What is religion?
What is religion?
On this site we are going to write about Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.
Is Buddhism a religion?
The Drepung Loseling Institute states: "Like all major religions, Buddhism contains an explanation of the origin of existence, a morality, and a specific set of rituals and behaviors. ... Buddhism presents a transformational goal, a desire to improve one's situation, and a distinct moral code.”
Buddhism is not what we call a "top-down religion" -- one in which a deity reveals religious and spiritual truths to humanity. It is a "bottom-up religion" created by humans as an attempt to express spiritual concepts.
In 1923, a well-known Buddhist scholar, Mr. Jing-Wu
Ou-Yang gave a speech at Nanjing Normal University in China, entitled
'Buddhism is Neither a Religion Nor a Philosophy, but the Essential for
Our Modern Time'.
Many groups recognize Buddhism as a religion: Census
offices and public opinion pollsters generally include Buddhism as one
of the world's major religions.
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“Christianity is the name given to that definite
system of religious belief and practice which was taught by Jesus Christ
in the country of Palestine, during the reign of the Roman Emperor,
Tiberius, and was promulgated, after its Founder's death, for the
acceptance of the whole world, by certain chosen men among His
Quotation from: The Catholic Encyclopedia
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The word 'Islam' is an Arabic one, meaning peace and
submission. A practicing Muslim strives to submit whole-heartedly to
God, thereby achieving peace in this life as well as in the afterlife. 'Mohammedanism'
is a misnomer for Islam and offends its very spirit.
Muslims believe that Allah created the angels such that they cannot commit sins and have no gender.
With the belief that Allah sent His messengers and prophets to all people, Muslims faithfully accept Biblical prophets mentioned in the Qur'an including Adam, Ishmael, Isaac, Moses, David, and Jesus. All prophets were human beings like us who, as chosen examples for their people, committed no grave sin. Muslims accept Jesus as a prophet, believe in his virgin birth and respect him very much. His name is mentioned in the Qur'an almost a hundred times.
To believe in the Holy Books of Allah that were sent before and in the Qur'an as the final words from Allah is a pillar of the Muslim's faith. The Qur'an was revealed to the last prophet, Muhammed, through the Archangel Gabriel. It confirmed and finalized all previous revelations that were sent to humankind through Allah's messengers.
A Muslim believes in Divine Decree, which relates to the ultimate power of Allah. It means Allah is the Omniscience, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent. He has knowledge and power to execute His plans. Allah is not indifferent to this world. Allah is the Wise, Just, and Loving, and whatever He does has wisdom though we may sometimes fail to fully understand it.
The following verse explains the significance of believing in the
principles of faith including the Last Day:
1. Shahadah (Testimony)
2. Salah (Five Daily Prayers)
3. Sawm (Fasting)
4. Zakah (Purification of Wealth)
5. Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca)
Salvation in Islam
The Qur'an is the sacred book of Muslims who believe its complete text
came through revelation. Each word of it was revealed in Arabic by Allah
(God) to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through the Archangel
Gabriel over a span of twenty-three years in the 7th century. The
relevation of the Qur'an began when the Prophet was forty years old. It
consists of around 600 pages, 114 chapters, and 6,236 verses. The length
of chapters varies with the longest chapter having 286 verses while the
shortest one has only three.
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Buddha and Dharma
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“Commitment is primary. Lifestyle is secondary.”
Our Buddhist lifestyle may be described as living daily in simplicity, peace, gratitude, wisdom and compassion. However, we do not just decide one day to live in this special way, it is the result of a process of faith, devotion, practice and then more practice. When we engage in daily practice of the nembutsu as a living practice, and not just an ...intellectual exercise, our lives will naturally transform into the substance of shinjin (clear mind), the experience of awakening.
Living in the Light of Buddha,
Rejoicing in the compassion of Buddha,
Zazen is seated meditation, the opposite of contemplation, the emptying of the mind of all thoughts in order simply to be.
"In the midst of all evil, not a thought is aroused in the mind, this is called Za. Seeing into one's Self-nature, not being moved at all, this is called Zen."
To know Tao
The Way is neither full nor empty;
When enlightenment arrives
The fragrance of blossoms soon passes;
Like a golden beacon signaling on a moonless night,
Lovely lotus flower, reach up from the pond towards the sky above and beyond. Reach up out of the murky and muddy water to give hope to everyone to overcome the impurities of life. The Lotus shares it beauty with everyone without expectation of reward. Be like the Lotus, share the Dharma and the beauty of Buddhism with everyone on this same basis.
The Lotus with all its purity and grace, remains one with the murky pond so that the pond may benefit from its beauty and serenity. May you learn from the Lotus and remain one with the world as you follow your path to enlightenment so that all sentient beings will benefit from your journey.
