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Heterdox Essay, Research Paper
The tradition of heterodox and orthodox take on different meaning when talking of Indian Philosophy, compared with the western Christianity idea of these traditions. To be orthodox, one accepts the testimony of the Vedas, according to Raju. Raju also states that to be a heterodox one does not accept the testimony of the Vedas (Raju 93). The philosophical traditions of Jainism and Buddhism are heterodox traditions, or nastikas (non-existence theorists). The similarities of these two traditions is evident with their rejection to the Vedic authority, which was the standard of the times before the common era. Both Buddhism and Jainism not only have similarities in that they reject the testimony of the Vedas, but other metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical ideals as well.
In Jainism and Buddhism, arising within Brahmanism as non-theistic sectarian movements, the Brahman priesthood and the Vedic caste and sacrifice eliminated. The exclusion of certain Vedic authority such as the worship to the Vedic idea of the Brahman allowed Jainist and Buddhist to secure faith and support in the common people. In the place of rejected Vedic authority, a monastic system was evolved with monks and nuns devoted primarily to rigorous asceticism in the quest of perfection and in pursuit of chastity and truthfulness (Soni 187). Complete detachment from all phenomenal possessions and connections in Jainism made paramount the mendicant life of meditation and spiritual exercise dependant upon the fulfillment of vows of poverty (Tobais 108). The functions of priesthood were sublimated in process of self-salvation, centered around the purpose of the deliverance of a suffering humanity from the cycles of rebirth (Gopalan 51). Since in Buddhism desire was the fundamental burden of existence, priestly intervention and sacrificial offerings were considered as of no avail in the pursuit of the Eightfold path leading to the peace of Nirvana (Mizuno 14).
Buddha himself was not interested in questions of metaphysics, but did enunciate four basic truths. The first truth is that life is misery. Every experience, even pleasure, includes a type of suffering from misery. The second truth is centered around cause. Everything arises from a cause. The implications of cause turned back to the first truth, so therefor misery has a cause. The cause of misery transformed into a twelve link system that brought the cause of misery to the experience that created the world. The third truth states that if every thing has a cause than it follows that the effect can be destroyed if the cause is destroyed, thus the idea of ending the cycle of life to end misery of life and rebirth. The forth truth holds great implications on the ethical views of the Buddhist traditions. This truth give an AEightfold path@ on which one should follow. The eightfold path is a follows: one should; have right knowledge, make right resolve, have right speech, have right conduct, have right livelihood, make right effort, have right mindfulness, and practice the right kind of concentration (Raju 118).
Ethics in Buddhism and Jainism are to similar to distinguish any differences. Right knowledge , faith, and conduct must be cultivated together; none of them con be achieved in the absence of the other (Gopalan 45). Right faith has many implications; it can lead to calmness, kindness, and the renunciation of pride of birth. Right faith leads to perfection only when followed by right conduct. Yet, there can be no virtuous conduct without right knowledge, which consists of clear distinction between the self and the non-self. Knowledge without faith and conduct is futile, according to Gopalan (Gopalan 51). Without purification of mind , all restraints are mere bodily torture. Right conduct is thus spontaneous, not a forced mechanical quality. Attainment of right conduct is ,therefore, a gradual process. Common people can observe only partial self-control, while reaching the level of monk, one is further able to observe more extensive rules of conduct.
Buddha=s teachings were very simple and easy for all types from society to understand. Listeners accepted them without much difficulty and became his disciples (Raju 113). Based on the writings from Kogen Mizuno, one book in particular Basic Buddhist Concepts, I am able to give an account of the broad idea of the Buddhist way of thought. Buddhism is optimistic an enthusiastic towards life. It rejects the principle of fate, though it emphasizes karma. The principle of impermanence and the principle of no-self enlighten us that one should not attach and crave to fame and wealth, not benefit oneself by hurting others. One can enlighten and realize oneself by enlightening and realizing others. Therefore, one has to cultivate and commit oneself in society. Without selfishness, we can really serve society and people. Without the craving and clinging to personal fame and wealth, one can be really free, and comfortable. The principle of Middle Way enlightens people about the interdependent nature of existence, therefore one should not go extreme. The secret of happiness is not doing what people like, but liking things one does (Mizuno 180).
The name Jainism derives from the Sanskrit verb root ji, Ato conquer.@ It refers to the ascetic battle that the Jaina monks must fight against the passions and bodily senses in order to gain omniscience and the complete purity of soul that represents the highest religious goal in the Jaina system (Soni 23). It is in Jaina philosophy that one can use the words soul and spirit freely and in the same sense, because the soul is the spirit in bondage, and the spirit is the soul pure and out of bondage. Bondage is considered to be limitations of the unlimited, and determination of the indeterminate. Metaphysical traditions in Jainism are centered around seven truths which explain the predicaments of humans. The seven truths are; the soul exists, there is a non- soul, the practice of yoga, karma, one can prevent karma, one can destroy existing karma, and once one has no karma freedom from rebirth happens (Gopalan 92).
Buddhist philosophy also sees the escape from karma as a way to end the rebirth cycle and therefor ending desire and suffering. The Buddhist philosophy has enumerated the causal relationships. To understand any complex being is to analyze it into it=s ultimate parts. The ultimate part is that which can not be analyzed any more. This process of enumerating is understood to be the beginning of human existence which began with the first experience (Raju 118). Buddhism is perhaps the only religion that claims the eventual extinction of itself, and also the sutra. Buddhism and its sutra inevitably abide by the universal truth of impermanence. Whichever exists, it will extinguish, and vise versa. Buddhism is a vehicle to carry all beings to the shore of the Sea of Suffering. When one arrives at the shores, get off the vehicle (Mizuno190).
Jainists views the universe as an existence of a series of layers, both heavens and hells. It had no beginning and will have no ending. The Jainist universe consists of: The supreme abode, which is located at the top of the universe and is where Siddha, the liberated souls live, The upper world, thirty heavens where celestial being live, the middle world, the earth and the rest of the universe, nether world, seven hells with various levels of misery and punishment, the Nigoda, where the lowest forms of life reside, universe space, and space beyond (Gopalan 115).
For most people orthodox is right and heterodox is wrong. At least in the western tradition, heterodox is seen as an idea that rejects the inevitable, and at some times seen as not good people. The traditions of Jainism and Buddhism represent heterodox ideal in Indian thought. These two main traditions are not heterodox because of the atheistic views in the sense that they do not accept the reality of God, but rather that they reject the authority of the Vedas. Yet they are spiritually philosophies and are not materialistic. Both believed in the doctrine of Karma, reincarnation, and the Vedic gods, but they rejected the value of sacrifices, and taught how to transcend the world of action and obtain salvation. Both traditions believed that knowledge was gained through perception, inference, and verbal testimony. As a result of these traditions reform in India=s spiritual life was accomplished.
Mohanty, J. H.. Classical Indian Philosophy. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000.
Raju, P. T.. The Philosophical Traditions of India. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1998.
Mizuno, Kogen. Basic Buddhist Concepts. Tokyo: Kosei Pub. Co., 1987.
Humphreys, Christmas. Buddhism. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1962.
Tobias, Michael. Life Force: The world of Jainism. Berkeley, CA: Asian Humanities Press, 1991.
Gopalan, Subramania. Outlines of Jainism. New York, Halsted Press, 1973.
Hayes, Richard, P.. ABuddhism.@ Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Ed. Edward Graig. New York: Routledge, 1998.
Jayandra, Soni. AJaina.@ Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Ed. Edward Graig. New York: Routledge, 1998.
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