Nicholas Lukowiak


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Asian religions/philosophies better prepare an individual for pursuits of "divine reality" than that of Western traditions.

Cognitive scientist today (of Western Academics) are predominantly declaring the close association between Buddhist philosophies of "mind" and the today's advancements/discoveries in neurology/psychology. The interesting factors lay in how accurate these philosophers were hundreds of years prior to the precision of science that Academics prize so much today. How and why?

Not only has meditation been proven to achieve higher levels of cognitive awareness, but proven to essentially super activate the brain.

Also, the "second brain" - search engine phrase. Has been a philosophy involving "Chakra," again hundreds of years prior to the precision science of today.

A point of debate here should be: Why is science and philosophy divided when both of their foundations are one of another?

During my pursuits of Eastern Philosophy in comparison to Western Philosophies I found that the most general difference can be seen in metaphysics that is traditionalized in both cultures. In the East Qi is the driving force behind everything; everything is constantly changing. While in the West our idea of matter is static, traditionally. Again why and how?


In brevity, I find the fact we championed Abrahamic religions in place of the naturalistic-atheistic religions of the east, in history, ultimately made the west divide science and philosophy. I will take from Iain McGilchrist here; the West championed the "servant" we elevated the individuals whom are responsible for great ideas instead of elevating the great ideas.

Buddhism, Taoism, Shinto and Confucianism - religions whom are more accurately "schools of philosophy" than "religions" because as the times changed they all adopted/adapted from one another. They correspond with science advancements with no confrontations because they prize ambiguities and openness. I see this most apparent in the number of citizens in each set of cultures.

Reality cannot be defined in precise terms today (atomism), but in holism.

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    Oct 27 2011: This is a good question. I think part of the differences stem from the different ways in which we read. The west mainly uses an abstract alphabetical system where as in the east it is more common to use a more holistic symbolic system where an idea is represented by an individual symbol. It is far less reductive in nature. Would Buddhists pay so much attention to the present if they had centuries of alphabetical history where the letter one is looking at only makes sense if one look at the preceding and proceeding letters. Would the west have had a cultural revolution with the advent of the printing press ( which the Chinese have had for a thousand years, but was a bit difficult to use due to having thousands of characters) if not for the alphabet. Furthermore would we have developed the use of the assembly line which uses people in the same way that the printing press uses characters if we did not already have that cultural template.

    To paint in really broad stroke I think there has been an overall emphasis on deductive, reductive, breaking down logic into its part to understand on the part of the west that I would argue stems from the way we learn to read. While the east uses abstract symbol they are complete on to themselves making them emphasis these traits less. I think as the industrial age comes to a close (our level of productivity is far greater than our needs or wants) more people will turn toward eastern thought. Conversely as other cultures become industrial I can see them embracing western ideas.
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      Oct 27 2011: Language is a development of cultures and traditions. Your statements can be backed with my metaphysics consideration. Qi being internalized as a part of reality, the language would holistic as well as the historic practices of thought.

      Example of today's develop language; the most popular term of my generation in America... "Chill"
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        Oct 28 2011: Well yes and also often language develops a culture as well. "chill' is a good example. To cool down, loose heat/energy, slow down. Perhaps that is what is not needed right now, as I see an engaged heated/ energized youth as something that we can all benefit from.

        Anyways to move on, there does seem to be a divide between east and west between how they see the divine ( for a lack of a better word) The west seems to personify and want to possess it where as the east seem to surf it. All 3 Abrahamic religions have some form of an after life. Greek and Roman myths had their versions of the afterlife and retention of the soul. I do not know of this among eastern religions. I think Joseph Campbell put best when he said death is like a light bulb burning out. We replace the bulb knowing the energy powering it is unaffected. The bulb is just there to make the energy visible but is only as good as it can conduct energy,but it not the source.
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    Oct 27 2011: I do not think so. Asian or "Eastern" religions are like any other but changed drastically after Industrial revolution which coincided with imperial colonization (by west). The present form of Asian/Eastern religions or spirituality mostly teaches how to tolerate something where you have no or less control, how to glorify "sacrifice" when you have no other option left!
    Decline of political and religious independence in East is a major factor to change both political and religious deformity, self-defeating attitude in those societies.

    A famous Indian social reformer and great (Hindu) spiritual leader, Vivekananda once told (during British rule in India) that "there is no meaning for a weak person to forgive. First we should attain enough physical and mental strength to stand up for our own legitimate demands and for truth, show the perpetrators of injustice or those attacking truth that we are capable to take care of our rights and duties (as human beings and citizens of a country). Only then forgiveness matters" (my own translation from Bengali text).
    He also told that, "a beggar must not glorify "tyag" (renouncing worldly enjoyment and wealth), unless he experienced or enjoyed "bhog" (wealth and worldly enjoyments).
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      Oct 27 2011: I don't see the disagreeing factors.

      Seeking independence would be in pursuit of uniqueness and that is flawed. No one is unique, just different nurtures throughout life. The fact that Asia (especially China) has mutated all their religions together is a step in the right direction. It proves altruistic qualities projecting into society.

      tolerance is just one of many social educations.
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        Oct 27 2011: I am not sure what you mean by "seeking independence". Is that from British rule (in context of my comment regarding Vivekananda) or "independence" from labeling it "religious" vs "scientific" or "east" vs "west" ?

        In case of China, it was a political ideological obligation that forced China to ignore religious sentiments. As China is becoming little less rigid in its practice of "communism" (due to its march towards free-market economy), the religious intolerance (sometimes causing violence and security problems) and demand for more religious freedom is raising its head there.
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          Oct 27 2011: No, I mean no one is different in general, individually, what makes us different is social conformity.

          Aristotle and Confucius alike dictates that the wants and intentions of the empire will reflect the wants and intentions of the individuals.

          In Asia especially, they have a much stronger sense of community; Shinto is more than just a religious practice, it is a traditional communal practice. Shinto adopted Buddhism too, but only in idea of death, I was made clear on this, and that can easily translate to the modern view of Japan. Shinto is THEIR traditional religion; also usually if you are Christian you would still practice Shinto. They want to be the best, a unique country. The stereotype Japanese hate Chinese exist for a reason. Confusing the two physically is very offensive. That is more than just religion, that is culture. Although Japan owes more than just religion to China in terms of history.

          Anyways, yeah politics affect religion, religion effects politics. But I am talking philosophies here, not applied philosophies. Because technically, philosophy is in everything and their is a policy to the philosophy used in politics. (Get it? lol)

          So China's current condition is the result but not all of China-ness.
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        Oct 27 2011: Majority of Eastern religions, practiced in countries like India, prepare its followers for personal happiness, by attaining whatever they mean by "self-actualization" ("Moksha"), becoming aloof from society, naively forgetting the influence of the bigger society/country on them. This is the present, distorted form of "eastern" religions. It WAS not the goal of, at least, Hindu religion. The change started after invasion and imposition of more recent religions, first by Middle Eastern Muslims & then christian Europeans (mainly British). Hindu religion was not so timid to tolerate bullying and aggression. If you read ancient Hindu scripts (e.g Gita or Ramayana or Mahabharata) you will find enough instances where even Gods/Goddesses took up arms to protect truth, to uphold justice. Hindu God Krishna (ISKON fame) did not behave the way Jesus did. Krishna always prescribed going to war, if that is the only way to uphold truth & justice (as many modern policymakers do while dealing with fanatics like Al Quida and Taliban).
        If you study Indian society before 1190 AD (before Muslim invasion), you will find a totally different India & Hindu religion, so open & flexible, yet strong enough to prescribe using strength to protect its "ways of life". Almost everything is lost as we, the Indian Hindus could not protect our "ways of life" (as Indian Supreme Court described "Hinduism" in 1996), our women, our culture from massive onslaught by Islam. Gradually we (both India & Hindus) became very closed, conservative, hypocrite society, denying even the basic freedom to our women and ourselves. Majority of those evolution took shape in form of "religion". We hide our inability using "religion" as a shield. Our social, religious and spiritual downfall started then and still continuing.
        All pervasive corruption, lack of effective judiciary, decline of science are just few consequences of that social and "spiritual" deterioration in that part of the world.
  • Avi Dey

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    Nov 13 2011: Thanks for your thoughtful question and comments relating to this important topic. I have been interested in comparing "eastern' and 'western" cultures and spiritual values for many years, in fact all of my life, My childhood was spent in India, with strong roots to Hindu/Buddhist spirtiual and cultural values. But I have spent my adult life here in USA, western culture. Asian Americans do very well in America in terms of education and as entrepreneurs in the tecchnology driven society in America. Much has to do with "famiily values" I think based on my own experience and others. But Western Cultures have certain values that are certainly better that eastern cultural hertiage. "Interaction" I hope to discuss in my proposed TED "Debate" that examines two parallel debates on going for several centuries now, "Religion vs Science" and "Nature vs Nurturre". Whis is more imprtant , scholars have been arguing this that now needs to be continued in light of scientific understanding that has emerged about "Genes" in the last 25 years particularly that was not known before ! We are all a "prisoner" of our genes and our culture ! Makes sense ?
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      Nov 13 2011: We could be prisoners of our natures and nurtures if we do not reflect on them.