The Lotus does not hide from the world nor does it judge it. The Lotus simply reaches to the celestial heavens for all to see, and as it does, it spreads a sense of Peace and Tranquility for all to enjoy. Do not hide your practice, for many may benefit from your example. Be open and sharing as you endeavor to uncover the Buddha within so that you too may spread a sense of Peace and Tranquility.
From bud to pod, the Lotus lives life without regret, for it does its best given the causes and conditions and the circumstances of its existence. Be like the Lotus, live a life free from regret by always doing your best. The Lotus is beautiful even with its flaws, and so it is with life itself, for true beauty does not require perfection.
Look for the beauty and virtue that surround you every day and you will find it. Base your life on generosity, respect, compassion, and love, and you will be a part of that beauty and virtue. Selfless, sharing, without ego or expectations, the Lotus, most honorable of flowers, is an example for us all.
Experience Chan! It can't be described.
When you describe it you miss the point.
When you discover that your proofs are without substance
You'll realize that words are nothing but dust.
Hsu Yun: Search for Truth
Cease from practice based
Articles or parts of articles,
sent by visitors to Cedar Gallery
An interesting blog: The religion Factor
The future of religion,
The future of religion, interview with Ninian Smart: http://www.scottlondon.com/interviews/smart.html
The acceptance of women at West Point, Annapolis and the Air Force Academy has been hailed as a victory by many feminists, as well as by people who are concerned about the quality and quantity of career military personnel. If the maintenance of a strong military is a necessity, then why not recruit the best people possible, regardless of sex? Obviously, there is no reason, apart from cultural considerations, why women should not be combatants along with men.
If equality of the sexes is the goal, then acceptance of females as full participants in war does follow. The general illusion of a weaker and gentler sex should be shattered. Indira Gandhi and Golda Meir, for example, demonstrated that women can be just as aggressive as men.
Women should become combat pilots or whatever else they wish so long as the “old humanity” is all that we’re talking about. Justice demands that women should have equal opportunity and take equal risks. Why should half the population risk their lives while the other half supports them from the sidelines? Of course, a nuclear war would make this whole matter moot.
Indeed, emphasis on the question of sexual equality
begs a deeper question. What are women becoming equal to? (Someone has
said that women who want to become equal to men have minimum ambition.)
If the sought-after victory simply means a full participation in the
best and worst of human accomplishments, that battle will be won. The
changing roles of men and women and the continuing pressure of feminist
groups (as well as unassailable logic) make such a victory inevitable.
Except for the childbearing function, there is no biological or
psychological basis for distinguishing between the roles of men and
But what if equality with men is understood to be only a minor part of the real battle? What if ‘this struggle is not to become equal with men, but to become a “new humanity”? What if the true goal is recognized not as that of becoming full participants with men in war or in sin and death, but as that of becoming full heirs with Jesus Christ? If this end were acknowledged, then female warriors would represent the same tragic defeat for humankind as do male warriors. There is no reason to believe that the presence of women in armies would make war more civilized.
The same question can be raised about women becoming equal to men in a church which has lost its way, or in a political system which is no longer responsive to people. As James Baldwin said about the integration of blacks and whites: “Who wants to integrate a burning house?”
St. Paul may have had an understanding of human liberation that is more radical than that of many contemporary feminists. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” The focus in interpreting St. Paul’s words has usually been on the obliteration of distinctions, rather than on what it means to be “heirs according to promise.”
But Paul may be saying more about human liberation and destination than many of us have realized. He speaks of no longer regarding anyone from “a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold the new has come. All this is from God.”
Paul isn’t much help to those who seek guidance in becoming equal under the old creation. He was a man of his times and did not attack the specific role definitions placed on women any more than he did other forms of slavery. Yet ironically he is more radical than any reformer could be. The advent of Jesus Christ means that we can no longer regard anyone from a human point of view. In Christ we are no longer slave or free, male or female, “but one in Christ Jesus.”
From: Bethlehem, Feminism and the New Creation by Robert M. Herhold
Ecofeminism, Reverence for Life, and Feminist Theological Ethics by Lois K Daly
Feminist theologies are among the most promising of contemporary theological options. As these theologies often make clear, the ways of thinking that have led to a destruction of the earth and an exploitation of animals are often the very ways of thinking that have led to an exploitation of women. To overcome male-centeredness is also to overcome human-centeredness.
Speaking as a feminist, Lois K. Daly reviews the argument that male-centeredness and human-centeredness have gone hand-in-hand and then proposes a new ecofeminist alternative to both, drawing on the perspective of Albert Schweitzer. She suggests that Schweitzer’s theme of reverence for life provides a helpful antidote to the dualisms that have dominated patriarchal culture in the West and that have contributed to the subjugation of nature and women to men. Inherent in Daly’s appropriation of Schweitzer is the advocacy of an ethical absolute: that we affirm and treat compassionately and nonviolently all life. Such an imperative takes life-centered ethical and theological thinking to its utmost possibilities.
