The Roots of Buddhism

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					The Roots of Buddhism

Journal: Due next Wednesday.
Test out your skills as an ethnographer. Read the texts, and see what you can infer about modern Thai culture as it relates to love: According to Wednesday’s authors (Panyananda Bhikku and Cleo Odzer), how do Thais seem to express and think about love?

What were the main points from last class?

Then: Trying to de-naturalize the concept of “I”

• • • • • • • • What do you mean by “I” when you say: “I have a cold” “I am angry” “I am an employee of the Rand Corporation” “I am hungry” “I am soaking wet” “I am a Californian” “I am helping cause global warming”

The Buddha’s teaching: “You” doesn’t exist.
• No essence, no soul, no fundamental you. • Your self is: • The product of all your different parts working together • A useful fiction, because much of the time we’re working at the level of the organism or small group.

So: how do you exist?
• As the sum of your different parts working together • As the result of your parents’ procreating, • As the result of your experiences and personal connections • As the result of all the food you’ve eaten and the air you’ve breathed In other words, you’re the product of the interaction of natural forces.

“Dependent Origination:”
• Everything that exists exists as a result of causes that came before it… • And all those things exist because of things that came before them, all the way back. • You are the way you are because of everything else, • And everything else is the way it is because of you (and the rest of the universe, too.)

Dhamma: Laws of Nature (make the universe work)

• •
• •

Law of physical change: changes in weather, growth of plants and animals, disintegration and decomposition. Law of heredity: offspring look like their parents. Law of workings of the mind: people react to ideas and perceptions. Law of human behavior: do good, receive good, do evil, receive evil. Dhammaniyama: the natural law covering the relationship and interdependence of all things: the way all things arise, exist, and then cease. Brings all the other laws together. Your mind is the way it is because your parents had human minds too, which leads to certain ideas, leads to certain responses from the world outside.

How does this self stuff relate?

I want I remember

I reason
I dream

Moving on: where did these unusual ideas come from?

Early History: Rise of States Near the Ganges

Kapilavatthu, Sakya

The Buddha:
• Some scholars figure he lived from 480-400 BC. This is not a definitive figure, but it’ll work for our purposes. • The life and teachings of the Buddha weren’t written down for another 500 years, by monks living at the other end of India.

Before about 450 BC:
Things in this part of the world were very different from the way they were in Greece. • 800 BC: much of the land was occupied by hunters and gatherers, who were now coming into contact with relatively aggressive, technologically-superior agriculturalist people we now call “Aryans.”

Why so late?

What innovations would make this land farmable?

What innovations would make this land farmable?

Wet-rice cultivation requires:

Wet-rice cultivation requires:

Wet-rice cultivation requires:

So, what was life like?
• Agricultural • Based around cooperation among extended families and clans • Brahmins had a good deal of power. (that is, a lot of political power rested in the hands of religious, not secular, authorities.)

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