      However, if we have the anticipation that we are biological machines, then we realize we cannot - beat - nature with nurture but we can - work with - nature to enhance nurtures. Nature was here first, nurturing can just start the disputes and understandings, but nature will always win.

      I know philosophies of genes, atoms, and even brain capacities have been disputed on for centuries, and it is a shame that it takes "precision science" in order to say this is credible and this is not...
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    Nov 10 2011: The Tao Te Ching was not meant to be a school of anything when it was written by Lao Tzu. It was a collection of thoughts and questions he wrote before he dissapeared past the Great Wall of China. The underlying theme that flys in the face of eastern religion/philosophy was each person was connected to the Tao as opposed to being totally seperated and dammed eternailly if not for Jesus or some other person. I feel where your coming from, and agree in principal with you. Western ways of enlightment usually dealt with nature and observation and self-awareness..I find it hard to believe the christian way of eternal life is only thru belief in a specific individual, knowing half the world saw that as foolish! I am sure gods true plan of salvation would allow easier access for all earthlings, regardless od what side of the planet your born on.Too many hoops and red tape for it to be given credibility. Westerners "suggested" stillness and breath awareness to guide you.
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    Nov 3 2011: I knew a guy who got a degree in philosophy having only read the cliff notes and none of the original texts. He had plenty of talking points, but he really didn't understand the material. In science, shorter does not mean better.

    If you had read the sources that you supposedly wanted (though I doubt you actually wanted them), you would have found these well respected scientists were using Buddhist philosophy to inform and guide their scientific inquiries. I referred to those articles because they demonstrate, CLEARLY, that some modern cutting edge researchers are using eastern philosophies because they have led and are leading to new discoveries about the mind/brain/behavior. Fransisco Varela in particular did amazing work founded on Buddhist philosophies BECAUSE he found that they were more scientific and testable than Western philosophies (e.g., dualism, materialism). Are there scientists who disagree? Of course, that's how science works. You asked for evidence of scientists who work with eastern philosophies because of their advantages over Western philosophies and I gave them to you.

    If you reject my premise in the face of evidence (and there is plenty more where that came from), then it is pointless for us to discuss further. It seems to me that you have a belief and you are unwilling to reexamine it. I give you evidence, and you quickly reject it. It seems like you know what is true, and you are going around finding evidence to confirm your belief. As a case in point, instead of reading the articles I cited that you disagree with, you go and read an article that you do agree with and say, "HA! You were wrong and I am right". That is exactly the kind of pseudo-scientific practice that Richard Dawkins propelled into legitimacy by writing a non-peer reviewed book outside his field on what he believes, and then went on a book tour to say as loudly as possible "I am right, you are wrong and stupid". He should know that is not how science works.
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      Nov 3 2011: Reading this statement I think we actually are not as much in disagreement as you may think. I think there is a strong difference between the claim:

      "Cognitive scientist today are predominantly declaring the close association between Buddhist philosophies of "mind" and the today's advancements/discoveries in neurology/psychology. The interesting factors lay in how accurate these philosophers were hundreds of years prior to the precision of science that Academics prize so much today. How and why?" - Nicholas Lukowiak
      "you would have found these well respected scientists were using Buddhist philosophy to inform and guide their scientific inquiries." -Spencer Fix

      It reminds me of the common confusion there was on my thread about science informing morality. Many people objected to it on the grounds that you couldn't scientifically derive morality, but of course that was entirely besides the point. Dictating morality and informing morality are two different things. The first leads to eugenics, the second leads to a more ethical way of thinking about animals (because of the undeniable evolutionary connection we have). My objection is not so much that philosophies could inform and guide science, especially cognitive science, but that it could somehow have some deep understanding of our cognition that somehow had a head-start on modern cognitive science. Mindfulness shows us the human psyche in a particular state and science now tries to find out why and that's fantastic, I'm all for that. Buddhist philosophy obviously touched upon something interesting there worth investigating.

      Your assessment of me is unfair. I didn't say your links were shit or something so dismissive, I merely pointed out that they looked at a Buddhist tradition and tried to get a deeper understanding of it. Is that not the case? Also I read the abstracts. I didn't just wave them off like that. I have read a little more since to see if I was really missing out on something. I wasn't.
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        Nov 9 2011: I actually think (this is just my opinion) that the work of the Dalai Lama and others like him have gone a long way to throwing into question the whole Western philosophy of mind. (Just in case you do not know, he and others are working very hard to integrate Eastern Philosophy and Western Science (both are based on empiricism)).

        Furthermore, I think some scientists have taken up this position and are working hard to demonstrate not just that mindfulness is cool, but that their whole worldview is cool and that maybe if we thought about the self, the mind, the physical universe, and everything else from this perspective, we would be better off (and that maybe it is more "true"). I think this possibilities is implicitly all over the place in a lot work done in psychology and neuroscience. Mindfulness is just the start of this campaign.
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      Nov 10 2011: are the two points, being suggested here, not, in fact opposite sides of the same coin? In other words, in the broadest sense, I believe science and religion are in fact, helpful in explaining and understanding the other. Their brothers from the same mother! I think they will help propel humanity forward, in a weird, I know shes my cousin, but dang she's hot! kinda way. Religion has had first at-bat and has struck out swinging. Now science, in all it's diverse branches, is getting a fair shake and doing well, Maybe I'm missing the point but the simplest explanition usually works for me.
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        Nov 11 2011: You are probably right, that these arguments are not that different from each other. I just like arguing/debating/discussing such matters.

        To build on your analogy, my main point is that dang, she IS hot! So stop saying she isn't. The Dawkinists drive me crazy when they say religion = delusion. That is not scientific, nor is it very nice. I just wish they would tone down their language and leave some room for the hot cousin to hang around.
  • Oct 30 2011: Western cognitive scientists have pursued a scientific approach to understanding the brain, while the easterners traditionally, it seems to me from my impression of the historical record as we have it now, spent much more time evaluating the mind from inside. Many of the same conclusions through those different means.

    I see some noteworthy philosophical differences between east and west that bear on the subject. Parmenides is at the historical root of Western metaphysics, saying, "Never shall this be proved, that things that are not, are." the principle of non-contradiction, the root of western metaphysics. There are few exceptions among western philosophers and they mostly just prove the rule. Science, arising in the Western climate, with the Western linear alphabet, cannot permit a thing to be what it is not.

    On the other side, some notable ideas from eastern luminaries:
    the Buddha - "We are what we think. With our thoughts we make the world." Socrates, living at roughly the same time, "disproved" this as recorded in the dialogue the Theaetetus (penned by Plato) in which he showed that if each man is the measure of all things, then two contradictory things would have to be be true, which is impossible. I suspect a broader logic is embodied in the Buddha's thinking, a non-temporal visionary logic.

    Chuang Tzu - To illustrate the last point, the story of Chuang Tzu dreaming he was a buttefly: "Once Zhuangzi dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was Zhuangzi. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuangzi. But he didn't know if he was Zhuangzi who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi. Between Zhuangzi and a butterfly there must be some distinction!"
    Indeed!! like dreams, the trance of meditation can have the same non-distinction intuitions.
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      Oct 30 2011: The law of contradiction is not far off it just doesn't anticipate the idea things are ever changing. The problem is we conformed so much, today, a lot of things look contradicting.

      Good comparison, both quotes are true, I see no contradiction.
      • Oct 30 2011: The PNC really *defines* western thinking. To its credit, it supports an objective worldview that is needed for scientific thinking, and for legalistic thinking, that creates undeniable absolutes. On the good side we get everything that science and technology and property rights have to offer: incredible power. But on the bad side it entails a denial of certain subjective truths, truths that are conditional, limited, temporal and that reside in every mind. The thinking in the East sees these subjective truths as ultimately being more primary. I don't think the east gives us atomic energy, space flight, or the holocaust. I don't think the west cannot permit the idea, I am God, and so are you. Painting these two with broad strokes, admittedly. What is grand is the vast merging of these two ways of thinking that is accelerating before our eyes.
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    Oct 28 2011: If contemplation (say, meditation or mindfulness) and observation (say, empirical science) will allow us to access similar aspects or attributes of "what is" then, to that extent, both will allow us to "discover" that "which is." So it is not surprising that those attributes of "what is" that can be discovered by contemplation would be discovered by anyone, at anytime, who practiced such an art.

    In some ways, we might say, contemplation can elucidate what is, and observation (science) can explain "how" "what is" is. These are not mutually exclusive; we can "do" both.

    If you "understand" Qi, you do not understand Qi.

    Reality cannot be defined atomistically or holistically because reality cannot be defined. A definition of the Pietà, is not the Pietà. Experiencing (seeing) the Pietà is not to understand how it came to be (namely, the art and skill of Michelangelo Buonarroti.) Knowing the art and skill of Michelangelo (being a sculptor oneself) will not reveal the beauty of the (unseen) Pietà.

    "Understanding" those ideas will not provide one with the skill to produce "another" Pietà; nor will it provide the aesthetic appreciation of simply standing in front of it.

    "Understanding" (about) contemplation, or understanding (about) science, will not render the innate attributes of either accessible to us.