Feminist theological ethics claims to be informed by an analysis of the interlocking dualisms of patriarchal Western culture. These include the dualisms of male/female, mind/body, and human/nature. In fact, as feminists argue, none of these dualisms will be overcome or transformed until the connections between and among them are named and understood. This means that we cannot rest with examining the consequences of subjugating body to mind or female to male. We must also look at the ways in which the distinction between what is human and what is nonhuman authorizes the widespread destruction of individual animals, their habitats, and the earth itself. And, in doing theological ethics, we must also explore what this means for understanding the relationship between human beings and the divine. In other words, feminist theological ethics must ask about the implications of a transformed human/nonhuman relationship for understanding the human/divine relationship.
This essay will describe the connections between feminist concern about the status of women and the status of nonhuman nature, point to a theological ethic that reconsiders the relationship between human beings and other living beings, and explore the theological and ethical implications of those two steps. Reverence for life, as articulated by Albert Schweitzer, will serve as a primary resource in this project. Though decidedly not feminist in any self-conscious way, Schweitzer’s position does provide resources for reconceptualizing the relationship between human beings and the nonhuman, or "natural," world and for examining the theological implications of such a reconceptualization. This theological task, the task of conceptualizing the relationship between human beings and God in light of a different way of thinking about human life in relation to the nonhuman world, is critical for feminist theological ethics.
The Oppression of Women and the Oppression of Nature
A second parallel in the treatment of women and nature lies in the way the dominant thought has attempted "to impose sharp separation on a natural continuum" in order to maximize difference (Plumwood, 120). In other words, men are identified as strong and rational while women are seen as weak and emotional. In this division of traits those men who are sensitive and those women who are intellectually or athletically inclined are marginalized. They are overlooked in the typical (stereotypical) description of men as opposed to women. The same holds true for distinctions between what is human and what is not. The human being is conscious, the nonhuman plant or animal is not; the human is able to plan for the future, to understand a present predicament, the nonhuman simply reacts to a situation out of instinct. These distinctions are drawn sharply in order to protect the privilege and place of those thought to be more important.
These parallels are instructive but they do not explain why they developed. Two theologians were among the feminists who first articulated the link between women and nature in patriarchal culture. They were Rosemary Ruether, in New Woman, New Earth (1975), and Elizabeth Dodson Gray, in Green Paradise Lost (1979). Both of them focused on the dualisms that characterize patriarchy, in particular the dualisms of mind/body and nature/culture. In her work Ruether traces the historical development of these dualisms in Western culture. She points to the way in which Greek thought, namely dualistic thought, was imported into ancient Hebraic culture. The triumph of this dualism came in the development of a transcendent or hierarchical dualism in which men master nature, not by basing themselves on it and exalting it as an independent divine power, but by subordinating it and linking their essential selves with a transcendent principle beyond nature which is pictured as intellectual and male. This image of transcendent, male spiritual deity is a projection of the ego or consciousness of ruling-class males, who envision a reality, beyond the physical processes that gave them birth, as the true source of their being. Men locate their true origins and natures in this transcendent sphere, which thereby also gives them power over the lower sphere of "female" nature (Ruether 1975, 13-14).
In this way, transcendent dualism incorporates and reinforces the dualisms of mind/body and nature/culture as well as male/female. In addition these distinctions are read into other social relations, including class and race. As a result, ruling-class males lump together those whom Ruether calls the "body people": women, slaves, and barbarians (Ruether 1975, 14; see also Plumwood, 121-22).
While agreeing with the reasons for the development of transcendent dualism, Dodson Gray’s response to it differs from Ruether’s. Ruether’s tack is to reject transcendental dualism outright; Dodson Gray appears to embrace the dualism but to reevaluate the pairs. In other words, she maintains the distinction but insists that being more closely tied to nature does not detract from women’s worth. Instead, for Dodson Gray, it enhances it. As others have pointed out, Dodson Gray "come[s] dangerously close to implicitly accepting the polarities which are part of the dualism, and to trying to fix up the result by a reversal of the valuation which would have men joining women in immanence and identifying the authentic self as the body" (Plumwood, 125).
A similar division of opinion can also be traced in other feminist writings. It is the difference between the nature feminists and the social feminists (Griscom 1981, 5). The nature feminists are those who celebrate women’s biological difference and claim some measure of superiority as a result of it. The social feminists are those who recognize the interstructuring of race, class, and sex, but who tend to avoid discussing nature exploitation precisely because it invites attention to biological difference. Both kinds of feminists have positive points to express, but another sort of feminism, one that transcends these, is needed in order to understand the connections between the oppression of women and the oppression of nature.
These Connections Must Be Uncovered in Order To Understand Both the Oppression of Women and the Oppression of Nature.
