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Buddhism and IT

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					Buddhism and Information Technology
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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, onedirectional 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.

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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.

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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--preSocratic
QuickTime™ and a TIFF (LZW) decomp resso r are need ed to see this picture.

– Parmenides-world made up of discrete material ―stuff‖ versus – Heraclitus-the world is in constant flux

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“Characteristics of Power” provide information about our underlying worldview.

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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.‖

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Buddhist Notion of Power
Instead of seeing ourselves as separate things, see flows revealing patterns that self-organize Power ―with.‖

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Buddhist Notion of Power Power “with”
– Power is an emergent (property) as we act together – Power results from synergy – To create power create connectivity

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– Sangha
• • • • Radical inter-connectivity Power with… Sharing Fundamental generosity-making sure everyone has enough

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– 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.

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– 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.

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– Suffering
– Aversion--strong defense and gives rise to hatred

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– 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

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 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
QuickTime™ and a TIFF (LZW) decompressor are needed to see this picture.

• 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
QuickTime™ and a TIFF (LZW) decompressor are needed to see this picture.

• 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 mediaas mirror—can be seen as independently existing things only because of the temporal, spatial, and conceptual horizons that we impose on the

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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