    We must "do" both to "know" both.
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      Oct 28 2011: Exactly, but won't both create something closer to "reality" than abusing one or the other?
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        Oct 29 2011: QUOTE: "Exactly, but won't both create something closer to "reality" than abusing one or the other?"

        I'm not sure "create something closer to 'reality'" is the way I would put it. "Discover" reality would probably be the word I used, although in many ways we do create our "own 'reality.'"

        And it also depends on WHAT we are "abusing."

        There is some really, really "bad science" out there; and "abusing" that is probably a good idea.

        And the same could be said of the practice of Asian philosophies (for example Michael Shermer wearing a "magnetic hat" to stimulate his temporal lobes into aphasia is not exactly a deep practice of Eastern "mindfulness" even though it engenders similar sensations. And "understanding" dharma, yin/yang and feng shui, does not make one a bodhisattva.)

        But beyond that, when we use our UNDERSTANDING of either to draw and defend erroneous conclusions - like asserting we know what happens after we die - then THAT practice is worthy of abuse, don't you think?

        When we assert our personal beliefs are beliefs, that is integrity; When we assert our personal beliefs are universal truths, that is hubris. (Even though what we believe MIGHT be universally true.)

        I am a fan of both empirical science and Asian philosophies but I do not think many of us are "good" at practicing either.
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          Oct 29 2011: Although, you would not put it that way, you understood, thank you. I try to practice basic diction as to be relative to everyone, and to make translation easier, definitely a challenge.

          "When we assert our personal beliefs are beliefs, that is integrity; When we assert our personal beliefs are universal truths, that is hubris. (Even though what we believe MIGHT be universally true.)"

          Hubris doesn't necessarily mean a "bad" thing, because if the pattern of culture is to anticipate change and accept new information skeptically, I find that of value. The East definitely proves to have that difference in it's history, not necessarily today. Today materialism is the religion of the masses; materialism includes placing self into the material.

          The idea of being "sagely" is not just in the east either. The idea that a man seeks ethics to make decisions is a good idea for the development of generations to progress in a broad, open-minded, and "free" society. To be a moral politician is to be a "godly man," using intelligence and social status to help others; altruism at a higher degree arguable. Confucius didn't want religion, he wanted to share.


          "the first historical figure who is usually called an intellectualist is Socrates (470-399 BC), since he enunciated the principle that "knowledge is sufficient for excellence" - in other words, that one will do what is right or best just as soon as one truly understands what is right or best. As an approach to philosophy and to values, the word intellectualism often has the same meaning as philosophical or psychological rationalism and commonly has the same negative connotations of over-reliance on theoretical models to the detriment of practical living."

          Confucius should be considered, westerns love to talk about Socrates, Aristotle, Thales, etc. but eastern religion believe the same thing, they just conformed to religion, Socrates was just properly cited.

          Altruism, is difficult, takes communal effort.
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        Oct 30 2011: Hi Nicholas,

        Hubris is not generally considered a good thing it means excessive pride leading to nemesis: Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)

        How our brain "operates" has not been generally understood until quite recently - for instance, a fairly coherent model was proposed about 50 years ago by Edward de Bono in The Mechanism of the Mind (1969.)

        The model has stood up rather well. And there has been great progress made since then.

        One cannot really understand Socrates or Kong Zi (Confucius) and THE IMPACT THEY HAVE HAD on our thinking, culture, and philosophy unless we understand how the brain deals with perception, pattern, information, and creativity.

        You will find we (humans) often talk about the content of our thinking. We discuss "ideas." You might have picked up a trend in my conversations (or maybe not:) I use an expressed idea to access the process of thinking. To me, an idea is just an idea; one is much the same as another (that they inform behaviour and perception is another conversation) - what interests me is the process of thinking, not the content of thought.

        So it is with "Eastern" and "Western" worldviews; these are just a collection of ideas, nothing more, nothing less. How we came to accept them is what interests me - and it is not because one is more "excellent" than the other. It is because our brains were, generally speaking, primed to accept either one or the other and so they did.
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          Oct 30 2011: I am well aware of the updated model of the brain. Cognitive science society is something I try to keep up with.

          The impact consist of generational philosophies being cycled into culture. I consider that eastern has tried to bound this more traditionally, so much so, they made religions around logically sound arguments towards ambiguous ideas. Indeed ideas are weighed by consensus and not by an invisible empirical standard. My biggest point to make here is that these religions are more, they are natural.

          Perception is everything, again agreed. Cognitivist is a good term for those who approach science and philosophy with the mind set that "perception is key."

          What is a thought? Would also have to ask what is really "knowledge?" A critical thinking skill? Can some develop different logical skills better than other whom are better mechanically? Is artistic-intelligence a type and/or part of the mind developing consciousness toward reality being use in aesthetics of culture and "reality?" Learning personalities? Would all this not affect/effect thought?

          The thing is though, when I read zen poetry they are asking the same questions I just did. But in an art form of a native language that is not truly easily translated. So through language we are limited to not fully grasping these philosophies that are ill-translated (usually) to Indo-Europeans languages.

          Indeed collections of ideas. But ideas should be learned about from the past to make the next generation better. If people start looking "east" then it will not be east but general knowledge.

          A great quote (paraphrased) "when communication is not needed in language, art will die."

          I told my friend earlier today that Nietzsche's "Übermensch" is projected into the (post)modern transhumanism movement and The Venus Project. The idea of everyone being equally eye to eye comes from looking at death, nature, and comparing life. Many "prophets" claimed a solution, look at them all and nit pick existentially.

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      Nov 11 2011: To me, the true nature of what your trying to debate doesn't work well with verbage. Reality, consciousness, the neurocortex synapse of the mind, probably aren't definable simply because there is always a opposing side. It's like if a case of beer magically appeared and no one had ever discovered alcohol up to this point. And this cold case of beer appeared at Harvard univ. There would be much debate to its origins, color, shape, tempature, the way it was packaged and they would be debate on its pourpose, and why the cans were round not square, and what was the students observing the beer, what was their responsibility, to hide it from humanity and try to replicate with it, or hide it or bury it and write great novels about this omnipotence beer. And all points of view would be right to that group and to all observing it, to some degree . but the true simple truth about beer cannot be completely put into words. One has to quietly consume the beverage into ones self and "feel" things they had never felt because this was the one and only case of beer ever. The students who left the debate after drinking the beer had but a smile on their face. Those would be the ones who truely got it. I know, probably not relavant nor deserving of response but it sits well with me.
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    Oct 27 2011: Majority in Eastern societies started resembling western societies when they started getting more personal freedom, attaining more financial affluence, less colonial and/or foreign dictates; despite of all those so-called "spiritual enlightenment" (in the past or recent present). The same "vices", same "social degradation" (e.g rise in divorce rate, breaking down of families, "comodatization" of women, rise of corporate greed, shrewd use of "religion" (by Church/Temple/Mosque etc) for personal (business) interest and so on, is almost the same (as West). You can see it so vividly if you compare Indian cities with rural India. I feel really confused when I face those unfortunate people in rural India who have almost nothing (no education, no adequate food, no job, no future in short) but religion to sustain all the miseries imposed on them by their own government and fellow citizens. If we take even that part, their faith on religion & God, they have nothing left to look forward to. It's a real dilemma for me, personally.

    Anyway, I like to highlight that if we provide similar socio-economic conditions, most of the people in the world would behave in a predictable, specific way- East or west does not matter.
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    Oct 27 2011: physiology of chakras may be what your looking for, its funny i just realized they are in direct relation to maslows heirachy of needs, with self actualisation being at the top, its actually possible to raise your consciousness up through these, and use all 7 at one time, and this is what generates a peak experience, the idea is not to place yourself in one at a time although that entirely possible, but in all 7 at once; then your having a wholly experience of yourself.

    if you start at your root chakra, then move to your second chakra, the idea is then your using two, instead of disconnecting from the bottom and using your second instead of your first.

    okay i just realised again i was miscorrect because maslows heiracy of needs has 5 instead of 7.. still interesting for me though.
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    Oct 27 2011:  

    Until Buddhism, Taoism and others address the “Women's Rights” elephant in the room, they are still religion. Science doesn't leave women out of the room, unlike the -isms you call “schools of philosophy”.

    Also another recommendation for “God is not Great” for you to (re)read the chapter on Eastern religions.
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      Oct 27 2011: It's a debate more than anything else Emo Bear.

      It's just to get people thinking about other traditions of thoughts that we throw into a pit with Christianity in the word religion.

      Women rights is a huge revolution that is pretty modern dude. Elephant patted.

      Clarify last statement Mr. Bear.
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      Oct 29 2011: One needs to make a distinction between "religion" and the foundational precepts and practices that religions grew out of. Religions are naturally occurring phenomena. We would create one out of a sunflower following the track of the sun if we had nothing else to base it on. However, that does not mean the "sunflower" has anything whatsoever to do with religion.

      The same could be said, for example, about Lao Tzu or Christ; there message MAY have been something quite simple, practical, and "non-religious."