Feminist analysis of the transcendent dualism identified by Ruether shows that there are three basic assumptions that govern the way the dualism’s elements are treated (see Ruether 1975, 1983). These assumptions lie behind the parallels between the oppression of women and nature described above. First, the elements in the dualism are perceived as higher and lower relative to each other. The higher is deemed more worthy or valuable than the lower. Second, the lower element is understood to serve the higher. In fact, the value of the lower is derived in instrumental fashion. Third, the two elements are described as polar opposites. That is, "the traits taken to be virtuous and defining for one side are those which maximize distance from the other side" (Plumwood, 132). In other words, men are "not women" and women are "not men." The same holds true in traditional conceptions of human and nonhuman nature. These three assumptions lead to a logic of domination that repeatedly identifies differences and controls them in such a way as to protect the "higher" element in the dualism. In this way, from the point of view of the "higher," difference automatically implies inferiority.
In patriarchal culture these three assumptions are at work in a "nest of assumptions" that also includes (1) the identification of women with the physical and nature. (2) the identification of men with the intellectual, and (3) the dualistic assumption of the inferiority of the physical and the superiority of the mental (Plumwood, 133). Once this nest of assumptions is unpacked the differences between the social feminists and nature feminists and the deficiency of each become more clear. On the one hand, the social feminists simply reject the identification of women with nature and the physical and insist that women have the same talents and characteristics as men. These feminists focus on the interaction of sexism, racism, and classism (Griscom, 6). On the other hand, the nature feminists embrace the identification of women with nature but deny that nature or the physical is inferior. But neither of these responses represents a sufficient challenge to the dualistic assumptions themselves since both leave part unquestioned. Social feminists do not ask about the assumed inferiority of nature, and nature feminists do not ask about the assumed identification of women with nature. In this way, both "remain within the framework in which the problem has arisen, and . . . leave its central structures intact" (Plumwood, 133).
A thoroughgoing ecofeminism must challenge each of the dualisms of patriarchal culture (see King, 12-16). The issue is not whether women are closer to nature, since that question arises only in the context of the nature/ culture dualism in the first place. Rather, the task is to overcome the nature/ culture dualism itself. The task can be accomplished first by admitting that "gender identity is neither fully natural nor fully cultural," and that neither is inherently oppressive or liberating (King, 13). Second, ecofeminists need to learn what both the social feminists and nature feminists already know. From social feminists we learn that "while it is possible to discuss women and nature without reference to class and race, such discussion risks remaining white and elite" (Griscom, 6). And nature feminists remind us that there is no human/nonhuman dichotomy and that our bodies are worth celebrating (Griscom, 8).
Feminist Analysis Must Include Ecological Insights.
At this point it becomes clear that ecofeminism is not just another branch of feminism. Rather, ecofeminists are taking the feminist critique of dualism another step. What ecofeminism aims for transcends the differences between social and nature feminists. What is needed is an integrative and transformative feminism that moves beyond the current debate among these competing feminisms. Such a feminism would: (1) unmask the interconnections between all systems of oppression; (2) acknowledge the diversity of women’s experiences and the experiences of other oppressed groups; (3) reject the logic of domination and the patriarchal conceptual framework in order to prevent concerns for ecology from degenerating into white middle-class anxiety; (4) rethink what it is to be human, that is, to see ourselves as "both co-members of ecological community and yet different from other members of it"; (5) recast traditional ethics to underscore the importance of values such as care, reciprocity, and diversity; and (6) challenge the patriarchal bias in technology research and analysis and the use of science for the destruction of the earth (Warren, 18-20).
A Feminist Perspective Must Be Part of Any Proposed
In particular, two issues in the ecological movement and environmental ethics need to be addressed in the context of ecofeminism: the status of hierarchy and dualism, and the place of feeling.
As already indicated, ecofeminism works at overcoming dualism and hierarchy. Much of current environmental ethics, however, attempts to establish hierarchies of value for ranking different parts of nature (Kheel, 137). It does this by debating whether particular "rights" ought to be extended to certain classes of animals (Singer). This is another way of assigning rights to some and excluding them from others and of judging the value of one part as more or less than that of another. These judgments, then, operate within the same framework of dualistic assumptions. As a result, this debate merely moves the dualism, as it were; it does not abandon it. Human/nonhuman may no longer be the operative dualism; instead, sentient/nonsentient or some other replaces it.
Another way in which environmental ethics has perpetuated traditional dualist thought lies in its dependence on reason and its exclusion of feeling or emotion in dealing with nature. The dualism of reason/emotion is another dualism under attack by feminists. In this case environmental ethics has sought to determine by reason alone what beings have value and in what ranking and what rules ought to govern human interactions with nature (Kheel, 141). This procedure is flawed according to ecofeminists since "the attempt to formulate universal, rational rules of conduct ignores the constantly changing nature of reality. It also neglects the emotional-instinctive or spontaneous component in each particular situation, for in the end, emotion cannot be contained by boundaries and rules" (Kheel, 141).
