material ―stuff‖ versus
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                                        – Heraclitus-the world
                                          is in constant flux
        Buddhism

“Characteristics of Power” provide
 information about our underlying
            worldview.
             Buddhism
        Western Notion of Power
In the west we view ourselves as separate things
 and we are concerned with what these separate
           things can do to each other.
              Buddhism
         Western Notion of Power
 Power ―over‖… property or others
 (something you can win or loose) giving
 rise to:
      Defenses.
      Fear (life forms need defenses but if you want
       something to grow those same defenses need to
       be able to break apart).
              Buddhism
         Western Notion of Power
 Power ―over‖… property or others
 (something you can win or loose) giving
 rise to:
      Defenses:
         Nothing wrong with defenses. They are
          absolutely necessary to protect living things.
          However, if we want to grow it is necessary
          to ―peel off the old.‖
           Buddhism
       Buddhist Notion of Power
Instead of seeing ourselves as separate things,
     see flows revealing patterns that self-
            organize Power ―with.‖
           Buddhism
Buddhist Notion of Power
Power “with”
  – Power is an emergent (property) as we act
    together
  – Power results from synergy
  – To create power create connectivity
                Buddhism

– Sangha
  •   Radical inter-connectivity
  •   Power with…
  •   Sharing
  •   Fundamental generosity-making sure everyone has
      enough
              Buddhism
– Suffering
     – Delusion-- (ignorance)
        » Is thinking that you are separate and hold
          yourself apart and aloof from web of life.
        » Only see the parts and can’t see the whole.
        » We feel weak and vulnerable and we try to
          shore ourselves up with ―things‖ and
          defense.
        » Mutually reinforcing mistake about life.
              Buddhism
– Suffering
     – Greed-the mistake to think that we need things
       for ourselves rather than for all of us
         » Craving the need to pull things toward us
           and hold on to it for ourselves at the
           exclusion of others.
              Buddhism
– Suffering
     – Aversion--strong defense and gives rise to
       hatred
                Buddhism
– Suffering
  Causes---power over + lack of wisdom (can’t see
   interconnectivity)
     – Delusion-- (ignorance) is thinking that you are separate
       and hold yourself apart and aloof from web of life—only
       see the parts and can’t see the whole—mutually
       reinforcing mistake about life
     – Greed-need to hold on to what’s mine
     – Aversion--strong defense and gives rise to hatred
                   Buddhism
 Wisdom-Experience and Understanding Dependant Co-
  Arising or Interconnectivity

    Biology and system thinking changed the lens with which we see
     reality. Instead of seeing things as separate we now began to see
     things as flows of matter and energy and information and what
     appeared to be separate entities we began to see as nodes and
     patterns that self organize thanks to these flows.
    Open systems because they sustain themselves through the flow of
     matter, energy and information.
    Systems thinkers fascinated analyzing the principles and properties
     by which the flows generated these open systems.
    Example of the neural net
                 Buddhism

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• Following the 8 Fold Path leads to freedom from
  delusion, greed and aversion and to wisdom
  (mind) and compassion (heart) and the experience
  of radical interconnectivity.
                 Buddhism

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• Eight Fold Path suggests a way to behave that
  provides the optimal conditions to shift our
  thinking and resolve the Four Noble Truths.
  Information Technology and
          Buddhism
 Content and right speech—basis of this type of
  communication is compassion—literally, a
  relationship of shared feeling or emotion (is that
  possible in one way direction and/or online when
  the conversation is disembodied?)
  Information Technology and
          Buddhism
 Content and Right Speech continued.
    Studies show how when you put TV into community the
     behavior of children changes.
       Children don’t learn to resolve trouble in liberating fashion.
       Rather, they may be learning to solve problems in ways that
        compound problems and increase sum total of suffering.
       Debate whether violence is indicator of what is inside versus causal
        connection.
       Buddha said ―what is and what is-not are twine barbs on which all
        human kind is impaled‖ Then the question of what came first the
        chicken or the egg keeps us locked in suffering when the truth may be
        that neither is correct.
  Information Technology and
          Buddhism
 Right View—leads to seeing our situation as
  interdependently arisen, as irreducibly dynamic, and as
  to some degree troubled and yet always open to revision
  (practice of three marks—Anicca (impermanence) Anatta
  (absence of permanent identity) and dukkha (suffering) –
  i.e. while media arises out of local and global conditions,
  they also influence these very conditions—mutual
  causation
 Impermanence—the emptiness—shows that nothing
  ultimate primacy or status of an original cause—so the
  notion as media-as-cause and media-as mirror—can be
  seen as independently existing things only because of the
  temporal, spatial, and conceptual horizons that we impose
  on the emptiness or interdependence of all things.
  Information Technology and
          Buddhism
 Right View Continued:
   Advertising—primary focus of advertising is to foster
    sense of lack and wanting—craving—root of suffering
    often singled out by Buddha as root condition of
    suffering (along with lack of awareness of
    interdependent nature of all things) And it isn’t WHAT
    we are conditioned to WANT but rather the ACT OF
    WANTING.
  Information Technology and
          Buddhism
 CONTEXT: MEDIA AS A TOOL VERSUS AS A
  TECHNOLOGY--although we can turn off our computer
  or TV we can’t put the media away like we can a hammer.
  Media will shape how we speak, what’s popular, notions
  of good, how we work and live
  1. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AS A COMPLEX SYSTEM
  OF TECHNOLOGIES AND EMERGE AS PATTERNS OF
  RELATIONSHIP OR HISTORICAL PROCESSES THAT
  INSITUTIONALIZE VALUES ACROSS A WIDE RANGE OF
  HUMAN ACTIVITIES AND MORAL VALANCE.
  2. Merely focusing on the UTILITY of the tool, we
  ignore the tendency of it to deeply alter and institutionalize
  our core values.
  Information Technology and
          Buddhism
• Central Idea of Buddhism is to be able to be
  in accord with any situation whatsoever and
  to respond as needed (notice this is central
  idea of Taoism as well).
  – A steady diet of mass media does not and
    cannot permit developing such virtuosity.
      Information Technology
                 .
           and Buddhism
 Idea of ―technotopia‖ world in which no galling
  hardship, agonizing disappointments, shortages,
  and no sense of loss. End to trouble, as we know
  it. Also the end of the compelling dramatic
  tensions, collapse of our stories and ―dramatic
  entropy‖—collapse of all differences that make a
  difference. Infinite variety would be possible but
  no compelling reason to choose on over the other.

								
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