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Connection between Greek philosophy and Buddhism?

Discussion in 'Interfaith Discussion' started by Rainbow Mage, Sep 19, 2015.

  1. Rainbow Mage

    Rainbow Mage Lib Democrat/Agnostic/Epicurean-ish/Buddhist-ish

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    Do you think Buddhist thought may have influenced some of the Hellenic schools like Epicureanism or Stoicism, or vice versa? Upon examination of Epicurus, Epictitus, and others I couldn't help noticing some similarity, notably with the concept of Ataraxia: a lucid state of perfect pleasure or bliss when one is free from pain and suffering.

    Epicurus taught a system of practice called the Totale pharmachia (total remedies) for curing various mental anxieties and negative states so that one can attain and maintain the state of Ataraxia. I can't help but find this highly similar to Buddhism.
     
  2. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    Greek philosophies date from time before Alexander, when a real contact between Buddhists and Greeks. I do not think there was much philosophy after Alexander's time. There were wars. Therefore, do not see much interchange.
     
  3. Orontes

    Orontes Master of the Horse

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    No. The base metaphysical positioning of Buddhist and Greek Thought is quite distinct: most starkly in regards to ontology. A simple example of this is looking to Parmenides. His assertions on Being informed Plato, Aristotle as well as the later Greek Schools i.e. The Stoics etc. and none of these are compatible with say Buddhist anataman. Were one to look to logic: Aristotlean and Stoic developments regarding universal and particular: inductive and propositional logic are incompatible with the tetralemma that informed Buddhist Thought. What corollaries one may find are peripheral. Buddhism was certainly evangelical, but its successes came in moving East, not West. What cross influence can be seen from the Greek Successor States bumping up against India are by and large demonstrated in the arts. There are examples of Greek sculptural techniques etc. that informed some elements of Indian expression. Greek Bactria didn't survive long enough for any longer lasting influence and the Selucids after establishing formal borders with the Mauryan Empire turned their attention to the West against their Successor State rivals, not to the Subcontinent.
     
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  4. Rainbow Mage

    Rainbow Mage Lib Democrat/Agnostic/Epicurean-ish/Buddhist-ish

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    I would put forth that the propositions of some Greek philosophical schools about the psyche are highly similar to Buddhism's anatman concept, Orontes. Particularly the atomist schools. There are similarities between Atomist philosophy and that of Abhidhamma in Buddhism.
     
  5. Rainbow Mage

    Rainbow Mage Lib Democrat/Agnostic/Epicurean-ish/Buddhist-ish

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    There was plenty of philosophy after Alexander's time, just not any that Christian Neo Platonists could admire in hindsight. Epicurean and Stoic thought flourished in the centuries after Alexander.
     
  6. Orontes

    Orontes Master of the Horse

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    Atomism, whether one is referring to Democritus or Leucippus, are all fundamentally eternalists. The psyche was considered the life spark: a fiery atom, and also eternal. None of this is compatible with anatman. Atomists also rejected causality which is directly contra the Four Noble Truths that serve as the impetus of Buddhism.
     
  7. Rainbow Mage

    Rainbow Mage Lib Democrat/Agnostic/Epicurean-ish/Buddhist-ish

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    How does atomism fly against anatman when there is no idea of the self continuing? That's what the teaching on anatta treats specifically. The Epicureans for example didn't believe there was an eternal self in atoms.
     
  8. Orontes

    Orontes Master of the Horse

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    If the atomism under question is the original ala. Democritus, then it is incompatible for the reason I noted. Democritus' style of atomism is eternalist. The psyche that is the core of self is enduring and eternal. It is what he referred to as a fiery atom: an atom that contains within it a life principle: awareness. This doesn't mesh with anatman.

    If your focus is on Epicureanism: yes. Epicureanism does deny an enduring soul. The person and soul are made up of a combining of atoms (and soul atoms) that disperse after death. One should not confuse this with the five skandas however. There is no stream of rise and cessation of aggregates. Neither is there any post life recombining: no notion of reincarnation.
     
  9. dyanaprajna2011

    dyanaprajna2011 Dharmapala

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    I'd have to agree with Orontes. Any similarities between Buddhism and ancient Greek philosophy are only superficial. One could say that some ideas of Plato, the Stoics, Diogenes, etc., share a resemblance to Buddhism, but the underlying philosophy is remarkedly different. The closest one could come would maybe be Heraclitus, but even this is speculative.
     
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