      What we do with such messages is evident in the proliferation of innumerable sects and religions based on the same (very likely lost, or, at best, misinterpreted) message or teaching.
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      Nov 11 2011: Here's my thing, those books were written by men, of which I belong to said demographic. Lao Tzu never suggested he was any more wise or spiritual or awakened than anyone else. He was a guy who just wanted to get those around him to shift the way they thought and percieved nature and self and the way people were ruled. No answers, no laws, no tenants. Most of the meat of his thoughts and suggestions were lost in translation. English language is not very open-ended. It is direct, and specific, and closed. But Lao didn't do anything special or diffrent than any one can do. He was probably more quiet than me, but the truth of his book is as clear to me as it is supposed to be..What I'm saying is when you get to the bottom of all text, those men did nonthing more than anyone else could ever do. Now what we read and are taught don't agree with that but, if thats the case, why have there been no more religious text written, for surely more men than a handful would have this ability to be god and man. I haven't heard of a god/man for a while, have you? I mean why stop at say 200 religions? considering all of humanity, stattisticly speaking we should of come in contact with about 2 million god/men over the history of the earth. Why do we have no new totally seperate from the current, religions popping up? Where are the god/men? did the other god/men kill them, who knows. I believe forward thinking men were given a stage to present ideas which lead to discussion which lead to keeping records of those discussions, events, etc.Now I leave what happend after that up to you.
  • Oct 27 2011: By West, are we including Islam? Throughout the history of Islam, there has been a a very strong gnostic (in Arabic, "'arfani") element that constitutes what's referred to as the 'batin' (hidden or interior) purpose/meaning of religion, as contrasted with the 'zahir' (outer or apparent) social-order element of religion thats regarded as necessary but partial and superficial. The ideas that underpin this particular approach are arguably rooted in, or at least tangentially related to, Neo-Platonic philosophical approaches that are nothing if not 'western' in their origins.

    Many if not most renowned early Muslim scholars where practitioners of the deeper, gnostic/'arfani take on monothesitic spirituality, including the likes of Al-Ghazali and Ibn-Arabi, amongst countless others. This stream of thought in Islam is today best exemplified by the 'sufis' of which there are countless 'tariqa' or 'paths', even if these schools have arguably fallen into disrepair or are unrecognizable from the gnosticism of the likes of Ibn-Arabi.

    I know less about early Christian history, but as far as i know this notion of inner meaning and direct experience was a crucial, if not the, core meaning of religion for many early Christians (e.g. the 'gnostics' of the gnostic gospels, but not limited to these) ... maybe the First Council of Nicea, for political/pragmatic reasons, just so happened to be the beginning of the end for the right hemisphere in Western religion.

    Regardless it just kept on thriving in the Muslim world and eastward, which was arguably the geographical beating heart and scientific and cultural core of human civilazation right up until the Mongol hordes wreaked their havoc.

    I think we in the West have a problem with overemphasizing the importance of European heritage over other human cultural heritage, and all simply because the former backwater of western Europe just so happened to be at the right place at the right time to expand westward when they did.
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      Oct 27 2011: I suspect if the tradition of calling it specifically "east" and "west" developed in a dumb founded way to describe opposites. In that respect anything in the middle, would be a mixture.

      Until the Crusades, Islam was at the peek of science. Pre-Islamic and Islamic texts in it's traditional language would be similar if not the same to a lot of eastern philosophies. Neo-Platonic lol, exactly. Confucius was in a culture where good ideas get "religion" cased around them, Aristotle and Plato only got popularly/properly cited. Westerns have a bad habit of using "God" out of context during translations, in my opinion.

      A friend of mine dictates after the crusades of Islam, Islam developed similar to the Catholic Church rather than it's naturalistic origin. By like Catholicism, I mean literal translations of one main book... Kabbalah. Similar story, different dates. The root of Judaism, which practices religion naturalism but still with the idea of a creator as the pursuit. So yeah, perhaps Islam was/is really the middle. Historically naturalistic then became a major gnostic religion like Christianity, Hinduism, and Judaism. Another example of a non-fundamental to a fundamental religion is Hinduism. Chakras are fascinating.

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    Oct 27 2011: There's a chapter of 'God is not Great' which is dedicated to those Westerners who, finding only dissapointment in their Western traditions, turn to the East.

    "Cognitive scientist today (of Western Academics) are predominantly declaring the close association between Buddhist philosophies of "mind" and the today's advancements/discoveries in neurology/psychology."

    I'm going to need some serious sourcing there. What scientists? How about we talk about all this chackra stuff that isn't scientifically valid.
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      Oct 27 2011: Matt,

      You can try and search engine statements and see what you find, may learn something on your own without authorities.

      There are more, but I find no interest in convincing you due to our history.

      How about the idea - energies, thoughts and spirit have been considered to be in the mind, throat and stomach for thousands of years - while only in 2005? Scientist have declared it to be a reality.
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        Oct 27 2011: Convenient cop-out card to have isn't it?
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          Oct 27 2011: It is.

          Anyone else would of gotten 2000 characters of information. But, you're smart, you can surely disprove the ideas you feel are inaccurate, no?

          *Thanks and good luck
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      Oct 29 2011: QUOTE: "I'm going to need some serious sourcing there. What scientists?"

      There are neurological correlates to every possible human experience so, for example, if one has a "transcendent" experience, one can map this in the human brain.

      One cannot "explain" the subjective experience derived from such a phenomena but one can certainly trace the cerebral processes involved.

      What this means is that experiences that were once defined in metaphysical terms can now be defined in physical terms (even the "oneness" of all of us - V.S. Ramachandran has a TED talk on aspects of this:

      Life is mazing. How we define it is not as important as whether or not we experience it.

      QUOTE: "How about we talk about all this chackra stuff that isn't scientifically valid."

      Check out a diagram of "chakras" and what they "do." Overlay that onto a modern anatomical diagram of the endocrine system. Notice any parallels? And when you think the "chakra" paradigm was established millenia ago without the aid of modern science, it's understandable the correlation will not be "100%" and it is still pretty impressive.
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      Nov 1 2011: As a graduate student studying cognitive neuroscience in a Western University (UNCC), I can say that much of what the original post said is coming to reality or already is. Buddhist philosophy of mind is rapidly gaining support among Western scientific researchers.

      You can easily search for free in Google Scholar, as Nicholas suggested, and find a cornucopia of cutting edge research (try searching Buddhism and neuroscience, or mindfulness and psychology). Several research labs around the U.S. are cranking out studies that build upon Buddhist principles, and "third wave" clinical therapies based on Eastern practices are widely used. I was at the recent American Psychological Association convention this year and there were several posters, symposium, and workshops on mindfulness and related Eastern practices.

      I will list a couple sources below from papers and books that you could check out, but believe me when I say I could list hundreds of peer review articles that I have on my computer, which does not count the many others I surely do not have. These are my favorites...

      Brown, K.W., Ryan, R.M., & Creswell, J.D. (2007). Mindfulness: Theoretical Foundations and Evidence for its Salutary Effects. Psychological Inquiry, 18, 211-237.

      Davidson, R.J., Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J., Rosenkranz, M., Muller, D., & Santorelli, S.F. et al. (2003). Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65,564-570.

      Varela, F.J. (1996), ‘Neurophenomenology: A methodological remedy to the hard problem’, Journal of Consciousness Studies, 3 (4), pp. 330–50.

      Watson, G., Batchelor, S., Claxton, G. (Eds.). (2000). The Psychology of Awakening: Buddhism, Science, and Our Day-to-Day Lives. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser.

      Any questions? Oh, and if chakra's are not scientifically valid (which I am not agreeing or disagreeing with), can you cite some sources to back up that claim?
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        Nov 1 2011: Nice to meet you Spencer,

        Hope you post more on cog. sci. in the future!
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        Nov 1 2011: QUOTE: "Any questions? Oh, and if chakra's are not scientifically valid (which I am not agreeing or disagreeing with), can you cite some sources to back up that claim?"

        Sources are not really required. Matthieu's point is well taken. There are certain mystical-spiritual attributes ascribed to chakras that fall well outside the realm of science. That something is founded in "reality" does not mean we cannot build something of a fantasy upon it - in fact, we do it all of the time.

        However, that these false claims repudiate an actual (real) physical foundation upon which a metaphysical concept of chakras has been erroneously built is a common misconception of a rational materialistic worldview. What is there, is there. It may only be the explanation that is less than sound.
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          Nov 3 2011: Thomas,

          I understand that Matthieu could have been making a strong argument that would call into question the "scientific" validity of certain aspects of chakras. But he did not. After chastising someone about loose assertions, he casually claimed a theory unworthy without so much as a reason why. The purpose of mentioning his statement about chakras was simply to point out that we all should use careful language and back up our claims.

          The adversarial nature of discussions reminds me that too often we attack each other without careful thought to our own assumptions and beliefs.

          With that being said, I am usually weary of arguments which claim some aspects of "reality" are more real, actual, valuable, and foundational than others. There are many views, and no one perspective has demonstrated its right to truth (whatever that is). Western philosophy (and the science which builds upon it) has obvious utility in a variety of domains. Science is not loyal to the Western perspective, and often we assume other's views are non-scientific only because we do not know how to ask the right (testable) questions.

