1. Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Secret Chief Buys A Book

Discussion in 'Journals' started by Secret Chief, Jul 26, 2021.

  1. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Meghalayan Ape

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2011
    Messages:
    9,955
    Ratings:
    +8,158
    @metis mentioned a book that piqued my interest so much that I have felt obliged to obtain a copy - "The Monk and the Philosopher: A Father and Son Discuss the Meaning of Life" by Jean-Francois Revel and Matthieu Ricard.

    The monk (and ex-scientist) is the son, Ricard. The philosopher is the father, Revel.

    I read a book by Ricard a good few years ago, but Revel is unknown to me.

    I've not done a journal before, partly because I'm not sure what they are for. Feel free to contribute. Vast tracts are particularly welcome given I shall be probably persisting with my one-digit-typing-on-an-ipad-succinctness. I'm also a slow reader......
     
    • Informative Informative x 4
    • Like Like x 2
    • Friendly Friendly x 2
  2. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Meghalayan Ape

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2011
    Messages:
    9,955
    Ratings:
    +8,158
    The action kicks off with a forward by Jack Miles.

    I think the main point in the forward is the idea that secular materialism (that typically is associated with science) leads to a focus upon the self and that this outlook is therefore challenged by the suggestion that the self is actually an illusion.

    The forward contains this quote from Ricard's old (scientific career) boss and Nobel prize winner Jacques Monod:

    "It is plain that to make the postulate of objectivity a condition for true knowledge constitutes an ethical choice and not a knowledge judgment inasmuch as according to the postulate itself, there can be no 'true' knowledge before this arbitrary choice."
     
  3. MikeF

    MikeF Proponent of RAEism
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2020
    Messages:
    937
    Ratings:
    +434
    Religion:
    None
    I think I'm going to disagree with this. He seems to be saying that the initial choice to strive for objectivity is an arbitrary one. Maybe I have this wrong. In any case, I would postulate that what we know is from experience. And it is through experience that we realize we human observers are imperfect and fallible. Subjectively we make errors. Recognizing we make errors, we objectively strive to mitigate those errors. It is not a subjectively arbitrary decision, it is a knowledge judgement.
     
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  4. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Meghalayan Ape

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2011
    Messages:
    9,955
    Ratings:
    +8,158
    I think that is what he is saying. Perhaps the rest of the quote elucidates a little?

    "The postulate of objectivity, in order to establish a norm for knowledge, defines a value which is objective knowledge itself. To accept the postulate of objectivity then is to articulate the basic proposition of an ethics: the ethics of knowledge."
     
  5. MikeF

    MikeF Proponent of RAEism
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2020
    Messages:
    937
    Ratings:
    +434
    Religion:
    None
    As with all these things it comes down to what we mean by knowledge. If raw knowledge is simply the experience, whether the perception accurately reflects reality or the experience is misperceived or incorrectly analyze, we might simplistically say we can hold both good knowledge and bad knowledge. To seek good knowledge and recognize and eliminate bad knowledge I suppose can be construed as an ethical choice. I would still maintain that it is not an arbitrary one, but one founded in experience. We first had to recognize that there was such a thing as bad knowledge in order to make a choice.
     
  6. Geoff-Allen

    Geoff-Allen Resident megalomaniac

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2014
    Messages:
    19,368
    Ratings:
    +3,325
    Religion:
    Universalist
    Greetings Secret Chief.

    Good luck with the reading!

    I love Matthieu's book simply called "Happiness: A guide to life's most important skill."

    Did you know that he has been called the happiest man on earth - based on brain scans of very experienced meditators.

    He himself doesn't take the title too seriously. He has lived for 35 years amongst sages & gurus & "ordinary" people who are at least as happy as he himself is.

    All the proceeds from his various books go entirely into humanitarian projects. So it's a good deed to purchase one of his many books -

    If people want a little taste of Ricard's teachings, without shelling out for an actual book - try this link -

    TOP 25 QUOTES BY MATTHIEU RICARD (of 100) | A-Z Quotes

    Keep posting and I hope you enjoy the book and maybe another.

    :)
     
    • Friendly Friendly x 2
  7. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Meghalayan Ape

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2011
    Messages:
    9,955
    Ratings:
    +8,158
    Happiness is the book I read, and I do recall the epithet, now that you mention it.
     
  8. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Meghalayan Ape

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2011
    Messages:
    9,955
    Ratings:
    +8,158
    "arbitrary" does seem an odd choice of word - random, whim, chance (as my dictionary tells me).
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Meghalayan Ape

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2011
    Messages:
    9,955
    Ratings:
    +8,158
    Introduction by Revel.

    The conversations in the book took place in 1996.

    Ricard left a very promising career as a molecular biologist in the early seventies, (to the surprise of everyone) to move to Asia to study Buddhism and ultimately to become a monk. He has translated Buddhist texts into French and English and has acted as a translater for the Dalai Lama. His books on Buddhism have proved very popular in the West.

