As this is my first ever post in this community, I’d like to start off by giving my gratitude to everyone that’s been helping with these translations and making them available publicly!
I’m writting on a lecture about Siddhartha, the four noble truths and the noble eightfold path. It will become part of an introduction to philosophy series on a twitch stream. A lecture usually goes on for a couple of hours and really goes in depth of the original texts and it’s interpretations. I can link to some previous lectures on Lao Tse or Confucius if you’d like.
For the lecture on the noble eightfold path: I was hoping to get some support of this scholarly community to provide me with some good example of short(ish) and for an audience of laymen easy to understand quotes that directly relate to the different practices of the noble eightfold path.
Looking through your archive of translations I already found some good examples, but what better then the collective wisdom of this community to find the “best” quotes?
Would appreciate any input your willing and able to provide before the lecture will go live next Monday.
As to the merit of having a non expert discuss this or any topic of this depth. I’d argue that it makes for a less rigid approach and therefor for the laymen listeners (which, for the most part, have never heard of any of this) more engaging. There’s also a point to be made, that someone with less knowledge about the subject but a genuine goal to represent the ideas accurately will be less likely to fall into confirmation bias and therefore arguing subjectively.
To quote Confucius on the matter: “The gentleman scholar aims for broad knowledge, he is not narrow.”
Also two hours to talk about anything isn’t as long as it seems, I can only fit so little in any of these talks. The lecture is on twitch, which means it’s a young mostly American / European audience that spend most of their time playing video games themselves or watch other people do so.
I’d never dear to due this or any subject (besides Nietzsche maybe) justice in a debate with a group of experts. However I think I’m not doing terribly in conveying difficult and broad ranging ideas into an engaging format. The whole idea is to give the audience a tiny bit of understanding of how different people view(ed) the world and that there is merit in understanding different views.
Here’s a link to my lecture on Lao Tse a Tao Te Ching. I’ll let you decide, if there’s merit in this and if I’m the right person to do it. FYI I’m the person talking in the background, not the one on camera who’s channel this is happening on. YouTube
Thank you Gillian! From what I’ve seen and read so far this seems like a very nice community that values good debate. I’m looking forward to contribute in some of the broader discussions with my knowledge about ethics and political philosophy. Already got my eyes on the “Is morality objective or subjective” topic
This is a talk given by Ayya Vayama from BSWA, giving one of the best overviews of the “core teachings of Buddhism” I’ve heard - it is both short - yet incredibly deep at the same time. Basically covering all important factors doing the almost impossible - making it equally meaningful for complete beginners as well as those more advanced.
The most effective aspect of the Buddha’s life for an audience like that would be his early encounter with old age, sickness and death outside the palace after a life of refinement; that motivated his search for enlightenment from which was formulated the four noble truths, beginning with suffering. If you can communicate the idea that although life seems pleasurable, that kind of pleasure is actually suffering, you would strike a chord with the audience, because deep down everybody feels it. And the reason it is suffering is because it’s impermanent, subject to cycles of change, whereas nibbana is the only element that’s unchanging.
The story has a moral: get out of the house and away from the screen.
Thank you Viveka that’s a great resource. And another thank you to paul1, I’ll make sure to highlight the importance of this journey in order to find enlightenment. And I love the modern day adaptation of the “moral of the story”.
I think I’ve gathered enough resources to be able to find enough quotes for the lecture and will post my selection soon(ish)…
@EcceFatum As long as you have this motivation, I hope you will continue to seek knowledge and wisdom.
Taoism is a vast phenomenon with a philosophical tradition (Laozi being a part of that) and what is often called a religious tradition, with liturgical and spiritual and worldview elements. At one point in history, there were even Taoist theocracies. My point is that there is much more to Taoism than what is often recognized in the west. Louis Komjathy has done an admirable job of studying and linking together both the philosophical and religious wings. (We’d have to come up with a definition for religion, but that’s a pretty big can of worms.)
I sincerely hope that you’re not referring here to Hesse’s book. If you are, I’d strongly suggest that you don’t use his text to introduce Buddhism. First, traditions should be given the chance to speak for themselves first. We have accurate modern translations for this very reason. Second, Hesse never intended for his book to serve as an introduction to an entire religious tradition. The text described his spiritual journey in “Eastern” terms. If you absolutely insist on using it, I’d ask you to introduce it after the real source texts (e.g. from the Pali Canon) are introduced. If you want the actual biographical texts, here you go. Keep in mind that the earliest canonical texts that describe his life don’t go into great detail: many of the details people are familiar with were “penciled in” later to flesh out the story by Mahayanists. Even some Theravadins have filled in the gaps occasionally in their own way to create a fluid narrative.
Do you know where the original description of the 4NT and the 8FP can be found in the Canon? I’d encourage you to emphasize that the basis for practice in Theravada is the Pali Canon. And this sutta is a selection from it. Here you go:
Thank you @dhammadharo having the original text to quote parts of it is perfect.
