SMU Faculty Presentation_Asian Philosophy

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  • SMU Friday Faculty Lunch Presentation

    Approaching the Richness of Asian Philosophy

    Overview of the philosophy of Asia, particularly the nondual schools of India and Tibet

    (12:35) Mindfulness Meditation Interlude

    Note the ways Asian and Western thought are changing each other

    Note where Asian philosophy is slow to be recognized

    Identify reasons Asian thought remains difficult for westerners to approach


    Asian Philosophy? I didnt know there was philosophy in Asia.

  • Orient Occident

  • Religion East and West

    Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Shintoism Religion Philosophy Psychology

    Religion The Church Judeo-Christian Faith Theology

    Philosophy The Academy Greek Reason Science

    Western Wisdom Traditions

    Asian Wisdom Traditions

    Arts Literature Sciences: Mathematics,

    Astronomy, Physical Sciences, Health Sciences,

    Deconstructing the Religion Only Myth of the Asian Wisdom Traditions

    Overcoming the Modernist Aversion to Religion, Spirituality, & Faith

  • 2b-Philosophical Landscape of India

    Six Hindu Philosophical Schools

    1. Nyaya, School of Logic

    Vaiseshika, Atomist School

    2. Samkhya, Enumeration School

    Yoga, School of Patanjali

    3. Vedanta, Vedic Ritual School

    Mimamsa, Vedic School

    Advaita Vedanta

    Kashmir Shaivism

    Buddhist Philosophical Schools 1-Hinayana, Abhidharma, Nikaya

    18 Schools Sarvastivada Theravada Mahasanghika

    Mahayana 2-Madhyamaka 3-Yogachara Chinese Buddhist Schools

    Chan-Zen Japanese-Korean Schools Kyoto School Vajrayana Tibetan Schools

    Mongolian Buddhism

    Non-Orthodox Schools Jainism: nonviolence, self-

    control Crvkas: skepticism, aetheism,


    < < < < < The Vedas and the Upanishads > > > > >

  • Causality Time Becoming and Destruction Conditions Soul Motion The Senses Mental Categories Elements Conditioned Agent and Action Initial and Final Limits Suffering Compounded Phenomena Errors Dependent Origination Views

    Logic Ethics Metaphysics Syllogism Argument and Debate

    Topics of Indian Philosophy

  • 2c-Indian Philosophy: Nondual Schools

    Nondual = A-dva = A-dual = A-dvaita-vada = Nondual Path

    The Middle Wayescape from the prison of duality from Philosophical-conceptual extremes: reification/nihilism,

    affirmation/negation, idealism/realism, absolute/relative, Mental grasping, indications or definitions, language games

    Three-in-One: Religion, Philosophy, Psychology Academy & Church

    Buddhist Nondual Schools Madhyamika Yogachara Hindu Nondual Schools Advaita Vedanta Kashmir Shaivism

  • 2c-Philosophers of Nonduality

    Nagarjuna Time: 2nd Century Founded: Madhyamaka (Mahayana Buddhism), Madhyamika dialectic Major Work: Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way

    Shankara, Adi Shankara, Shankaracharya Time: 8-9th Century

    Founded: Advaita Vedanta, Hinduism Major Works: numerous commentaries (bhasyas) and

    treatises (prakaranas)

  • Central Concerns Critique of the mind Cessation of separateness Ultimate truth, freedom,

    realization, awakening, enlightenment, Moksha, Samadhi, Kensho

    2c-Central Features of Advaita Philosophy

    Essential Features of Advaita Systems

    Both transcendent and immanent As transcendent As immanent Reality-paramartha and

    Appearance-samvirti Avidya, transcendental illusion or

    ignorance Central Features of Buddhist Nondualism Emptiness Dependent Arising Two Truths Doctrine

    Conventional Truth-Reality Ultimate Truth-Reality

    Central Debate: Self v No-self To be or not to be is not the question in Advaita

  • Buddhist Wheel of Life Wheel of Dependent Arising Wheel of Becoming Wheel of Cyclic Existence Wheel of Rebirth Wheel of Samsara Bhavachakra

  • 3

  • Quantum Physics & Consciousness

    Cognitive Science, Neuroscience, Mind/Brain

    Psychology & Psychotherapy

    4-Asian Thought Changing Western Thought

  • Study Shows Compassion Meditation Changes the Brain

  • Western Scholarship: focus on philological and historical completeness

    Western Science: grounding experience in neuroscience, biology, culture, language

    Feminism, in the ordination of Buddhist nuns, female teachers

    Green/Ecology movement, in eco-Buddhism, ordination of trees in Thailand to protect from cutting

    Social Service, in socially-engaged, service-oriented Buddhism of Thich Nhat Hanh

    Humanism, Dalai Lama and human rights in Tibet/China

    Intersubjective Critique: Culture, Language, History

    4-Western Thought Changing Asian Thought

  • 5-Where Asian Thought is Slow to Be Recognized

    Asian Studies, Religious Studies Departments Examples: Oxford University Press brochure Pointing at the Moon introduction on the narrowness

    of the APA and the growing globalization of academic philosophy

  • 6-Barriers to Approaching Asian Thought

    Richness of the West: being occupied with our own debates, narratives, and learning

    Enlightenment Pride: western superiority & ethnocentrism Science Orthodoxy: based in the success of materialist-reductionist

    empirical science

    Aversion to Metaphysics: modernist suspicion of non-rational forms of thought and experience

    Erroneous Charges: circulation of misunderstandings, beliefs about, and dismissals of Asian thought

    Inaccessibility: distance due to (the historical) lack of translations and the complexity of Asian traditions

    Otherness Anxiety: various forms of apprehension, uneasiness, and discomfort when encountering cultural otherness

  • Q&A

  • Three Root Afflictions/Poisons Ignorance (confusion, delusion) Attachment (desire, greed, lust) Aversion (hatred, aggression, anger)

    Mara/Yama: God of Impermanence, Lord of Death

    "Mara" comes from the Proto-Indo-European root *mer meaning to die; Hindi maran k li', Latin mori, Spanish morir, English morbid, mortal

    ignorance is equivalent to the identification of a self as being separate

    from everything else

  • Nataraja: The Cosmic Dance of Shiva