lördag 12 december 2009

While the Egyptians were obsessed with the after-life, the Iranians were preoccupied with the here and now of everyday life Part 2

I agree. Zoroastrianism, Stoicism and Taoism should be on your list. But also Zen, which does NOT believe in reincarnation and has at least as much to do with Taoism and Zoroastrianism as with Buddhism. The Buddhist tag to Zen comes from China (Chan Buddhism) and has more to do with "adding a selling point" to Chan/Zen than with its beliefs and content. Buddhism was very popular in China when Chan arrived and this is also why its founder Bodhidharma, a Zoroastrian trader from Central Asia, was wrongly portrayed as an Indian Buddhist monk in China. Please also note that the concept of nirvana is not a negative one in Zen, but rather a neutral concept to which everything else relates, pretty much as life and death are viewed in Zoroastrianism.
In addition to your list of non-escapist philosophies, you can add some great European philosophers: Baruch Spinoza, David Hume and Friedrich Nietzsche most of all.

2009/12/12 Tomash

Dear Alexander,

I am quite interested in philosophies and religions that give emphasis on this life rather than the afterlife. That is one of the reasons I was drawn to Zoroastrianism among other things.

I could not and not notice for example the similarity between Zoroastrian Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds and Buddhist Noble Eightfold Path. However, even though the following of this path has given very positive results in lives of Buddhists, its ultimate purpose is to attain Nirvana and cease suffering after death (to escape from karma, to exist and not exist). So in essence, Buddhism is an escapist religion and philosophy, much like the Abrahamic religion.

I am trying to create a list of philosophies which emphasize this life, who give advice how to live this life, and so far I am down to Zoroastrianism, Stoicism and Taoism. Every philosophy has advices about how to live this life, and I plan to write down a collection of such advices, maxims, proverbs, or in whatever form they appear. But the ultimate purpose of such philosophies and religions can differ greatly, and once everything fails, when people stop listening to these advices, the true nature of a philosophy and religions is revealed: either it becomes life worshipping or death worshipping.

I'm also interested on how to define Hedonism, since I'm quite the anti-Hedonist, or at least trying to be. I'm not sure then if I'm an anti-Hedonist, but I know my goals in life are not pleasure or solely my happiness. Or is it? Something to examine then. I would like to know what is the Zoroastrian stand on this philosophy.


--- In Ushta@yahoogroups.com, Alexander Bard wrote:
> Dear Friends
> Reading Peter Sloterdijk's excellent little book "Derrida, an Egyptian" and
> being reminded of Sigmund Freud's classic work "Moses and Monotheism", it
> strikes me that the easiest way to find out what PRIORITIES a culture truly
> has is of course to turn to archeology rather than arguing about texts back
> and forth all day long.
> And this is the striking difference: Of the two dominant original LITERARY
> cultures of the Middle East, and the two cultures that can both lay claim to
> the invention of monotheism, it was the Egyptians who were obsessed with the
> after-life, building pyramids and nurturing an obsession with DUALISM. The
> Iranians, by comparison, spent little or no time and energy on the
> after-life (regarding it as irrelevant, non-existent or at least of no
> concern to life's main priorities) but rather spent their time and energy on
> the here and now of everyday life. Consequently, it was a lot more
> convenient for Iranians to view existence as a product of monism rather than
> dualism. Their eagerness to be mentally constructive was NOT meant as a
> preparation for judgment day (in that case, they would only have thought of
> good deeds, while the equally important good thoughts and good words would
> have counted for nothing, just as it did in Egypt, Babylon and Palestine)
> but rather was seen as PART of everyday life. Consequently, they were
> monists, nothing else would have made any sense.
> Archeology is the ultimate provider of evidence on these matters. So what
> are the bricks and stones telling us?
> Ushta
> Alexander

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