Since my lecture focus on the ethical aspects of various cultural and religious traditions, I tend not to go too deep on the metaphysics of it. It’s the differences but more so the similarities in virtue ethics that I want to bring across to the audience. With all the talk about moral relativism and lack of any objective truth (thank you Nietzsche - I guess ) in most of the western discourse, letting people know that there’s a lot of agreement about what constitutes a “good life” is the main target.
I initially had the intention to mention Hesse’s work, but abandoned that idea a while ago. Would have been nice to be able to quote a fellow Swiss citizen on the topic though
As for seeking knowledge, I’ve been trying to do my best to overcome my own confirmation- and sunk coast biases surrounding ethics and political philosophy for years and I’m hoping to be able to help others to do the same with these lectures. And I’m very thankful for every “teacher” that help my navigate the vast desert of knowledge in order to find to find the wisdom that’s hidden. <3
The Buddhist concept of morality is practical, wholesome actions ensuring an absence of remorse and so causing the mind to experience pleasure and become concentrated. The subject of a concentrated mind then becomes suitable for penetrating insight. Hence in dynamics, the noble eightfold path has a threefold interactive division between morality, concentration and insight (sila, samadhi, panna) factors.
“The English word “morality” and its derivatives suggest a sense of obligation and constraint quite foreign to the Buddhist conception of sila; this connotation probably enters from the theistic background to Western ethics. Buddhism, with its non-theistic framework, grounds its ethics, not on the notion of obedience, but on that of harmony. In fact, the commentaries explain the word sila by another word, samadhana, meaning “harmony” or “coordination.” The observance of sila leads to harmony at several levels — social, psychological, kammic, and contemplative. At the social level the principles of sila help to establish harmonious interpersonal relations, welding the mass of differently constituted members of society with their own private interests and goals into a cohesive social order in which conflict, if not utterly eliminated, is at least reduced. At the psychological level sila brings harmony to the mind, protection from the inner split caused by guilt and remorse over moral transgressions. At the kammic level the observance of sila ensures harmony with the cosmic law of kamma, hence favorable results in the course of future movement through the round of repeated birth and death. And at the fourth level, the contemplative, sila helps establish the preliminary purification of mind to be completed, in a deeper and more thorough way, by the methodical development of serenity and insight.” —Bikkhu Bodhi, “The Noble Eightfold Path”.
It’s an indication of how Buddhist thought is having a global influence that NZ is introducing a budget based on welfare outcomes rather than GDP, and the UK is considering doing the same.
The nature of Buddhist ethics as being firmly based in reason and without the need for any divine rule makes it especially interesting. Similar to Confucianism and (to some degree) Taoism, that’s why I started the lecture series by talking about the “vinegar taster”.
Another aspect that I have yet to explore is the similarities between the middle path and the golden mean in the Greek philosophical tradition…
I see many other influences in the shift towards welfare based budget than just Buddhism, but it definitely played an important roll. Especially when looking at how eastern thought influenced the modern western philosophical canon: Hegel, Nietzsche and Marx to name a few.
Just be careful to remember that these thinkers are not Buddhists and were not trying to represent the tradition. They had their own concepts. There are facial similarities between schools of thought sometimes, but are also gross incompatibilities. Nietzsche in particular would have walked away from the early sangha if he were alive then, probably in a huff. You shouldn’t proceed on a “two quotes happen to be similar basis”, although it doesn’t seem that you are.
@dhammadharo all of these were in response to paul1.
And I’m not sure why my statement would make you think that I refer to them as Buddhists. I do however agree with your statement about Nietzsche - makes a lot of sense since he walked away from pretty much everything.
This is an important question because on it depends the way a practitioner interprets the suttas. In his first statement after enlightenment, the Buddha described outright the path as a middle way between the extremes of indulgence and asceticism (SN 56.11). But the Buddha knew that beginners need the support of fixed rules, and so the moral precepts are presented formally, but overall they are known as training rules, indicating later there is a more improvised form of morality depending on the situation, once strength and familiarity with the joy resulting from wholesome thought and action has been developed. This relates to the golden mean, where a line of skillful action or thought can be found between extremes. There are several suttas which indicate that, but because the way of thinking was part of the culture at the time, they are presented as taken for granted, without any special emphasis. That’s why for more advanced practitioners it is important to know this theme to avoid misinterpretation of the thought environment within which the suttas are presented:
It should be pointed out that on the raft voyaging to the further shore, equanimity would only be appropriate when the handling of the raft is well known, and on the occasions when it is aligned so that the wind and currents are carrying it in the right direction, and even then it has an agenda: to reach that further shore.
And I didn’t say you did. My comment was just emphasizing what you already understood to be true. I just felt like emphasizing that. Some people aren’t as intellectually careful as many here. They might mix up ideas from different streams of thought without reference to sources. That’s what I was generally cautioning against, and it seems you’re doing a good job of keeping things separate.
I’m here to help. If you’re interested in the ethical dimension of all this, I’d suggest An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics: Foundations, Values and Issues by Harvey. It gives a nice complete overview of things.