1. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Eastern philosophy

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by thirdwind, Jul 10, 2013.

    I've been meaning to read some Eastern philosophy for some time now, but since I don't know much about it, I thought I'd ask and see if anyone had any recommendations. Basically, I'm just looking for any important Eastern philosophers/texts.

    I've heard of the Upanishads, and I might start there first. I've also heard of the I Ching, but I'm not sure if that would be considered a philosophical text in the strictest sense. Those are the only two texts I know of. Any recommendations would be great.
     
  2. haribol
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    haribol Member

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    Eastern philosophy is vast, my friend. And I am talking not about modern eastern philosophy. I am talking about ancient eastern philosophy. You cannot easily grasp eastern philosophy if you just read the Upanishads. The Upanishads are timeless ancient treatises and before reading them you must start with the Puranas and you can start with the Mahabharata. It is a matchless book and you can find a great reservoir of knowledge and I bet you cannot find a similar book in terms of its profound philosophy, ethics and literature. It is a wonderfully written ancient epic and the west has not discovered the truth of the Mahabharata. You can find a little bit about it and indeed you can start with some simple stories of the Mahabharata and later on you can read the original texts. But unfortunately there is no good translations of this great book
     
  3. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    This is a thread I wish I could contribute to but sadly I'm totally ignorant of it. I'll be watching any posts here with keen interest.
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I thought the Mahabharata is an epic poem and not a philosophical text in the strictest sense. Perhaps I'm wrong.

    I've never heard of the Puranas, so I'll be sure to look it up.
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I went to the library and picked up The Way of Zen by Alan Watts because I heard it was a good place to start with Indian/Chinese philosophy. I came across this interesting quote in the book and thought I'd share it.

    Watts goes on to say that describing a thing with words is essentially an approximation of that thing and isn't truly the thing itself. Certainly an interesting take on the concept of knowledge.
     
  6. jmhoffer
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    jmhoffer Contributing Member

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    The only Eastern philosophy I've ever found useful is Sun Tzu.
     
  7. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    What have you read besides Sun Tzu?
     
  8. jmhoffer
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    jmhoffer Contributing Member

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    I tried looking into others and dropped them quickly. I've now forgotten what they even were. ADHD does not mix with Eastern philosophies, where ADHD is nearly non-existent. I run into enough problems with Judaism and ADHD, why would I want to add even more?
     
  9. IronPalm
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    IronPalm Banned

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    "Eastern philosophy" is a bit like saying "European cooking". Like, you have to be way more specific than that, since I'm pretty sure there is a world of difference between, say, Hinduism and Taoism.
     
  10. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I don't think you need to be more specific. If you asked me about Western philosophy and its most important philosophers, I would give you a list of maybe 20 or 25 names, which isn't that much considering the thousands of years of history of Western civilization. I imagine it's the same for Eastern philosophy. Also, there are a lot of similarities between the philosophical systems of Eastern religions (Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, Jainism, etc.).
     
  11. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I agree, when you think of western philosophy, it's almost like the Western Literary Canon. Everyone knows, or at least most who use this forum, will know of Aristotle, Plato, Descartes, Hume, Hobbes, Kant, Nietzsche; all those great names. Of Eastern Philosophy most people are sadly entirely ignorant of even where to begin.
     
  12. Kita
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    Kita Senior Member

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    The only bit of eastern philosophy I've read was The Art of War by Sun Tzu. It is a really good read, even if I didn't agree with everything, I loved it.
     
  13. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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  14. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I've made a longstanding study of Hinduism, but that's religion so I don't think it fits what you are looking for, though there is great insight to be found within it.
     
  15. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    In my opinion, Hinduism is actually a culture comprised of many
    elements, some of which are theological, while others are philosophical.

    I think you need to do a more thorough study of Hindu culture.
     
  16. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Anything particular you'd like to share? I'm ashamed to admit that even though one of my close friends is a Hindu, I know very little about the philosophy found in Hinduism.
     
  17. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, I'm quite aware of this, [MENTION=24748]Solar[/MENTION], but when you say "Hindu" or "Hinduism" to westerners, it gets filtered into the Religion bucket; hence, I offer it as discussion because there is validity to it in this thread if folks are willing to look past its seemingly religious connotations.
     
