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Halloo! When I found out I could go to med school with a Humanities degree with an Ethnomusicology emphasis, I almost peed myself. Here's to me holding it in.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Daoism Paper

Beau Hilton
REL C 630
Dr. Keller
       Any good scholar begins a research paper with research. Trying to be a good scholar, I did this. I read everything I could find by credible scholars and philosophers. There is enough information out there to name the “ten thousand things”[1] many times over, enough to fill volumes, enough to write bibliographies the size of volumes. And it is the completely wrong approach. This wei is not wu, not at all. “’But it isn’t Easy,’ said Pooh to himself, ‘Because Poetry and Hums aren’t things which you get, they’re things which get you. And all you can do is to go where they can find you.’”[2] So I went places where the wei-wu-wei could find me – to children’s books, to books written by Old Boys, to quiet places under trees in the snow. And a few things found me. I’ll tell you what found me, and I’ll split it into three parts (largely because I am used to doing things this way, even though I would rather not name and put into boxes such beautiful things). First of all, there is a way we have to think (or stop thinking) if we want to wei-wu-wei. Secondly, there is a way we have to wei if we want to wei-wu-wei. Third, wei-wu-wei is really not something so much for thinking or doing, but for being. And we’re off.
The wind was against them now, and Piglet’s ears streamed behind him like banners as he fought his way along, and it seemed hours before he got them into the shelter of the Hundred Acre Wood and they stood up straight again, to listen, a little nervously, to the roaring of the gale among the tree-tops.
            “Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?”
            “Supposing it didn’t,” said Pooh after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this, and in a little while they were knocking and ringing very cheerfully at Owl’s door.[3]

It is easy to see life as difficult, and it is not wrong to see it this way. Hard and bad things happen all the time, every day even. To follow the Dao and act without acting is not to ignore life’s problems, for the Daoist sees the rock in the stream as well as any. But “it is also true that every cloud we see doesn’t result in rain.”[4] Not every tree blown on a Very Blustery Day falls, not every black cloud drops its load on our heads, and most rocks we can simply flow around and move past. The thing to stop thinking is that every Thing will be so Thingy, and unpleasantly so. Most Things aren’t nearly as Thingy as they appear. Even when difficulties do arise, and Things are quite Thingy, the attitude is to say and feel, “come what may, and love it.”[5] If you remember, Owl’s House fell over not on Pooh and Piglet, but fell over while they were in it. How did they deal with it? They just did. On Pooh’s part, at least, there was no griping about what trouble it was to escape a house whose front door just became a skylight, no worrying about personal pain. The opportunity to create, to improvise, and, especially, to help and love a friend – this was the focus. And they got out, safe and sound. “No self interest? Self is fulfilled.”[6]
One more story from our friends of the Animal Persuasion ought to sum up the rest of the way we ought to think if we are to properly wu-wei. These friends don’t live in or near the Hundred Acre Wood, but rather in the vicinity of Toad Hall. Mole and Rat went to find a small lost Otter-ling, who had quite recently disappeared. Having no idea of where to go except to go and be gone, they went. Soon they heard music, faintly at first, and the sound led them to a clearing where the Piper at the Gates of Dawn was protecting the Otter-ling. The Piper doesn’t allow those who view him to remember much of their viewing, so as to not sully the rest of life by comparison, and so it was that the Mole, the Rat, and the Otter-ling forgot their interview with the Piper as they rowed Rat’s boat back home. The Otter-ling was returned, and Rat and Mole rowed lazily away, their heroics for the day completed. And this is what Rat said:
“Isn’t it jolly to feel the sun again, soaking into one’s bones! And hark to the wind playing in the reeds!”
            “It’s like music – far-away music,” said the Mole, nodding drowsily.

Then Rat told Mole what the music was saying, for the reed-music was saying something, but that something is not so important to us at the moment, except that it was something about the Piper (whom they had forgotten).
“But what do the words mean?” asked the wondering Mole.
“That I do not know,” said the Rat simply. “I passed them on to you as they reached me. Ah! now they return again, and this time full and clear! This time, at last, it is the real, the unmistakable thing, simple – passionate – perfect –“
“Well, let’s have it, then,” said the Mole, after he had waited patiently for a few minutes, half dozing in the hot sun.
But no answer came. He looked, and understood the silence. With a smile of much happiness on his face, and something of a listening look still lingering there, the weary Rat was fast asleep.[7]

“Tao called Tao is not Tao. Names can name no lasting name.”[8] So don’t even try. Sometimes the Piper wants us to forget, and sometimes the Dao slips away like a dream upon waking. It cannot be held, cannot be grasped – it only stays when non-holding and non-grasping are present. Wanting to know prevents us from knowing. The silence is often all there is to be understood, and if we listen like Rat and accept like Mole, then is the Dao “a treasure for those who are good, a refuge for those who are not,”[9] and maybe even a comfortable seat on a boat in the river on a hot day. How should we think properly if we want to perform the action of no-action? We shouldn’t.
“Pooh hasn’t much Brain, but he never comes to any harm. He does silly things and they turn out right.”[10] “The most difficult things in the world must be accomplished through the easiest. The greatest things in the world must be accomplished through the smallest. Therefore the Sage never attempts great things and so accomplishes them.”[11] The wei part of wu-wei is one of the parts that I have particular trouble with (the other part being the wu). I get hung up on Step One, the part about not thinking too hard and not worrying too much, and I am struck with paralysis. It becomes difficult to move, either because I’m certain I won’t be able to do anything, or because I’m afraid of having to do so much.  This isn’t what I should do. I should do what Antoine de Saint-Exupéry did for the Little Prince (though I shouldn’t be so rude about it).
“Please… draw me a sheep…”
In the face of an overpowering mystery, you don’t dare disobey. Absurd as it seemed, a thousand miles from all inhabited regions and in danger of death, I took a scrap of paper and a pen out of my pocket. But then I remembered that I had mostly studied geography, history, arithmetic, and grammar, and I told the little fellow (rather crossly) that I didn’t know how to draw.
He replied, “That doesn’t matter. Draw me a sheep.”[12]