Ethics must find a way to include feeling, but including feeling does not mean excluding reason. Again, the task is to overcome the exclusive dualism.
Ecofeminism, then, involves a thoroughgoing analysis of the dualisms that structure patriarchal culture. In particular ecofeminists analyze the link between the oppression of women and of nature by focusing on the hierarchies established by mind/body, nature/culture, male/female, and human/nonhuman dualisms. The goal is to reconceptualize these relationships in nonhierarchical, nonpatriarchal ways. In this way, ecofeminists envision a new way of seeing the world and strive toward a new way of living in the world as co-members of the ecological community.
What ecofeminism lacks, however, is an analysis of what Ruether and Dodson Gray agreed was hierarchical or transcendent dualism, the dualism that they think undergirds the others. Ecofeminists, largely philosophers and social scientists, have not attended to the specifically theological dimensions of patriarchy. Meanwhile, feminist theologians and ethicists have focused primarily on the interrelationship of sexism, racism, and classism without sufficiently articulating or naming the interconnections between these forms of oppression and the oppression of nature. Yet the analysis of these critically important social justice questions would be strengthened when it is understood that the same dualistic assumptions are operative in each of these forms of oppression.
Furthermore, feminist theology needs to explore the relationship between human beings and God in light of those dualistic assumptions and the impact of the new way of seeing human beings that results from linking the oppression of nature with other forms of oppression. When reconceptualizing the male/female dualism entails reconceptualizing the human/nature relation because male/female is embedded in human/nature, as ecofeminists argue, then the human/divine relationship also needs reworking, since male/female is also embedded in human/divine. In other words, if feminist theology is serious in attempting to transform patriarchal dualisms, it must go further than reworking the dualistic imagery used to refer to God; it must discover how the images themselves support a dualistic relationship between human beings and God with the same assumptions as the traditional male/female and human/nonhuman dualisms.
Two contemporary theologians, Isabel Carter Heyward (1982) and Sallie McFague (1987). have begun this task. They contrast their respective conceptions of God with the traditional idea of a God "set apart from human experience... by the nature of ‘His’ impassivity" (Heyward, 7), or the idea of a "monarchical" God (McFague, 63-69). In other words, both challenge the dualistic assumptions that typically characterize the relationship between human beings and God. They argue that human beings are not simply subordinate to God but are co-workers with God, and consequently, that human beings are not simply instrumentally related to God and that God and human beings are not polar opposites. For Heyward, God is the "power in relation" (Heyward, 2), while for McFague, God is more appropriately conceived using the models of mother, lover, and friend within the context of the image of the world as God’s body (McFague, xi).
What I am suggesting is a position that goes further than these authors even while it shares certain characteristics with them. The main difference lies in the extent to which Heyward and McFague have really reworked their conception of the relationship between human beings and the nonhuman world. In Heyward’s case it is clear that she wants to include the creation in the relationships effected by God as the power in relation; however, this desire appears to be qualified. For example, Heyward writes:
In relation to God, as in any relation, God is affected by humanity and creation, just as we are affected by God. With us, by us, through us, God lives, God becomes, God changes, God speaks, God acts, God suffers and God dies in the world. . . . The constancy of God is the activity of God in the world wherever, whenever, and for whatever reason, humanity acts to create, liberate, and bless humanity (Heyward, 9).
Creation, including the nonhuman elements, may be included in what affects God, but what happens to it in the talk about God’s activity in the world? Is it only God’s activity when the activity benefits humanity? Even more absent is any discussion of the kind of behavior toward the nonhuman world required of human beings in order to "incarnate God."
McFague goes further than Heyward when she discusses the necessity of adopting an "evolutionary, ecological perspective" due to our interconnections and interdependence with aspects of the world (McFague, 7-8) and when she includes in her descriptions of the models of mother, lover, and friend an explanation of the ethic which follows from the model. These are, respectively, the ethics of justice, healing, and companionship (pp. 116-24, 146-56, 174-80). What is missing in these ethics is a frank discussion of the hard decisions that confront us as soon as we begin to see "ourselves as gardeners, caretakers, mothers and fathers, stewards, trustees, lovers, priests, co-creators, and friends" of the world (p. 13). In other words, how far does McFague’s transformation of the dualistic relationship between human beings and the nonhuman world go?
Finally, neither Heyward nor McFague does what ecofeminists claim must be done, namely, to articulate the links between forms of oppression, especially the oppression of women and of nature. Heyward’s and McFague’s concentration on the transformation of the human/divine relationship away from dualist assumptions is extremely helpful, but it needs to be joined with concrete descriptions of and efforts to transform the other dualisms that structure Western patriarchy. In other words, Heyward and McFague appear to reconceptualize the divine/human dualism without sufficiently exploring the consequences for other powerful dualisms, including but not limited to male/female and human/nonhuman.
