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Philosophy

What is More Deadly?

A friend on Facebook posted:

“What’s more deadly, a gun or a thought? A gun gives the opportunity but its the thought that pulls the trigger.”

I replied by quoting: Matthew 5:20-22

20 For I say unto you that unless your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.21 “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old, ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ and ‘Whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment.’22 But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca,’ shall be in danger of the council; but whosoever shall say, ‘Thou fool,’ shall be in danger of hell fire.

I think that Jesus did not mean ‘hell fire’ in any literal sense; he meant hell in the sense of a mental/emotional state. True non-violence is not just abstaining from violent acts but also from violent thoughts. There is a Zen Buddhist story that illustrates this sense of being in emotional hell:

A samurai asks a master monk to teach him about heaven and hell. The monk immediately slaps the samurai! Enraged, the samurai draws his sword and chases the monk around the room, intent on killing him. Finally cornering the monk, the samurai—face still contorted in rage—raises his sword for the killing blow… “That!” says the calm monk, pointing to the samurai’s anger-flushed face, “is hell!” In a flash, anger flees from the samurai’s face, replaced by confusion. “And that,” declares the monk triumphantly, “is Heaven.”

The thought, actually habits of thought, lead to action, to a will to kill. A gun or any weapon is a manifestation of that will, a symbol and a tool of that will; in a sense the weapon is the thought. A weapon is not just a gun or sword or bomb it can be a word; the ‘thou fool’ that Jesus refers to is also a weapon.


The weapon, shaped by thought, goes on to shape our thoughts and reinforces our will to kill.

I always found this scene to be the most disturbing in the Kill Bill films:

Epistemic Humbleness

In my post Essence, I wrote:

To the three figures of the Buddha, the Christ and the Prophet, I should add a fourth, the Philosopher/Scientist whose key truth is [epistemic] Humbleness, and whose posture and practice is that of Study. Socrates said that “The only thing I know is that I know nothing” while Newton said “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

I thought that maybe I should say that the key insight or quality of the philosopher/scientist is Rationality but somehow ‘epistemic humbleness’ seems to fit better. Isaac Newton also wrote:

“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”

This expresses the humility that is essential to the scientific project. It presents science as a collective enterprise that can be advanced by those of normal stature as well as giants like Newton.

Essence

trinity

There will always be mistakes, misunderstandings and misinterpretations in our actions and in the way that we relate to each other. This is a consequence of being individuals with egoic attachments and apparently separate interests. The prime function of religion is to take us beyond the veneer of separateness to recognition of our fundamental unity with each other and with all that is. To attain this unity the Buddha taught Detachment, the Christ taught Forgiveness and the Prophet taught Submission; these are represented in the characteristic postures and practices of Meditation, Prayer and Prostration. Religions are essentially One as are we; and to go beyond mistakes, misunderstandings and misinterpretations we need to return to essence in our religions and in ourselves.

I tend to perceive the three universal religions as having a particular symmetry. This is not to say that I dismiss other religions such as Taoism and Hinduism or any other; I believe that there are remarkable insights contained in all religions but there is an archetypal aspect to the triad of Buddhism, Christianity and Islam that I find fascinating. I think that the archetypes of Buddha, Christ and Prophet reside within us. The realisation of these archetypes in our own consciousness is vastly more important that the particular doctrines of these religions.

To the three figures of the Buddha, the Christ and the Prophet, I should add a fourth, the Philosopher/Scientist whose key truth is [epistemic] Humbleness, and whose posture and practice is that of Study. Socrates said that “The only thing I know is that I know nothing” while Newton said “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

Pantheism

This Facebook post prompted some thoughts on my own religious orientation:

Is pantheism really all that different from atheism?, it seems to me all the pantheist is really doing is to say that the universe is “God”, but as far as I can tell, this doesn’t mean the pantheist believes the universe is a person, or anything of the sort.

FB Link

Pantheism is the only logically consistent way in which God can be omniscient and omnipresent. If you are present everywhere and aware of everything you are necessarily everything. Pantheism differs from Atheism insofar as Pantheists understand that consciousness is as fundamental to constitution of the universe as matter, energy, space and time. Universal Consciousness cannot be said to be personal without contradiction but that does not mean that we cannot have a personal relationship with It or that it is not responsive to us. Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism are essentially pantheist believing essentially in transcendent and immanent divinity (Brahman and Atman in Hinduism). Christian and Islamic mysticism are also affectively pantheist.

There were some other interesting responses among these was a link to a classic Asimov short story:

I haven’t listened to all of this yet – though I read it decades ago.

Also someone posted a link to an interesting blog Ownerless Mind.

 

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