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September 18 religion.docx

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Henry Shiu

September 18, 2012 Lec 1 Contrasting Conceptions of “soul”  Why different religions deal with the concept of the “soul”?  What is a “soul”? o -although we know that death is inevitable, some still believe in life after death o -death becomes a haunting experience o -if nothing exists after death, most people would not care about living an ethical life o -they do this because of the idea of an higher life o -the soul is something that animates us  We will explore how Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism understand the nature of the human soul differently.  (for Hinduism, study the assigned reading posted on Blackboard) Janisim  The “soul” (jiva) is eternal, therefore “life” is a manifestation of soul in an infinite number of forms o Principle that is life long  Soul transmigrates from the lowest forms of being through successive stages to the highest forms of life o Indians believe that there is continus existence after death, in many different forms (reincarnated) o Idea that death is not the end  As a result, the task of the soul is to avoid slipping back into the lower spheres o if you are a moral and a responsible person you can obtain a better life around o -though the system you are given the meaning of life, which is to be a morally responsible person so later one will not reincarnated to a lower sphere of life  The Jain soul strives daily to overcome the karma that holds it back from ascending to the summit of the universe (the abode of perfect and eternal bliss)  To attain this state is moksa, or liberation from the round of births and deaths o Liberation- if you are able to attain to liberate the soul, it enables freedom of the soul (eternal bliss) o Kind of a promise to the follower to become diligent in their practice  Hence, ethical living is the best means of escaping the cycle of rebirth o Eternal bliss is seen as the ultimate experience in reality o One has to free oneself from the bondage of karma  Materialism is the source of “evil”  Perfect knowledge or omniscience is a property of the soul in its liberated state o Soul of liberated state is said to be known of everything (perfect knowledge) o Also known itself entirely  Possible only after the purging of all karma  Karmic particles present obstacles that limit the soul’s potential to achieve perfect knowledge  Knowledge is considered self-luminous, just as a lamp reveals not only external objects but itself as well o Only though wisdom one comes to realize the answers to questions of life  Right knowledge is classified into five kinds:  1) ordinary cognition which is acquired directly from sense organs  2) knowledge acquired indirectly by the sense organs, such as study knowledge or scriptural knowledge ex. Smoke coming from a house, you guess there could be a fire) o Abstract way of thinking  3) extra-ordinary knowledge, which is a limited higher knowledge acquired when a certain success is achieved in removing obstructive karma (partial liberation) o Ex. Psychic, ability to foretell what is going to happen  4) Mental knowledge or telepathy (knowing the thoughts of others), attained by masters of self- control who have restrained the body, mind and speech o People who are able to tell what others are thinking  5) Perfect knowledge, possessed only those who have eliminated all karma, the state of omniscience  The theory of relative judgment: the universe is extremely indeterminate, it can be looked at from numerous points of view o Cannot pin point about how the universe is like o Suggests that we should open our mind and not confine our self to single concepts and ideas o By doing so one can free themselves from Karma  They illustrate this position by means of the parable that a number of blind people examining an elephant, with one holding a ear, another the tail, the trunk, etc. They arrive at different conclusions regarding its shape; each, however, is expressing a truth about the whole.  The reality is so complex that while everyone is correct from his/her own view, none is completely so o Must be experienced rather than being told what it is Karma  An important sister doctrine of soul and transmigration o Inner being- presence of something inside you, that you would identify as yourself  Feeling of existence, could be a trans state of experience (meditating not acknowledging the physical world)  Sort of inner reflection of oneself  After inner experience of inner feeling, one theorizes their experience o Ian Stevenson- scientist, studies reincarnation in a scientific way. Reported 20 cases without any suggestions except reincarnation o Karma and reincarnation goes hand in hand o Karma- means action, no spiritual attachment o Indian religion, every action has a reaction, whatever you do, you expect a reaction  Many
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