Reverence for Life
Schweitzer begins with a description of the self as "life which wills to live, in the midst of life which wills to live." This, he says, is the "the most immediate and comprehensive fact of consciousness" (Schweitzer 1949/ 1981, 309). As will-to-live, the self is volitional, free, driven to perfect itself, and living in relation to others who will to live. More important, however, is the fact that Schweitzer refuses to describe the self simply as "life," for "life continues to be a mystery too great to understand" (Schweitzer 1936/ 1962. 182-183). He knows only that life is good since the self continues to will to live.
Ethics, for Schweitzer, emerges with thinking about the experience of the will-to-live. There are two kinds of knowing for Schweitzer: intuitive and scientific. The intuitive is an inward reflection on the contents of the will-to-live. By living out these ideas, the self finds meaning and purpose in its actions (Schweitzer 1949/1981, 282). Scientific knowing, the second kind of knowing, is knowledge of the world. Science describes "the phenomena in which life in its innumerable forms appears and passes"; it may sometimes "discover life where we did not previously expect it." Hence, scientific knowledge "compels our attention to the mystery of the will-to-live which we see stirring everywhere" (Schweitzer 1949/1981, 308). Together, the two kinds of knowing allow the self to describe what science finds by using an analogy with itself as will-to-live. In this way the self knows and, for Schweitzer, feels that "the will-to-live is everywhere present, even as in me" (Schweitzer 1936/1962, 185). The self, therefore, becomes aware of its inward relation to the wills-to-live present in the world.
Schweitzer gives one important qualification to both kinds of knowing: neither one can explain what life is. "We cannot understand what happens in the universe. . . . It creates while it destroys and destroys while it creates, and therefore it remains to us a riddle" (Schweitzer 1934, 1520). As a result human beings have no grounds for placing themselves at the center of a moral universe or at the apex of moral order in the universe. "We are entirely ignorant of what significance we have for the earth. How much less then may we presume to try to attribute to the infinite universe a meaning which has us for its object, or which can be explained in terms of our existence!" (Schweitzer 1949/1981, 273).
Because no purposiveness or prioritizing of phenomena is evident in the events of the world, no hierarchy of meaning and value can be constructed from the evidence of intuitive or scientific thought. As Schweitzer points out, "we like to imagine that Man is nature’s goal; but facts do not support that belief" (Schweitzer 1936/1962, 181).
The inability to find meaning in the world and the recognition of the interrelationship of all wills-to-live lead to what Schweitzer calls an ethical mysticism. This mysticism is a mysticism of the will. The volition found in the will-to-live becomes an activist ethic. As Schweitzer explains:
Ethics alone can put me in true relationship with the universe by my serving it, cooperating with it; not by trying to understand it. . . . Only by serving every kind of life do I enter the service of that Creative Will whence all life emanates. I do not understand it; but I do know (and it is sufficient to live by) that by serving life, I serve the Creative Will. This is the mystical significance of ethics (Schweitzer 1936/1962, 189).
Union with the Creative Will, or infinite will-to-live, Schweitzer’s philosophical name for God, is achieved through active service and devotion to all that lives. Hence as an ethical mysticism, Schweitzer’s is directed toward those particular manifestations of the infinite will-to-live that come within the reach of the individual.
Schweitzer’s mysticism, then, provides him a way to
combine the drive for self-perfection, which is contained in the
will-to-live, and devotion to others. Self-perfection in the context of
this mysticism becomes a drive to attain union with that which the human
will-to-live manifests, namely, the infinite will-to-live (Schweitzer
1949/1981, 301-2). In human beings, as Schweitzer points Out, "the
craving for perfection is given in such a way that we aim at raising to
their highest material and spiritual value both ourselves and every
existing thing which is open to our influence" (Schweitzer 1949/1981,
282). That is, I make a reality of my own dedication to the infinite
only by devoting myself to its manifestations. "Whenever my life devotes
itself in any way to life, my finite will-to-live experiences union with
the infinite will in which all life is one" (Schweitzer 1949/1981, 313).
Self-perfection, or self-fulfillment, is therefore, reciprocally related
to devotion to others.
From: Ecofeminism, Reverence for Life, and Feminist Theological Ethics by Lois K Daly
Lois K. Daly did her Ph.D. under James
Gustafson at Chicago Divinity School, studying the theologies of Karl
Barth and Albert Schweitzer. Her more recent interests are in the areas
of Latin American liberation theologies and feminist theologies. She is
director of the Reinhold Niebuhr Institute of Religion and Culture. This
essay originally appeared as chapter 7, pp. 86-110, in Charles Birch,
William Eaken and Jay B. McDaniel (eds.) Liberating Life: Contemporary
Approaches in Ecological Theology, published 1990 by Orbis Books,
Maryknoll, New York 10545. This material was prepared for Religion
Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.
