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New Meetup: Eastern Philosophies of Compassion & Non-violence

From: Steve
Sent on: Thursday, September 30, 2010 11:19 PM
Announcing a new Meetup for Plato's Cave - The Orlando Philosophy Meetup Group!

What: Eastern Philosophies of Compassion & Non-violence

When: Sunday, October 17,[masked]:00 PM

Where: Austins Coffee
929 West Fairbanks Avenue
Winter Park, FL 32789

Eastern Philosophies of Compassion & Non-violence

From SAM HARRIS in Letter to a Christian Nation:
If you think that Christianity is the most direct and undefiled expression of love and compassion the world has ever seen, you do not know much about the world's other religions. Take the religion of Jainism as one example. The Jains preach a doctrine of utter non-violence. While the Jains believe many improbable things about the universe, they do not believe the sorts of things that lit the fires of the Inquisition. You probably think the Inquisition was a perversion of the "true" spirit of Christianity. Perhaps it was. The problem, however, is that the teachings of the Bible are so muddled and self-contradictory that it was possible for Christians to happily burn heretics alive for five long centuries. It was even possible for the most venerated patriarchs of the Church, like St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, to conclude that heretics should be tortured (Augustine) or killed outright (Aquinas). Martin Luther and John Calvin advocated the wholesale murder of heretics, apostates, Jews, and witches. You are, of course, free to interpret the Bible differently--though isn't it amazing that you have succeeded in discerning the true teachings of Christianity, while the most influential thinkers in the history of your faith failed?

At the heart of right conduct for Jains lie the five great vows:

Nonviolence (Ahimsa) - not to cause harm to any living beings

Truthfulness (Satya) - to speak the harmless truth only

Non-stealing (Asteya) - not to take anything not properly given

Chastity (Brahmacharya) - not to indulge in sensual pleasure

Non-possession/Non-attachment (Aparigraha) - complete detachment from people, places, and material things.

Jains hold these vows at the center of their lives. The monks and nuns follow these vows strictly and totally, while the common people try to follow the vows as far as their life styles will permit.

The issues in Jaina philosophy developed concurrently with those that emerged in Buddhist and Hindu philosophy. The period from the second century bc to about the tenth century ad evinces a tremendous interaction between the schools of thought and even an exchange of ideas, borne out especially in the rich commentary literature on the basic philosophical works of the respective systems. Jaina philosophy shares with Buddhism and Hinduism the aim of striving, within its own metaphysical presuppositions, for absolute liberation from the factors which bind human existence. For the philosophical systems of Indian thought, ignorance (of one?s own nature, of the nature of the world and of one?s role in the world) is one of the chief such factors, and Jainism offers its own insights into what constitutes the knowledge that has the soteriological function of overcoming ignorance. Jainism is not exempt from the problem of distinguishing the religious and/or mystical from the ?philosophical?; the Indian tradition has no exact equivalents for these categories as they are usually employed in Western thought. Jainism is unique among Indian philosophies in characterizing sensory knowledge as indirect. The aim of the treatises on knowledge is to present what the Jainas believe would be known in the state of omniscience, as taught by Mahāvīra.

Join Plato?s Cave philosophers as we ponder the compassionate philosophies of the east and contrast them with the most prominent religious philosophies of the west.

Be sure to check the Plato?s Cave discussion and files sections where you can read, post and download documents that are relevant to this topic.

-Steve, Organizer

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