And so Antoine drew an elephant inside a boa constrictor (because it was all he knew how to draw), then a sheep, another sheep, and one more sheep before he got it right. But he got it right. The action of wu-wei is the natural action, the action that simply follows the action that came before, the action that takes no effort because it moves in the direction it was already headed, as a stream flows to the lowest parts of the earth. It doesn’t worry so much about the outcome. “The true husbandman will cease from anxiety, as the squirrels manifest no concern whether the woods will bear chestnuts this year or not, and finish his labor with every day, relinquishing all claim to the produce of his fields, and sacrificing in his mind not only his first but his last fruits also.”[13]  Wu-wei is action simply done, and it is done for the simple reason of doing – the outcome will take care of itself.
Beside going where it needs to go and starting when it needs to start, wu-wei never goes too far. “Know what is enough – Abuse nothing. Know when to stop – Harm nothing. This is how to last a long time.”[14] Henry Thoreau made a friend while living near the pond at Walden, a good, industrious Irishman. He saw how terribly hard the Irishman worked for his living, and explained “I did not use tea, nor coffee, nor butter, nor milk, nor fresh meat, and so did not have to work to get them; again, as I did not work hard, I did not have to eat hard, and it cost me but a trifle for my food; but, as he began with tea, and coffee, and butter, and milk, and beef, he had to work hard to pay for them, and when he had worked hard he had to eat hard again to repair the waste of his system.”[15] How often is it that the Things we choose to include in our lives become the reasons our lives are so unpleasantly Thingy? “From his experiences at Walden Pond, Thoreau determined that there were only four things that a man really needed: food, clothing, shelter, and fuel.”[16] These things do not need to become Things. If they stay uncomplicated, un-capitalized and otherwise completely lowercase, they get out of our way so we can live fully and last a long time.
I said at the outset that as much as we were going to talk about the thinking and doing of wu-wei, wu-wei really isn’t so much about thinking or doing. This is the truth. Sometimes, though, to get a feeling for a beautiful thing, we need to build up a lot of information about it, pile it up so high that our mountain of knowledge collapses on itself and leaves us with something small, something useful. What should be the useful thing we get? “Thirty spokes join one hub. The wheel’s use comes from emptiness. Clay is fired to make a pot. The pot’s use comes from emptiness. Windows and doors are cut to make a room. The room’s use comes from emptiness.”[17] Emptiness. Let that word float in the room for a moment.


There it is.
For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.[18]
Return to infancy.
            Return to the uncarved block.
            Return to simplicity.[19]

            I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born.[20]

When something is empty, it is Very Useful. When a person is simple, as wise and meek as a child, that person is Very Useful. Only a simple person, uncarved by years of prejudice and hurt and hate and learning and thinking, can be so very still that the Dao can be heard. I think the vital secret is that there is a way the universe works, a principle upon which it functions, and the reason God is God is because He understands it and lives by it perfectly. The Holy Spirit links us into the vital secret, and God shares with us His other secrets (or perhaps it is all the same secret). I bet you were wondering when I would tell you what I Really Think. This is it. To be a Daoist is to be a Muslim is to be a Latter-day Saint, if you take the most basic definitions. To be any of these is to submit to God and the infinite, to rest in the low valleys and watch the clouds drift by. An uncarved block can become anything, and so can an empty person, a child-like person, a Christ-like person. It isn’t important to worry very much about thinking or doing. Being wu-wei will cause thinking wu-wei and doing wu-wei, and it will do it in a very wu-wei way – naturally, without stress or effort. Now, there is some effort involved in the process of becoming empty, and it does not happen overnight. “Pursue knowledge, gain daily. Pursue Tao, lose daily. Lose and again lose, arrive at non-doing. Non-doing—and nothing not done.”[21] There are ten thousand things to lose before all is lost, but losing those things is where the fun is. Every drop of vinegar on the tongue is a reason to smile.
Being that this is my last paper for this course, and that we are ending on one of my favorite notes, I have a thing or two to say.

“I have been Foolish and Deluded,” said he, “and I am a Bear of No Brain at All.”
            “You’re the Best Bear in All the World,” said Christopher Robin soothingly.
            “Am I?” said Pooh hopefully. And then he brightened up suddenly.
            “Anyhow,” he said, “it is nearly Luncheon Time.”
            So he went home for it.[22]

I feel that this, in a nutshell, is the relationship I have with Christ. Confession is the sweetest thing in the world, and forgiveness is somehow sweeter. Daoism teaches this at a cosmic level – the Dao is forgiving, and will permit any who choose to fall into line with it, no matter how out of harmony they were before. Living by wu-wei really is simply living by the Spirit, and it’s one of those things that can completely envelope a person if they are humble enough to be enveloped. I know I am not humble enough to live completely by wu-wei, the Spirit, or whatever you want to call it. As I said before, the effort that must be put forth in order to rid oneself of effort is to lose daily, lose and lose again, until the ego is gone, the fruits of action are put into God’s hands, and implicit trust is given to the infinite. When I seek to control the world, it fights back. I don’t want to fight any more. I have no idea how in the heck I am going to drop control and ego out of my paradigm, but I want them gone. I do not know how to function in a school environment without micromanaging myself. I’m not quite sure how to get people to do what they need to without micromanaging them. Oh, sure, I have a few ideas, a few answers that work in my head, but to have something in the head is about as good as not having it. What I really have now, what I have gained from this course, are a few better questions. I have this feeling that if I ask more of the right questions, I might just get some pretty good answers.

Longwinded speech is exhausting.
Better to stay centered.

