September 18, 2012
Week 3 Assignment
No human stands alone. People are always in a relationship with others and the world around them. In Karen Armstrong’s essay “Homo religious”, and Robert Thurman’s essay “Wisdom”, they explore those relationships between religion, self, the universe, and knowledge.
In Karen Armstrong’s essay “Homo religious”, religion is talked about through the entire essay. In the Stone Age, art was used as a form of religion. People were guided through caves that had walls full of decorated paintings. Some of the caves walls were decorated by the Paleolithic ancestors over seventeen thousand years ago. The paintings were of animals of few species. The pictures symbolized artistic gratitude of the common universe. One would have to be very careful when walking through the caves, because they were unsafe, tiresome, unreasonable, and tedious. The common agreement is that the caves were a holy place and ...view middle of the document...
Some people replied differently to these words, often being they were concerned that the terms indicated they were going to perish, vanish, or go berserk in their effort to seek enlightenment. In Buddhism religion, the main focus is the mind. Buddhist helps somebody who feels they are somebody become nobody. The idea of it is to become selflessness.
Some say that Religion and Wisdom go hand in hand. That one is unable to thrive without the other. In this Explanatory Synthesis I will discuss Karen Armstrong and Robert Thurman beliefs and differences about the two subjects. I am going to be using the section “Homo Religiosus” written by Armstrong and the section “Wisdom” written by Thurman to compare the author’s views.
Robert Thurman is one of the first Americans to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk. He is a scholar, translator, activist, and lecturer. Thurman is the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University. The section “Wisdom” is taken from the book Infinite Life (2004). Thurman.
Karen Armstrong was a Sister of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, part of a Roman Catholic order. In 1981 she wrote her first book based on her experience of being a member in this Roman Catholic order. Armstrong has written several books that examine alliances among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The section “Homo Religiosus” is taken from the book The Case for God (2009).
The section “Wisdom” by Thurman focuses on trying to find your own self. The way to do this is to try to get rid of your inner demon that is always telling us to do the things that we do. It is this thing that closes your mind to others. Thurman states “Realizing your selflessness” does not mean that you become nobody, it means that you become the type of somebody who is a viable, useful somebody, not a rigid, fixated-I’m-the-center-of-the-universe, isolated-from-others-somebody (Thurman pg.: 462).
In “Homo Religiosus” Armstrong discusses how Nirvana was a life lived according to the Buddha’s doctrine. Anatta required Buddhist to behave as though they did not exist. Thoughts of self not only led to “unhelpful” preoccupation with “me” and “mine”, but also to envy, hatred of rivals, conceit, pride, cruelty, and-when the self-felt under threat – violence (Armstrong Pg.: 37).