          Thank you for your comment.
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        Nov 1 2011: These are papers about the benefits of mindfulness, not about how the Eastern Religions coincide with science. It's the effects of Buddhist practices under the scrutiny of science. I am not denying that at all. I'm sure there are all sorts of benefits seen and unseen and that humans can tap into all sorts of phenomena without a clear understanding of what these are. But in no way does that provide evidence for Eastern philosophies having a heads up on what's happening in our mind and bodies, not to the level of complexity we are at in our modern times and it certainly doesn't help the idea that we should turn ourselves to Eastern philosophies for truth.

        As for Chackra, as Thomas said, the onus isn't on me to prove a negative. It's senseless. If one makes a claim that something exists, it is ones problem then to show the existence of such a thing. Imagine if people spent time and time again meticulously debunking every claim Deepak Chopra made about quantum healing. Science relies on things being testable therefore being disprovable. Given that the product of philosophies are not science, many of these claims could, by their very nature be disprovable, posing an obvious problem with proving a negative. (Surely you and your prestigious university degree know about the scientific methodology. I sure hope so)

        Also, let's be careful with nitpicking. There is a long tradition of religions trying to tease out all the bits of their religion that seem by some stretch to be in agreement with science, completely ignoring other abberations contained in the same texts. Let's tallk about those too! Let's not just amaze ourselves on the few freak insights and lucky guesses of philosophies centuries in the making.

        EDIT: Nicholas, did you change the title of the conversation. You've done that before. It'd be fine if that didn't completely change the subject's direction, making some posts look off-topic.
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          Nov 3 2011: Matthieu,

          Did you read those articles? And the book too? Are you sure they do not talk about Buddhist philosophy of mind?
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          Nov 3 2011: I changed noting after the first day of posting,

          Also dictating I perform the same actions of intellectual dishonesty and then continue to do so in the same debate, openly... shows true colors, welcome to academics it mirrors politics.
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        Nov 3 2011: Hi Spencer,

        Yes, there are certain arguments that might require substantiation but there are others that are simply "understood" via a truncated descriptor: creationism, evolution, NDE, and so on. I would place chakras in that category and, while there are physiological correlates to chakras, that, to a certain extent, validate the idea, I do not think that is what Matthieu was referring too. It is unlikely, as he may not even be aware of the parallels. That leaves the more "spiritual" aspects of chakras which can get a little ... metaphysical, to say the least. And these do not really need any validation to be understood for what they are ... not in a forum such as this at any rate.

        Matthieu can be a little confrontational but then he is usually right.

        I think he is working on his delivery ... but old habits die hard (and I'm just guessing.)
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          Nov 3 2011: Good delivery shows someone cares.
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          Nov 3 2011: Usually being right is a horrible curse. Someday, Matthieu, I hope you cure yourself of that disease. I am working very hard on it myself, though it is a dickens of a habit to kick.

          In my humble opinion, and I think the opinion of most Eastern philosophies, being right really just means you have stopped wondering, stopped questioning, and instead believe in an illusion (like at atom). It may be that there is only truth now, and it cannot be made to stay put. Can you be right and still be moving, still be wondering and questioning?
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          Nov 3 2011: @Spencer: You know what an abstract is right?
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          Nov 3 2011: That xkcd comic is both of us man.
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        Nov 3 2011: Of course these articles are about Buddhist philosophy of mind. But that wasn't my point was it? Did you read my post, it's shorter than your article (there's this wonderful thing called an abstract) and your book (no I did not read the book, nor am I going to)? This is science looking at the effect of Buddhist philosophy on a person's state of being, most importantly happiness. That Buddhist traditions may have some beneficial effect on someone is no mystery to anyone. That they reveal fundamental and cutting-edge aspects of neuroscience is a complete outright falsehood.

        Also I find that one of your articles has some very sound objections to it:

        Not that it matters for the argument at hand. Maybe you're confused about what we're talking about. Nicholas likes to change his conversations specs. midway through a conversation, another sign of intellectual dishonesty.
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          Nov 3 2011: Matthieu,

          My response to you got posted above, though I am not sure why. Before you start flaming me for dissing your man Dawkins, let me pose a challenge to you.

          A good scientist should always keep an open mind, and should hold off the desire to say "now I know the truth". Every field of science has undergone radical shifts as new evidence overturns long established theories. Can you describe to me what the evidence that counters your position must look like in order for you to say "hmm, maybe I do not know. I should look into this more". In other words, are your beliefs falsifiable and by what means?

          Not knowing is a state which we are generally not comfortable in. We are not taught how to foster it, but are instead trained to banish it at all costs (religious and scientifically minded people alike). This habit is incredibly biasing, as I think Nicholas is trying to point out, and furthermore Eastern philosophies seem to have a leg up because they are non-positivist. When Plato transformed aletheia from the presocratic unhiddness to the positivist correspondence, Western philosophy was put upon a path which has led to the fanatical witch hunt on not knowing and the obsession with knowing. Science, as born out of this Western philosophic tradition, has dulled the cutting edge by which it questions because of its fear of not knowing. Science should be about questioning, and more questioning, without an attachment to finding the truth. Unfortunately, we as humans are so bad at not knowing that we miss how often we believe and call it knowing.

          As an example, "That they reveal fundamental and cutting-edge aspects of neuroscience is a complete outright falsehood." How do you know this is true? Are you a neuroscientist? You haven't even read the articles, yet you are comfortable claiming with absolute certainty what we can and cannot conclude. That is not science, my friend, that is belief.
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          Nov 3 2011: QUOTE: "Good delivery shows someone cares."

          ANY delivery shows one cares.

          To pretend otherwise is disingenuous, at best; and self-deception, at worst.
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        Nov 3 2011: Spencer,

        QUOTE: "Usually being right is a horrible curse. Someday, Matthieu, I hope you cure yourself of that disease. I am working very hard on it myself, though it is a dickens of a habit to kick."

        You may be right Spencer. But first, it was me who made the comment, so to address your comment to Matthieu is inappropriate. It assumes at least three things: one, that I am right; and, two, you think I am right; and, three, you think what you think is right.

        So, as you say, it might just be a dickens of a habit to kick - and your awareness of it notwithstanding, possibly one you have yet to see clearly in yourself, let alone kick.

        As to your philosophical stance and it's application: you are again assuming that your interpretation of Eastern philosophies is "right;" and you are applying it not to an atom but to a much more complex entity - Matthieu.

        If you admonish Matthieu to guard against certainty as regards a single atom, would it not be appropriate for you to apply the same principle to a sentient collection of trillions of atoms, namely, a human being?

        Personally, I would think so.
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        Nov 3 2011: Many things you said are true. But I say it one more time, these papers study the positive effects of mindfulness and try to understand their functioning, they do not interpose themselves as an alternative to science in the field as Nicholas' title once claimed. If you want to suggest they inspire us to study the brain in different ways because of the interesting phenomena around these customs, that's most probably true! But Nicholas' opening idea isn't there. Point it out to me:

        "we seek to define and characterize mindfulness, primarily by drawing upon both Buddhist psychological traditions and the developing scholarship within empirical psychology.For many readers, the concept of mindfulness will be unfamiliar given its novelty in contemporary psychological discourse. The importance of this first aim also lies in the fact that to date, psychological research in mindfulness has primarily been focused on the effects of mindfulness training, usually as part of a clinical treatment package, and less so on understanding the meaning and expression of mindfulness itself. The second aim of the article is to place the concept of mindfulness in the context of other, established theoretical treatments of attention and awareness in daily life. We then provide an overview of the salutary effects of mindfulness and the interventions designed to enhance it. Mindfulness is theorized to have widespread effects on human functioning and behavior and, drawing upon a burgeoning research literature that uses several distinct methodologies, we attempt to demonstrate the influence of mindfulness on mental health and well-being, physical health, self-regulation, and interpersonal behavior. Our fourth aim is to outline key processes that may explain these positive effects of mindfulness. In doing so, we draw upon theory and research suggesting that it does so in various ways that act to “quiet” the ego and thereby lessen the intra and inter-personal costs that self-identification spawn"
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          Nov 3 2011: If I keep responding to your posts, you may end up reading the whole articles!

          I do not know what the title of the post once said, so I am not interested in debating its merit.

          I understand that briefly reading into a mindfulness paper or two might give the impression that the only thing being investigated are effects. This is not entirely true, though. So much is said in that Brown, Ryan, and Creswell (2007) quote that may not be easy to understand. Implicitly, I think he is saying much much more than mindfulness is good.

          My point, which I think is in line with Nicholas's point and contrary to your point, is that a paradigm shift may be happening in science, right now, because of influences like Eastern philosophy. Problems which have laid unresolved in many fields are being freshly investigated because of non-Western non-materialistic inspirations. This is particularly true in neuroscience, where materialistic explanations of brain dynamics fall short in a variety of ways, but it is also true in medicine, psychology, business, physics, etc. The advantages of an Eastern perspective have helped clinicians develop better treatments and neuroscientists gain new insights into how the mind/brain work. This is not just because of some cool part of Buddhism, but because of the whole perspective. These papers (and many others) reflect changing views of the self, motivation, behavior, and the "interplay" between the "objective" and "subjective" elements of our being.