Lao Tzu

[1] P. 1. Lao-Tzu. Tao Te Ching. Trans. Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo. Boston: Shambhala, 2007. Print.
[2] P. 311-312. Emphasis in original.
[3] P. 296-297. Milne, A. A., and Ernest H. Shepard. The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh. New York: Dutton Children's, 1994. Print.
[4] Elder Quentin L. Cook. “Hope Ya Know, We Had a Hard Time.” October 2008 General Conference.
[5] Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin. “Come What May, and Love It.” October 2008 General Conference.
[6] P. 7. Tao Te Ching.
[7] Pp. 128-130. Grahame, Kenneth. The Wind in the Willows. London: Puffin, 2004. Print.
[8] P. 1. Tao Te Ching.
[9] P. 62. Tao Te Ching.
[10] P. 129. Winnie-the-Pooh.
[11] P. 63. Tao Te Ching.
[12] P. 4. Saint-Exupéry, Antoine De. The Little Prince. Trans. Richard Howard. San Diego: Harcourt, 2000. Print.
[13] P. 115. Thoreau, Henry David. Walden and "Civil Disobedience" New York: New American Library of World Literature, 1960. Print.
[14] P. 44. Tao Te Ching.
[15] P. 140. Walden.
[16] Elder L. Tom Perry. “Let Him Do It with Simplicity.” October 2008 General Conference.

[17] P.11. Tao Te Ching.
[18] Mosiah 3:19, emphasis added.
[19] P. 28. Tao Te Ching.
[20] P. 72. Walden.
[21] P. 48. Tao Te Ching.
[22] P. 41. Winnie-the-Pooh.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Jainism Paper

Beau Hilton
Dr. Keller
            “An” – article of negation. “Ek” – one, single. “Anta” – view, side. “Vada” – doctrine of. “Anekantavada,” then, is the doctrine of “no single view.” To a Latter-day Saint, or, indeed, any of the People of the Book, the claim that no single view of things is the completely right view seems at first to be at least uncomfortable, if not blasphemous: God is supreme, and His truth is the truth. However, to a Jain there is also the notion of a supreme truth, namely, that truth which was discovered and handed down by the Tirthankaras. How, then, can anekantavada be one of the three core tenets of Jain religion? This paper will explore the doctrine of anekantavada and examine its capacity for usefulness in the lives of religious persons of all faiths. I will, primarily, defend the doctrine in the spirit of syncretism and appreciation. Anekantavada will be argued for by virtue of three of its effects. First, it encourages inter-religious dialogue, appreciation, and “holy envy.” Second, it helps religious persons to remain open to new spiritual inspiration. Third, far from denying absolute truth and encouraging moral relativism, it asserts that there is a supreme truth, but that that supreme truth is simply beyond human grasp until omniscience is gained.
Jain Logic
Before any of the outlined points are defended, a cursory explanation of the logic of anekantavada is in order. Two supplementary doctrines or theories provide the framework for anekantavada, namely nayavada and syadvada.[1] Nayavada describes the standpoints from which a thing might be investigated, and recognizes validity in both Buddhist and Hindu views. That is, a thing might be investigated based upon its identity or center of being, and corresponds to a degree with the Hindu idea of the Brahman-Atman and advaitya, or non-differentiated reality – all things have a core that is real. A thing might also be investigated in terms of its change or action, which corresponds to the Buddhist view of the transitory nature of things. What is found by investigation depends on the viewpoint of the investigator.[2] Syadvada is a system of qualification and predication that holds seven valid options, which are derived from three possibilities. The options are these:
1.     X is
2.     X is not
3.     X is and is not
4.     X is inexpressible
5.     X is and is inexpressible
6.     X is not and is inexpressible
7.     X is and is not and is inexpressible.
The three possibilities are yes (is), no (is not), and inexpressible.[3] Syadvada comes from the Sanskrit “syat,” which may be translated as “in a way” or “conditionally,” and must be added to all of the options above. Therefore, there are many ontological possibilities – in a way, X is and X is not. To use Cort’s analogy, a table is a table if we are using it as a table, but what does it become when we sit on it? Is a desk a dining table when it is being used to eat at? “In a way,” says Syadvada, “the answer is yes and it is no.” Upon combining nayavada and syadvada, the doctrine of anekantavada comes into clearer light – there are many ways to describe and know things, many things may only be understood by their changing nature, and all of this must be qualified by the “syat” addendum. The purpose of all of these mental gymnastics is simply to get at a clearer, rounder, and more accurate view of truth, nature, and each other.
Inter-Religious Interaction

Krister Stendahl had three maxims for inter-religious dialogue, the third of which is to allow room for what he termed “holy envy.” In our relationship with the theologies of other faiths there is a tendency to feel threatened by anything beautiful, to disallow the possibility of seeing beauty “because those religions are false anyway,” or to become angry when falsehoods are found. Armed with anekantavada, none of these reactions hold for long. May it be, perhaps, that we are all looking at the same thing from a different angle? Is it possible that what we are seeing is true “in a way,” and maybe that way is a valid way in at least one sense? Later we will examine the greater context of anekantavada and how it prevents absolute relativism, but for now let us be relativists so far as the doors of religious littleness are thrown open and inter-religious appreciation may be gained. Anekantavada allows us to understand why aspects of our own faith may be threatening to others while simultaneously allowing us to be less threatened by beauty, truth, or falsehood we find in other religions. According to anekantavada, it is certain that our own viewpoint is not complete, whether its content of truth is a kernel or a wagonload. Religious dialogue is made more comfortable by anekantavada, but more than this, anekantavada will be impetus for the honest seeker of truth. Upon realization that one’s own view is not complete, one would want to find out about as many other views as possible with the goal of eventually finding something transcendently real. A person may, using this doctrine, move from disgust to tolerance to appreciation and possibly to acceptation. Anekantavada, while not forcing a person to accept all things as equally true, at least opens that person’s eyes to the prospect of truth in other places.
Openness Assists in Inspiration
Chief among the sins is pride. Pride sets up a wall between the heart and the infinite and prevents their contact. I wonder how many revelations or spiritual impressions have not been received simply because a person refused to believe in the chance of such revelation being real. In this same line of thinking, perhaps aparigraha, ahimsa, and anekantavada are three sides of the same issue – refusing to see other possibilities can be a result of stubbornly grasping at preconceived notions, and this in turn is violence to the soul.[4] All religious traditions value humility as the antithesis to pride and prerequisite to religious experience, and anekantavada is in many ways a doctrine of humility. There is recognition of the problems of knowing, and recognition that every being faces these same problems. It tells the practitioner to be rigorous in study and slow to draw conclusions, to be generous in his or her treatment of the views of others. As Carrithers points out, in-fighting and out-fighting does occur on occasion among the Jains, sometimes with physical violence, but it is difficult to find a case in history where the fighting has taken place over doctrinal issues.[5] This openness of view contributes to peace with other humans and peace with divinity, allowing an influx of compassion and learning from both.