"Madhupindika Sutta: The Ball of Honey" (MN 18), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, June 7, 2009,
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was living among the Sakyans near Kapilavatthu in the Banyan Park. Then in the early morning, having put on his robes and carrying his bowl & outer robe, he went into Kapilavatthu for alms. Having gone for alms in Kapilavatthu, after the meal, returning from his alms round, he went to the Great Wood for the day's abiding. Plunging into the Great Wood, he sat down at the root of a bilva sapling for the day's abiding.
Dandapani ("Stick-in-hand") the Sakyan, out roaming & rambling for exercise, also went to the Great Wood. Plunging into the Great Wood, he went to where the Blessed One was under the bilva sapling. On arrival, he exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he stood to one side. As he was standing there, he said to the Blessed One, "What is the contemplative's doctrine? What does he proclaim?"
"The sort of doctrine, friend, where one does not keep quarreling with anyone in the cosmos with its devas, Maras, & Brahmas, with its contemplatives & priests, its royalty & commonfolk; the sort [of doctrine] where perceptions no longer obsess the brahman who remains dissociated from sensual pleasures, free from perplexity, his uncertainty cut away, devoid of craving for becoming & non-. Such is my doctrine, such is what I proclaim."
When this was said, Dandapani the Sakyan — shaking his head, wagging his tongue, raising his eyebrows so that his forehead was wrinkled in three furrows — left, leaning on his stick.
Then, when it was evening, the Blessed One rose from his seclusion and went to the Banyan Park. On arrival, he sat down on a seat made ready. As he was sitting there, he [told the monks what had happened]. When this was said, a certain monk said to the Blessed One, "Lord, what sort of doctrine is it where one does not keep quarreling with anyone in the cosmos with its deities, Maras, & Brahmas, with its contemplatives & priests, its royalty & commonfolk; where perceptions no longer obsess the brahman who remains dissociated from sensual pleasures, free from perplexity, his uncertainty cut away, devoid of craving for becoming & non-?"
"If, monk, with regard to the cause whereby the perceptions & categories of complication assail a person, there is nothing there to relish, welcome, or remain fastened to, then that is the end of the obsessions of passion, the obsessions of resistance, the obsessions of views, the obsessions of uncertainty, the obsessions of conceit, the obsessions of passion for becoming, & the obsessions of ignorance. That is the end of taking up rods & bladed weapons, of arguments, quarrels, disputes, accusations, divisive tale-bearing, & false speech. That is where these evil, unskillful things cease without remainder." That is what the Blessed One said. Having said it, the One Well-gone got up from his seat and went into his dwelling.
Then, not long after the Blessed One had left, this thought occurred to the monks: "This brief statement the Blessed One made, after which he went into his dwelling without analyzing the detailed meaning — i.e., 'If, with regard to the cause whereby the perceptions & categories of complication assail a person, there is nothing to relish... that is where these evil, unskillful things cease without remainder': now who might analyze the unanalyzed detailed meaning of this brief statement?" Then the thought occurred to them, "Ven. Maha Kaccana is praised by the Teacher and esteemed by his knowledgeable companions in the holy life. He is capable of analyzing the unanalyzed detailed meaning of this brief statement. Suppose we were to go to him and, on arrival, question him about this matter."
So the monks went to Ven. Maha Kaccana and, on arrival exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, they sat to one side. As they were sitting there, they [told him what had happened, and added,] "Analyze the meaning, Ven. Maha Kaccana!"
[He replied:] "Friends, it's as if a man needing heartwood, looking for heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood — passing over the root & trunk of a standing tree possessing heartwood — were to imagine that heartwood should be sought among its branches & leaves. So it is with you, who — having bypassed the Blessed One when you were face to face with him, the Teacher — imagine that I should be asked about this matter. For knowing, the Blessed One knows; seeing, he sees. He is the Eye, he is Knowledge, he is Dhamma, he is Brahma. He is the speaker, the proclaimer, the elucidator of meaning, the giver of the Deathless, the lord of the Dhamma, the Tathagata. That was the time when you should have questioned him about this matter. However he answered, that was how you should have remembered it."
"Yes, friend Kaccana: knowing, the Blessed One knows; seeing, he sees. He is the Eye, he is Knowledge, he is Dhamma, he is Brahma. He is the speaker, the proclaimer, the elucidator of meaning, the giver of the Deathless, the lord of the Dhamma, the Tathagata. That was the time when we should have questioned him about this matter. However he answered, that was how we should have remembered it. But you are praised by the Teacher and esteemed by your knowledgeable companions in the holy life. You are capable of analyzing the unanalyzed detailed meaning of this brief statement. Analyze the meaning, Ven. Maha Kaccana!"
"In that case, my friends, listen & pay close attention. I will speak."