          In other words, it is difficult to detect a change by looking at one thing. Instead, it may be necessary to step back and observe larger patterns of behavior across many scientists in many disciplines. I tried to give you a wide variety of citations for the change. I am in the field of neuroscience so I have seen the shifting views.

          Be open and you may see it. Or maybe I am full of my own beliefs and nothing is changing at all. Either way, look, listen, wonder!
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    Oct 26 2011: Gerald I agree with you, People are all cut from the same cloth we are all of this planet and all connected spiritually regardless of the organized religion one follows.

    as too the question at hand, Why is science and philosophy divided when both of their foundations are one of another?

    Science is usually thought of as a means to prove a concept as where Philosophy is where the Science that can not be proven goes.
  • Oct 26 2011: I read so many comments related to religion/ science/ comparisons. I don't see why this is needed. Why shall we compare. And how can we compare something that we have never personally experienced. So does it mean we have to follow ideas which were created by someone that we have no idea about. There is one thing that prepares you for pursuits of the so called "divine reality" and this is your own faith in something. Your faith is the most important and gives u strength to live your life - it is another issue whether u can call it "devine"
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      Oct 26 2011: I'm more comparing philosophies than religions.

      But, cultures (subsets), political systems, economic systems, religions and but not limited to overall societal traditions are due to philosophies that the previous generations have left for us. If those philosophies are dysfunctional, we will perform the same dysfunctions if they are not illuminated some way.

      The way to do that is compare and contrast your culture, belief system, or anything to others. Indeed, TEDsters are finding the pattern of comparing science and religion, which is somewhat nonsense., but it is in the pursuit of making connections. The end goal determines in whether you want to practice atomism or holism, or try to be in the middle of both.

      "Divine reality" is nature as it exist, not by how we perceive it to exist. To say "faith" is the key is not correct. Faith requires no deep thinking but conformism. Metaphysical breakdowns of reality is how you get closer to divine reality. Qi being the better form of doing such.
      • Oct 26 2011: I understand the necessity to compare and contrast not only your culture but everything. This somehow help you to define who you are. I am not saying that philosophies are dysfunctional, I am simply saying that every person is modifying those philosophies from his own perspective...and decide by himself what to believe in. And this is what I mean by faith. I might consider several philosophies and then create mine by taking something from all of them. And this is what I will follow at the end...
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          Oct 27 2011: Your strategy wouldn't satisfy me.
          I take nothing from nowhere before I fully understand what it is and really I never could find much that could.
          To understand you have to make up your own mind and philosophy of any kind can only serve as signposts to reflect upon.
          To say you believe is the same as to say you do not know and settle for an opinion.
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      Oct 27 2011: I hope you speak for yourself if you say "we".
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    Oct 26 2011: This seems true, and that's good for them. And it's a pitty that Western religions have had such poor philosophy.
    But why should we look east? Since "neurology/psychology and buddhism have so much in common", why not stick to neurology/psychology?
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      Oct 26 2011: It isn't enough to dictate the importance of philosophy/science (neurology/psychology) it is more important to demonstrate communally.

      We should look East in the sense that their traditional cultures maintained an "ever changing sense" of matter. While we developed a static one, and simply Qi is more realistic at current times more than ever.

      Looking east doesn't make you walk east, but gives you another perspective. Why not have facts, thoughts, and ideas from both science and philosophy? Why not consider the consensual with the non-foundational?

      I say reincarnation in an energy-like system that is governed by an unknown force. Asian philosophies give that force a name called Karma. We have no science on this, we have no precision to this theory but should it not have consideration due to the other philosophical theories that are not just Asian? Gaia theory is the best example.

      Basically, I am anti-neoatheist.
      • Oct 26 2011: 'Karma' meaning action / duty and any residual obligation from our past actions[past both in the sense of one's present life and if that cannot be duly accounted for then the 'supposed carryover from the previous birth].
        THe other concepts of Dharma and Marma are the ones that go to refine or Optimize of Karmic - Labouring. Dharma is the contextual sustaining principle of any action... the WHY or the implied value of the action...a good conscious choice of dharma lessens one's karma or labouring.

        And Marma - meaning the Secret means the Objective most discretion - as arrived froam a vast knowledge or experience which gives us a 'secret intuitional tip' as to what Dharmas to choose in a context which is demanding the least from us. The secret of 'the best way'... as it were...

        It is to be thus noted that Hindu religion does not in any way glorify 'Karma' or even talk of it as an absolute inevitability.

        Yes then there is the term Varma which means Valorous... which means the avilability of courage and conviction as a cherished and nurtured value as in facing Karma [ one's LOT] and deciding on the right Dharma or principle of action.

        While Buddhism and Jainism.. the two INDIC Religions are ASCETIC in their mode the Hindu Sanatan Dharma - the Tradional Dharma is called Rajayoga the Right Royal Way. for Human Bliss.
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    Nov 11 2011: I enjoy intelligent conversation.... This is one of those conversations. It includes some of my favorite thinkers and has drawn into it some new blood.

    But I think, as this conversation heads into the homestretch, a gut-check may be in order.
    I can't help but feel that we might over-intellectualize a topic such a this and, when that occurs, we become exclusionary in what we call "valid" contributions to the conversation.

    Jardrek may very well have been on to something earlier in this conversation, but it was over-looked (Think Carl Jung).

    I'll sit down now. I really don't know half as much as many of you! But that might be my point... Sometimes the most enlightened thoughtsare dismissed as "uniformed" when that might be exactly what we all are looking for.
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    Nov 11 2011: I have that same defective debate gene, bro. Once I learned to take emotion out of all my debates and discussions, it became a lot more enjoyable. Hot cousin likes to drink and things are lining up, energy fields collecting Joules, my entrophy is oh, so low. Good to see the universal language of humor alive and well
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    Nov 3 2011: QUOTE: "These papers (and many others) reflect changing views of the self, motivation, behavior, and the "interplay" between the "objective" and "subjective" elements of our being."

    When a new group of people come to see as valid, something that another group of people already see as valid, it does not represent a changing view; it represents one group of people adopting a previously accepted point of view.

    And while aspects of neuroscience are being used to validate the effects of "mindfulness" - and thereby seemly corroborate "Eastern Philosophy" - neuroscience is also being used to repudiate anything even remotely close to consciousness or "self:" both being described as "emergent" properties of a complex bio-computer and nothing more.

    The contents of awareness are qualitatively identical even if they are "quantitatively" contradictory and in direct opposition.
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      Nov 9 2011: QUOTE: "neuroscience is also being used to repudiate anything even remotely close to consciousness or "self:""

      Its funny you say that as evidence that Western neuroscience is pushing back or winning against Eastern philosophy. I am a bit miffed when you say this like neuroscience is a conquering army. Neuroscience is just a technique, and neuroscientists have different views and study different things. For each neuroscientist that denies consciousness and works to defeat it, there are neuroscientists who are diligently working to find the neural correlates of consciousness (NCC). The view that consciousness is just an emergent property of the brain is not the only or even the most popular view. Western science in general doesn't really have a handle on consciousness or the self, so any such work should be considered exploratory at best (DEFINITELY NOT even close to resolving the issue)f

      You honestly confuse me Thomas. From some of your posts it seems you understand Eastern philosophy, but others make me think you might be missing some important aspects. The above quote is a case in point. The idea that there is no self is quite important for some of the Eastern traditions, so your above quote surprised me. Also, the difference between consciousness and the self is an important dynamic that should not be reduced and combined.

      Sometimes you speak like you understand the profound difference between experiencing truth and "knowing" it, then other times you seem to suggest everything can be reduced to brain activity and "nothing more". I am just pointing this all out because you are confusing me.

      Of course I also contradict myself and make weak arguments. We are (only) human.
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        Nov 10 2011: Hi Spencer,

        Thank you for a most encouraging reply. I do not have the time to give you a full response right now but let me just say, confusion is an admirable outcome for any exchange such as this. If nothing else it means two (apparently) conflicting assertions are being considered. And that means we are thinking.

        Thinking can be a good thing, up to a point.

        Let me leave you with this for now: something that is unsaid has not necessarily been unconsidered - let alone dismissed or rejected.

        I rarely contradict myself - although WHAT I WRITE does appear to be contradictory at times - context changes everything.
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    Nov 3 2011: When this conversation expires, assuming I can pass the final exam, I fully expect advanced degree credit for absorbing the exchange taking place. But if not, I'll be just as satisfied

    Bravo to to all for this great exchange.
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    Nov 3 2011: "They correspond with science advancements with no confrontations because they prize ambiguities and openness."

    Ambiguity indeed. That pretty much settles the debate if you ask me.
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      Nov 3 2011: No, it starts a mini-debate.

      Atomism vs holism... the pieces being put together to make a final product vs. the whole product being broken down to the pieces. Where is more understood about said product? The philosophy of...? or the components of...?

      The beauty is not in the atoms, but what it is the atoms create...

      Ambiguity isn't the final word, it is to remind that being in the "middle" proves more substantial than being purely academic or artistic upon approach to information, philosophy, perspectives, or anything really...