Anekantavada and Supreme Truth
As was stated at the outset, the Jain belief is in an absolute truth. In anekantavada there is not only possibility of supreme truth, there is surety of supreme truth.[6] Core to Jain doctrine is the ability of every soul to gain godhood. Godhood is predicated upon omniscience, or the experience of kevala-jñana, so it may be said that every soul has the ability to rise above the plane of limited cognition and finally grasp truth in its entirety. One ceases to have knowledge and instead becomes knowledge. In Jain doctrine this change occurs when the soul is no longer burdened down by heavy karmic particles. In other doctrines this change may happen in other ways, as the eventual outcome of devotion, atonement, samadhi, satori, and so on. In the practical sense, the recognition that supreme truth exists forces the simultaneous recognition that none of us (or, optimistically speaking, very few of us) possess this supreme truth. Life becomes a journey and quest to compassionately seek for supreme truth through study and right living, and through the study of right living. The quest is aided by seeing truth on all sides and by being open to the possibility of being wrong. Anekantavada does not make of us lazy agnostics, bitter nihilists, or sad impotents, but guides us in the path of the jina, conquerors.
         The study of anekantavada is itself subject to the doctrine of anekantavada – perhaps it is only useful from certain standpoints, and perhaps there are better ways to describe the principles and truths that anekantavada claims for itself. It is evident to me, however, from my own exploration and consideration of the doctrine, that there is more than just a little of the divine present here. As Joseph said, God holds none of our contracted notions and sees none of His children with anything but fatherly compassion. Anekantavada is a mode of thinking and acting that creates love in the human heart, expands the soul and the mind, asks for both more critical and more free thought, and drives one towards truth. I see nothing but God in that.


[1] For a better and fuller treatment of these doctrines, see Koller, “Syadvada as the Epistemological Key to the Jaina Middle Way Metaphysics of Anekantavada,” and Jain, “Saptabhangi – The Jaina Theory of Sevenfold Predication: A Logical Analysis.” The bulk of the information from this paragraph is sourced from these two essays.
[2] As an interesting note, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle in physics holds that if a great deal is known about a particle’s current location, then very little can be known about its movement, and if a great deal is known about a particle’s movement, then very little can be known about its current location. A Jain would love this.
[3] See Cort, “’Intellectual Ahimsa’ Revisited: Jain Tolerance and Intolerance of Others”
[4] This is similar to the modern Jain apologetic view. See Cort, “Intellectual Ahimsa.”
[5] Carrithers “On Polytropy: Or the Natural Condition of Spiritual Cosmopolitanism in India: The Digambar Jain
Case.” 858-860. When fighting occurs in and around Jain communities, it is typically over the issues all communities fight about – land, money, etc. In the case Carrithers described, both offended parties added religious purposes for the conflict later, but the conflict arose over more mundane matters.
[6] Sinari treats this in “A pragmatist critique of Jaina relativism,” and calls the Jain philosophical tendency “transcendentalism par excellence.

Confucianism Paper

Beau Hilton
Dr. Keller

The Root of Virtue, and that from which Civilization Derives[1]