"As you say, friend," the monks responded.
Ven. Maha Kaccana said this: "Concerning the brief statement the Blessed One made, after which he went into his dwelling without analyzing the detailed meaning — i.e., 'If, with regard to the cause whereby the perceptions & categories of complication assail a person, there is nothing there to relish, welcome, or remain fastened to, then that is the end of the obsessions of passion, the obsessions of resistance, the obsessions of views, the obsessions of uncertainty, the obsessions of conceit, the obsessions of passion for becoming, & the obsessions of ignorance. That is the end of taking up rods & bladed weapons, of arguments, quarrels, disputes, accusations, divisive tale-bearing, & false speech. That is where these evil, unskillful things cease without remainder'
"Dependent on eye & forms, eye-consciousness arises. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as a requisite condition, there is feeling. What one feels, one perceives (labels in the mind). What one perceives, one thinks about. What one thinks about, one complicates. Based on what a person complicates, the perceptions & categories of complication assail him/her with regard to past, present, & future forms cognizable via the eye.
"Dependent on ear & sounds, ear-consciousness
"Dependent on intellect & ideas, intellect-consciousness arises. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as a requisite condition, there is feeling. What one feels, one perceives (labels in the mind). What one perceives, one thinks about. What one thinks about, one complicates. Based on what a person complicates, the perceptions & categories of complication assail him/her with regard to past, present, & future ideas cognizable via the intellect.
"Now, when there is the eye, when there are forms, when there is eye-consciousness, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of contact.1 When there is a delineation of contact, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of feeling. When there is a delineation of feeling, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of perception. When there is a delineation of perception, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of thinking. When there is a delineation of thinking, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of being assailed by the perceptions & categories of complication.
"When there is the ear...
"When there is the intellect, when there are ideas, when there is intellect-consciousness, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of contact. When there is a delineation of contact, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of feeling. When there is a delineation of feeling, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of perception. When there is a delineation of perception, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of thinking. When there is a delineation of thinking, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of being assailed by the perceptions & categories of complication.
"Now, when there is no eye, when there are no forms, when there is no eye-consciousness, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of contact. When there is no delineation of contact, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of feeling. When there is no delineation of feeling, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of perception. When there is no delineation of perception, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of thinking. When there is no delineation of thinking, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of being assailed by the perceptions & categories of complication.
"When there is no ear...
"When there is no intellect, when there are no ideas, when there is no intellect-consciousness, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of contact. When there is no delineation of contact, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of feeling. When there is no delineation of feeling, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of perception. When there is no delineation of perception, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of thinking. When there is no delineation of thinking, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of being assailed by the perceptions & categories of complication.
"So, concerning the brief statement the Blessed One made, after which he entered his dwelling without analyzing the detailed meaning — i.e., 'If, with regard to the cause whereby the perceptions & categories of complication assail a person, there is nothing there to relish, welcome, or remain fastened to, then that is the end of the obsessions of passion, the obsessions of resistance, the obsessions of views, the obsessions of uncertainty, the obsessions of conceit, the obsessions of passion for becoming, & the obsessions of ignorance. That is the end of taking up rods & bladed weapons, of arguments, quarrels, disputes, accusations, divisive tale-bearing, & false speech. That is where these evil, unskillful things cease without remainder' — this is how I understand the detailed meaning. Now, if you wish, having gone to the Blessed One, question him about this matter. However he answers is how you should remember it."
Then the monks, delighting & approving of Ven. Maha Kaccana's words, rose from their seats and went to the Blessed One. On arrival, having bowed down to him, they sat to one side. As they were sitting there, they [told him what had happened after he had gone into his dwelling, and ended by saying,] "Then Ven. Maha Kaccana analyzed the meaning using these words, statements, & phrases."
"Maha Kaccana is wise, monks. He is a person of great discernment. If you had asked me about this matter, I too would have answered in the same way he did. That is the meaning of this statement. That is how you should remember it."
When this was said, Ven. Ananda said to the Blessed One, "Lord, it's as if a man — overcome with hunger, weakness, & thirst — were to come across a ball of honey. Wherever he were to taste it, he would experience a sweet, delectable flavor. In the same way, wherever a monk of capable awareness might investigate the meaning of this Dhamma discourse with his discernment, he would experience gratification, he would experience confidence. What is the name of this Dhamma discourse?"
"Then, Ananda, you can remember this Dhamma discourse as the 'Ball of Honey Discourse.'"
That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, Ven. Ananda delighted in the Blessed One's words.
1. The artificiality of this phrase — "delineate a delineation" — seems intentional. It underlines the artifice implicit in the process by which the mind, in singling out events, turns them into discrete things.
Provenance: ©1999 Thanissaro Bhikkhu.Transcribed from a file provided by the translator.This Access to Insight edition is ©1999–2010 John T. Bullitt.
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