      It's like skepticism, if you're too skeptical your eliminating a lot of PERCEIVED irrelevant information... if you're not skeptical enough...

      "A fool thinks he is wise, and a wise man knows he is a fool."
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    Nov 1 2011: this discussion is pretty cool. thanks nich
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    Oct 27 2011: This is such and interesting idea. I will pray and the spirit of Jesus will bring light.
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      Oct 28 2011: Jesus to me is another prophet with the golden rule on his lips.

      What's your position or argument exactly?
      • Nov 14 2011: HI! im new! :)) say hi
        you may not know me but i wanna be friends with all of you guys! :)
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      Oct 29 2011: Hi Bryan,

      I'm not sure if you are joking or not but just in case:

      You had better pray to "Jesus of Nazareth" just to make sure you get the right one. There are quite a few people named Jesus floating around this and the netherworld. (I have it on good authority, this level of precision is important.)

      (And, assuming you mean "Jesus Christ" the focal point of the Christian religion, you do know his real name was not "Jesus," don't you? So if you are going to pray "in his name" it would probably be a good thing to know what it is.)
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        Oct 29 2011: Thomas, I usually find you to be wonderfully patient, yet honest in these discussions. I'm not sure why you said this to him. Clearly he means Jesus of Nazareth, don't you think? And, perhaps he thinks it is an interesting concept which, in my experience, is somewhat open minded for a minister.

        On the other hand, I'm wondering if you felt it offensive. I realize many of us are uncomfortable by statements or communication within the context of religion. I know I am sometimes. I often challenge myself on this, because I'm not sure why I feel that way. It seems irrational on my part. Bryan only said what many of us do in our different cultural languages. If someone says, 'I'll meditate on it' or 'I'll ask my spirit guide, guru, astrologer, etc.' I'm not offended or uncomfortable. And I don't follow those things, or refer to them for guidance. However, when people of faith start making references to scripture, etc., I will, on occasion, cringe slightly...if it's in public. Privately, it happens less, but still happens. It is not about them or an opinion of them. At times, it's akin to a moment of suspense, and at other times, it's closer to the feeling I'd see in my son at 11 or 12, when he hoped I didn't say something stupid in front of his friends. Why is that, do you think?
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          Oct 29 2011: Hi Linda,

          Thank you for your kind words. I find you to be open, patient, and quite refreshing in your approach to conversations I see you participate in.

          I'm not sure why you would cringe when people of faith make reference to scripture.

          It doesn't bother me in the least. Nor do I feel uncomfortable challenging, or accepting, declarations of faith - or scriptural reference - regardless of who makes them.

          For me it is (almost) always a simple exchange between two individuals - the "connection" might be through some comment based on faith, science, experience, or speculation. But, if you watch, what I attempt to do is get behind the declaration to the person who makes it. Sometimes I am successful. Sometimes I am not.

          That is actually why I engage in conversation and I do it intentionally.

          Does that make sense?

          What I have found is sometimes we identify so closely with an idea we cannot separate ourselves from it and, when we discuss "ideas" - for example Christianity - we assume an "attack" on the idea is an attack on our person. The same is true if we are fanatical believers in, say, capitalism, socialism, anarchy, veganism, and so on.

          Maybe that's what makes you cringe ... knowing that someone has reduced themselves to the level of a static construct (a doctrine, a religion, a belief) which is far less impressive than the simple, living breathing human being that they are.*

          Knowing they have done this and that you will have to relate to them, not through their innate "majesty" but through some archaic credo, or modern ideology, might make one cringe a little.

          No matter what we believe or don't believe, we are human beings.

          Of course, it could also be that you were raised in an environment where you consciously, or unconsciously assimilated similar beliefs and confronting them is to confront and decry, a part of your own self-image.

          Out of curiosity, what made you respond to my comment to Bryan Martin?

          * I don't see "Christians." I just see people.
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          Nov 11 2011: Isn't Jesus of naz, isn't his given name Yeshua? Wasn't he Aramaic? I'd love to read an Aramaic bible.
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          Nov 11 2011: Hi Brian,

          Yes, he probably spoke Aramaic; that is the language spoken where he was from. And a common English transliteration of his name is "Y'shua."

          There are still people who speak a modern version of Aramaic (much as Italian is a modern version of Latin); they live in Ethiopia.

          And there is an Aramaic Bible. It has been translated into English. You can probably order it through Amazon or some other bookseller. It is called the Peshitta.

          Here is a link to a web-version:

          I got a copy in a small independent bookstore in Vancouver called Banyen Books.
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          Nov 11 2011: I would love to read an aromatic bible. It would be a more satisfying experience

          My off-the-wall point is that, in my humble opinion, religion is humorless. Without some amount of levity/humor allowed in, religion is a dour-faced, my-way-or-the-highway spiritual dictatorship.

          Of course, having been brought up a pavlovian catholic, I don't understand much.
        • Nov 16 2011: Just for the record, Aramaic is *not* the same as 'Amharic', which is currently the spoken language of Ethiopia.

          Aramaic is, however, in the same family of languages as Amharic--'Semitic'--which includes both Hebrew and Arabic.

          There *are* still real-live native speakers of Aramaic, although the language has undoubtedly changed since Jesus' time. They live largely in Syria, Iraq and Iran, and are almost entirely members of eastern Christian sects.

          Much of Jewish liturgy (specifically the Talmud, and certain rote prayers) are written and recited in Aramaic.
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        Oct 29 2011: To answer your question, I responded initially because his statement piqued my curiosity. I wondered if he was being sarcastic. When I looked a little deeper, I heard the sincerity in his statement. There are so many subtle messages in our words. I sensed a tone in your words that made my antenna go up slightly. It made me ask why.

        The 'cringe' I refer to is not judgment, nor is it mean spirited. Truth is, I love a lively debate but, mostlyI think it's a sincere desire for people to see one another, and in my experience, some religious or political statements create immediate polarization, causing others to project a skewed picture onto them or simply shuts them down. And sometimes not. I think I cringe a little in curious anticipation of what's next. :)

        Thomas, I am in complete agreement with you in regards to how we relate to one another through ideologies, or allowing our ideas to converse with each other, instead of getting down to the simple business of being real.

        As far as this conversation goes, it's always my hope people will see each other for who they are without projecting their judgment on them. I think my Pollyanna approach is because I believe some experience their deepest purpose through their spiritual paths, no matter the religion, and I'm disappointed when others ridicule something so sacred to someone else. That said, I feel the same way when the religious judge and shame those who believe differently too. It works both ways. Thomas, I know you just see people. I appreciate that about you.
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          Oct 30 2011: Hi Linda,

          Thanks for your answer.

          I didn't get the impression your cringe factor was in any way judgemental. I was speculating it might be that we cringe when one of us "limits" ourself to a set of ideas or ideals (like a bird who thinks it can only walk.)

          We may also be cringing out of embarrassment for the person (that's one reason I find stage plays really hard to sit through ... I literally cringe when an actor makes a mistake.)

          I was also intrigued by Bryan's post and really could not tell if he was joking or not.

          My reply was intentionally ambiguous ... it could be read in more than one way ... that way he could choose his response to be in alignment with his original sentiments.
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        Nov 11 2011: Hi Thomas,
        Isn't there a people in Southern Iraq that speak Aramaic?
        They say to belong to the people of John the Baptist that travelled from Egypt to the North.
        They still observe that religion or what's left of it.

        Thanks for the link!
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      Nov 16 2011: Hi Jordon,

      Thanks for the clarification regarding Aramaic and Amharic. My understanding is that Amharic is, as you say, in the same family as Aramaic and is spoken in Ethiopia. That is not to say the language, or related languages, are limited to Ethiopia.

      I also believe (though have not confirmed) that the Peshitta is the scriptural reference used by the Ethiopian Christian Church hence my mentioning that country by name.
  • Oct 27 2011: The difference between East and West is quite simple. In the West we view the world through the prism of black and white, right and wrong, good and evil, government and opposition, etc. This makes life a competition... we build logical arguments to prove we are right or good and others are wrong or bad.
    In the East, through the idea of Yin-Yang harmony, the belief system regards opposites as complementary rather than as mutually exclusive... and suggests that those with opposing views or ideas need to co-operate rather than compete because they are usually just seeing different perspectives of the same issue. Read:
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      Oct 27 2011: Pretty sure that's what I said.

      And I never asked for the debate over which is better overall, I asked which is better to break down "divine reality" or nature
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    Oct 27 2011: I'm saying what I said in another debate involving religion (Why are eastern religions/spirituality spreading all over the world, similarly science from the west conquered the world?)
    The term religion and science or east or west is not very helpful to understand either philosophy or quest for new, novel knowledge (later known as "science").
    Now let's think the incidence of Galileo. Someone before him "discovered" that sun moves round the earth. That person or group of people were successful to convince it to others. They were also successful to add that as religious "truth". Later when Galileo said something different, there was conflict. So someone thought about and realized that sun revolves around earth, much before Copernicus or Galileo started pondering on the same issue. Right? His observation or analysis might be wrong, but his effort was not. Is that "religious" or "scientific"?
    If we read many ancient texts, scriptures (popularly described as religious) we will understand that many are full of systemic observation and analysis of specific issues of nature, human body etc. Analysis of dream was "religious" just a few decades ago, not any more. If we visit the Sun temple in Konark in Orissa in India, one can easily understand how science (e.g astrology, architecture, climatology, even science of human sexuality) was mixed with religion and depicted all over the "religious" temple. And that is not so rare case in the world.