            Among the virtues espoused by the great Kong Fu Tzu, filial responsibility and love within the family reign supreme. The family is the central unit in the Confucian paradigm, and the course of Chinese history shows the weight of hsiao upon individual persons and the people as a whole, for good and for bad. Though there is no doubt that concepts of filial duty untempered by jen lent themselves to much corruption and a negative stratification of society,[2] hsiao is a concept that has been, sadly, lost to too great of a degree in the backswing. Hsiao, coupled with jen, would save society at large from many of its ills, especially in America where “kill your parents” is the spoken and unspoken attitude of far too many. We will examine three areas that would benefit from greater implementation of the concept of filial responsibility: interpersonal relationships, healthcare, and maintenance of proper action within society.
            It is disheartening and, frankly, frightening to watch the quick, almost immediate degradation of the parent-child relationship that occurs when a child reaches a certain degree of autonomy. Whereas a three- or five-year-old emits a constant stream of “I love you, Daddy,” or “I love you, Mommy,” a common pre-teen stream of speech is rife with “I hate you” and disrespect. Similarly, most of us had no problem with, even great love for, our friends’ parents, until that friend became a spouse and those parents became in-laws. Too often there is an immediate separation that takes place, and the family unit becomes fractured. Both of these situations are natural and to be expected, and it is not reasonable to expect any philosophical or religious system to immediately remedy the age-old problems, but the healing of rifts within families, and the preventing of new ones, would be made much more likely through the institution of hsiao. “When your parents are alive, serve them according to propriety; when they die, bury them according to propriety; sacrifice to them according to propriety.”[3] One of the greatest lessons I ever learned came in a Priests’ Quorum lesson, from my advisor. “If you want to love someone, especially someone you don’t particularly care for now, the best way to build that love is by serving them.” I have found this to be true in every case. The natural way of things is for closeness to breed frustration at times, and the natural way out of this frustration is service tailored properly to the situation. It is easy to only look downward and forward in finding those for whom service is needed: my parents served me, and I will serve my children, and they will serve theirs.  But reciprocity and gratitude requires looking back up the chain and serving those who served us first. From commentary on an ancient Chinese mural of crows, “when their mothers are old and too weak to scavenge, crow offspring bring food, chew it up, and place it in the beaks of their mothers. By doing so, they repay their mothers for nourishing them when they were young and feeble.”[4] Service for family, including parents and siblings, can do naught but improve all the relationships a person has. By placing hsiao at the apex of one’s value system, love and gratitude will surely grow, and, on a world- and country-wide level, peace and harmony will increase.
            In conversations with friends of Chinese descent, I found an interesting attitude prevail with regards to how healthcare should work. The general feeling is that the social system that places the care of the elderly into state-funded institutions is, at its lightest, an insult. Families care for families, and that is the end of it. Only in extreme cases should an outside organization take primary care responsibility (no living family, etc.). Healthcare is a family affair, and families should be in charge of the decisions. This is not only relevant in geriatric care; as Western medicine and medical practices have made their way into China, and as the Chinese have made their way to the West, differences of opinion in general bioethics have come to the front of the line for consideration. Fierce Western individualism and autonomy clash with Chinese consanguinity and collective, and the argument is about who gets to decide what. In Confucian thought, families balance yin and yang in decision making, partly (perhaps largely) through balancing yin and yang in the decision makers.[5] Mothers and father in particular, but also brothers and sisters, assist in bringing the family to a decision that is best for all. Confucian bioethics recognizes what Western bioethics only hints at: there are situations in which the individual afflicted is not able to make the best decision, for his or herself or loved ones.[6] Hsiao shares responsibility horizontally and vertically, and, in typical Confucian fashion, ideally resists dogmatism or egoism and remains flexible.  A person imbued with hsiao recognizes the wisdom his or her elders possess and sacrifices some independence, trusting in a greater overall outcome. In every case the interest of the individual becomes the interest of the family, hasty medical decisions are avoided, and perpetual care is given without any extra cost to the medical organizations or taxpayers. One can imagine Medicare and Social Security being completely rewritten in the wake of hsiao. Many modern social ills relative to healthcare would, in the course of a few generations, be greatly reduced.
            In 1530 the Jiajing Emperor said, “The sage reveres heaven the same way he reveres his kin.”[7] Propriety and positive action in society can only be maintained by those with an active reverence for what is right. In Confucian thought, one cannot care properly for higher moral ideals without subscribing to the highest moral ideal, that of hsiao. “When a man’s father is alive, look at the bent of his will; when his father is dead, look at his conduct. If for three years he does not change from his father’s way, he may be called filial.”[8] In order to protect the family name and the feelings of one’s parents, one should guard one’s actions. Remaining close to parents, at least in heart, is similar in principle to the Jain injunction to never stray too far from home. A person alone is free to make all manner of mistakes and then slip away into anonymity, but a person within a family unit has an identity that must be maintained and improved upon. It is instructive that hsiao extends even beyond the mortal life of one’s parents – as before noted, one should “sacrifice to them according to propriety,” sustaining their memory and accounting to them for one’s actions. Continuing in the way of one’s parents for the obligatory three years would be a fascinating study indeed – the wisdom or folly of the parent would become more fully known, and in either case the child would become acquainted with the parent in a way that would be difficult to replicate in any other method. Three years of mourning become three years of introspection, affording the opportunity to examine one’s own actions in the light of one’s parents’ actions. Fast-paced society, so eager to throw off the accoutrements of yesteryear as one would so many shackles, would slow. Some may say a slow society is a bad thing, but what benefit has blind haste? To paraphrase Thoreau[9], the human’s grand possessions and grandiose actions have far outstripped the human’s humanity. Slowing to observe the lives of one’s parents in the spirit of filiality could perhaps prevent people from rushing headlong into mistakes that were already made and already corrected by the previous generation. Hsiao, properly implemented, would produce thoughtful, careful, respectful individuals, who would then form a thoughtful, careful, respectful society.
            Indulge, if you will, a moment of personal reflection. I recently left the care of my mother and father to cleave unto my wife and start a new family. Home is no longer the stucco house I grew up in; home is now four blocks south of campus. It is my wife who asks me how my day was, not my mother or father. I am here, this is new – they are there, that is old. It is easy to forget, in all of this change, to be filial. In truth, that two-story cookie-cutter house was never home in the first place – home was, and is, where family is. I call my little basement apartment “home” now, and when I refer to “going home” I see a small red Ikea couch instead of the orange tree in front of 12775 N. 58th Ave, but the reality is that I still have a home in Glendale – in fact, I have two now. The wings of both sets of my parents cover me. There is still much love to be shared, advice to be had, and lessons to be learned from the wonderful people I call parents. Hsiao is real and alive in Latter-day Saint doctrine, though the West Wind sometimes obscures it. The areas I outlined that would be improved by hsiao were selected because they are areas that I wish to have hsiao improve in my life. In interpersonal relationships, let me remember that family is first and all are family. In my future medical practice, let me remember that I will treat not just individuals, but individuals within families. In my public life, let me act in a way that speaks highly of my upbringing; let me consider the ways of my parents and learn from their conduct. In short, let me aspire to the status of a Chun Tzu, and let me do it through aspiring to Confucius’ highest virtue – hsiao.

[1] Hsiao Ching, 3rd Century BCE. P. 195. Rites vs rights: maintaining social order in China and the West. Ken Baskin. Source: Chinese Management Studies Vol. 3 No. 3, 2009 pp. 187-199 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1750-614X DOI 10.1108/17506140910984050. Life Design Partners, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. www.emeraldinsight.com/1750-614X.htm
[2] See the writings of Lu Xun for examples and commentary, especially the collection Diary of a Madman and Other Stories, trans. William A. Lyell.
[3] Analects 2:5. P. 237 Filiality versus Sociality and Individuality: On Confucianism as “Consanguinitism.” Qingping Liu. Source: Philosophy East and West Vol. 53, Number 2 (April 2003), pp 234-250. Published by University of Hawai’i Press.
[4] P. 150. Sons and Mothers in Warring States and Han China, 453 BCE - 220 CEMiranda Brown
 (University of Michigan). Source: NAN NÜ 5.2. Published by: Brill, Leiden. 2003.
[5] P. 577. The Family and Harmonious Medical Decision Making: Cherishing an Appropriate Confucian Moral Balance. Xiaoyang Chen & Ruiping Fan. Source: Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 35: 573–586, 2010 doi:10.1093/jmp/jhq046 Advance Access publication on September 20, 2010. Published by: Oxford University Press, on behalf of the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy Inc.
[6] Cf. Ibid. P. 579.
[7] P. 569. The Ritual Formation of Confucian Orthodoxy and the Descendants of the Sage. Thomas A. Wilson. Source: The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 55, No. 3 (Aug., 1996), pp. 559-584. Published by: Association for Asian Studies Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2646446
[8] Analects 1:11. P. 238 Filiality versus…
[9] Especially Walden