  18. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Well, there are many, many philosophies within Hinduism. So many that are followed so differently across the face of Hinduism and one side looks to the untrained eye nothing like the other side, like they are utterly different.

    One of the things that I think is deeply intriguing about Hinduism is the way in which Brahman (Supreme Reality) is conceptually different from "the gods" of Hinduism. A true Hindu understands that "the gods" as they are thought of and worshipped and prayed to are only visages, facets, relatable place holders for the unknowable everything-ness of Brahman. That's why (well one of the reasons why) Hinduism has so many gods. Thousands of gods. There's nothing within Hinduism keeping you from formulating and creating your own personal idea, picture, image, or representation of a god to which you can relate. And the gods are all facets of human life. They are representation of the human condition. And this is an understood, accepted idea within Hinduism. It doesn't conflict in the least with thinking of these beings as gods. To the Hindu, it only validates their reality. So there are gods who represent patience and knowledge, war and heroism, sex and eros (lots of sex and eros in Hinduism). It's a As SOlar stated, it is more than just a religion, and so different from most Western religions, it's a creative, expansive, additive, inclusive frame of thought that surrounds it.
     
  19. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Wow. Thanks for sharing that. It really shows you how different Western and Eastern thinking can be. I remember reading that it's sometimes very hard to put Eastern ways of thinking and ideas into Western terminology. The Chinese language, for example, incorporates these ideas into its language (as an example, Eastern thinking says that objects are also events, whereas in Western thought, there is a clear/logical separation between object and event).

    I'm converting to Hinduism ASAP! :p
     
  20. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Very true. It's amazing how language can shape thought as much as thought shapes language. In Spanish the word hecho means both an act and also a fact. And strangely there is only one word to mean both commitment and compromise, compromiso. Because of this, the two ideas, which in English can be argued to have a relationship but which are still thought of as distinctly different, in Spanish they are thought of as the same thing.


    Perhaps one of the most famous examples of this is the Khajuraho Temple. It is considered both Hindu and Jain. The entire structure is covered in carvings of sex. Every kind of sex you could imagine and some you might not want to. :p There is str8 sex and lesbian sex and gay sex. Everything. It's shocking to Western cultural scripting, but we've been trained to feel shame and restriction about sex. It's been subverted in our culture as a tool for control.
     
  21. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    It makes you wonder how the English language, which is a huge vocabulary and is constantly borrowing words from other languages, shapes our thinking. There's basically a word for every little thought and feeling. There are different words for different connotations. I'm beginning to feel like the English language makes us unnecessarily separate things and ideas that don't need to be separated. I used to think that, as a writer, having more words to choose from to express a particular idea was a great thing. Now I'm not so sure. The fact that a single word can mean different things at the same time is a powerful tool.

    :D :D :D

    I've always found it weird that the same culture that gave us the Kama Sutra is also one of the most conservative when it comes to sex.
     
  22. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm used all to those 'western' misconceptions. So when you
    said Hinduism as mere religion, I thought here we go lol

    Forgive me, I jumped to the wrong conclusion.
     
  23. Kaze Araki
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    Kaze Araki Member

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    [MENTION=5272]thirdwind[/MENTION]

    I recommend starting from Buddhist texts first as they are technically more philosophical.
    Try reading the Dhammapada which is the easiest, most popular and is also available online.
     
  24. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Thanks. I'll check it out.

    I did some more research, and it looks like modern Eastern philosophy is all based on the works of important Western philosophers, which is a bit disappointing.
     
  25. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    The best text for me was 'Tao Te Ching' by Lao-Tzu, translated by Stanley Lombardo and Stephen Adiss.

    I guess 'Eastern philosophy' is a huge term, encompassing at least half if not more, of all the world's philosophy and religion, and it varies very much between different schools. I like Taoism and have been studying Chinese metaphysics for the past 15 years as a hobby, five-element theory, feng shui, Chinese astrology (BaZi), Chinese medicine etc. So if that interests you, let me know and I can recommend something.
     

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