    Even in history of "modern" science, some biologists actually "observed" miniature adult human figure (Homunculus) in human sperm under microscope. That data was even published in a mainstream, famous research journal.
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      Oct 27 2011: I'm on your boat here Jayanta.

      Looking East for me is to realize the philosophies became religion because of their relevance not because of their dogmas.
  • Oct 26 2011: I think the Hindu-Indian religious tradition is by far the most scientific and pragmatic philosophical guide for 'Best Human Self-actualization' -- The Gods therein are personifications of Truth Goodness Beauty [Satyam Shivam Sundaram] - the three Cardinal virtues a la the ancient Greek tradtion as well.
    And - the orally passed on traditional liturgy is really exhaustive in terms of the neeeded guidelines to otimize the human eco-socio-politico-philosophical and attain a near perfect self-actualization of the benefits... The Gods and the angels 'Represent Higher ahd the Highest Achieved states of Truth Goodness Beauty ,,, with repect to the mriad humanly comprehendable and humanly cherished VALUES . and this perhaps is th rationale for the Hindu religion comprehending about 33 crores of Heavenly Beings....! Kubera is the god of wealth... yama is the god of death... etc. and the Chief Godly players are Brahma Vishnu and Shiva the Trinity of Creation Sestenance and Destruction... the three Natural Processes.

    It is just not difficult mentally for an orthodox Hindu to be a scientific/emotional/pragmatic/religio-cultural philosophy-enjoying human. ... Hope I dont sound too arrrogant... but believe me it is a real possibility.
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    Oct 26 2011: It is true, but there is no point in comparing which is better. The westerners are generally higher human beings so it is more difficult for them to reach a perfect state. The Easterners who are less complex are therefore closer to God. Generalising further, the majority of the Easterners are more perfect beings than the westerners, but certain individuals from the West are able to reach a state that is unavailable for other human beings (only they are few and far between like the Jedi knights).
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      Oct 26 2011: What the BEEP are you talking about?
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        Oct 26 2011: Gerald, the way you ask the question suggests I could offend somebody which was not my intention whatsoever. We talk about perfection here, so in terms of perfection no human being will ever attain to the perfection of the rose. The rose is pure perfection, it is all it can be, it has realised its potential 100%. Now, humans are much more complex than the rose and so it is much more difficult for them to realise all their potential. But among men, there are also differeces. Some of them are less complex, and like the Indians, are primarily concerned with the spiritual. For them it is easier to realise their potential, easier to get closer to God. The westerners are the most complex people, who in order to become perfect, need to work on both the spiritual as well as material (it is also the reason why so many of the westerners end up having even bigger problems after taking yoga classes). It is awfully difficult to realise their potential, but if they succeed, they reach a higher state than the one-sided easterners. I hope it is more clear now.
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          Oct 26 2011: how are you judging this. On what metric are westerns more complicated than easterners?
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        Oct 26 2011: Anthony, basically they don't depend on logic so much as the Westerners do. They somehow know that logical understanding doesn't plumb the depths. Being lighter by this kind of load makes them less complex, and therefore more likely to realise their full potential. By means of that the Easterners are more complete people. How I wish I was an Easterner! :)
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          Oct 26 2011: The idea of the busy Western builder and thinker VS the relaxed Eastern meditator is not only outdated anda cliché of bad taste, but it's also quite racist.
          You don't mean harm, of course, but this idea is just utterly wrong and not supported by any observation or explanations.
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          Oct 27 2011: So while France and the UK try to get nuclear fusion through logic, South Korea will do it by being less complex. Ok...If you want to be simple Jedrek, I have some good news...

          Oh boy...Stereotypes...
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        Oct 27 2011: Guys, I am amusing even myself with the kind of abstraction we reached here, but there is no denying that there is a grain of truth in every stereotype. Just don't extend it over everybody and everywhere in the East. There are "westerners" among the easterners and vice versa. The question that started this thread was whether Asian religions prepare an individual better for pursuits of "divine reality" than that of Western traditions, and so I claim they do but partially because of the psychic construction of the Easterners. Westerners who follow the eastern philosophies hardly ever reach "divine reality" or perfection in other words. They need to follow their own path, because they are different people. And I will not give in to political correctness, and say it is otherwise.
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          Oct 27 2011: I'm glad you're amusing yourself with this kind of abstraction, as most of your readers are still waiting for explanations of your bizarre theory.
          Never mind the politically correctness. As long as you can explain...
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        Oct 27 2011: First of all, we need to agree that people differ not only in terms of appearance but also metaphysically.

        Second of all, we need to agree that religions are secondary to the metaphysics underlying the regions (East and West)

        Third of all, we need to agree that "divine reality" means perfection (rose is divine in this sense, that is why we give it to our girlfriends)

        Now, having agreed also upon the fact that the Easterners are better prepared for perfection we can move to the most important question:

        Namely: what is the metaphysical difference that makes the Easterners better prepared for perfection?

        And here I say something that is my subjective opinion, but which is also based on logic: all else being equal, they are metaphysically less complex, because it is easier to perfect a simple construction than a complicated machine.

        The Easterners are therefore more complete, more coherent,and basically closer to God, who is 100% perfect.
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          Oct 27 2011: This is not helping you know...
          You start off with statements about "métaphysical differences" without any explanations about it, as if it was obvious to everybody.
          Well, it's not and I don't know what you mean.

          I sort of dislike the idea that Westerners are somehow more complexe than Easterners, but it's not the fact that it's politically incorrect. It's the fact that it's absolutely incorrect.
          Again. Please explain why Westerners are more complex.
          Never mind the bit about simple pure things being closest to God, even though I don't see why a rose is perfect, I'm letting this go. But you gotta explain the other stuff.
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        Oct 27 2011: You say "I dislike the idea not because it is politically incorrect but simply because its incorrect". Then what is incorrect in it? Can you disprove it or do your guts simply tell you so? I made certain apriori assumptions, like the one with metaphysical differences, otherwise we would never answer the question posed at the top of that page. I am not explaining them just like I am not explaining what each letter of the alphabet stands for.

        The devil (if any) is probably with the assumptions, but don't blame me, blame the author of this thread who also made an assumption that the Easterners are closer to "divine reality". Maybe they are not really closer, then my assumption about the metaphysical differences doesn't count, and we are equal in all respects.

        I will leave the rose out now. Just next time you buy it, take a closer look. Can it be "more rose"?
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          Oct 27 2011: For one thing, I don't pick any rose when I buy one. I look for the least unperfect one and buy it.

          But anyway... I cannot disprove your assumption, nor should I even bother. It's your assumption, after all. I try to explain to myself my own assumption, so that they make sense, at least to me.
          If you're telling people about such assumptions, it's your job to answer questions and explain what you mean, pal. I'm not getting funds to open a lab and find thousands of Eastern and Western vounteers until I know what I'm going to be mesuring.
          I don't even know what you mean in the first place. How the heck do you expect me to disprove you?
          And I am blaming you. You've made several points and now it's time to explain what it is that you mean.

          I'll help you.
          1) Definition of "metaphysical difference between races" in Jedrek's book.
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        Oct 27 2011: Ok, let's go step by step:

        Metaphysical differences between races: If you speak at least two languages you know that certain phrases are impossible to translate with 100% accuracy between them. Why is it so? The simplest answer is because there are diferences in how we percieve the world. The Meaning is not everywhere the same. What the Westerners regard as truth, may not be so according to the Easterners. Occidental and Oriental ways of thinking are basically different.

        So what are the depths to which the meaning reaches down? well, it is metaphysics. It is well known that every Oriental is fundamentally more indifferent to the externals of life. Why? because they are metaphysically different. Neither better or worse, simply different.

        Remember also that differences occur also between people who speak the same language. In fact, a conversation is only possible with one who by mere allusion knows what is meant. Otherwise they feel like they are from two different planets, no matter their language.

        As far as the rose is concerned: each in the basket is perfect. They all realised their potential to the max, only some had greater potential, other lesser (because they grew in a different climat for example), but as far as perfection is concerned they are 100% each, only one is higher. You apparently have the taste for a higher perfection out of two possible.
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          Oct 27 2011: quote : It is well known that every Oriental is fundamentally more indifferent to the externals of life.

          This is my problem. The "it is well known" facts that I'm not familiar with. But I'll roll with it anyway. Let's assume for now that what you learn in bad novels about the indolent Easterner is true. Is this peculiarity about them genetic or cultural, in your opinion?
          If it's just about customs, I don't see why you say Westerners can't ever reach "divine reality", if it's just about the proper training.
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        Oct 27 2011: You just don't understand. I never said anything about indolence of anybody: neither the Easterner as such nor the Westerner in their ambitions to reach divine reality. I appreciate your curiosity but please, you either read carefuly what I say or go bother someone else.
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      Oct 27 2011: If only you knew the POWER of the Dark side!