Buddhism Paper

Beau Hilton
RELC 630 – Dr. Keller
One of the great joys in my life is the walk I take twice a week in the early morning. Twenty-five minutes of brisk peripatetic brings me to my earliest class – the streets are empty except for a jogger here, a plodding student there, and a few cars drowsily carrying their owners to yet another day of work. An empty street is a ponderous thing. Under my feet are sewer lines and electric lines and a thick layer of asphalt and foundation. The work that must have gone into creating it is staggering, especially when one considers that this bit of road is connected to all the other bits of road crisscrossing the city, state, and nation. The people who physically laid the road are likely out there somewhere, perhaps laying another bit of road somewhere else, perhaps sleeping warm in their beds. Perhaps they are sleeping alone, perhaps they are next to their wives or husbands, and perhaps they were generous and let their afraid-of-the-dark young children crawl into their bed for safety from the things that go bump. Perhaps their children will grow up to lay more roads, or perhaps they will go into computer technology and design word-processing programs for Macintosh laptops used by college students. Maybe they will themselves walk in the cool dawn air to attend a university music class, and maybe they will wonder about the incredible interconnectedness of it all. Maybe they will realize that, if it weren’t for those cars and those joggers and those students, there would not be a road at all, for no one would have thought to build it. They would then know that things and people only have meaning as they relate to other things and people.
            Shunyata is the core of it all. And shunyata is the core of nothing (existence and non-existence are wonderfully ambiguous terms in Buddhism.). Modern physics observes that all things exist vibrationally, and that solidity, liquidity, and gaseousness are relative terms. Though it may seem that the ground is solid and unmoving, it is in reality a jumble of energetic waves, exerting repelling force on the jumble of energetic waves that make up my feet. Latter-day Saint theology affirms the eternity of matter (D&C 93:33, 131:7-8), but is it possible that the term “matter” is being defined in a different way than in textbook physics? It is observed, for example, that there is less matter present after a nuclear bomb explodes than there was before – it is a simple matter of E=MC2. The matter is converted back into an energetic state, and the immense destruction of the nuclear bomb is due to the astounding release of energy upon that conversion. Allowing for a certain degree of wait-and-see-ism (a new and contradictory study may come out tomorrow), physics affirms eternal quality only for energy – itself a changing thing. Perhaps energy is the more refined matter spoken of. In any case, Shunyata describes this truth on a metaphysical level, observing that all things change and therefore there must be nothing that is at the core of it all. Speaking of reality, Hendrik Vroom states, “Zen Buddhists identify it with paramartha satya or shunyata, that is this reality, experienced in a totally different way, 'as it really is'. “[1] If the real reality is a reality of nothing[2], than what am I?
            The truth is, I am nothing, and I am in a relationship with all the other nothings. That is something. All things with mass exert an inward pull on all other things with mass – this is called gravity, and it is very grave indeed. That electron bouncing around the far side of Betelgeuse exerts a pull on my flannel pajamas just as surely as the moon pulls the oceans into tidal patterns. We just cannot get away from each other. Nor would we want to, for we have meaning only in our relationships to one another. This “we” is a cosmic “we,” disincluding no-one and no-thing; “we” is also practical, as has been discussed – no roads would exist if there were no people to walk them. Though there is nothing that is permanent, at least from our limited perspective, there is much meaning to be had in the interrelated reality that shunyata teaches. It is not a doctrine of pointlessness and nihilism. It is change and impermanence that makes human life exciting and worthwhile – indeed, the whole Plan would have been frustrated without it, for improvement and progression are change – and change and impermanence in family and friend relationships contributes to the worthwhile-ness of it all. Because we are constantly in flux and influencing one another, we have responsibility to move in an upward direction and take care that the inevitable, unavoidable influence we provide is positive. As one author points out, this has implications not only in the obvious interpersonal and political realms, but also in subjects including but not limited to ecology and environmental stewardship.[3] Another author compares it to a game. “There are at least two kinds of games. One could be called finite, the other infinite. A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.”[4] Because the collective “we” is not and never will be static, we play for the purpose of continuing the play, for the purpose of moving somewhere and nowhere all at once. The highest good is not to be found in monuments built, wealth attained, or enemies destroyed, but in “improving the shining moments,” living wholly and presently, and cultivating compassion above all other virtues. There is no “end” to this, it simply continues eternally, and is the “goal,” if it may be called that, of the bodhisattva within every Buddhist.[5]
            From the Avatamsaka Sutra comes the by now familiar analogy of Indra’s Net. Here are two of the more important sections, presented for our consideration.
A boundless host of enlightening beings, the congregation at the site of enlightenment, were all gathered there: by means of the ability to manifest the lights and inconceivable sounds of the Buddhas, they fashioned nets of the finest jewels, from which came forth all the realms of action of the spiritual powers of the Buddhas, and in which were reflected images of the abodes of all beings. Also, by virtue of the aid of the spiritual power of the Buddha, they embraced the entire cosmos in a single thought. (15-16)

The Ocean of teachings, numerous as atoms in a Buddha Land, are expounded in a single word—all without remainder. (32)[6]

