Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Sage, attitude and virtues

Each religion has it's sages, or ideal wise person. These seldom actually exist, but are composites of the ideal. These can be described as an ideal attitudes, virtues and world view. As we look into this breakout further, each religions sage is far different. So what should the "ideal person" look like.

First the Christian would be compassionate, to the point of giving up everything they own to help others. That would be irrational, and not good for the next generation, but early Christians were not concerned with the next generation, the messiah was coming back. They would do everything for others. Get real. They do it for themselves, because they think doing for others is a great virtue, and that generates a good feeling in them. Buddha was right, everything we do is for us first, and second for other people. Anyone who says otherwise is creating a self induced delusion.

The Buddhist ideal person is honest and truthful, peace loving, non-violent passive aggressive, doing good for himself and others around him. He is part of his community, working for his community that supports him. Note that Buddha was part of the overpopulation solution at the time, up to one third of the population were ascetics, they went off and did not reproduce, but were part of the meditative/contemplative life style. These became the depository of information, learning, and the contemplative lifestyle. Note that some did not learn, but rather created or continued superstition rituals and as such frustrated scientific development and social advancement. This is common of many of the iron age religions, Islam, Christianity as well.

The Stoics and Buddhist were very astute at psychological observation, and as a result both recognized that our delusion of what should happen, our desires, and the frustration of those desires and delusions cause mental suffering, and that freedom from suffering can be achieved by letting go of those desires and delusions and following a virtuous life, even if the virtues and different. This is essentially the same as Positive Psychology. They both realized that self change was the way to peace, and going with the flow was the easy way. The right way was always to do what was right, and then all wrong was done by others, we could rest easy in the joy of satisfaction that we were right, and take peace in that. One thing only, our thinking is up to us and thinking that makes it so.

The Stoics and Buddhist recognized impermanence, non-self, and emptiness, the importance of living in the present time, the chain of causation stretching back into essentially infinite time but in different words. They recognized evolution and heredity, the importance of reputation. They both knew the importance of contemplation and meditation, and unhurried decision often based on inadequate data, and the separation of reason and feelings or passions. They both understood the gaps between perceptions and automatic mental processes, the gap between memory and both the conscious and unconscious parts of the brain, and indeed the important gap between mind and volition. They also struggled with the link between automation memory and volition. There wise man need to understand all this as human ingrained dogma that can be modified with effort, but is always there.

Confucianism has first a set of virtues, respect, loyalty, obedience, relationships, and there wise man will live these, without question. They will never ask why, but just obey.

This blind adherence to the principals is also Islamic characteristic that creates so much problem in the world. Some political land grabbing ego-manic can convince believers to follow and away we go down some radical path in search of a conceptual heaven.

So where does all this leave us? Not confused, for I understand and separate attitudes, virtues, and world view. My world view is science, reason, and the like. My attitude is exploring the understanding, and I, like many, am still unsure as to which virtues are best to hold highest. Faith, blind compassion and hope are vices, not virtues. The future is changed in the present. Inner peace can be found in knowing that if I do virtuous acts, any fault lies elsewhere. Educating others of the right path is a virtuous act, even if the path is hazy.     

Honesty, truth, non-violence, moderate compassion, and moderation in self control may be today's virtues.... But what do I know?

Perhaps a virtue of the day?      

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