    Revel studied literature and philosophy at university and then taught philosophy for several years. He went on to be a writer (on politics and philosophy) and a newspaper editor. He identifies as an atheist. His interest in Buddhism was piqued by his scientist son's major life change decision and the decades long efforts by the Chinese government to destroy both the Tibetan people and culture.
     
  10. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Meghalayan Ape

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2011
    Messages:
    9,955
    Ratings:
    +8,158
    Ch1. From Scientific Research to Spiritual Quest.

    This chapter summarises the backgrounds of the father and son; particularly the son since his life has contained the largest change of direction.

    Ricard gained his PhD and could have gone on to have a career as a molecular biologist. But he felt such pursuit "was unable to solve the fundamental questions of life - and wasn't even meant to do so. In short, science, however interesting, wasn't enough to give meaning to my life." Over the next few years he followed up on his previous examinations of varying religions and moved to India to immerse himself in the teachings of the Buddhist lamas, to address his ignorance...
    "...ignorance, in essence, is belief in a truly existing self and in the solidity of phenomena."

    Revel's interest has remained with philosophy since his university days, although he has moved into the philosophical commentary of politics; as shown by book titles such as Without Marx or Jesus. In this work, he maintained the greatest revolution of the twentieth century was of liberalism, not socialism "which was already dead."
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. MikeF

    MikeF Proponent of RAEism
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2020
    Messages:
    937
    Ratings:
    +434
    Religion:
    None
    What are your thoughts on Ricard's comment, "...ignorance, in essence, is belief in a truly existing self and in the solidity of phenomena."?
     
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  12. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Meghalayan Ape

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2011
    Messages:
    9,955
    Ratings:
    +8,158
    I don't think it is meant as a general catch-all definition of ignorance such as one might find in a dictionary. :)
    But within the context of (Mahayana at least) Buddhism a key fundamental idea is the ultimate emptiness of phenomena, which therefore precludes any idea of an abiding selfhood.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. MikeF

    MikeF Proponent of RAEism
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2020
    Messages:
    937
    Ratings:
    +434
    Religion:
    None
    My take was not that it was a definition of ignorance, rather, one would be revealing their ignorance if they believed in the truly existing self and in the solidity of phenomena. I don't know exactly what is meant by phenomena, how it is defined in this context. My assumption was that in referencing the solidity of phenomena, phenomena meant physical things, matter.
     
  14. MikeF

    MikeF Proponent of RAEism
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2020
    Messages:
    937
    Ratings:
    +434
    Religion:
    None
    PS: Feel free to ask me to no longer participate if you do not feel like I am contributing, or my questions are not in keeping with the spirit and intent of the thread. This is your journal after all, and I do not wish to detract from it. :)
     
    #14 MikeF, Jul 27, 2021
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2021
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  15. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Meghalayan Ape

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2011
    Messages:
    9,955
    Ratings:
    +8,158
    I think you are right; I must be obsessed with dictionairies!

    It does mean that; but it means more than that too - literally all phenomena, whatever you can name, not just physical. All things are described as empty; not in a "vacuum" sort of a way, but rather empty of "own-nature" (...because all things are constantly changing and interdependent).
     
  16. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Meghalayan Ape

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2011
    Messages:
    9,955
    Ratings:
    +8,158
    Good grief no, carry on! The spirit and intent of this thread is what the contributors make of it, as far as I'm concerned. It seemed the best place to start this thread but it isn't really a journal I suppose. Like the book, I prefer to see a thread as a conversation.
     
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  17. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2013
    Messages:
    35,742
    Ratings:
    +17,140
    Religion:
    ecumenical & naturalistic Catholic
    What Ricard basically is alluding to is the Buddhist teaching that everything is transitory, "I" right now am not exactly the same as "I" that just finished this sentence. I've lost some cells and maybe even gained a couple [probably not in my brain though]. Thus, everything appears to be in flux, which is quite important for us to understand when we begin combining this with other things.

    On top of this, we also really only scratch the surface with what we think we perceive, and even that may be misleading at times.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2013
    Messages:
    35,742
    Ratings:
    +17,140
    Religion:
    ecumenical & naturalistic Catholic
    I just ordered it yesterday and am anxious to get into it. Thanks for the heads-up on it.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  19. MikeF

    MikeF Proponent of RAEism
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2020
    Messages:
    937
    Ratings:
    +434
    Religion:
    None
    Granted, this was a very narrow quote, so you've been able to add some meaning to it through a familiarity with Buddhist teaching.

    I certainly appreciate that everything is in constant change and it is important to internalize that fact.

    However, to say phenomena lack solidity seems to imply, or tries to convey, a greater tenuousness to the reality around us than I would agree with. And for me, this type of stance is very anthropocentric. We human beings are a quite late addition to the cosmos. There was a whole lot of changing going on before we were ever around to observe it. I guess it takes a book to fully explain what is meant. :)

    Certainly, what is meant by 'true self' needs fleshing out as well. I think that we all begin with a realization or acknowledgement that at least we, the 'I', exists. It is from this that we build our understanding of everything else.
     
  20. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Meghalayan Ape

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2011
    Messages:
    9,955
    Ratings:
    +8,158
    Chapter 1. Facing anxiety. :D
     
Loading...