It is a provocative ontology and pedagogy – all things exist reflected in all other things, all actions arise from interrelatedness (could I push if I had nothing to push against?), and all things may be known by considering a single thing. My ruminations on the road to school call to mind Thich Nhat Han’s teaching. “You cannot point out one thing that is not here - time, space, the earth, the rain… As thin as this sheet of paper is, it contains everything in the universe in it.”[7] The value in considering a single subject is that it cannot remain a single subject for long. Soon one has considered “time, space, [and] the earth” and may compass it all together as a whole of truth. I have titled this essay “Mu,” the koan focusing on emptiness, hoping to gain experience with emptiness in order to have a bit of a better grasp (or non-grasp) on reality. By focusing on one thing, focusing on everything, and focusing on nothing, something is bound to happen. The Buddhist pedagogical method is beautiful. It is true education, the kind that changes people from the inside instead of forcing information in from the outside. It is education that comes from the transcendent truth that each jewel in Indra’s Net would be useless on its own – jewels are beautiful only in the reflections they make. Put a jewel in a dark room and it is just a cold rock.
            Latter-day Saint theology and the doctrine of shunyata, combined with the analogy of Indra’s Net, should be better friends than they have been in the past. “Wait,” says the Latter-day Saint, “I believe in eternal families, in eternal intelligences. What room has this doctrine of emptiness in such eternal views?” In the words of the hymn, “Improvement and progression have one eternal round.”[8] The doctrine of shunyata simply affirms this – nothing is static. The soul of man is eternal, but it is constantly changing – what is meant by “eternal”? From one moment to the next choices and decisions either buoy the soul up with light or weigh it down with evil. Even God the Father, in His beginningless perfection, continues His work of salvation and constantly creates, molds, and shapes. Though His attributes are consistent, His actions are variegated and lively, creative in their essence. Nothing sits still, and nothing is significant in and of itself. Would the Savior have worked salvation if there were no beings to save? It would have been pointless. God in His yonder heaven would have been what Haemon suggested Creon become in Antigone – king of a desert, with no subjects.[9] God is playing an eternal game, with no end in mind because there is no such thing as an end, just as there never was a beginning. The point is to compassionately move forward, creating happiness and peacefully driving ever upward, kingdom upon kingdom, eternal lives upon eternal lives. Without pushing shunyata to remove from us our souls and intelligences, without suggesting that energy or matter ever really cease to be, we can realize that, from a certain perspective, impermanence and emptiness explain very well the necessity of the gospel-centered life and God’s work, the necessity of interaction, and the primacy of compassion. In this way we can make good use of the philosophical undergirding of the doctrine of shunyata and find not only common ground with, but also admiration for, our Buddhist brothers and sisters and the doctrines upon which they build their lives.

[1] Do All Religious Traditions Worship the Same God? Author: Hendrik M. Vroom Source: Religious Studies, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Mar., 1990), pp. 73-90 Published by: Cambridge University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20019388
[2] The word “nothing” is being used here for effect – as will be shown, Buddhism affirms a reality, but it is a reality that exists of things in relationship and nothing by itself. A thing by itself has no relative, and is therefore empty – nothing.
[3] Can the East Help the West to Value Nature? Author: Holmes Rolston, III. Source: Philosophy East and West, Vol. 37, No. 2, Environmental Ethics (Apr., 1987), pp 172-190. Published by: University of Hawai'i Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1398737.
[4] 497. Loy is quoting James Carse. Indra’s Postmodern Net. Author: David Loy. Source: Philosophy East and West, Vol. 43, No. 3 (Jul., 1993), pp. 481-510. Published by: University of Hawai'i Press. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1399579
[5] Lopez, Donald S. Jr. The Story of Buddhism. New York: HarperCollins publishers. Print. 2001. p. 258.
[6] Avatamsaka Sutra (The Flower Garland Sutra). Dharmaflower.net. PDF file.
[7] Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of Understanding. Berkeley: Parallax Press. Print. 1988. pp. 3-5.
[8] Hymns, 284.
[9] Antigone, 821ff.  in Lawall, Sarah N., eds. The Norton Anthology Of Western Literature. New York : W.W. Norton, 2006. Print.

Hinduism Paper

Beau Hilton
Dr. Keller
            A childhood in the suburbs, with every want and need taken care of and no visible signs of intense human suffering anywhere, hardly predisposes one to ask hard questions. When people are crippled they are helped and fed and valued in society. Poor people live in the ghettoes and the ghettoes are avoided completely. When death occurs, timely or not, it is behind closed hospital doors, and rotting flesh is never smelled at an American funeral. Suffering and the great inequities need no explanation, for protection from them is the norm. At times sadness must be dealt with but the more pressing issue is how to deal with happiness, how to spend all of this free time. As the Buddha’s Four Sights changed him forever, so does the first realization that maybe, somewhere, people do not have it this good. Maybe, sometime, I will not have it this good. And I will need an explanation. Karma powerfully explains the inequities in life and provides appropriate responses to them as it addresses the problems of suffering and pain, unequal social strata, and death.
            A startling fact of physics, when one first learns it, is why running into a wall hurts: a wall will not hit us unless we hit it first, that is, every reaction has an equal and opposite reaction. The wall hits back, on a molecular and electric level, just as hard as we hit it. Starting from this rather intuitive but still surprising fact, we can begin to understand why painful things happen at all. Seeing that actions have their equal and opposite reactions, it is only logical that this extends to issues regarding moral conduct. When pain afflicts any being it is likely to be in response to some kind of pain or wrongdoing perpetrated by the being that is now afflicted. (As a disclaimer, it is an accepted idea among many Hindus that karma is not the only explanation for suffering, but one among many causative and reactive forces. In other words, sometimes things happen for reasons beyond our ken. Metaphorically, occasionally the wall will hit us first, and for no reason we can see, and not in reaction to any misdeed of our own.[1]) It is only fair and expected that the cosmos has record of my mistakes and will rectify them through my atoning suffering at some future point, wherein I am brought back to neutrality in my cosmic account. I have built for myself quite a large karmic candle, and it is the universe’s job to help me burn it down. If I am blind, or lame, or mocked and hated, it is in response to my own past deeds. When we see a child born without legs, or the reversal of a family’s fortune, or an early and unfortunate death, we can see in the situation justice and the burning off of karma. Taken out of the greater religious context this may seem justification for callousness and a judgmental attitude, but in keeping with the moral way of the Hindu, judgment is left to karma, callousness is forbidden, and love and empathy are enjoined. The Golden Rule applies, and Jesus’ words “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again”[2] find perhaps a more intense application: even as I recognize in viewing suffering the sin of the sufferer, it would be sin for me to neglect them on this token, and in some future time I will similarly be bereft of help when my own karma comes to fruition. And when my own karma fruits let me courageously press forward and suffer it with dignity, for only in this way will I be truly rid of it. It is also important to note that suffering can be commuted by meritorious acts, and one “fated to have a sword injury owing to… karmic forces… will have a pin-prick instead” if merit is sufficiently accrued.[3] This view of karma would tend towards righteous action as a guiding force and also humility in the face of adversity. Thus is suffering explained, and thus is the moral path paved.
            In every society, except perhaps among the few nomadic peoples left, there is such thing as social strata. In India there is caste, in America there are circles of wealth and power, and all over the world nobility of one sort or another determines the opportunities of those born into it. Karma, with its attendant doctrines of reincarnation and transmigration, gives reasons for and purpose to these striations, as well as the reasons for personal propensities of every type. The reason people are born into wealth or poverty, as well as into degrees of spiritual inclination, is simply karma or merit (or both) being recompensed. If one examines the four Indian varna with an open and critical eye, one will find much truth to the classifications. There are those in this world who are as the Brahmin and are drawn more to the spiritual, those who may be called Kshatriya who are inclined towards protecting and guiding the community, Vaisya who grease the social wheel with entrepreneurial know-how, and Sudra who feel most at home serving. Gandhi, while eventually rejecting caste based on lineage, accepted these divisions as a good general description of the race.[4],[5] Why is one born with these certain tendencies? Karmic principle explains that, in the evolution of one’s soul, the current state has been arrived at in reference to previous states. Perhaps I was a Brahmin in a past life, but I squandered my opportunity, and now I am to learn the value of spiritual things as a Sudra while filling my dharma to serve. Perhaps I have lived the requisite 8,400,000 lives as lower beings, and being a Sudra is in fact a step up, endowed as I am with human agency.[6] In order to burn off karma and gain merit the best should be made of life, whatever form it takes, with a realization that failure to do so will simply result in a less-than-fortunate outcome in this life and the next. It should also be realized that the current state is the state that was chosen by the actions of a previous life. Truly, people are placed where they deserve to be, and it remains a matter of free will and agency whether or not they continue to deserve their circumstance.
            “… The dread of something after death/The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn/No traveller returns, puzzles the will.”[7] Yet, according to great thinkers predating Shakespeare by thousands of years, there is not much of a puzzle at all. It is a matter of simple induction that karma, being a natural and eternal principle, must result in multiple lives. Justice will not be robbed; a being must have the chance to rid itself of all accumulated karma. Since one life rarely culminates in perfection, there must be a multiplicity of lives available for a soul to work out its own salvation. “One who is born is sure to die and one who is dead is certain to be born,” says Sri Krishna, and by following any of the paths of bhakti, jñana, or karma, one may rid one’s self of karma and be freed from the wheel of rebirths.[8] In this way, the traveler is simply taking another step in their journey onward and upward, and the space between the end of one life and the beginning of another is only the time between exhalation of death and the inhalation of birth. Due to this understanding, “the wise do not mourn the living or the dead,”[9] but look forward to new opportunities. There is no dissolution at death, and the best scenario is for one to achieve moksha upon death and escape the illusion of life altogether. Where is a loved one who has died? Either living out a new life somewhere, near or far, or rejoining the ultimate reality (from which they were never really separated in the first place). For those living their dharma, there is no real fear of death, neither is there lasting sadness in loss. Living, then, is not a scramble of finishing things before death, but time to be used to calmly move forward, confident that one’s trajectory will be rewarded with a favorable rebirth and time to finish the task. Death, then, in providing a replacement for an old and broken body, is no longer an undiscovered country with no return route, but an old and dear friend.
            As karma explains and provides solutions to the ancient problems of death, social strata inequity, and suffering, it creates an entire system around which a theology and a way of life may be constructed. Karma has provided comfort and impetus to billions of earth’s inhabitants over the last several thousand years, and it continues to do so today in the lives not Hindus alone, but also Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, and, in a somewhat different application, amongst the People of the Book. The grand idea of cause and effect, of reward and punishment, of the law of the harvest, is a universal human idea that has found perhaps its most eloquent and complete expression in the Vedic religion.

In closing,


[1] See p. 574, Arvind Sharma, “Karma, Rebirth, and the Problem of Evil: An Interjection in the
Debate between Whitley Kaufman and Monima Chadha and Nick
Trakakis,” in Philosophy East and West for scriptural support and exegesis.
[2] Matthew 7:2, KJV
[3] p. 86, Swami Bhaskarananda, The Essentials of Hinduism. The merit described here is due to devotion to a deity, but one could easily imagine merit accrued by other means to have similar effect.
[4] Ibid. p. 27
[5]  ref. Mark Lindley, “Changes in Mahatma Gandhi’s Views on Caste and Intermarriage,” in Hacettepe University Social Sciences Journal. Essentially, Gandhi feels that varna comes from “worth, not birth.”
[6] Ref. Chadha and Trakakis, “Karma and the Problem of Evil: A Response to Kaufman,” in Philosophy East and West. Footnote 20, quoting Swami Vishnu Tirtha.
[7] Shakespeare’s Hamlet, lines 85-87
[8] Transcreation of the Bhagavad Gita,2:27, trans. Ashok K. Malhotra.
[9] Ibid. 2:11